United States Army Special Forces
Overview
 
The United States Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets because of their distinctive service headgear, are a special operations force
United States Special Operations Forces
United States Special Operations Forces under United States Special Operations Command are active and reserve component forces of U.S. Military...

 tasked with six primary missions: unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare (United States Department of Defense doctrine)
In United States doctrine, unconventional warfare is the term for guerrilla warfare that is conducted or supported by units in the United States Special Operations Command. Guerrilla warfare is one aspect of the broader term insurgency. The American definition of UW is:-U.S...

, foreign internal defense
Foreign internal defense
Foreign internal defense is a term used by a number of Western militaries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, to describe an approach to combating actual or threatened insurgency in a foreign state called the Host Nation . The term counter-insurgency is more commonly used...

, special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organisations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the enemy. As a role, SR is distinct from commando operations,...

, direct action
Direct action (military)
In the context of military special operations, direct action consists of: "Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy,...

, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

. The first two emphasize language, cultural, and training skills in working with foreign troops. Other duties include combat search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 (CSAR), security assistance, peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian demining
Demining
Demining or mine clearance is the process of removing either land mines, or naval mines, from an area, while minesweeping describes the act of detecting of mines. There are two distinct types of mine detection and removal: military and humanitarian.Minesweepers use many tools in order to accomplish...

, counter-proliferation
Counter-proliferation
Counter-proliferation refers to diplomatic, intelligence, and military efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons, including both conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction...

, psychological operations
Psychological operations (United States)
Psychological operations are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.The purpose of United States...

, manhunts
Manhunt (military)
Manhunting is the deliberate identification, capturing, or killing of senior or otherwise important enemy combatants, classified as high-value targets, usually by special operations forces and intelligence organizations...

, and counter-drug operations
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

; other components of the United States Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command
The United States Special Operations Command is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces. The command is part of the Department of Defense...

 or other U.S.
Encyclopedia
The United States Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets because of their distinctive service headgear, are a special operations force
United States Special Operations Forces
United States Special Operations Forces under United States Special Operations Command are active and reserve component forces of U.S. Military...

 tasked with six primary missions: unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare (United States Department of Defense doctrine)
In United States doctrine, unconventional warfare is the term for guerrilla warfare that is conducted or supported by units in the United States Special Operations Command. Guerrilla warfare is one aspect of the broader term insurgency. The American definition of UW is:-U.S...

, foreign internal defense
Foreign internal defense
Foreign internal defense is a term used by a number of Western militaries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, to describe an approach to combating actual or threatened insurgency in a foreign state called the Host Nation . The term counter-insurgency is more commonly used...

, special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organisations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the enemy. As a role, SR is distinct from commando operations,...

, direct action
Direct action (military)
In the context of military special operations, direct action consists of: "Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy,...

, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

. The first two emphasize language, cultural, and training skills in working with foreign troops. Other duties include combat search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 (CSAR), security assistance, peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian demining
Demining
Demining or mine clearance is the process of removing either land mines, or naval mines, from an area, while minesweeping describes the act of detecting of mines. There are two distinct types of mine detection and removal: military and humanitarian.Minesweepers use many tools in order to accomplish...

, counter-proliferation
Counter-proliferation
Counter-proliferation refers to diplomatic, intelligence, and military efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons, including both conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction...

, psychological operations
Psychological operations (United States)
Psychological operations are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.The purpose of United States...

, manhunts
Manhunt (military)
Manhunting is the deliberate identification, capturing, or killing of senior or otherwise important enemy combatants, classified as high-value targets, usually by special operations forces and intelligence organizations...

, and counter-drug operations
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

; other components of the United States Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command
The United States Special Operations Command is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces. The command is part of the Department of Defense...

 or other U.S. government activities may also specialize in these secondary areas. Many of their operational techniques are classified, but some nonfiction works and doctrinal manuals are available.

The original and most important mission of the Special Forces had been "unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare (United States Department of Defense doctrine)
In United States doctrine, unconventional warfare is the term for guerrilla warfare that is conducted or supported by units in the United States Special Operations Command. Guerrilla warfare is one aspect of the broader term insurgency. The American definition of UW is:-U.S...

", while other capabilities, such as direct action, were developed over time.

Their official motto is De oppresso liber
De Oppresso Liber
“De Oppresso Liber” is a motto of one of the United States Army’s Special Forces Groups, Green Berets. Members of this Elite Fighting Unit and more broadly, know this to mean: “The Oppressed Freed”, or, “The Oppressed Liberated” and as such, so also is their training and mission, straightforward...

, a reference to one of their primary missions, training and advising foreign indigenous forces.

Currently, Special Forces units are deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom. They are also deployed with other SOCOM
United States Special Operations Command
The United States Special Operations Command is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces. The command is part of the Department of Defense...

 elements as one of the primary American military forces in the ongoing War in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. As a special operations unit, Special Forces are not necessarily under the command authority of the ground commanders in those countries. Instead, while in theater, SF soldiers may report directly to United States Central Command
United States Central Command
The United States Central Command is a theater-level Unified Combatant Command unit of the U.S. armed forces, established in 1983 under the operational control of the U.S. Secretary of Defense...

, USSOCOM, or other command authorities.

The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) highly secretive Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 (SAD) and more specifically its elite Special Operations Group (SOG) recruits soldiers from the Army's Special Forces. Joint Army Special Forces and CIA operations go back to the famed MACV-SOG during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. This cooperation still exists today and is seen in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

History and traditions

Insignia

On a wreath of the colors (Argent and Sable), two arrows saltire-wise Argent - that is, two silver arrows crossed with a dagger, also silver, above them, surrounded by a black ribbon.
The crest is the crossed arrow collar (branch) insignia of the First Special Service Force (a joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit organized in 1942), but was changed from gold to silver to create visual harmony with the shield, as well as to make a difference from the collar insignia.

Description

A silver color metal and enamel device 1 1/8 inches (2.86 cm), in height consisting of a pair of silver arrows in saltire, points up and surmounted at their junction by a silver dagger with black handle point up; all over and between a black motto scroll arcing to base and inscribed "DE OPPRESSO LIBER" in silver letters.

Symbolism

The crest is the crossed arrow collar insignia (branch insignia) of the First Special Force, World War II. The motto supposedly translates from Latin to "Free From Oppression". However, the actual words mean "free from oppressed" and are therefore probably grammatically inaccurate, see De oppresso liber
De Oppresso Liber
“De Oppresso Liber” is a motto of one of the United States Army’s Special Forces Groups, Green Berets. Members of this Elite Fighting Unit and more broadly, know this to mean: “The Oppressed Freed”, or, “The Oppressed Liberated” and as such, so also is their training and mission, straightforward...

.

