Tuesday, March 19, 2019

1st Ranger Battalion racks ups the Terrorists kills


The 1st Ranger Battalion’s members ran 198 combat missions that resulted in 1,900 terrorists killed or captured in their most recent deployment. After the deployment, 14 of the Rangers recently received valor awards.

Maj. Gen. Mark Schwartz, deputy commanding general of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, presented the awards at a ceremony earlier this month at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, according to an Army release. “It is truly an honor to serve with men like you,” Schwartz told them.

The First Ranger Battalion has deployed 22 times in support of the Global War on Terrorism, Schwartz said. During the deployment, the battalion took part in 198 combat operations in which 1,900 terrorists were killed or captured. Master Sgt. Phillip Paquette received a Silver Star Medal, the third highest valor award. The 17-year Army veteran has spent his entire career with the 75th Ranger Regiment and commanded a joint task force in Afghanistan.

During an enemy engagement on April 25, 2018, Paquette, “selflessly and with little regard for his own personal safety, exposed himself to enemy fire several times in order to retrieve a casualty, suppress the enemy by direct fire and delivered several danger-close aerial munitions,” according to the citation.

His actions allowed the assault force to eliminate the enemy and move the unit to the helicopter landing zone to be flown out. “Though the award is an individual award, it’s all about the men serving with me,” Paquette said. “We won’t leave anyone behind. We do what we do for the person to the left and to the right wearing tan berets and scrolls on our left and right sleeves. Serving as a Ranger is a lifelong relationship.”


Schwartz awarded eight Bronze Star medals for valor during the ceremony, including two to Staff Sgt. Nicolas Volk-Perez and he presented one to the 8-year-old Shannon Celez, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, who gave his life during the deployment.

Celiz was killed in action on July 12, 2018 in Paktiya province. The 32-year-old was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at the time of his death. “The 75th Ranger Regiment suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz. The Celiz family has been a critical component of our team and their community in Savannah, Georgia,” said Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, commander of 75th Ranger Regiment at the time of Celiz’ death. “Chris was a national treasure who led his Rangers with passion, competence, and an infectiously positive attitude no matter the situation. He will be greatly missed.”

Five Rangers received Joint Service Commendation Medals for valor and three were presented Purple Heart medals. The two-star attributed JSOC’s operational tempo as being responsible for “the ongoing dialogue with the Taliban.”

Article from the Army Times

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Green Beret Foundation Merger with OASIS Group

San Antonio, TX, February 26, 2019 – The Green Beret Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) and their families, is pleased to announce a merger with the Operational Advocates Supporting Injured SOF (OASIS) Group. By absorbing OASIS Group, the Foundation will gain additional expertise and assets, which will provide a robust addition to existing services.

OASIS Group was founded in 2009 by two retired Green Berets, Bart Heimsness and John Armezzani, medics with extensive experience in the Veterans Administration (VA) disability compensation claims processes. Bart has since passed away but Mr. Armezzani and other OASIS associates have assisted thousands in the SOF community, and have provided the VA with a more transparent, complete, and realistic portrayal of compensable conditions experience by our SOF warriors.

“Special Forces soldiers face unique challenges when they return from combat, and many of the VA’s existing disability processes are not able to serve this community effectively,” explains Mr. Armezzani, elaborating: “OASIS Group has, for years, recognized this lack of support and have built an organization that lays the groundwork for our soldiers transitioning back into civilian life. By merging with Green Beret Foundation we’ll be able to advance this cause even further.”

OASIS Group’s services will provide a unique and tailored VA claims assistance program for transitioning Green Berets and will ensure that these veterans fairly evaluated and receive the benefits to which they are entitled, including VA healthcare and Vocational Rehabilitation programs. This also will allow the Foundation to increase benefits to Green Berets, and will become the first Special Operations Forces charity to offer this type of service. In addition, this merger will make the Foundation a VA-recognized Veterans Service Organization, which will allow the Foundation to provide representation for VA claims and appeals.

“This is the next phase for our Foundation and builds off of years of incredible work helping our Special Forces,” explains Frances Arias, Director of Operations for the Green Beret Foundation. “With this new designation, we will be able to further bolster our transition assistance program within the Next Ridgeline project,” she says.

