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Kane MILS572 Special Operations Forces Applications November 1, 2009 A Partial History of the Army National Guard Special Forces The United States Army Special Forces, also known as US Army SF, was born on June 11, 1952 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and designated the 10th Special Forces Group. This new Army unit, whose lineage came from the 1st Special Service Force (Devil's Brigade), a joint Canadian-American unit that performed clandestine operations during World War II included some of the original members from the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the modern CIA. The 10th Special Forces Group, founded by Colonel Aaron Bank, a former OSS operative would eventually split its personnel in 1953 and move one half to Europe and leave one half at Fort Bragg, NC to form the nucleus of the 77th Special Forces Group (renamed the 7th SFG in 1960) and the building block of the growth of Special Forces during the 1960’s. The core tasks of all Special Forces soldiers are Unconventional Warfare (UW), Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Direct Action (DA), Special Reconnaissance (SR), Counter Terrorism (CT), Information Operations (IO) and Counter Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (CP-WMD). During the early days of the formation of Special Forces, the Army decided on creating United States Army Reserve Special Forces (USAR SF) and Army National Guard Special Forces (ARNG SF) units in the same way that there were established conventional units that would augment the Active Army during a major war. In 1955, the 77th Special Forces Group (SFG) sent cadre to help train
one of the first Reserve Component SF units in existence, the 300th FD Operational Detachment, SF from Fayetteville, North Carolina. By 1957, the 301st (subordinate units in ID, WA, CA and MT), the 302nd (NJ) and the 303rd (IL) had increased the size of SF in the Reserve Component. In 1959, the Adjutant General of Louisiana was able to obtain a large portion of an SF group in the state, but units were disbanded after his departure from office.1 Something interesting to note is the naming convention used for the name of the SF units of the 1950’s-1960. As the originators of SF were putting together the Modified Table of Organization & Equipment (MTOE), the first naming convention utilized the phrase “Operational Detachment” at all levels within the Group structure. As in the case of the 300th FD Operational Detachment, SF, the FD2 would be comparable to the modern day Group, the FC (comparable to the modern day Battalion), the FB (comparable to the modern day company) and the FA (comparable to the modern day ODA).3 The one thing that has stayed constant at the ODA level is the fact that there are two of every SF MOS on the team which allows for split team operations and allows for a very high percentage of success during combat and training missions.
Sutherland, Ian D.W. LTC (Ret.), Special Forces of the United States Army, (San Jose: R. James Bender Publishing, 1990), 310.
FD- possibly known as field detachment as per LTC Robert Jones, USASOC Historian’s Office at Ft. Bragg, NC.
Department of the Army, Guerilla Warfare and Special Forces Operations (FM 31-21), (Washington DC, 1958), 30-36.
In the 1960’s ARNG SF consisted of the 16th, 19th, 20th and the 36th, 37th and 38th SF Detachments of the Alaska ARNG, but the first actual Special Forces units in the ARNG were the 134th Special Forces Operational Detachment, the 135th Special Forces Operational Detachment, and the 161st Special Forces Administration Detachment (lineage of 19th Group), Utah ARNG in 1959. After their formation these soldiers performed a two week training period, 5 – 19 July 1959, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. When the unit returned to Utah, these thirtyfive men formed the nucleus to which the remaining twenty-eight operational and administrative detachments were organized.* Another unit that came into existence in 1959 was the 116th Special Forces Operational Detachment (D
Detachment), the predecessor of the 20th Group and part of the Alabama ARNG.4 During the first year of the 20th Group’s existence, one full time member kept control of the property books and performed the duties of what is now known as the “Readiness NCO”. The first Annual Training period for the 20th SFG was 5-21 July 1959 at Ft. Bragg, NC. Here they trained with the 77th SFG. In the following years, the Group held their Annual Training at Ft. McClellan, AL, current home of the Alabama Military Academy and an ARNG training base. Today, ARNG SF consists of the 19th SFG, based in Draper, Utah with units in eight States (UT, WA, WV, OH, RI, CO, CA and TX) along with 20th SFG, based in Birmingham, Alabama with units in 7 States (AL, FL, MS, NC, MA, MD, and IL). This accounts for approximately 20 percent of the US Army SF population. Since 9/11, there have been over 3,368 soldiers (qualified SF soldiers and their support units) that have deployed in support of the GWOT5. In the 1960’s, National Guard Special Forces trained in the usual part-time manner of the time, with drill periods on every Tuesday night from 1900-2130 (79:30 PM) and Annual Training (unofficially known as “summer camp”)periods in the summer time. After a short period of time, it became clear that Special Forces Guardsman needed more time to train, so they started the concept of drill weekends from this point forward. In October of 1961, President John F. Kennedy authorized the wear of the Green Beret for Special Forces soldiers. At this time, all of the Special Forces Groups started choosing colors for their unit
* Hagerman, Bart, USA Airborne: 50th Anniversary 1940-1990, (Paducah: Turner Publishing Company, 1990), 346 and 446. Information for 19th Group derived from Group History in footnote 8. A list of the twenty-eight operational and administrative detachments that were organized in the UT-ARNG is located in the bibliography.