Background

The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 8 July 1960. The insignia of the 1st Special Forces was authorized to be worn by personnel of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) and its subordinate units on 7 March 1991.

History

Some of the Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 have much more similarity in terms of mission with the original U.S. Army Special Forces function, unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare is the opposite of conventional warfare. Where conventional warfare is used to reduce an opponent's military capability, unconventional warfare is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing...

 (UW), acting as cadre to train and lead guerrillas in occupied countries. The Special Forces motto, De oppresso liber
De Oppresso Liber
“De Oppresso Liber” is a motto of one of the United States Army’s Special Forces Groups, Green Berets. Members of this Elite Fighting Unit and more broadly, know this to mean: “The Oppressed Freed”, or, “The Oppressed Liberated” and as such, so also is their training and mission, straightforward...

(Latin: "to free the oppressed") reflects this historical mission of guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 against an occupying power. Specifically, the three-man Jedburgh
Operation Jedburgh
Operation Jedburgh was a clandestine operation during World War II, in which personnel of the British Special Operations Executive, the U.S...

 teams provided leadership to French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 units. The larger Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 "OSS" Operational Groups (OG) were more associated with SR/DA missions, although they did work with resistance units. Colonel Aaron Bank
Aaron Bank
Colonel Aaron Bank was an officer of the United States Army, and the founder of the US Army Special Forces, commonly called "Green Berets". He is also famous for his exploits as an OSS officer during World War II, parachuting into France to coordinate and activate the French Resistance and...

, considered the founding commander of the first Special Forces Group created, served in OSS during World War II.

While Filipino American
Filipino American
Filipino Americans are Americans of Filipino ancestry. Filipino Americans, often shortened to "Fil-Ams", or "Pinoy",Filipinos in what is now the United States were first documented in the 16th century, with small settlements beginning in the 18th century...

 guerrilla operations in the Japanese-occupied Philippines are not part of the direct lineage of Army Special Forces, some of the early Special Forces leadership were involved in advising and creating the modern organization. They included Russell Volckmann
Russell W. Volckmann
Russell W. Volckmann was a West Point graduate and a leader of guerilla resistance to the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II. After the fall of Bataan in 1942, he retreated into the hills and organized a resistance force among the Ilocanos...

, who commanded guerrillas in Northern Luzon and in Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

,
Donald Blackburn
Donald Blackburn
Brigadier General Donald C. "Don" Blackburn was a United States Army Special Forces officer, best known for his significant command and developmental roles in the U.S. Army Special Forces. He was also the commander of the highly classified Studies and Observations Group from 1965-66...

, who also served with the Northern Luzon force, and Colonel Wendell Fertig
Wendell Fertig
Wendell Fertig was an American civil engineer, in the American-administered Commonwealth of the Philippines, who organized and commanded an American-Filipino guerrilla force on the Japanese-occupied, southern Philippine island of Mindanao during World War II.Fertig held a U.S...

, who developed a division-sized force on Mindanao
Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...

.

During the Korean War, United Nations Partisan Forces Korea operated on islands and behind enemy lines. These forces were also known as the 8086th Army Unit, and later as the Far East Command Liaison Detachment, Korea, FECLD-K 8240th AU. These troops directed North Korean partisans in raids, harassment of supply lines, and the rescue of downed pilots. Since the initial Special Forces unit, the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated on 19 June 1952, and the Korean War broke out on 25 June 1950, U.S. Army Special Forces did not operate as a unit in that war. Experience gained in the Korean War, however, influenced the development of U.S. Army Special Forces doctrine.

U.S. Army Special Forces (SF) are, along with psychological operations
Psychological Operations (United States)
Psychological operations are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.The purpose of United States...

 detachments and Rangers, the oldest of the post-World War II Army units in the current United States Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command
The United States Special Operations Command is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces. The command is part of the Department of Defense...

 (USSOCOM). Their distinctive uniform item is the green beret
Beret
A beret is a soft, round, flat-crowned hat, designated a "cap", usually of woven, hand-knitted wool, crocheted cotton, or wool felt, or acrylic fiber....

. Their main mission was to train and lead unconventional warfare (UW) forces, or a guerrilla force in an occupied nation that no one is allowed to know. The Special Forces are the only U.S. Special Operations Force (SOF) trained to employ UW. The 10th Special Forces Group was the first deployed SF unit, intended to operate UW forces behind enemy lines in the event of a Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 invasion of Western Europe. As the United States became involved in Southeast Asia, it was realized that specialists trained to lead guerrillas could also help defend against hostile guerrillas, so SF acquired the additional mission of Foreign Internal Defense
Foreign internal defense
Foreign internal defense is a term used by a number of Western militaries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, to describe an approach to combating actual or threatened insurgency in a foreign state called the Host Nation . The term counter-insurgency is more commonly used...

 (FID), working with Host Nation (HN) forces in a spectrum of counter-guerrilla activities from indirect support to combat command.

Special Forces personnel qualify both in advanced military skills and the regional languages and cultures of defined parts of the world. While they have a Direct Action
Direct action (military)
In the context of military special operations, direct action consists of: "Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy,...

 (DA) capability, other units, such as Rangers
75th Ranger Regiment (United States)
The 75th Ranger Regiment , also known as Rangers, is a Special Operations light infantry unit of the United States Army. The Regiment is headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia with battalions in Fort Benning, Hunter Army Airfield and Joint Base Lewis-McChord...

, are more focused on overt direct action raids conducted in uniform but potentially behind enemy lines. SF personnel have the training to carry out covert DA, and other missions, including clandestine SR. Other missions include peace operations, counter-proliferation, counter-drug advisory roles, and other strategic missions. As strategic resources, they report either to USSOCOM or to a regional Unified Combatant Command
Unified Combatant Command
A Unified Combatant Command is a United States Department of Defense command that is composed of forces from at least two Military Departments and has a broad and continuing mission. These commands are established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of...

.

Their lineage dates back to include more than 200 years of unconventional warfare history, with notable predecessors including the Revolutionary War "Swamp Fox" Francis Marion
Francis Marion
Francis Marion was a military officer who served in the American Revolutionary War. Acting with Continental Army and South Carolina militia commissions, he was a persistent adversary of the British in their occupation of South Carolina in 1780 and 1781, even after the Continental Army was driven...

, the WWII OSS Jedburgh Teams
Operation Jedburgh
Operation Jedburgh was a clandestine operation during World War II, in which personnel of the British Special Operations Executive, the U.S...

, OSS Detachment 101
OSS Detachment 101
Detachment 101 of the Office of Strategic Services operated in the China Burma India Theater of World War II. On January 17, 1946, it was awarded a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation by Dwight Eisenhower, who wrote, "The courage and fighting spirit displayed by its officers and men in...

 in Burma, and the Alamo Scouts
Alamo scouts
The Alamo Scouts was a reconnaissance unit of the Sixth United States Army in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II...

