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5 Th Special Forces Group 

 

 

The first Special Forces unit in the Army was formed on June 11, 1952, when the 10th Special Forces Group was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A major expansion of Special Forces occurred during the 1960s, with a total of eighteen groups organized in the Regular Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard. As a result of renewed emphasis on special operations in the 1980s, the Special Forces Branch was established as a basic branch of the Army effective April 9, 1987, by General Orders No. 35, June 19, 1987.


Personnel assigned to the Special Forces Branch are all affiliated to the 1st Special Forces since there is only one Special Forces regiment. 

 
The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) derives its lineage from the unit of World War II fame -- The First Special Service Forces. "The Devils Brigade" -- a combined Canadian-American Force, constituted 5 July 1942 in the Army of the United States as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment,1st Battalion, Third Regiment,1st Special Service Force.


The Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Battalion, Third Regiment, 1st Special Service Force was first activated and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison, Montana. The unit participated in the Italian campaign and saw additional action in France. It was disbanded in France on 6 February 1945.


The unit was reconstituted in the Regular Army, on 15 April 1960, and was designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. On 21 September 1961 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was officially activated. One year after the 5th Group was organized, elements of the 5th Special Forces Group began serving temporary duty tours in the Republic of Vietnam.


Full deployment of the Group was completed in February 1965. Although young in years of existence, from its operational base at Nha Trang, the Group deployed throughout the four military regions of South Vietnam. Its operational detachments established and manned camps at 270 different locations which trained and led indigenous forces of the civilian irregular defense groups, as well as regular units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam.

Despite being one of the smallest units engaged in the Vietnam conflict, the Group colors fly twenty campaign streamers, and its soldiers are among the most highly decorated in the history of our nation. Seventeen Medals of Honor were awarded, 8 posthumously.

 

 

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The Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) Vietnam 1966-1968, The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) Vietnam 1968; Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam 1964-1969; and Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, 1st Class, Vietnam 1968-1970. 

Other teams and elements received numerous other unit citations including, Naval Presidential Unit Citation, valorous unit awards and numerous Vietnamese unit awards. On 5 March 1971, the colors of the 5th Special Forces Group were returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina by a 94-man contingent led by then Col. (later Maj. Gen. Retired) Michael D. Healy, thereby terminating their official Vietnam service.


The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) remained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina until 10 June 1988, when the Group colors were cased at a ceremony marking its departure from Fort Bragg. 

The colors were officially uncased by Maj. Gen. Teddy G. Allen, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, CO. (now Maj. Gen.) Harley C. Davis, Commander of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Dennison on 16 June 1988 at its new home at Fort Campbell, KY.


The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) added to its rich combat history during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In August 1990 the Group was called upon to conduct theater operations in Southwest Asia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. 


During this crisis the Army's First Special Operations Task Force, (ARSOTF), consisting of elements of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) comprising 106 special operations teams performing a myriad of missions that spanned the scope of operations: support to coalition warfare; conducting foreign internal defense missions with Saudi Arabian Land Forces, performing special reconnaissance, border surveillance, direct action, combat search and rescue missions; and advising and assisting a pan-Arab equivalent force larger than six U.S. divisions, as well as conducting civil-military operations training and liaison with the Kuwaitis. 

The border surveillance mission assigned the 5th Special Forces was among the most vital in providing "ground truth" to the American and Pan Arab Forces. A new chapter in coalition warfare was written while new military relationships were forged which continue their importance today.


In August 1992, a full four months prior to the deployment of major U.S. Forces, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) were conducting operations in the country of Somalia, again, providing "ground truth".

On 11 June 1993 Gen. Wayne A. Downing, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command, presented the Valorous Unit Award to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) for service during Operation Desert Storm from 17 January 1991 to 28 February 1991.


In 1995 the 5th Special Forces team was in Pakistan's northern frontier near China and Afghanistan. Training with the Pakistani Special Services Group, the mission was just one of hundreds performed by Green Berets across the world in recent years, designed to build regional awareness in some of the most remote parts of the globe.


Special operations forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force conducted numerous missions supporting NATO's implementation force in Bosnia. Assistance ranged from air support and rescue operations to reconnaissance and liaison duties. 

Nearly 700 members of the Army's Special Operations Command deployed to Bosnia in mid-December 1995 and began numerous operations throughout the Balkan nation. Included are more than 100 reservists serving in Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations positions. 

Army special operations units in the area included the 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash.; the 5th Group from Fort Campbell, Ky.; the 10th Group, Fort Carson, Colo.; and the Army National Guard 20th Special Forces Group, Birmingham, Ala. Portions of Fort Bragg's (N.C.) 4th Psychological Operations Battalion, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, and 112th and 528th Special Operations Signal battalions are also in Bosnia. 

Special operations personnel served as liaisons between NATO forces and local nationals. Other tasks may included unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and humanitarian or civic action.

 




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John Wayne as Colonel Mike Kirby in The Green Berets,
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The Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations prior to and during the Vietnam War.

 

Established on 24 January 1964, the unit conducted strategic reconnaissance missions in Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), Laos, and Cambodia; carried out the capture of enemy prisoners, rescued downed pilots, and conducted rescue operations to retrieve prisoners of war throughout Southeast Asia; and conducted clandestine agent team activities and psychological operations.

 

The unit participated in most of the significant campaigns of the Vietnam War, including the Tonkin Gulf Incident whichprecipitated American involvement, Operation Steel Tiger, Operation Tiger Hound, the Tet Offensive, Operation Commando Hunt, the Cambodian Campaign, Operation Lam Son 719, and the Easter Offensive. The unit was formally disbanded and replaced by the Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team 158 on 1 May 1972.



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