Army National Guard Mobilization Database, 24 June 2009
flashes. A teal blue flash was authorized for wear by the ARNG SF units, reminiscent of the original flash worn by the 77th SFG. Although all of the Reserve Component groups created their own unique flashes starting with the 11th (1966), 20th (1967), 12th (1972) and 19th (1982), all of the groups kept the teal blue within the color scheme of the flashes.6 Non-qualified SF soldiers within the groups wore a unit wore a 1/4" high bar (also known as the “candy stripe”) below the Special Forces Crest on his green beret in a horizontal position on the green beret where the flash would usually be. The use of the bar ended with the creation of the Special Forces tab and up until January 1993.
19th SFG Flash
20th SFG Flash
During the Vietnam conflict, ARNG SF units weren't called up for active duty; however, individual unit members from the 19th and 20th did volunteer for active duty SF and were assigned to the 5th SFG. During their tour of service, they were not Guardsman in the 19th or 20th because they had to be discharged from the ARNG and serve as active duty SF soldiers. Some soldiers from both groups also served in the highly secret, multi-service Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG). In the book, “SOG: The
Sutherland, Ian D.W. LTC (Ret.), Special Forces of the United States Army, (San Jose: R. James Bender Publishing, 1990), 471-473.
Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam” a mention is made about a team of "reservists from the Florida-based 20th Special Forces Group" who had snatched "SOG's first Laotian prisoner in nine months."7 This very important piece of the ARNG SF history is not known by many people, even people within the actively serving SF community. This showed early on the abilities that ARNG SF soldiers could posses when compared to their active brethren. The 1960’s and 70’s were a time when the ARNG SF groups were increasing their numbers in terms of training and the qualification of soldiers and constant reorganization of units and personnel across the multiple states that ARNG SF has had a foothold. In the 19th SFG, the Utah and Colorado ARNG units focused their training in winter survival and mountaineering warfare while the 2nd and 3rd Battalions concentrated on water infiltration and river operations, all in an unconventional warfare setting. The 19th also went through a period of reorganization and growth from September 1963 to October 1978 when the group had activated and deactivated units in the Montana, New York and West Virginia ARNG. 8 In the 20th SFG, the main events of the era were reorganization of the Group with respect to the support units and the operational detachments in the Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida ARNG. One unique event in 1960 had to do with airborne operations. When the fist AL-ARNG SF units came into existence in 1959, the first airborne qualified members had to drive to Ft. Benning, GA in order to jump from the U1A aircraft for proficiency. In 1960, Graham Drop Zone at Ft. McClellan, AL was created for the unit in order to
Plaster, John L. SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam, (New York: Penguin Group, 1998), 159-160. SSG Wade R. Burn, et al., "19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 1st Special Forces, A History " 19th Special Forces Group Archives (June 2008) page 3-4
conduct airborne training. Jumpmasters from the 77th SFG at Ft. Bragg, NC would come down to help conduct the training in the first few years. From 1963 to 1976, the unit went through five reorganizations with the final result being the current three battalions in Alabama (1st), Mississippi (2nd) and Florida (3rd).9 By the late 1970’s the ARNG SF groups had reorganized, grown in strength and technical competence and had survived the downsizing of US Army Special Forces after Vietnam. The Active Component SF Groups had started regionally aligning themselves in the 1960’s when 10th Group was sent to Germany to keep eyes on the Soviet threat. The case is the same with the ARNG SF Groups. By 1977, the 19th Group’s area of operations was shifted from just US based training and support, to the Far East due to its loose affiliation with the 1st Special Forces Group. 19th Group’s first overseas deployment was in support of 1st SFG in August 1968 when it deployed to Okinawa, Japan for Exercise Silver Dagger I, a guerrilla warfare based exercise. Exercise Foal Eagle 1978, an annual largescale Republic of Korea-wide joint combined/ joint Field Training Exercise, conducted in South Korea, was the first exercise in which the 19th Group deployed completely by itself, once again showing the viability of the 19th Special Forces Group and National Guard soldiers as complementary members of US Army SF.10 The 1970’s ended on a strong point with the establishment of a Basic Airborne Course at the former 6th Battalion, 19th SFG in Missoula, Montana.
