The North Carolina Army National Guard has quietly stood up a new commando detachment for secretive missions around the world.
On Oct. 18th, federal and state officials held a ceremony marking the creation of Special Operations Detachment-X—a.k.a., SOD-X — in the capital Raleigh. The Guard already has 10 commando detachments spread across the country.
“The addition of the of the SOD … means North Carolina now has the ability to accomplish worldwide missions,” Brig. Gen. John Byrd, the state’s assistant adjutant general for domestic operations, said at the ceremony.
All of the Army’s commando detachments align with an active-duty headquarters. We don’t know what the “X” stands for, but it appears the Army intends for the new detachment to help out the super-secret Joint Special Operations Command.
“SOD personnel will provide the special operations community a broad and diverse perspective when planning and executing missions due to their experiences and knowledge from the civilian sector,” said Col. Sean Corrigan, the JSOC chief of staff.
It’s possible Special Operations Command is counting on these reserve operators to bulk up task forces in the field, as needed. The specialized troops might also possess specific skills a commander needs for a certain operation.
On average, SODs have around 30 soldiers each. But groups with greater responsibilities—like Rhode Island’s SOD-Global—have more people.
North Carolina’s newest special operations element might also be bigger than normal if it indeed pairs up with JSOC. The command is America’s premier counter-terrorism force.
This notoriously secretive entity is widely understood to carry out the most dangerous and complex covert operations. Most notably, special operators from the command likely led the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
JSOC—in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency—has also been linked to the drone strike that killed radical cleric and American citizen Anwar Al Awlaki in Yemen the same year.
The command’s operators might also be regular participants in other kinds of missions. In separate ops earlier this year, American commandos captured terrorist Ahmed Abu Khattala in Libya and tried, but sadly failed, to rescue journalists being held hostage in Syria.
North Carolina’s newest specialized force is part of a broader expansion of U.S. Special Operations Forces since 9/11. The state is already home to two companies from the 20th Special Forces Group. And in February, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called for recruiting even more commandos.