. Since their establishment in 1952, Special Forces soldiers have distinguished themselves in Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 (17 Medals of Honor), El Salvador, Panama
United States invasion of Panama
The United States Invasion of Panama, code-named Operation Just Cause, was the invasion of Panama by the United States in December 1989. It occurred during the administration of U.S. President George H. W...

, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, Iraq, the Philippines, and, in an FID role, Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa
Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa is a joint task force of United States Africa Command . It originated under Operation Enduring Freedom-Horn of Africa as part of the United States response to the September 11, 2001 attacks...

, which was transferred to Africa Command
United States Africa Command
The United States Africa Command is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the United States Armed Forces, headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. It is responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with 53 African nations – an area of responsibility covering all...

 in 2008.

SF team members work closely together and rely on one another under isolated circumstances for long periods of time, both during extended deployments and in garrison. Because of this, they develop clannish relationships and long-standing personal ties. SF non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

s (NCO) often spend their entire careers in Special Forces, rotating among assignments to detachments, higher staff billets, liaison positions, and instructor duties at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS). Special Forces officers, on the other hand, historically spend a limited amount of time early in their careers assigned to SF detachments. They are then required to move to staff positions or to higher command echelons. With the creation of USSOCOM, SF commanders have risen to the highest ranks of U.S. Army command, including command of USSOCOM, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

.

Creation of Army Special Forces

Special Forces were formed in 1952, initially under the U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Division
Psychological Warfare Division
The Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF was a joint Anglo-American organisation set-up in World War II tasked with conducting principally 'white' tactical psychological warfare against German troops in North-west Europe during and after D-Day. It was headed by US Brigadier-General Robert A...

 headed by then Brigadier General Robert A. McClure
Robert A. McClure
Robert Alexis McClure was an American general and psychological warfare specialist.Born in Mattoon, Illinois, he graduated from the Kentucky Military Institute in 1915...

. For details of the early justification for Special Forces, see Clandestine HUMINT and Covert Action
Clandestine HUMINT and Covert Action
National governments deal in both intelligence and military special operations functions that either should be completely secret , or simply cannot be linked to the sponsor...

.

Special Operations Command was formed by the U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Center
Psychological operations (United States)
Psychological operations are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.The purpose of United States...

 which was activated in May 1952. The initial 10th Special Forces Group was formed in June 1952, and was commanded by Colonel Aaron Bank. Its formation coincided with the establishment of the Psychological Warfare School, which is now known as the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Bank served with various Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 (OSS) units, including Jedburgh teams
Operation Jedburgh
Operation Jedburgh was a clandestine operation during World War II, in which personnel of the British Special Operations Executive, the U.S...

 advising and leading French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 units before the Battle of Normandy, or the "D-Day" invasion of 6 June 1944. Bank is known as the father of the Special Forces.

The 10th SFG deployed to Bad Tölz
Bad Tölz
Bad Tölz is a town in Bavaria, Germany, and administrative center of the district of Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen.- History :Since the retreat of the glaciers at the end of the Ice Age, archaeology has shown continuous occupation of the site of Bad Tölz...

, Germany the following September, the remaining cadre
En cadre
En cadre or cadre is a French expression originally denoting either the complement of commissioned officers of a regiment or the permanent skeleton establishment of a unit, around which the unit could be built if needed...

 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

 formed the 77th Special Forces Group, which in May 1960 became 7th Special Forces Group.

The Green Beret

The origins of the Green Beret which Special Forces personnel wear can be traced to Scotland during the Second World War. U.S. Army Rangers and Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 (OSS) operatives who underwent training from the British Commandos
British Commandos
The British Commandos were formed during the Second World War in June 1940, following a request from the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, for a force that could carry out raids against German-occupied Europe...

 were awarded the Green Beret upon completion of the grueling and revolutionary commando course. However, this green beret was not authorized by the U.S. Army among the Rangers and OSS operatives who earned them. Edson Raff
Edson Raff
Edson Duncan Raff was an officer in the US Army and author of a book on paratroopers. He served as commanding officer of the first American paratroop unit to jump into combat, the 2nd Battalion 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, near Oran as part of Operation Torch...

, one of the first Special Forces officers, is credited with the re-birth of the green beret. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 authorized them for use exclusively by the U.S. Special Forces. Preparing for an 12 October visit to the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the President sent word to the Center's commander, Brigadier General William P. Yarborough
William P. Yarborough
Lieutenant General William Pelham Yarborough was a United States Army officer and a 1936 graduate of West Point. General Yarborough designed the parachutist badge, paratrooper or 'jump' boots, and the airborne jump uniform. He is known as the 'Father of the Modern Green Berets.' He is descended...

, for all Special Forces soldiers to wear green berets as part of the event. The President felt that since they had a special mission, Special Forces should have something to set them apart from the rest. In 1962, he called the green beret "a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom."

"It was President Kennedy who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Special Forces and giving us back our Green Beret," said Forrest Lindley, a writer for the newspaper Stars and Stripes who served with Special Forces in Vietnam. "People were sneaking around wearing it when conventional forces weren't in the area and it was sort of a cat and mouse game," he recalled. "When Kennedy authorized the Green Beret as a mark of distinction, everybody had to scramble around to find berets that were really green. We were bringing them down from Canada. Some were handmade, with the dye coming out in the rain."
Special Forces have a special bond with Kennedy, going back to his funeral. At the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of JFK's death, Gen. Michael D. Healy, the last commander of Special Forces in Vietnam, spoke at Arlington Cemetery. Later, a wreath in the form of the Green Beret would be placed on the grave, continuing a tradition that began the day of his funeral when a sergeant in charge of a detail of Special Forces men guarding the grave placed his beret on the coffin.

The wearers of the Green Beret caught the public's imagination and were the subject of a best selling, if semi-fictional, book The Green Berets
The Green Berets (book)
The Green Berets is a book written by Robin Moore about the Green Berets during the Vietnam War. First published in 1965, it became a best-selling paperback in 1966. The latest edition was published in 2007.-Background:...

by Robin Moore
Robin Moore
Robert Lowell "Robin" Moore, Jr. was an American writer who is most known for his books The Green Berets, The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy and, with Xaviera Hollander and Yvonne Dunleavy, The Happy Hooker: My Own Story.Moore also co-authored...

, a hit record, "Ballad of the Green Berets
Ballad of the Green Berets
"The Ballad Of The Green Berets" is a patriotic song in the ballad style about the Green Berets, an elite special force in the U.S. Army. It is one of the very few songs of the 1960s to cast the military in a positive light, yet it became a major hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard charts for five...

" performed and jointly (with Moore) written by Barry Sadler
Barry Sadler
Barry Sadler was an American soldier, author and musician. Sadler served as a Green Beret medic with the rank of Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War...