Hagerman, Bart, USA Airborne: 50th Anniversary 1940-1990, (Paducah: Turner Publishing Company, 1990), 346 and 347.
SSG Wade R. Burn, et al., "19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 1st Special Forces, A History " 19th Special Forces Group Archives (June 2008) 6.
During this time, the quotas for Airborne School were limited at Ft. Benning and the effects of this shortage of training seats was that the 19th SFG had a hard time getting the non-qualified soldiers trained. The Aerial Fire Depot, home of the US Forest Service Fire Jumpers, was the starting point for the Group’s Basic Airborne Course. On May 12, 1978, the first class started with cadre from 7th SFG along with support soldiers from all across 19th in the initial formation. At the first graduation, forty-nine out of one hundred-sixteen students had survived the school. The Group would add a Jumpmaster Course to the program of instruction, move the course to a new facility at Camp Williams, Utah in 1985 and close its doors in 1987.11 From my research not much information was found on the 20th SFG’s missions and deployments during this time period, but rest assured, the group was busy getting ready for the future. In the 1980’s the Groups had achieved a milestone, with over two decades in existence, much re-organization of units and continued growth as far as qualification of SF soldiers and support personnel. In 1981, President Ronald W. Reagan empowered the Department of Defense to begin a consolidation of the entire Special Operations Community after the failure at Desert One in 1980 to successfully rescue the hostages being held in the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran. This led to the formation of today’s US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). With this consolidation came an increase of nation building exercises. Because of this new increase in missions, the 19th Group began successfully adding missions to Alaska, Hawaii, Tinian and Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands), Guam, Thailand, and the Philippine Islands. The late
SSG Wade R. Burn, et al., "19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 1st Special Forces, A History " 19th Special Forces Group Archives (June 2008) 4.
80s showed continued achievement with the addition of Exercises Ocean Venture, Cobra Gold, and Golden Laser II. With all that has been said about 19th Group, 20th Group was fully employed in Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean with 7th SFG. Places like El Salvador and Columbia come to mind during the unrest of the 1980’s. Because of its regional affiliation with 7th SFG, it could be inferred even without much open source information that 20th SFG shared in the mission planning for the missions in Latin America. The last decade of the 20th Century would bring new opportunities for ARNG SF, from the Gulf War to the new Joint Combined Exercise Training (JCET) mission format. While 19th SFG was participating in JCET’s in the pacific Rim and Asia along with providing Special Forces Medical Sergeant’s (18D’s) to the Joint Task Force Full Accounting as part of recovery of human remains in Vietnam and Laos, they were also reorganizing its 2nd and 5th Battalion’s (Bn.)to support the 5th SFG and the 10th SFG, respectively. This realigned 2nd Bn. within the Central Command Area of Operations (CENTCOM AO) and the 5th Bn. within the European Command of Operations (EUCOM AO). On Jan. 23, 1991, the 20th SFG was activated in support of Operation Desert Storm — the first time that a Reserve Component SF group had been called to active duty. A number of other RC Special Forces soldiers eagerly volunteered to serve during the operation. Following Desert Storm, about 40 members of the 20th Group, mostly engineers, linguists and medics, went to Turkey for Operation Provide Comfort, the Kurdish relief effort.12 The activation would prove to be a learning experience for the 20th and the 7th SFG evaluators. For the 20th it showed that prior planning
COL Joseph K. Dietrich, “Ensuring Readiness for Active and Reserve-Component SF Units” Special Warfare Magazine (March 1992) 27.
