The player leads a four-man team (three AI-controlled teammates) of United States Navy SEALs through 12 missions in four regions: Alaska, Thailand, Congo, and Turkmenistan in the years 2006 and 2007. In the single player missions, commands can be spoken using the included USB headset or via an onscreen menu if the optional SOCOM headset was not purchased. Typical missions consist of killing terrorists, rescuing hostages, retrieving intelligence, or destroying terrorist bases.
The player character's codename is Kahuna, while the NPC teammates' codenames are Boomer, Spectre and Jester. The team is divided into two sub-groups, Alpha and Bravo. The Alpha group consists of the player and Boomer, while the remaining two make up Bravo. Commands can be issued to both individuals and a whole group, for example it is possible to ask team Bravo to remain stationary while the player is scouting the area with Boomer. However the player can not venture alone through a map, when Kahuna is too far away from Boomer he will automatically resume following the player, regardless of prior orders. Briefings and intel such as maps and photos are given prior to each mission.