To ensure a seamless execution of these new services, Mr. Armezzani has joined the Foundation to oversee the program. Mr. Armezzani spent more than three decades serving the country; first as an Army National Guard Infantryman, then as an active duty Medical Sergeant, Intelligence Sergeant, and Operations Sergeant on Special Forces Operational Detachments. He retired in 2001, and spent 11 years working at the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

“John has been in service to our country for most of his adult life, and there is no one better qualified to handle this exciting new program at the Foundation,” said Vice Chairman of the Foundation Board, Sergeant Major (Ret.) James Kestor. “With John’s help, our Foundation will be able to help more of our special forces and their families than ever before.”

The Foundation expects OASIS’s programs to come online in March 2019.

About the Green Beret Foundation: Founded in 2009, the Green Beret Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the longterm health of the Green Beret community. The Foundation answers the call of the Green Berets and their families so that they can succeed in their next mission. Green Berets serve a little understood mission and face unique challenges when they come home. To aid in the transitions of Green Berets and their families, the Foundation provides casualty support, extended care support, family support and transition support.

For more information, visit the Green Beret Foundation

Thursday, March 7, 2019

2019 Jerry P Rainey Scholarship

The Special Forces Association Chapter IX, the Isaac Camacho Chapter is announcing that the Jerry P. Rainey Memorial Scholarship is open with the application window from May 10 through June 14, 2019.

Three scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each will be awarded in person, on or before August 17, 2019. At least two of the three scholarships will be awarded to undergraduate students unless there are less than two qualifying undergraduate students, at which point more than one scholarship can be awarded to a masters or doctoral student. The review process will be limited to the first 50 applications received. Additional scholarships may be awarded at the discretion of the scholarship review committee.

Interested applicants may request a scholarship application packet through e-mail by a request to rgrbrown583@gmail.com or bradleyguile@sbcglobal.net

The Jerry P. Rainey Scholarship Fund focuses on assisting qualifying students who display outstanding potential in their chosen major. Academic excellence, community involvement, and personal character are the primary considerations weighted for selecting a recipient. The fund was established in memory of Jerry P. Rainey, a U.S. Army Special Forces Medic. Mr. Rainey’s lifelong endeavor, driven by his infectious optimism, to assist those with which he came into contact inspired this fund. His belief that each individual possesses the ability to positively impact others is the basis for the intent of the fund. The intent is twofold; assist a student in obtaining his or her educational objectives and perpetuate the spirit of selfless giving to others, a standard which Mr. Rainey so admirably inspired those around him to follow.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants will meet the following requirements in order to be considered for the scholarship:

Must reside in the greater El Paso, Texas/Las Cruces, New Mexico area
Must be enrolled in an accredited university, college, or technical school
Must have completed at least 24 credit hours of college coursework
Must have maintained a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
Must have contributed or are contributing to the local community
Must not have previously been awarded the Jerry P. Rainey Scholarship

In returning the application packet, the applicant will be required to:

Complete the Application Form
Provide proof of GPA through the spring 2019 semester
Provide proof of completion of at least 24 credit hours of college coursework
Submit a written or typed essay, 500 words or less, describing contributions to the community and life goals
Include reference letters recommending scholarship award from two members of the community other than family members

Jerry P. Rainey Biography

Jerry P. Rainey was born at Fort Benning, GA on January 25, 1932. As part of a military family, Jerry spent his childhood years in several locations. He graduated from Lanier High School in Macon, GA followed by one year at Clemson University before enlisting in the Navy at the start of the Korean War. One of his primary duties in Korea was rescuing downed pilots, often times behind enemy lines. After Korea, he spent the next nine years living in Athens, GA where he served as the head of the Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Rainey joined the Army in 1962 and attended the yearlong Special Forces Medic Course during 1964 -1965. Jerry married the former Carol Thompson on August 21, 1963, two years after they met at a Shriners dance.

