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.
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.
Special Forces in Vietnam
NOTE, SPECIAL FORCES #13:
There was a "C" team at Pleiku, 2 "B" teams, Kontum and Ban Me Thout.
Then there was 13 "A" teams along the Combodian and Laos Border.
Bu Prang to Dak Pek (Bu Prang, Phan Don, Trang Phuc, Duc Lap, Tieu Atar, Plei Mrong,
Plei Me, Du Co, Plei Jareng, Polie Klang, Dak Seang, Ben Het, Dak Pek.)
Dak To was a staging area/LZ above Kontum.
In mid 1971 the 5th Stood down and a substitute unit took over the C, B, and A teams positions.
II Corp Ranger Command They occupied the 5th SF Compound, (Hardy Compound) next to
the II Corp Hospital and adjacent to the Air Force Compound in Northern Pleiku.
Also in the same area was II Corp Headquarters.
Colt CAR-15 / XM-177 Commando (USA)
Colt CAR-15 - earliest version
(model 733, note M16A2-style brass deflector and forward assist)
Colt mod 933 Commando
Caliber: 5.56x45 mm (.223 Remington)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 680 - 762 mm
Barrel length: 292 mm
Weigth: 2.44 kg empty
Rate of fire: 750 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds (or any other M16 type magazine)
The first carbine version of the M16 assault rifle appeared under the name of CAR-15 in 1965, an was intended for US Special Forces who fought in Vietnam. The original M16 was simply shortened by cutting the half of the lenght of the barrel (from original 20 inches to 10 inches) and by shortening the buttstock by another 3 inches. The butt was plastic and retractable, the handguards were of triangular shape and the flash hider was of original three-prong type. Based on the origunal CAR-15, Colt quickly developed the CAR-15 Air Force Survival Rifle, intended, as a name implied, to serve to downed airplane and helicopter pilots. This version had tubular handguards and metallick tubular buttstock, and fo some reasons the pistol grip was shortened.
Initial combat experience with CAR-15 brought up some problems. First, the carbine was too loud, deafing the firing soldier quite quickly. Second, the muzzle flash was also terrific, blinding the shooter at night and giving avay the position of the shooter to the enemies. Colt partially solved this problem by installing a new, longer flash suppressor. This version, known as the Colt model 609 Commando, also carried new handguards of tubular shape. This model was officially adopted by US ARmy as XM-177E1. This wersion had M16A1-style receiver with forward assist button. In the mid-1967 Colt slightly upgraded the Commando by lenghting the barrel up to 11.5 inches (292 mm), and this version was adopted as XM-177E2.
Later, with the introduction of the M16A2 and M16A3 (flat-top) models, Colt also changed the design of itys Commando line, adding three-burst options and flat-top receivers with Weaver-style rails.
Current Colt Commando carbines (Colt still called these Submachine-guns) are based on either M16A2 or M16A3 receivers, and had 11.5 inch (292 mm) barrels with M16A2-style flash suppressors, and available in either 3-round bursts or full-auto versions. Colt Commando carbines are used by various US Special Forces and by some foreign forces, including Israei ISAYERET.
From the technical point of view, the Colt Commando is similar to contemporary M16 rifle, having same light alloy, two parts receiver, direct gas operated, rotating bolt action, with non-reciprocating charging handle at the rear of the receiver. The telescoping buttstock is made from metallic tube. Due to recoil spring, located inside the butt, the Commando cannot be equipped with side- or underfolding stock withouth some redesigning. Currenly Colt Commando assault carbines are issued with standard M16-type 30 round magazines, but any other M16-compatible magazine can be used, including the 100-rounds Beta-C dual drums.