US Army Special Forces (Green berets) | Specwar.info || 
USA - flag

US Army Special Forces (Green berets)

motto: De oppresso liber (To liberate the oppressed)

US Army Special Forces (Green berets)
US Special Forces and Afghan Militia Force mercenaries confront villagers during a raid upon Narizah in late August 2002. (Source: unknown.)

Unit Profile

The United States Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, are a Special Operations Force of the U.S. Army trained for unconventional warfare and special operations. They were founded by Colonel Aaron Bank in 1952 as the 10th Special Forces Group. During the Vietnam war the unit expanded fast. On October 1st 1982 the 1st Special Operations Command was provisionally activated. All Special Forces Groups were placed under this command. On November 27th 1990, this command was redesignated as the US Army Special Forces Command.

Special Forces soldiers are primarily utilised in liaison and training roles to friendly governments involved in counterinsurgency operations, or as liaison and training advisors to members of insurgency forces or guerrillas which the United States Government wishes to support.

At the operational level, Special Forces are usually comprised of twelve-man "A Teams," With 2 officers and 10 enlisted members. Each of which is considered an expert in such Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) as: small arms, demolitions, medical, communication, etc. Each member is also cross-trained in at least one other MOS so that he may fill in for other members who are wounded or killed. In addition, each member is usually proficient in the language of the host nation or insurgent group.

All US Army Special Forces members are double volunteers, having volunteered first for airborne training and then for Special Forces training. Special Forces training is mostly undertaken at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and is referred to as the "Q" Course (Qualification). The course has 3 phases, with 1st phase being advanced military skills, second phase is the advanced MOS training and third phase is small unit operations, where teams undertake a simulated mission to train and organize indigenous forces.

Mission

  • Primary mission: Unconventional warfare

Raised and Disbanded

  • Raised: June 19th 1952

Units

  • Special Forces Command
  • 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  • 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  • 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  • 6th Special Forces Group
  • 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  • 8th Special Forces Group
  • 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  • 11th Special Forces Group
  • 12th Special Forces Group
  • 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), National Guard
  • 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), National Guard
  • Training Group
  • Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command
  • 77th Special Forces Group
  • 38th Special Forces Comp
  • 46th Special Forces Comp
  • Military Advisory Command Vietnam/Studies and Observation Group
  • Provincial Reconnaissance Unit Republic Vietnam
  • Special Forces Headquarters Provincial Detachment Korea
  • Bright Light Republic Vietnam
  • Forces Armee Nationes Khmeres/United States Army Republic of Vietnam Individual Training Group
  • Joint Casualties Resolution Center
  • Special Forces Advisors Republic of Vietnam
  • White Star - Hotfoot
  • 1st Special Service Force

Headquarters

  • Fort Bragg, North Carolina, United States
US Army Special Forces (Green berets)
US Special Forces soldier standing by with two MH-47Es on the deck. (Source: unknown.)

History

Origin

The 1st Special Service Force of World War II is considered the antecedent of the present U.S. Army Special Forces. In the spring of 1942 the British Chief of Combined Operations, Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, introduced to U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall a project conceived by an English civilian, Geoffrey N. Pike, for the development of special equipment to be used in snow-covered mountain terrain. This plan, named PLOUGH, was designed for attack on such critical points as the hydroelectric plants in Norway upon which the Germans depended for mining valuable ores. American manufacturers working on equipment for the project developed a tracked vehicle known as the Weasel and eventually standardised as the M29.

General Marshall concluded that an elite force recruited in Canada and the United States would be the best military organization for conducting the raids and strikes; he selected an American, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Tryon Frederick, to assemble, organise, train, and command the U.S.-Canadian 1st Special Service Force.

Made up of three regiments of two battalions each, the unit became a separate branch of the service, with the crossed arrows of the Indian Scouts, by then inactivated, as its insignia. The men were trained in demolitions, rock-climbing, amphibious assault, and ski techniques, and were given basic airborne instruction. They fought under Allied command with great bravery and considerable success in the Aleutians, North Africa, Italy, and southern France. The 1st Special Service Force got its nickname, "The Devil's Brigade," during the Italian campaign from a passage in the captured diary of a dead German officer who had written: "The black devils are all around us every time we come into line and we never hear them." The force was inactivated in southern France near the end of World War II.

Resurrection

On June 20th 1952 the first of the Special Forces groups, the 10th Special Forces Group, was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; it became the nucleus of the Special Warfare Center, now known as the John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance, at Fort Bragg. The next unit to be formed was the 77th Special Forces Group, which was also activated at Fort Bragg, on September 25th 1953.

