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SSR Operational Concept
Strategic Shaping and Reconnaissance



Those activities conducted by special operations elements in cooperation, competition, and conflict to gain awareness of adversarial intentions and capabilities in order to deter, disrupt, deny, or increase the adversary’s risk. Strategic Shaping and Reconnaissance encompasses a wide array of skills and equipment to provide shaping and influence effects. Effects are achieved through a hybrid approach utilizing selected SOF core activities and programs applied through special and intelligence operations, direct and indirect actions, and the persistent development of ally and partner relations.


Our future opponents will aggressively pursue and take advantage of natural obstacles, will apply force, and apply diplomatic and cultural pressures on regional governments. Their endstate is to disrupt, slow, or prevent access, thereby setting conditions for their own strategic success. Because of this, Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs) are challenged in permissive to contested environments to gain and maintain access within their areas to contest Great Powers. In those areas of influence and interest commanders employ Strategic Shaping & Reconnaissance capabilities to prepare the environment through scalable influence and shaping activities to gain and maintain operational access. When called upon, the elements conducting SSR enable forcible entry operations through SOF peculiar operations, activities, and investments in support of joint forces entry.


MARSOF elements conducting SSR possess the capability to operate in the competition continuum and transition to conflict if competition fails. The elements employ capabilities that provide target analysis against networks in competition and conflict. Emphasis is placed upon the confidence to find, follow, and fix strategic mobile targets, critical nodes, and infrastructure. This includes assessments of WMD related networks and nodes to determine intent and providing the supported commander current and detailed collections against a specific network, facility, or individual.

SSR may include gathering information on cross-domain activities or the environment such as the meteorological, hydrographic, geographic, cyber, space, and characteristics of a particular area. SSR may include assessments of those critical threats against the Nation’s interests.


MARSOC elements conducting SSR synchronize globally and deploy against strategic threats to the Nation in cooperation, competition, and conflict. They will produce SOF effects across all domains connecting government agencies, conventional forces, and ally and partner nation capabilities through the deployment of hyper-enabled teams.

MARSOC SSR provides a capability derived through the blended application of SOF functions, activities, and advanced skill sets through a series of principles.


● Gain and maintain the various levels of access as required

● Shape by, with and through direct and indirect approaches

● Establish persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance profiles

● Challenge the adversary across the domains in order to achieve the desired effects

● Identify and mitigate risk through periodic assessments

● Achieve and sustain regional Influence

● Provide persistent focused sustainment

● Protect the force

Strategic Shaping & Reconnaissance Operating Concept (PDF)