, who was himself a Green Beret, The Green Berets
The Green Berets (film)
The Green Berets is a 1968 war film featuring John Wayne, George Takei, David Janssen, Jim Hutton and Aldo Ray, nominally based on the eponymous 1965 book by Robin Moore, though the screenplay has little relation to the book....

produced, directed and starring, John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

, and a comic strip
Comic strip
A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

 and American comic book
American comic book
An American comic book is a small magazine originating in the United States and containing a narrative in the form of comics. Since 1975 the dimensions have standardized at 6 5/8" x 10 ¼" , down from 6 ¾" x 10 ¼" in the Silver Age, although larger formats appeared in the past...

, Tales of the Green Beret, written by Robin Moore
Robin Moore
Robert Lowell "Robin" Moore, Jr. was an American writer who is most known for his books The Green Berets, The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy and, with Xaviera Hollander and Yvonne Dunleavy, The Happy Hooker: My Own Story.Moore also co-authored...

 with artwork by Joe Kubert
Joe Kubert
Joe Kubert is an American comic book artist who went on to found The Kubert School. He is best known for his work on the DC Comics characters Sgt. Rock and Hawkman...

. See United States Army Special Forces in popular culture
United States Army Special Forces in popular culture
Members of the U.S. Army Special Forces will emphatically assert that the "Green Beret" is a hat and not the man who wears it. Nevertheless, for a time in the 1960s the Green Berets and the men who wore them became a national fad emerging in a wide variety of popular culture referents...

.

First deployment in Cold War-era Europe

10th Special Forces Group was responsible, among other missions, to operate a stay-behind
Stay-behind
In a stay-behind operation, a country places secret operatives or organisations in its own territory, for use in the event that the territory is overrun by an enemy. If this occurs, the operatives would then form the basis of a resistance movement, or would act as spies from behind enemy lines...

 guerrilla operation after a presumed Soviet overrunning of Western Europe, in conjunction with the program that later became controversially known as Operation Gladio
Operation Gladio
Operation Gladio is the codename for a clandestine NATO "stay-behind" operation in Italy after World War II. Its purpose was to continue anti-communist actions in the event of a shift to a Communist party led government...

. Through the Lodge-Philbin Act
Lodge-Philbin Act
The Lodge-Philbin Act was a U.S. law, passed on 30 June 1950, which allowed for the recruiting of foreign nationals into a military force fighting under the command of the U.S. armed forces. The Act permitted initially up to 2,500 non-resident aliens to enlist...

, it acquired a large number of Eastern European immigrants who brought much area and language skills. As well as preparing for the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 invasion that never came, Vietnam and other areas of South Vietnam, El Salvador, Colombia, Panama and Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 are the major modern conflicts that have defined the Special Forces.

Southeast Asia (Indochina Wars)

The Vietnam era saw the testing and shaping of Special Forces policy and action for the United States. The mission of the Special Forces changed rapidly in the first years from a force which had initially been used like its WWII predecessors as an internal strike force into a training force which helped develop unconventional warfare and counterinsurgency tactics. The period between 1961–1965 were especially formative.

The first U.S. Special Forces operations in Vietnam were in 1957, when soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group trained fifty eight Vietnamese Army soldiers at the Commando Training Center in Nha Trang. Special Forces units deployed to Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 as "Mobile Training Teams" (MTTs) in 1961, Project White Star (later named Project 404
Project 404
Project 404 was the code name for a covert United States Air Force advisory mission to Laos during the later years of the Second Indochina War, which would eventually become known in the United States as the Vietnam War...

), and they were among the first U.S. troops committed to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. Beginning in the early 1950s, Special Forces teams deployed from the United States and Okinawa to serve as advisers for the fledgling South Vietnamese Army. As the United States escalated its involvement in the war, the missions of the Special Forces expanded as well. Since Special Forces were trained to lead guerrillas, it seemed logical that they would have a deep understanding of counter-guerrilla actions, which became the Foreign Internal Defense
Foreign internal defense
Foreign internal defense is a term used by a number of Western militaries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, to describe an approach to combating actual or threatened insurgency in a foreign state called the Host Nation . The term counter-insurgency is more commonly used...

 (FID) mission. The 5th Special Forces Group mixed the UW and FID missions, often leading Vietnamese units such as Montagnards and lowland Civilian Irregular Defense Group
Civilian Irregular Defense Group
Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was a program developed by the U.S. government in the Vietnam War to develop South Vietnamese irregular military units from minority populations.-Purpose:...

s.
The deep raid on Son Tay, attempting to recover U.S. prisoners of war, had a ground element completely made up of Special Forces soldiers.

The main SF unit in South Vietnam was the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). SF soldiers assigned to the 5th Group earned seventeen Medals of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 in Vietnam, making it the most prominently decorated unit for its size in that conflict. Army Special Forces personnel also played predominant roles in the highly secret, multi-service Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG), with an extraordinarily large number of covert U.S. military personnel lost MIA
Missing in action
Missing in action is a casualty Category assigned under the Status of Missing to armed services personnel who are reported missing during active service. They may have been killed, wounded, become a prisoner of war, or deserted. If deceased, neither their remains nor grave can be positively...

 while operating on Studies and Observations Group (SOG) reconnaissance missions. During the prolonged conflict the Army Special Forces trained regular and paramilitary units of several Allied nations as well as US reconnaissance members; supervised the indigenous Civilian Irregular Defense Group stationed throughout Vietnam in fortified camps and as backup reserves; monitored the border region and infiltration routes; conducted strategic intelligence missions and fielded numerous elements engaged in special operational tasks.

The "Green Beret Affair": U. S. Special Forces received a severe black eye when in July 1969 Colonel Robert Rheault, Commander of 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), six subordinate Green Beret officers, including his headquarters staff intelligence officer, and a sergeant first class (SFC) were arrested for the murder of Thai Khac Chuyen, a suspected North Vietnamese double agent. It was suspected that Chuyen was providing the North Vietnamese Army information about Project GAMMA
Project GAMMA
Project GAMMA was the name given to Detachment B-57, Company E , 5th Special Forces Group , 1st Special Forces, U. S. Army in Vietnam from 1966 to 1970. It was responsible for covert intelligence collection operations in Cambodia....

 and the indigenous agents used by the 5th Special Forces Group. An attempted cover-up was uncovered when the SFC became concerned that he might be a 'fall guy' and contacted the local Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) office chief. In September 1969 Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor
Stanley Rogers Resor
Stanley Rogers Resor is a former lawyer, U.S. military officer, and government official.Born in New York City, he was the son of Stanley B. Resor , president of the J. W. Thompson advertising agency and one of the originators of the modern advertising industry...

 announced that all charges would be dropped since the CIA, in the interests of national security, had refused to make its personnel available as witnesses; implying some sort of involvement.