His first of two tours in Vietnam was from September 1965 to September 1966. The first nine months was as a medic with a Special Forces A-Team (Det A-415) in Tuyen Nhon. His last four months was as the Public Information Office NCOIC, 5th Special Forces Group in Nha Trang. As an editor of the Green Beret Magazine he traveled throughout all 4 CTZ's gathering information about Special Forces activities for publication in the magazine.

Jerry’s second tour in Vietnam was from July 1969 to June 1970 with 5th Special Forces Group. Assigned to Det C-4 (IV Corps) HQ medic, he traveled throughout the Delta region assisting where needed. He often provided coverage for "A" Detachments needing additional medical support or replaced medics who were WIA or KIA.

His military awards include the Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal w/ OLC, Good Conduct Medal (2nd award), National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation w/palm, Combat Medical Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Expert Rifleman Badge.

Between tours in Vietnam Jerry and Carol were stationed with 8th Special Forces Group in Panama. He was part of the team that trained the Bolivian Army unit formed to track down and capture Che Guevera. During 1970 – 1971, he was a Medical Instructor at the Advanced Medical Training School, SF Training Group, Ft Bragg, NC. While stationed at Fort Bragg Jerry assisted in writing the U.S. Army Manual for Physician Assistants.

After Mr. Rainey departed the Army he and his family lived in several locations including, New Orleans, LA, Tyler, TX, and Beaumont, TX. He worked in media sales and participated in political campaigns. Jerry was selected for and attended the Graduate Congressional Campaign College in the late 1970s. During his time in Beaumont, he taught at Lamar University’s Small Business Center and provided motivational and time management speeches for the DuPont Corporation. Jerry and Carol settled in El Paso, TX in 1993 where he worked two years as the general manager of Power 102 radio station.

Mr. Rainey was a life member of the Special Forces Association and served as president of Chapter IX, the Isaac Camacho Chapter, in El Paso, TX. Jerry succumbed to Leukemia, a result of his time in Vietnam, in March 2007. He is survived by his wife Carol, daughter Tammy and her husband Gil, daughter Stacy and her husband Jerry, son John and his wife Julie, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.


Monday, March 4, 2019

Samuel Whittemore, the Original American Bad Ass

Samuel Whittemore, born in 1696, was a Massachusetts farmer and soldier. He was 78 years of age when he became the oldest known colonial combatant in the American Revolutionary War which started in 1775 and ended in 1783. He served in the 3rd Massachusetts Regiment, under Col. Jeremiah Moulton, fighting in the King George's War from 1744 to 1748, when he was 48 to 52 years old - old for a soldier by any standard. But he was not done yet.

Whittemore also fought in the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763, when he was 58 to 67 years old. Some accounts have him at the rank of Captain. But he was best known for his role in the American Revolutionary War.

On April 19, 1775, British forces were returning to Boston from the Battles of Lexington and Concord, where the opening battles of the American Revolution began. On their march back to Boston, they were continually shot at by colonial militiamen firing from the cover of the forests - tactics they learned during the French and  Indian War. Whittemore was reportedly preparing one of his fields for planting when he spotted an approaching British Army relief unit moving to assist the retreat.

Whittemore, armed with a musket and two pistols, ambushed the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot, from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier with this musket then killing a second British soldier and wounding a third with his pistols. The British closed on Whittemore before he could reload, so he drew his sword and attacked.

He was shot in the face and bayoneted several times. The British, believing he was dead or dying, left him there. Colonial militia forces following the British found Whittemore wounded, but still trying to re-load his weapons. He was taken to a local Doctor but given no hope of surviving. However, Whittmore did recover and lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at age 96.

If old soldiers die and re-incarnate, then Samuel Whittmore was re-born as Billy Waugh.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Green Berets in Laos

Special Forces Colonel (retired) Joseph Celeski served for thirty years in the U.S. Army, twenty-three of them in Special Forces. He retired in 2004 after commanding the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). He served as commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force for two tours in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). He has published several works on special forces and counterinsurgency. His newest work "The Green Berets in the Land of a Million Elephants: U.S. Army Special Warfare and the Secret War in Laos 1959-74" was recently published and is available on Amazon.

