Special Forces turns 65 Today.

A bit hard for me to believe– I’ve got a coin here for the 35th Anniversary. We had a dinner in 10th Group– the first Special Forces Group. And Colonel Aaron Banks was our speaker. He was the founder of Special Forces when a small group of men stood on Smoke Bomb Hill at Fort Bragg and became 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). They were given the number 10 to fool the Soviets into thinking there were 9 more just like it!

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Lots of OSS vets, Jedburgh, etc in those early units. Displaced Eastern European vets.

Seems long ago and far away. 10th was stationed at Fort Devens, MA, then. It’s at Ft. Carson, CO now. Which makes sense as its a mountain and winter-warfare oriented Group. When I was there, we only had 5th, 7th and 10th Groups on active duty so we all covered a large swath of the world. We deployed teams to the Middle East often, including the Lebanon MTTs; there when the Marine Corps Barracks was blown.

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Besides my deployments, I like to think I contributed a bit to the current Special Forces because I was on the committee that completely revamped the Q-Course. We made it a permanent change of station, rather than TDY, invented the Assessment and Selection pre-phase (borrowing heavily of course from SAS and Delta Selection). There was a question for a while of making Ranger School a combined SFAS and Phase I. That wasn’t practical as Ranger School couldn’t have handled the number of students.

We also pushed hard for the language component– which meant an SF soldier would now be assigned a home group. A big change and one that was long overdue. This all happened just after SF actually became a branch of its own.

While Special Operations are the media darling these days (at least, it appears, SEALs), back then, it was an uphill slog to get things changed in the face of the regular Army.

A key tenet, though, of any military force, is to remember old Clausewitz’s famous statement: War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means.

So to view Special Operations as a “fix” and ignoring peaceful, political solutions is naive. An issue I see with our current employment of military force is the lack of a coherent strategic objective. We seems to be “holding the line” without any goal.

Be that as it may. Happy Birthday, Special Forces!

Originally published at bobmayer.com on June 19, 2017.

West Point grad; Special Ops Vet; NY Times bestseller of over 80 books; for free books and over 200 free downloadable slideshows go to www.bobmayer.com

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