For the past eight years, Army Special Forces units have conducted training and operations with friendly foreign forces outside the United States. The Army has obtained funding for these operations under what has been termed the “Special Forces exception” to a 1986 General Accounting Office (GAO) opinion regarding permissible funds appropriations for foreign exercises.
With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1992–1993, Congress has finally codified the Special Forces exception. Subject to a guiding principle regarding the purpose of operations, the commander of Special Operations Command and select others may draw on the Department of Defense’s (DOD) operation and maintenance funds to pay for a number of expenses related to the training of friendly foreign armed forces.
Without this exception, a Special Forces unit could not fulfill a significant part of its mission—the training of indigenous forces. Therefore, operational law judge advocates must study the language of this statute carefully and brief commanders and other operators meticulously.
Jeffrey F. Addicott, Codification of the “Special Forces Exception,” Army Law. 36 (May 1992).