El Salvador

In the 1980s, U.S. Army Special Forces trainers were deployed to El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

. Their mission was to train the Salvadoran Military, who at the time were fighting a civil war against the left-wing guerrillas of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front
Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front is, since 1992, a left-wing political party in El Salvador and formerly a coalition of five revolutionary guerrilla organizations...

 (FMLN). In 1992, the FMLN reached a ceasefire agreement with the government of El Salvador. Following the success of SF in El Salvador, the 3rd Special Forces Group
3rd Special Forces Group (United States)
The 3rd Special Forces Group – abbreviated 3rd SFG and often called simply "3rd Group" – is a U.S. Army Special Forces unit active in the Vietnam Era and reactivated in 1990. Its area of operations is now Sub-Saharan Africa- History :- 1960s :3rd Group was first activated on 5 December 1963 at...

 was reactivated in 1990.

Colombia

In the late 1980s, major narcotics trafficking and terrorist problems within the region covered by the Southern Command
United States Southern Command
The United States Southern Command , located in Miami, Florida, is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands in the United States Department of Defense. It is responsible for providing contingency planning and operations in Central and South America, the Caribbean The United States Southern Command...

 (USSOUTHCOM) worsened. USSOUTHCOM was (and remains) responsible for all of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 (CARIBCOM). The 7th Special Forces Group deployed detachments, trainers and advisers in conjunction with teams from the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion to assist Host Nation (HN) forces. During the late 1990s, 7 SFG(A) also deployed to Colombia and trained three Counter Narcotics Battalions and assisted in the establishment of a Brigade Headquarters. These were the first units of their kind in Colombia and each is known as "Batallón Contra Narcotraficantes" or BACNA. These elements continue to be very successful against the narcotics industry which thrives in Colombia.
U.S. Army Special Forces detachments still rotate among various locations within Colombia, training HN units in counter-guerrilla and counter-narcotics roles, and SF detachments routinely deploy to other countries within the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility.

Invasion of Panama

In late 1988, tensions between the United States and Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 were extremely high with the Panamanian leader, Manuel Noriega
Manuel Noriega
Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno is a Panamanian politician and soldier. He was military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989.The 1989 invasion of Panama by the United States removed him from power; he was captured, detained as a prisoner of war, and flown to the United States. Noriega was tried on...

, calling for the dissolution of the agreement that allowed the United States to have bases in his country. In December 1989 President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 activated the planning section for Operation Just Cause
United States invasion of Panama
The United States Invasion of Panama, code-named Operation Just Cause, was the invasion of Panama by the United States in December 1989. It occurred during the administration of U.S. President George H. W...

/Promote Liberty. Just Cause was the portion of the mission to depose Noreiga and return Panama to democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

. Originally scheduled to begin at 0200 hrs. on 20 December, it actually kicked off at 2315 hrs when part of a Special Forces detachment that was waiting for the signal to begin was discovered above a gate above a Panamanian checkpoint. Just Cause was the first mission to have a very large contingent of Special Operations Forces on the ground. The units that were involved with the mission were as follows: Joint Task Force Delta (Delta Force), Joint Task Force South (7th SFG
7th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 7th Special Forces Group, an operational unit of the United States Army Special Forces, was activated on 20 May 1960. It was reorganized from the 77th Special Forces Group, which was also stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Its purpose is to conduct guerrilla operations and train friendly...

, 5th SFG
5th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 5th Special Forces Group is a United States Army Special Forces unit that was activated on 21 September 1961 during the Cold War.-Unit history:...

, 3rd SFG
3rd Special Forces Group (United States)
The 3rd Special Forces Group – abbreviated 3rd SFG and often called simply "3rd Group" – is a U.S. Army Special Forces unit active in the Vietnam Era and reactivated in 1990. Its area of operations is now Sub-Saharan Africa- History :- 1960s :3rd Group was first activated on 5 December 1963 at...

, 4th PSYOP Group
4th Psychological Operations Group
The 4th Military Information Support Group or 4th MISG is one of the United States Army's active military information support operations units alongside with the 8th Military Information Support Group, which was activated August 26, 2011 at Fort Bragg...

, the reinforced 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, and all three battalions of the 75th Rangers
75th Ranger Regiment (United States)
The 75th Ranger Regiment , also known as Rangers, is a Special Operations light infantry unit of the United States Army. The Regiment is headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia with battalions in Fort Benning, Hunter Army Airfield and Joint Base Lewis-McChord...

, and numerous other units from other forces such as the Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

, Marine Force Recon, and Air Force Combat Control Teams. The invasion was successful at deposing Noriega, but led to widespread looting
Looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

 and lawlessness in the following weeks.

Afghanistan

Special Forces units were the first military units (a Special Forces MSG wearing the Green Beret ring was the first person in country to seek out the Northern Alliance) that went into Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 under Major General Geoffrey C Lambert after the 11 September 2001 attacks, although CIA paramilitary officers from the famed Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 (SAD) were the first U.S. forces in the country to prepare for their arrival. A number of Special Forces operational detachments worked with Afghan Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
The Afghan Northern Alliance is a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996.Northern Alliance may also refer to:*Northern Alliance , a Canadian white supremacist group...

 troops, acting as a force multiplier
Force multiplication
Force multiplication, in military usage, refers to an attribute or a combination of attributes which make a given force more effective than that same force would be without it. The expected size increase required to have the same effectiveness without that advantage is the multiplication factor...

, especially by using new techniques for precise direction of heavy air support. Since the initial invasion, the 3rd and 7th SFGs have been charged with conducting operations in Afghanistan. SF has been conducting its bread-and-butter, Unconventional Warfare, fighting the enemy in its own or influenced territory. During the daytime, SF will often be meeting with local village elders and working with the people to "win over the hearts and minds" as well as trying to identify possible Taliban spies in the villages. SF has worked closely with Civil Affairs
Civil Affairs
Civil Affairs is a term used by both the United Nations and by military institutions , but for different purposes in each case.-United Nations Civil Affairs:...

 and Psychological Operations to provide villages with food, water, medicine, medical treatment and clinics, and even education programs to the people. As well as humanitarian assistance such as building roads, schools, and wells. This also requires SF to have to constantly patrol the areas to defend the villages from Taliban attacks. At night, SF will often be hunting down the Taliban and other insurgencies in the area, conducting raids on camps, training centers, drug-smuggling operations, and other Taliban safe-havens. As well as ambushing weapons, supplies, and drug convoys and clearing hidden paths in the mountains that border Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and Afghanistan, including mining operations on paths that the Taliban use, conducting reconnaissance, and capturing or killing high-ranking terrorist leaders. SF will almost always work with Afghan forces, who they have often trained. This shows the people that it is their own Afghans stopping the Taliban, not the Americans. SF soldiers will also make small changes to their appearance, such as growing beards, growing their hair longer, and wearing traditional Afghan scarfs or belts to show that they are not trying to force any American culture on them but rather that they respect their culture and traditions.