US Special Forces Afghanistan
US Special Forces in Afghanistan. (Source: unknown.)

Operations

  • Vietnam War, 1952-1972
  • Bolivia, 1965-1968
  • Venezuela, 1965-1968
  • Guatemala, 1965-1968
  • Colombia, 1965-1968
  • Dominican Republic, 1965-1968
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Operation Just Cause, 1989
  • Operation Desert Shield, Iraq, 1990
  • Operation Desert Storm, Iraq, 1991
  • Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, 2001
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, 2003

Organization

A Special Forces Group consists of:

  • Three Battalions, with each
    • 3 B-teams
    • 18 A-teams
    • SF Battalion Support Company
    • Military Intelligence (MI) Detachment (with 3 SOT-As [Special Operation Team-A] that deploy with SFOD-As to provide SIGINT and EW capabilities. Has no interrogation teams attached)
    • SF Battalion Service Detachment
  • C-Detachment (headquarters/support elements):
    Detachment Commander (Lt. Colonel)
    Executive Officer (Major)
    Staff with: Adjutant (Captain), Intelligence officer (Captain), Operations officer (Captain), Supply officer (Captain), Command Sergeant-Major, Intelligence NCO (Master Sergeant), Operations NCO (Master Sergeant), Supply NCO (Sergeant 1st Class), Administrative Supervisor (Staff Sergeant), Senior Field Radio Repairman (Sergeant), and 4 Radio Operators (Sergeants)

An SF company is comprised of 6 A-Teams (1 HALO, 1 SCUBA, 4 "Ruck") and 1 B-Team. Each A-Team is an independent operational unit known as a "detachment", or ODA, for Operational Detachment Alpha. The B-Team is the headquarters or command and control element of the A-Teams, known as the ODB, for Operational Detachment Bravo.

Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (SFOD-A)

The primary operational element of a Special Forces company is the A Team. An A-Team consists of 12 Special Forces Soldiers; two officers, and ten sergeants. All team members are SF qualified and cross-trained in different skills. They are also multi-lingual.

The A-Team is almost unlimited in it's capabilities to operate in hostile or denied areas. A-Teams can infiltrate and exfiltrate their area of operations by air, land, or sea. An A-Team can operate for an indefinite period of time in remote locations with little or no outside support. They are truly independent, self-sustaining "detachments". A-Teams routinely train, advise and assist other U.S. and allied forces and other agencies while standing by to perform other special operations as directed by higher authorities. All detachment members are capable of advising, assisting, and directing foreign counterparts in their function up through battalion level.

A-Teams are numbered as ODA-### (Example-ODA-345). This stands for "Operational Detachment Alpha," with the first number representing the group, the second and third representing battalion and team designation. ODAs ending in 4 designate a HALO group; those ending in a 5 designate a Combat Diver/SCUBA team.

