See here for access instructions and an index of all the Special Operations manuals available here.

USA FM 31-20
Doctrine for Special Forces Operations


Table of Contents in detail
Chapter 1 - Overview of Special Forces Operations
Chapter 2 - Threats to Special Forces Operations
Chapter 3 - Special Forces Missions
Chapter 4 - Special Forces Organizations and Functions
Chapter 5 - Command and Control of SF Operations
Chapter 6 - Operational Bases
Chapter 7 - Special Forces Mission Planning and Preparation
Chapter 8 - Infiltration and Exfiltration
Chapter 9 - Unconventional Warfare
Chapter 10 - Foreign Internal Defense
Chapter 11 - Direct Action
Chapter 12 - Special Reconnaissance
Chapter 13 - Intelligence and Electronic Warfare
Chapter 14 - Combat Service Support of SF Operations
Chapter 15 - Psychological Operations in Support of SF Operations
Chapter 16 - Civil Affairs Support to Special Forces
App A - Operating Systems
App B - Sample Group Operational Plan
App C - Sample Battalion Operation Plan
App D - Preliminary Assessment Format
App E - Sample SOC Mission Letter
App F - Sample Group Mission Letter
App G - Sample Battalion Mission Letter
App H - Special Forces Mission Briefback Format
App I - Area Study Outline Format
App J - PSYOP Support of US-Sponsored Resistance Force


Field Manual (FM) 31-20 is the Special Forces (SF) principles manual. It is directly linked to and must be used in conjunction with the doctrinal principles found in FMs 100-5 and 100-20 and the projected FM 100-25. It describes SF roles, missions, capabilities, organization, command and control, employment, and support across the operational continuum and at all levels of war. It provides the authoritative foundation for SF subordinate doctrine, force design, materiel acquisition, professional education, and individual and collective training. It supports the doctrinal requirements of the Concept Based Requirements System.

This manual provides the doctrinal principles to plan and prepare SF operational elements for commitment and to direct and sustain those elements after commitment. The user must adapt the principles presented here to any given situation using his own professional knowledge, skills, and judgment. Because this manual articulates the collective vision of the senior SF leadership, users must understand that it describes emerging doctrinal requirements as well as current operational capabilities.

This manual is unclassified to ensure its Armywide dissemination and the integration of SF into the Army's systems. As the preparing agency for this manual and all SF doctrinal and training publications, the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS) will publish a series of subordinate field manuals to disseminate the specific SF tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) necessary to plan and conduct SF operations. The provisions of this publication are the subject of the international agreements listed in the references in the back of this book.

There are numerous terms, acronyms, and abbreviations found within this manual. Users should refer to Parts I and II of the Glossary for their meanings or definitions.

SF commanders and trainers at all levels should use this manual in conjunction with Army Training and Evacuation Program (ARTEP) mission training plans to plan and conduct their training.

The proponent of this publication is Headquarters, Training and Doctrine Command (HQ TRADOC). Users of this manual should submit comments and recommended changes on DA Form 2028 (Recommended Changes to Publications and Blank Forms) to Commander, USAJFKSWCS, ATTN: ATSU-DT-PDM, Fort Bragg, NC 28307-5000.

Unless otherwise stated, whenever the masculine gender is used, both men and women are included.