Iraq

Just as in Afghanistan, SF were the first military units in Iraq after the initial entry of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) and the CIA. 10th SFG was heavily deployed to Northern Iraq, where they, along with CIA/SAD officers contacted, organized, and trained Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, anti-Saddam
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 Forces. During the initial invasion, 10th SFG
10th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 10th Special Forces Group is an Active Duty United States Army Special Forces group. The 10th Special Forces Group is responsible for operations within the EUCOM area of responsibility, as part of the Special Operations Command, Europe , as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East.10th SFG...

 and CIA/SAD officers led one of the most successful campaigns in Iraq, the Group along with its Kurdish allies defeated six Iraqi Army Divisions with limited air support and no SF soldiers were killed. The joint Kurdish-Special Forces units killed over one-thousand Iraqi Army soldiers and captured hundreds more. Likewise, 5th SFG
5th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 5th Special Forces Group is a United States Army Special Forces unit that was activated on 21 September 1961 during the Cold War.-Unit history:...

 (1st BN) was deployed in Western Iraq. One battalion infiltrated the country weeks before the initial invasion in order to conduct DA strikes to destroy Saddam's SCUD missile capability. 5th SFG also organized anti-Saddam forces and, like 10th SFG, led an extremely successful operation which inflicted serious casualties to the Iraqi Army in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 right after conventional forces had seized it. With major combat operations over, SF were charged with building a new Iraqi Army, eliminating Baath Party
Baath Party
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was a political party mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to Western imperialism, and calling for the renaissance or resurrection and unification of the Arab world into a single state. Ba'ath is also spelled Ba'th or Baath and means...

 members, and, most importantly, finding Saddam and his sons.

Organization

U.S. Army Special Forces is divided into five active duty
Active duty
Active duty refers to a full-time occupation as part of a military force, as opposed to reserve duty.-Pakistan:The Pakistan Armed Forces are one of the largest active service forces in the world with almost 610,000 full time personnel due to the complex and volatile nature of Pakistan's...

 (AD) and two Army National Guard
Army National Guard
Established under Title 10 and Title 32 of the U.S. Code, the Army National Guard is part of the National Guard and is divided up into subordinate units stationed in each of the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia operating under their respective governors...

 (ARNG) Special Forces groups. Each Special Forces Group (SFG) has a specific regional focus. The Special Forces soldiers assigned to these groups receive intensive language and cultural training for countries within their regional area of responsibility (AOR). Due to the increased need for Special Forces soldiers in the War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

, all Groups—including those of the National Guard (19th and 20th SFGs)—have been deployed outside of their areas of operation (AOs), particularly to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. A recently released report showed Special Forces as perhaps the most deployed SOF under SOCOM, with many soldiers, regardless of Group, serving up to 75% of their careers overseas, almost all of which had been to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Basic Element – SF Operational Detachment-A (ODA) composition

A Special Forces company consists of usually six ODAs (Operational Detachments-A) or "A-Teams". The number of ODAs can vary from company to company, with each ODA specializing in an infiltration skill or a particular mission-set (e.g. Military Freefall (HALO), combat diving, Air Assault, mountain warfare, maritime operations, or urban operations).

An ODA consists of 12 men, each of whom has a specific function (MOS or Military Occupational Specialty
Military Occupational Specialty
A United States military occupation code, or a Military Occupational Specialty code , is a nine character code used in the United States Army and United States Marines to identify a specific job. In the U.S. Air Force, a system of Air Force Specialty Codes is used...

) on the team, however all members of an ODA conduct cross-training. The ODA is led by an 18A (Detachment Commander), usually a Captain, and a 180A (Assistant Detachment Commander) who is his second in command, usually a Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer (United States)
In the United States military, the rank of warrant officer is rated as an officer above the senior-most enlisted ranks, as well as officer cadets and candidates, but below the officer grade of O-1...

 One or Chief Warrant Officer Two. The team also includes the following enlisted men: one 18Z team sergeant (Operations Sergeant), usually a Master Sergeant, one 18F (Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant), usually a Sergeant First Class
Sergeant First Class
Sergeant First Class is the seventh enlisted rank in the U.S. Army, above Staff Sergeant and below Master Sergeant and First Sergeant, and is the first senior non-commissioned officer rank...

, and two each, 18Bs (Weapons Sergeant), 18Cs (Engineer Sergeant), 18Ds (Medical Sergeant), and 18Es (Communications Sergeant), usually Sergeants First Class, Staff Sergeants or Sergeants. This organization facilitates 6-man "split team" operations, redundancy, and mentoring between a senior specialist NCO and his junior assistant.

Company HQ Element – SF Operational Detachment-B (ODB) composition

The ODB, or "B-Team", is the headquarters element of a Special Forces company, and it is usually composed of 11–13 soldiers. While the A-team typically conducts direct operations, the purpose of the B-Team is to support the company's A-Teams both in garrison and in the field. When deployed, in line with their support role, B-Teams are usually found in more secure rear areas. However, under some circumstances a B-Team will deploy into a hostile area, usually to coordinate the activities of multiple A-Teams.

The ODB is led by an 18A, usually a Major, who is the Company Commander
Company Commander
A company commander is the commanding officer of a company, a military unit which typically consists of 100 to 350 soldiers, often organized into three or four smaller units called platoons....

 (CO). The CO is assisted by his Company Executive Officer
Executive officer
An executive officer is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization.-Administrative law:...

 (XO), another 18A, usually a Captain. The XO is himself assisted by a Company Technician, a 180A, generally a Chief Warrant Officer Three, who assists in the direction of the organization, training, intelligence, counter-intelligence, and operations for the company and its detachments. The Company Commander is assisted by the Company Sergeant Major, an 18Z, usually a Sergeant Major. A second 18Z acts as the Operations Sergeant, usually a Master Sergeant, who assists the XO and Technician in their operational duties. He has an 18F Assistant Operations Sergeant, who is usually a Sergeant First Class. The company's support comes from an 18D Medical Sergeant, usually a Sergeant First Class, and two 18E Communications Sergeants, usually a Sergeant First Class and a Staff Sergeant.

Note the distinct lack of a weapons or engineer NCO. This is because the B-Team generally does not engage in direct operations, but rather operates in support of the A-Teams.

The following jobs are outside of the Special Forces 18-series Career Management Field (CMF), but hold positions on a Special Forces B-Team. Soldiers in these positions are not "Special Forces qualified", as they have not completed the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course (SFAS) or the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC or "Q Course):
  • The Supply
    Military Supply Chain Management
    Military supply chain management is a cross-functional approach to procuring, producing and delivering products and services. The broad management scope includes sub-suppliers, suppliers, internal information and funds flow.-Supply:...