"A-Team" Structure

  • DETACHMENT COMMANDER
    (1 per "A Team")
    Rank: 0-3, Captain
    First In Command. The Detachment Commander is responsible for ensuring and maintaining the operational readiness and all other aspects of the A-Team. He may command or advise an indigenous combat force up to battalion size.
  • DETACHMENT TECHNICIAN
    (1 per "A-Team")
    Rank: W0-1 & up
    He commands in the absence of the detachment commander; serves as technical and tactical authority in all aspects of Special Forces operations; supervises all staff activities; is the psychological operations (PSYOPs) and Civil Affairs authority; has cultural, regional, and linguistic abilities; manages the mid-term and long-term planning. He can recruit, organize, train, and supervise indigenous combat forces up to battalion size.
  • 18 Zulu - SPECIAL FORCES OPERATIO
    NS SERGEANT
    (1 per "A Team")
    Team Sergeant (Rank: E-8, Master Sergeant)
    The Team Sergeant is the senior enlisted man on the Team. He is responsible for overseeing all Team operations and managing all enlisted personnel on the Team. Sometimes known as the "Team Daddy", he is usually the person who actually runs the Team. He can recruit, organize, train, and supervise indigenous combat forces up to battalion size.
  • 18 Fox - ASSISTANT OPERATIONS SERGEANT
    (1 per "A Team")
    O&I Sergeant (Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class)
    Assists the Team Sergeant in operating the Team. Plans, coordinates, and directs the A-Team's intelligence, collection, analysis, production and dissemination. He field interrogates and processes enemy prisoners of war. He briefs and debriefs friendly patrols. He can train, advise, or lead indigenous combat forces up to company size.
  • 18 Bravo - SPECIAL FORCES WEAPONS SERGEANT
    (2 per "A Team")
    Weapons Sergeant (Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class)
    Asst. Weapons Sergeant (Rank: E-6, Staff Sergeant)
    The weapons experts. Capable of firing and employing nearly every small arm and crew served weapon in the world; such as pistols, rifles, machine guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and grenade launchers. They also train detachment members and indigenous combat forces in the use of these weapons. The two weapons sergeants employ conventional and unconventional tactics and techniques as tactical mission leaders. They are responsible for the tactical security of the A-Team. Each can train, advise, or lead indigenous combat forces up to company size.
  • 18 Charlie - SPECIAL FORCES ENGINEER SERGEANT
    (2 per "A Team)
    Engineer Sergeant (Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class)
    Asst. Engineer Sergeant (Rank: E-6, Staff Sergeant)
    The demolitions experts. He can build as well as destroy almost any structure. The SF "Demo Man" is capable of constructing everything from an outhouse to a schoolhouse. A key player in any civic action mission. Each can train, advise, or lead indigenous combat forces up to company size.
  • 18 Delta - SPECIAL FORCES MEDICAL SERGEANT
    (2 per "A Team")
    Medical Sergeant (Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class)
    Asst. Medical Sergeant (Rank: E-6, Staff Sergeant)
    The life-saver. Not your average "medic". The SF medic employs the latest in field medical technology and limited surgical procedures. He is capable of managing any battlefield trauma injury, as well as administering preventative medicine. The SF Medic is in an integral part of civic action programs in bringing medical treatment to native populations. SF medics also become "paramedics" upon completion of their SF medical training. Their capabilities include: Advanced Trauma Life Support, limited surgery, dentistry, and even veterinarian procedures. Each can train, advise, or lead indigenous combat forces up to company size.
  • 18 Echo - SPECIAL FORCES COMMUNICATIONS SERGEANT
    (2 per "A Team")
    Communications Sergeant (Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class)
    Asst. Communications Sergeant (Rank: E-6, Staff Sergeant)
    The "Commo Guy" - The lifeline. His responsibility is to establish and maintain communications. He employs the latest FM, multi-channel, and satellite communications devices (he also carries the heaviest rucksack on the Team). The SF Commo sergeant is an invaluable and vital part of all SF missions. Each can train, advise, or lead indigenous combat forces up to company size.

Special Forces Operational Detachment Bravo (SFOD-B)

An A-Team cannot deploy or operate without the support of the B Team. The B-Team consists of 11 personnel and is the headquarters element of the Special Forces company. It acts as the command and control of the A-Teams within the company. The B-Team establishes and operates the AOB, or Advanced Operational Base. The B Team can and does:

  • Plan and conduct SF operations separately or as part of a larger force.
  • Train and prepare SF A-Teams for deployment.
  • Infiltrate and exfiltrate operational areas by air, land, or sea.
  • Conduct operations in remote areas and hostile environments for extended periods of time with minimal external direction or support.
  • Develop, organise, equip, train, and advise or direct indigenous combat forces up to regimental size in Special Operations (SO).
  • Train, advise, and assist other U.S. and allied forces and agencies.