and some of the standard operating procedures (SOP) used for JCET rotations and unit level telephone tree rehearsals could be utilized for “the big game”. The Group commander received the alert notification on January 31, 1991 at 11:30 P.M. and by February 23, the whole 1,400 member Group and its equipment were moved to Ft. Bragg, NC for post mobilization training. As far as the certification and validation process, the 7th SFG evaluators were impressed by the fact that all three battalion’s within the group were validated in 45 days, while the usual Active Component SF validation is 90 days for one battalion.13 Early 1992 saw the threatened deactivation of 19th Special Forces Group along with the 11th, 12th, and 20th Special Forces Groups. After the numerous issues created by the activation of the Army Reserve and National Guard for Operation Desert Storm, the Department of Defense decided to take a closer look at the viability of Army Reserve and National Guard units in SF. When it was all said and done, the ARNG SF Groups were kept and the USAR Groups were disbanded in 1994. Some have argued that this decision undermined the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 and have stated that only 7 years after that decision, the Global War on Terror was initiated. This is a major point because out of those two USAR Groups that were deactivated, one was aligned to Southwest Asia, the same place we would send our forces to battle terrorism.14 Another major mission for ARNG SF was participation in the Bosnia rotations of the late 1990’s. Many of the 20th Group soldiers served as liaisons between NATO forces and local nationals. Other tasks included unconventional
SGT Scott D. Hallford, “Federalization: 20th SF Group becomes the first RC SF unit to be activated”. Special Warfare Magazine (March 1992) 28-29.
Colonel Raphael Semmes Duckworth, "1993 Offsite Agreement Undermining GoldwaterNichols and Special Forces Capabilities," U.S. Army War College (February 5, 2007): 5
warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and humanitarian or civic action. In an interview with an ARNG SF Communications Sergeant, he stated that some other missions that took place were snatch and grab missions for war criminals in Bosnia. Finally, the Reserve Component Special Forces Qualification Course, a six phase program of instruction which combined resident training during annual training periods with training by correspondence course that qualified an RC soldier in an average of six years was phased out, giving more ARNG soldiers the opportunity to attend the same Special Forces Qualification course as there AC peers. In the 21st Century, ARNG SF has grown into an invaluable partner within the Army Special operations community. One of the unique things that the ARNG SF brings to the table over their Active Component brethren is civilian acquired skills as firefighters, policeman, State Department, CIA and DEA field agents, lawyers and business owners. These skills also translate to high levels of mission success on JCET’s and in the combat operational role in places such as Baghdad and Kabul. 19th Group continued to conduct Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and JCET exercises and added Portugal, Bangladesh, Burma, and Mongolia to its catalog of missions. Members of Group Support Company and the 1st Battalion were currently running a Medical Civil Action Program (MEDCAP) in Nepal when terrorists flew commercial airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. 2nd Battalion, 20th SFG participated in Cabañas 2000, a U.S. Southern Command sponsored multinational peacekeeping exercise involving civilian and military agencies from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States from 6-
20 September 2000 and culminated after four days of round-the-clock training designed to prepare these seven Latin American nations and the U.S. in 33 specific United Nations approved peacekeeping operation tasks. U.S. Special Forces personnel on the coalition training teams, U.N. evaluators from Argentina's long-standing peacekeeping program, civilian representatives from the International Red Cross, Congressional Hunger Center and Partners in Health evaluated the training. By late 2001, the ARNG SF Groups were starting to mobilize soldiers for the Global War on Terror, now known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). Shortly after 19th SFG had completed the mobilizations for OEF and ONE, it immediately began putting Utah members on Active Duty in support of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Heber, Park City, West Jordan, and Ogden, Utah. Members of the 19th Group primarily performed security in and around the venues located in Park City and Heber. By 2002, 19th and 20th SFG units started to enter Afghanistan to replace 5th SFG units and to augment 3rd SFG units. The ODA’s from 5th Bn. 19th SFG were integrated into the SF campaign plan initially to replace the rotating 5th SFG teams. 19th was also initially assigned to Joint Special Operations Task ForceSouth (JSOTF-South) in March 2002 before coming under 3rd SFG on April 1, 2002. In late April 2002, some 2nd Bn units started to conduct combat operations with emphasis on sensitive site exploitation, reconnoiter of landing zones for humanitarian support and search for weapons caches and burial sites in Tora Bora,15 3rd Bn. 20th SFG arrived in Afghanistan in early 2002 with 100 soldiers to staff the new Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan
Charles H. Briscoe and others, Weapon of Choice: ARSOF in Afghanistan (Fort Leavenworth: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2001), 277-278.