     NCO, usually a Staff Sergeant, the commander's principal logistical planner, works with the battalion S-4 to supply the company.

  • The Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC)
    NBC suit
    An NBC suit is a type of military personal protective equipment designed to provide protection against direct contact with and contamination by radioactive, biological or chemical substances, and provides protection from contamination with radioactive materials and some types of radiation,...

     NCO, usually a Sergeant, maintains and operates the company's NBC detection and decontamination equipment, and assists in administering NBC defensive measures.

Battalion HQ Element – SF Operational Detachment-C (ODC) composition

The ODC, or "C-Team", is the headquarters element of a Special Forces Battalion. As such, it is a command and control unit with operations, training, signals and logistic support responsibilities to its three subordinate line companies. A Lieutenant Colonel (O-5) commands the battalion and the C-Team and the battalion Command Sergeant Major (E-9) is the senior NCO of the battalion and the C-Team. There are an additional 20–30 SF personnel who fill key positions in Operations, Logistics, Intelligence, Communications and Medical. A Special Forces battalion usually consists of four companies: "A", "B", "C", and Headquarters/Support.

SF Group strength

Until recently an SF Group has consisted of three Battalions, but since the Department of Defense has authorized U.S. Army Special Forces Command to increase its authorized strength by one third, a fourth Battalion will be activated in each active component Group by 2012.

A Special Forces Group is historically assigned to a Unified Combatant Command
Unified Combatant Command
A Unified Combatant Command is a United States Department of Defense command that is composed of forces from at least two Military Departments and has a broad and continuing mission. These commands are established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of...

 or a theater of operations. The C-detachment (ODC) is responsible for a theater or a major subcomponent, and can raise brigade or larger guerrilla forces. Subordinate to it are the B-detachments (ODB), which can raise battalion and larger forces. Further subordinate, the ODAs typically raise company-sized units when on UW missions. They can form 6-man "split A" detachments that are often used for Strategic Reconnaissance (SR).

Groups

InsigniaGroup
1st Special Forces Group
1st Special Forces Group (United States)
The 1st Special Forces Group is a U.S. Army Special Forces unit that was activated on 24 June 1957 at Camp Drake, Japan.-Unit history:It was among the first groups of the Special Forces to be officially formed. The group is responsible for operations in the Pacific...

– Headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a United States military facility located south-southwest of Tacoma, Washington. The facility is under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Joint Base Garrison, Joint Base Lewis-McChord....

, Washington along with its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Battalions, its 1st Battalion is forward deployed at Torii Station, Okinawa. The 1SFGA is oriented towards the Pacific region, and is often tasked by PACOM
United States Pacific Command
The United States Pacific Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States armed forces responsible for the Pacific Ocean area. It is led by the Commander, Pacific Command , who is the supreme military authority for the various branches of the Armed Forces of the United States serving...

. Currently, 1SFGA and two of its battalions spend roughly six months out of every twelve deployed on a rotational basis to either Iraq as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Arabian Peninsula, to Afghanistan as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan, or to the Philippines as Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines.
3rd Special Forces Group
3rd Special Forces Group (United States)
The 3rd Special Forces Group – abbreviated 3rd SFG and often called simply "3rd Group" – is a U.S. Army Special Forces unit active in the Vietnam Era and reactivated in 1990. Its area of operations is now Sub-Saharan Africa- History :- 1960s :3rd Group was first activated on 5 December 1963 at...

– Headquartered at Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg (North Carolina)
Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. The 3SFGA is theoretically oriented towards all of Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 with the exception of the Eastern Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

, i.e. AFRICOM
United States Africa Command
The United States Africa Command is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the United States Armed Forces, headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. It is responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with 53 African nations – an area of responsibility covering all...

. In practice, 3SFGA and two of its battalions spend roughly six months out of every twelve deployed to Afghanistan as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan.
5th Special Forces Group
5th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 5th Special Forces Group is a United States Army Special Forces unit that was activated on 21 September 1961 during the Cold War.-Unit history:...

– Headquartered at Fort Campbell
Fort Campbell
Fort Campbell is a United States Army installation located astraddle the Kentucky-Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Tennessee...

, Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

. The 5SFGA is oriented towards the Middle East, Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

 (HOA), and is frequently tasked by CENTCOM
United States Central Command
The United States Central Command is a theater-level Unified Combatant Command unit of the U.S. armed forces, established in 1983 under the operational control of the U.S. Secretary of Defense...

. Currently, 5SFGA and two of its battalions spend roughly six months out of every twelve deployed to Iraq as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Arabian Peninsula.
7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
7th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 7th Special Forces Group, an operational unit of the United States Army Special Forces, was activated on 20 May 1960. It was reorganized from the 77th Special Forces Group, which was also stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Its purpose is to conduct guerrilla operations and train friendly...

– Headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

, Florida. The 7SFG(A) is oriented towards the western hemisphere: South America, Central America, the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 (i.e. the USSOUTHCOM AOR
United States Southern Command
The United States Southern Command , located in Miami, Florida, is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands in the United States Department of Defense. It is responsible for providing contingency planning and operations in Central and South America, the Caribbean The United States Southern Command...

), and North America (i.e. the USNORTHCOM AOR). In practice, 7SFG(A) and two of its battalions spend roughly six months out of every twelve deployed to Afghanistan as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan. (In 2011, 7SFGA relocated from Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg (North Carolina)
Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 to Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

, Florida as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round
Base Realignment and Closure, 2005
The preliminary 2005 Base Realignment and Closure list was released by the United States Department of Defense on May 13, 2005. It is the fifth Base Realignment and Closure proposal generated since the process was created in 1988. It recommends closing 33 major United States military bases and...

.
10th Special Forces Group
10th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 10th Special Forces Group is an Active Duty United States Army Special Forces group. The 10th Special Forces Group is responsible for operations within the EUCOM area of responsibility, as part of the Special Operations Command, Europe , as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East.10th SFG...

– Headquartered at Fort Carson, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 along with its 2nd, 3rd and newly added 4th Battalions, its 1st Battalion is forward deployed in the Panzer Kaserne (Panzer Barracks) in Böblingen
Böblingen
Böblingen is a town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, seat of Böblingen District. Physically Sindelfingen and Böblingen are continuous.-History:Böblingen was founded by Count Wilhelm von Tübingen-Böblingen in 1253. Württemberg acquired the town in 1357, and on 12 May 1525 one of the bloodiest battles...

 near Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, Germany. The 10SFGA is theoretically oriented towards Europe, mainly Central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and Eastern Europe, the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, Turkey, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Lebanon and Northern Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, i.e. EUCOM
United States European Command
The United States European Command is one of ten Unified Combatant Commands of the United States military, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Its area of focus covers and 51 countries and territories, including Europe, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and Israel...