B-Team" Structure

  • SPECIAL FORCES COMPANY COMMANDER (CO)
    Rank: 0-4, Major
    The Company Commander exercises command of the personnel and elements assigned or attached to the company. When the company establishes an AOB, he serves as the AOB commander.
  • EXECUTIVE OFFICER (XO)
    Rank: 0-3, Captain
    He directs the company staff and assigns specific responsibilities. He coordinates with the company sergeant major to direct and supervise company administrative and logistical procedures.
  • COMPANY TECHNICIAN
    Rank: W0-1 and up, Warrant Officer
    He has staff responsibility for all matters pertaining to the organization, training, intelligence and counterintelligence (CI) activities, and combat operations of the company and it's detachments.
  • 18 Zulu- COMPANY SERGEANT MAJOR
    Rank: E-9, Sergeant Major
    He is the senior enlisted person in the company and the commander's principal advisor on matters pertaining to enlisted personnel. He supervises the daily training, operations, and administration of the company.
  • 18 Zulu - SPECIAL FORCES OPERATIONS SERGEANT
    Rank: E-8, Master Sergeant
    He assists the XO and Company Technician in accomplishing their duties. When the company and it's detachments are uncommitted, they manage the company's training program for the company commander.
  • 18 Fox - ASST. OPERATIONS SERGEANT
    Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class
    He assists the Operations Sergeant in the accomplishment of his duties.
  • 18 Delta - SPECIAL FORCES MEDICAL SERGEANT
    Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class
    He provides routine, preventative, and emergency medical care to the company and any indigenous forces. He also trains allied and indigenous forces in basic emergency and preventative medical care. He gathers medical information and advises the company staff on all health care matters.
  • 18 Echo - SPECIAL FORCES COMMUNICATIONS SERGEANT
    (2 per "B Team")
    Communications Sergeant (Rank: E-7, Sergeant First Class)
    Asst. Communications Sergeant (Rank: E-6, Staff Sergeant)
    The commo sergeants advise the Company Commander on communication matters, and prepares communication plans. They install, operate, and maintain all the company's communication equipment. They also train detachment members and indigenous forces in signal equipment procedures.
  • SUPPLY SERGEANT
    Rank: E-6, Staff Sergeant
    He is the principal logistical planner. He coordinates closely with the battalion S-4 and service detachment commander to meet the unique needs of the company and it's detachments.
  • NBC NCO
    Rank: E-5, Sergeant
    He supervises, operates, and maintains the company's NBC detection and contamination equipment. He also assists in establishing, administering, and applying NBC defensive measures.

Organization

There are five active Special Forces Groups, two Reserve, and two National Guard:

  • 1st Area of Operation: Pacific and Eastern Asia. Located: Fort Lewis, WA.
  • 3rd Area of Operation: Caribbean and Western Africa. Located: Fort Bragg, NC.
  • 5th Area of Operation: Southwest Asia and North-eastern Africa. Located: Fort Campbell, KY.
  • 7th Area of Operation: Central and South America. Located: Fort Bragg, NC.
  • 10th Area of Operation: Europe and Western Asia. Located: Fort Carson, CO.
  • 11th (Army Reserve) Located: Fort Meade, Maryland
  • 12th (Army Reserve) Located: Arlington Heights, Illinois
  • 19th (National Guard) Area of Operation: Asia. Located: Camp Williams, UT.
  • 20th (National Guard) Area of Operation: Europe and Western Asia. Located: Birmingham, AL.
  • 2 Forward Deployed Companies (one in Germany and one in South Korea)
  • pecial Projects Teams: These teams are not on declassified Special Forces TOEs (Tables of Organization and Equipment). SF troops assigned to them are removed temporarily from the SF command structure and placed under other DoD departments. Known in SF as "long hair teams" due to their relaxed grooming standards, they provide various Black and Grey operational services.

Support Units

  • 112th Signal Battalion
  • 528th Support Battalion
  • SF Group Support Company
  • Military Intelligence (MI) Detachment
  • Service Detachment
  • Signal Detachment
  • Medical Section
  • Personnel Section tion Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, 2003

Equipment

Uniform

  • BDU's
  • TASH headset/radio
  • MICH helmet with NVG mount with strap
  • Protective goggles
  • DayPack w/drink tube
  • Hip pack
  • Carabineer
  • Asolo Hiking Boots w/white socks
  • M-9 pistol w/ lanyard & Safariland 6004 Holster (woodland camo)
  • Pistol magazines
  • M-4 w/Crane stock, Holo sight, SIR mount and SureFire Millennium grip/light
  • M-4 magazines (8)
  • Rhodesian Chest Rig with Strike Plate
  • Canteen pouch w/canteen
  • EMT Trauma Scissors and Cyalume-type Chemical Sticks (set of 2)
  • Riggers belt
  • Drop down Panel w/ GasMask bag
  • Cloth Nomex gloves
  • Tactical watch

Vehicles

Overland transport tactics have also been updated. Special mobility Operational Detachments A's are now entering service, each equipped with four HMMWVs (better known as Hummers), three trailers and two lightly modified Kawasaki KLR-250 enduro motorcycles. Brimming with spare parts and fuel, the units are self-sufficient over ranges up to 1200 miles. In their primary mission- insertion and extraction of Special Forces teams- they can carry a fully equipped Operational Detachments A in addition to themselves. To help manage the heavy load, the Hummers' doors are removed and their bullet-proof Kevlar tops strategically cut away. The motorcycles offer high speed over rough terrain. They are used primarily for advance scouting and linkups with other units.

Watercraft

For waterborne infiltration, Green Berets recently adopted the Klepper folding kayak. It can carry two men and hundreds of pounds of equipment silently at 8 kilometres per hour. On land, it disassembles in 5 minutes into an 40 kilogram package portable by one man.