(CJSOTF-A) headquarters at Bagram Air Base.16 These two groups have continuous rotated in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 with no end in site. The down side of the current operational tempo is that some ARNG SF soldiers have paid the price in this current operating environment from both groups. One Chief Warrant Officer Four from Bravo Company, 3-20th SFG was awarded the Silver Star for Valor in 2008 for his actions in Iraq. In civilian life, he is a police officer in Chesterfield, Virginia. In conclusion, ARNG SF helped the continental United States during Hurricane Katrina when some assets from 20th SFG helped to save over 4,000 people during search and rescue operations in Louisiana. The ARNG will continue to be a relevant force within the Special operations inventory and will continue to serve its communities and this nation faithfully.
Sutherland, Ian D.W. LTC (Ret.), Special Forces of the United States Army, (San Jose: R. James Bender Publishing, 1990), 310.
2. FD- possibly known as field detachment as per LTC Robert Jones, USASOC Historian’s Office at Ft. Bragg, NC.
Charles H. Briscoe and others, Weapon of Choice: ARSOF in Afghanistan (Fort Leavenworth: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2001), 210.
Department of the Army, Guerilla Warfare and Special Forces Operations (FM 31-21), (Washington DC, 1958), 30-36. Hagerman, Bart, USA Airborne: 50th Anniversary 1940-1990, (Paducah: Turner Publishing Company, 1990), 346 and 446. Information for 19th Group derived from Group History in footnote 8.The 28 Detachments were: 114th Sig Det (RMU Type E) 134th SF Opn Det (Team FC) 135th SF Opn Det (Team FC) 137th SF Opn Det (Team FC) 141st SF Opn Det (Team FA) 142nd SF Opn Det (Team FA) 143rd SF Opn Det (Team FA) 144th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 145th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 146th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 147th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 148th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 149th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 150th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 151st SF Opn Det (Team FA) 152nd SF Opn Det (Team FA) 153rd SF Opn Det (Team FA) 154th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 155th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 156th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 157th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 158th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 159th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 160th SF Opn Det (Team FA) 161st SF Admin Det (Team AA) 162nd SF Admin Det (Team AA) 163rd SF Admin Det (Team AA) 164th SF Admin Det (Team AA)
Taken from a “Brief History Of the 19th SFG (ABN)” dated 1 October 1979, 19th SFG (A) Archives. 5. Army National Guard Mobilization Database, 24 June 2009
Sutherland, Ian D.W. LTC (Ret.), Special Forces of the United States Army, (San Jose: R. James Bender Publishing, 1990), 471-473. Plaster, John L. SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam, (New York: Penguin Group, 1998), 159-160. SSG Wade R. Burn, et al., "19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 1st Special Forces, A History " 19th Special Forces Group Archives (June 2008) page 3-4 Hagerman, Bart, USA Airborne: 50th Anniversary 1940-1990, (Paducah: Turner Publishing Company, 1990), 346 and 347. SSG Wade R. Burn, et al., "19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 1st Special Forces, A History " 19th Special Forces Group Archives (June 2008) page 6
SSG Wade R. Burn, et al., "19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 1st Special Forces, A History" 19th Special Forces Group Archives (June 2008) 4. COL Joseph K. Dietrich, “Ensuring Readiness for Active and ReserveComponent SF Units” Special Warfare Magazine (March 1992) 27. SGT Scott D. Hallford, “Federalization: 20th SF Group becomes the first RC SF unit to be activated”. Special Warfare Magazine (March 1992) 2829. Colonel Raphael Semmes Duckworth, "1993 Offsite Agreement Undermining Goldwater-Nichols and Special Forces Capabilities," U.S. Army War College (February 5, 2007): 5 Charles H. Briscoe and others, Weapon of Choice: ARSOF in Afghanistan (Fort Leavenworth: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2001), 277-278. Charles H. Briscoe and others, Weapon of Choice: ARSOF in Afghanistan (Fort Leavenworth: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2001), 210.
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