. In practice, 10SFGA and two of its battalions spend roughly six months out of every twelve deployed to Iraq as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Arabian Peninsula.
19th Special Forces Group
19th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 19th Special Forces Group is one of two National Guard groups of the United States Army Special Forces. Headquartered in Draper, Utah, with detachments in Washington, West Virginia, Ohio, Rhode Island, Colorado, California and Texas, the 19th SFG shares responsibility over Southwest Asia with...

– One of two National Guard Special Forces Groups. Headquartered in Draper
Draper, Utah
Draper is a city in Salt Lake and Utah Counties in the U.S. state of Utah, located about south of Salt Lake City along the Wasatch Front. Between 1990 and 2000 Draper was Utah's fastest-growing city over 5,000 people . Its population in 1990 was 7,143 and had grown to 25,220 by the 2000 census...

, Utah, with companies in Washington, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, California, and Texas, the 19SFGA is oriented towards Southwest Asia (shared with 5SFGA), Europe (shared with 10SFGA), as well as Southeast Asia (shared with 1SFGA).
20th Special Forces Group
20th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 20th Special Forces Group or 20th SFG is one of two Army National Guard groups for the United States Army Special Forces...

– One of two National Guard Special Forces Groups. Headquartered in Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, Alabama, with battalions in Alabama (1st Battalion), Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 (2nd Battalion), and Florida (3rd Battalion), with assigned Companies and Detachments in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 ; Chicago, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

; Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, Kentucky; Western Massachusetts
Western Massachusetts
Western Massachusetts is a loosely defined geographical region of the U.S. state of Massachusetts which contains the Berkshires, the Pioneer Valley, and some or all of the Swift River Valley. The region is always considered to include Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties, and the...

; and Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

. The 20SFGA has an area of responsibility (AOR) covering 32 countries, including Latin America south of Mexico, the waters, territories, and nations in the Caribbean sea, the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, and the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. Orientation towards the region is shared with 7SFGA.
Inactive Groups
6th Special Forces Group – Active from 1963 to 1971. Based at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Assigned to Southwest Asia (Iraq, Iran, etc.) and Southeast Asia. Many of the 103 original Son tay raider volunteers were from 6SFGA.
8th Special Forces Group – Active from 1963 to 1972. Responsible for training armies of Latin America in counter-insurgency
Counter-insurgency
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

 tactics.
11th Special Forces Group – Active from 1961 to 1994.
12th Special Forces Group – Active from 1961 to 1994.

Selection and training

The United States Army Special Forces soldier trains on a regular basis over the course of their entire career. The initial formal training program for entry into Special Forces is divided into four phases collectively known as the Special Forces Qualification Course or, informally, the "Q Course". The length of the Q Course changes depending on the applicant's primary job field within Special Forces and their assigned foreign language capability but will usually last between 55 to 95 weeks. After successfully completing the Special Forces Qualification Course, Special Forces soldiers are then eligible for many advanced skills courses. These include, but are not limited to, the Military Free Fall Parachutist Course (MFF), the Combat Diver Qualification Course and the Special Forces Sniper Course (SFSC).

Special Forces MOS descriptions

  • 18A – Special Forces Officer

  • 180A – Special Forces Warrant Officer

  • 18B – Special Forces Weapons Sergeant

  • 18C – Special Forces Engineer Sergeant

  • 18D – Special Forces Medical Sergeant

  • 18E – Special Forces Communications Sergeant

  • 18F – Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant

  • 18X – Special Forces Candidate (Active Duty Enlistment Option)

  • 18Z – Special Forces Operations Sergeant


Note: Individuals desiring a career in Special Forces who have no prior military service or who have separated from military service may enlist directly into the 18X MOS, and upon successful completion of upwards of six months of initial training be given the chance to be selected at the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course (SFAS).

It should be noted that other personnel in MOS designations outside of 18 series often support SF teams directly.

Vietnam era officers' Special Forces MOS incorporated the branch (infantry, artillery etc.) MOS with a 3 prefix indicating Special Forces qualified. Hence, an infantry officer MOS, 1542, would become 31542. See the following Army Regulation.

AR 611-103(1967)
Five-character military occupational specialties

a. A prefix digit or letter added to a
basic MOS creates an additional five-character
MOS which carries the appropriate prefix title
indicated in AR 611-101. The basic four-digit
MOS with its proper title is retained as originally
awarded. The provisions for the award,
designation as primary, withdrawal, and reporting
of MOS apply equally to both four and
five-character MOS. Six-character MOS are
not authorized; i.e., two prefix characters will
not be added to a basic MOS to form a
six-character MOS.

b. Example;
1542 Infantry Unit commander
becomes 31542 Special Forces.
DA Form 66, will reflect both the
basic MOS code and, when appropriate five-
character code. The four-digit
must be awarded, prior to or simultaneous with
the five-digit MOS code.

c. The following special provisions pertain
to prefix digit 3, Special Forces, will
be awarded to officer personnel who
successfully complete the Special
Forces Officer Course, 33-G-F3, or
who have acquired knowledge of the
characteristics, capabilities, and limitations
of Special Forces organizations
through practical experience
and are considered qualified by the
Commanding General USAJFKCENSPWAR
or the Special Forces Group
Commander to perform the duties of
Special Forces Officer.

See also

  • 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force)
  • Central Intelligence Agency
    Central Intelligence Agency
    The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

    's Special Activities Division
    Special Activities Division
    The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

  • Joint Task Force 2
    Joint Task Force 2
    Joint Task Force 2 is an elite Special Operations Force of the Canadian Armed Forces primarily tasked with counter-terrorism operations...

  • List of special forces units
  • Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies and Observations Group
  • U.S. Navy SEALs
  • Special Air Service
    Special Air Service
    Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

  • Special Forces Association
    Special Forces Association
    The Special Forces Association is a non-profit fraternal organization for current and retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, also known as "Green Berets." Established in 1964, the association is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with 84 chapters located in the United States as well as...

  • The Special Warfare Memorial Statue
    The Special Warfare Memorial Statue
    The Special Warfare Memorial Statue — known informally as Bronze Bruce — was the first Vietnam Memorial in the United States. It was created in 1968 by sculptor Donald De Lue and dedicated in 1969. Since then, the statue has become the centerpiece of the U.S...

  • U.S. Army Rangers
    United States Army Rangers
    United States Army Rangers are elite members of the United States Army. Rangers have served in recognized U.S. Army Ranger units or have graduated from the U.S. Army's Ranger School...

  • United States Army Special Forces in popular culture
    United States Army Special Forces in popular culture
    Members of the U.S. Army Special Forces will emphatically assert that the "Green Beret" is a hat and not the man who wears it. Nevertheless, for a time in the 1960s the Green Berets and the men who wore them became a national fad emerging in a wide variety of popular culture referents...


External links

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