Parachute

For HALO and HAHO jumps, Special Forces use the MTI-XX, a highly modified civilian ram air chute that can glide at airspeeds up to kilometres a hour.

For the high-altitude leg of a HALO or HAHO deployment, jumpers breathe from two compressed oxygen "bailout bottles." A chest-mounted magnetic compass normally guides them to the drop zone on HAHO jumps, but recently, compact Global Positioning System (GPS) satnav units have tested favourably. Rucksacks are strapped around the thighs during descent, then kicked loose about 3 metres off the ground.

Training

Enlistment

To become part of the Army’s Green Berets, you need to be mentally and physically tough, endure difficult training and face all challenges head-on. In addition to that, you must:

  • Be a male, age 20-30 (Special Forces positions are not open to women)
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a high school diploma graduate
  • Achieve a General Technical score of 110 or higher and a combat operation score of 98 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  • Qualify for a secret security clearance.
  • Qualify and volunteer for Airborne training
  • Take Defence Language Aptitude Battery or Defence Language Proficiency Test
  • Achieve a minimum of 60 points on each event and overall minimum score of 229 on the Army Physical Fitness Test

From here a recruit can move on to Special Operations Preparation Course (SOPC). This is a 30-day course taught at Fort Bragg is designed to help Soldiers prepare for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course. It focuses on physical training and one of the most important skills a SF Soldier can have—land navigation. This course does not guarantee a recruit will pass the Special Forces Assessment/Assignment and Selection (SFAS).

The next stage is a 24 day survival training. Intelligence, agility and resourcefulness will all be tested. If a recruit can make it, he can continue on to the SF Qualification Course.

SF Qualification Course consists of five phases (II-VI). If you complete this training, you will be a Special Forces Soldier, one of the Army’s experts in Unconventional Warfare.

  • The individual skill phase (II) consists of land navigation, small unit tactics and live-fire training.
  • During the MOS training phase (III) you will be instructed on your specialty skills, which will be based on your background, aptitude and desires.
  • The collective training phase (IV) consists of Special Forces doctrine and organisation, Unconventional Warfare operations, Direct Action operations, methods of instruction and both Airborne and airmobile operations. The recruit will deploy to the Uwarrie National Forest, North Carolina, for an Unconventional Warfare exercise. There the recruit will perform as a member of an Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA). The recruit's specialty and common skills will be evaluated.
  • Language training (phase V) is a key phase of the qualification course. Proficiency in at least one foreign language is part of being a Green Beret. Arabic, Spanish, Chinese and Russian are just some of the languages learned.
  • The Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) course will end your training in the SFQC (phase VI).

    As an SF Soldier, you might receive training that completely immerses you in another culture. You’ll learn to be fluent in that country’s language, customs and traditions, becoming a virtual citizen of that country.
US Army Special Forces (Green berets)
Soldiers train for a year to earn the Green Beret. The Special Forces Regiment will welcome 125 new members to a distinctive brotherhood during a Regimental First Formation Aug. 20, when the graduating class will don their Green Berets for the first time. (Source: unknown.)

SF Qualification Course

SF Qualification Course consists of five phases (II-VI). If you complete this training, you will be a Special Forces Soldier, one of the Army’s experts in Unconventional Warfare.

  • The individual skill phase (II) consists of land navigation, small unit tactics and live-fire training.
  • During the MOS training phase (III) you will be instructed on your specialty skills, which will be based on your background, aptitude and desires. There are courses for:
    • SF Officer
    • SF Weapons
    • SF Communications
    • SF Medical (the longest at 23 weeks)
    • SF Engineering
    • SF Intelligence and Operations
  • The collective training phase (IV) consists of Special Forces doctrine and organisation, Unconventional Warfare operations, Direct Action operations, methods of instruction and both Airborne and airmobile operations. The recruit will deploy to the Uwarrie National Forest, North Carolina, for an Unconventional Warfare exercise. There the recruit will perform as a member of an Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA). The recruit's specialty and common skills will be evaluated.
  • Language training (phase V) is a key phase of the qualification course. Proficiency in at least one foreign language is part of being a Green Beret. Arabic, Spanish, Chinese and Russian are just some of the languages learned.
  • The Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) course will end your training in the SFQC (phase VI).

During the Live Environment Training the SF Soldier, the recruit might receive training that completely immerses you in another culture. He will learn to be fluent in that country’s language, customs and traditions, becoming a virtual citizen of that country.

Video: Inside the Green Berets

References


Homepage | Up | Back |