The Secret War in Laos was one of the first “Long Wars” for special operations, spanning a period of about thirteen years. It was one of the largest CIA-paramilitary operations of the time, kept out of the view of the American public until now.

Between 1959 and 1974, Green Berets were covertly deployed to Laos to prevent a communist take-over or at least preserve the kingdom's neutrality. Operators dressed in civilian clothes, armed with cover stories and answering only to "Mister," were delivered to the country by Air America, where they answered to the U.S. Ambassador. There they were faced with the complexities of the three factions in Laos, as well as operating with limited resources – maps of the country often had large blank areas and essential supplies often didn't arrive at all. In challenging tropical conditions they trained and undertook combat advisory duties with native and tribal forces. Veterans remember Hmong guerrillas and Lao soldiers who were often shorter than the M1 rifles they carried.

The Green Berets' service in Laos was the first strategic challenge since its formation in 1952, and proved one of the first major applications of special warfare doctrine. Clouded in secrey until the 1990s, this story is comprehensively told for the first time using official archival documents and interviews with veterans.

A little known fact about Joe Celeski is that he was an Armor Captain in Germany who was recruited by then 5th SFG(A) Commander COL Jim Guest to attend Special Forces Training (with other selected Armor Officers who did not pass SF Training). COL Guest wanted experienced Armor officers to provide 5th SFG(A) with the mounted warfare knowledge as the Group was developing a mobility capability in order to work traditional SF missions in the inhospitable Middle Eastern and North African deserts. After serving as an ODA Commander where he was instrumental in developing the HMMWV gun trucks for Special Forces use, he attended Arabic language school in Monterrey, California then served for two years in a military advisory capacity in Jordan. There are alot of NCO's and SF Officers who count Joe Celeski as the primary mentor in their development as leaders.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Iconic World War II Statute Defaced by Leftists

Police in Florida want to know who spray-painted “#MeToo” on the leg of a statue depicting a sailor and a dental assistant kissing at the end of World War II. Sarasota police said in a news release that officers found the phrase painted in red on the left leg of the woman in the “Unconditional Surrender” statue in Sarasota early Tuesday. The paint covered the length of the nurse’s leg.

Police said officers didn’t find any spray paint bottles in the area. No other objects were defaced. Authorities estimate the damage to the statue at more than $1,000. They say the incident occurred sometime Monday afternoon or evening.

The Me Too movement (or #MeToo movement), with a large variety of local and international alternative names - some call it the Fat Cow movement after some of the obese women who parade signs around. It is nominally a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. The movement began to spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. This movement is especially vocal against conservative men who are alleged to have committed sexual assault but when it comes to liberal political figures, such as the Deputy Governor of Virginia, Justin Fairfax, who is accused by two women of rape, the #metoo movement is strangely silent. Make no mistake about it, any man who abuses a woman, in any manner, should face the full penalty of law or be drug behind speed boat in shark infested waters,...whichever is deemed more harsh.

George Medonsa, the sailor who kissed dental assistant Greta Zimmer Friedman, died Sunday at 95. He was preceded in death by Greta Zimmer Friedman, who was the lady in the original photograph, who passed away on 8 September 2016. Medonsa served as a quartermaster on the USS The Sullivans (DD-537), a destroyer in the Pacific. He was steering the ship in 1945 when an aircraft carrier in the area was struck by Japanese kamikaze fighters. He is credited with helping more than 100 American sailors floating in the water reach a hospital ship. There he saw nurses caring for the wounded and alwasy had a soft spot for nurses thereafter.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The story of the soldier with PTSD who fell into the hole


A Soldier with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) fell into a hole and couldn’t get out.

A Senior NCO went by and the Soldier with PTSD called out for help. The Senior NCO yelled at, told him to suck it up dig deep & drive on, then threw him a shovel. But the Soldier with PTSD could not suck it up and drive on so he dug the hole deeper.

A Senior Officer went by and the Soldier with PTSD called out for help. The Senior Officer told him to use the tools your Senior NCO has given you then threw him a bucket. But the Soldier with PTSD was using the tools his Senior NCO gave him so he dug the hole deeper and filled the bucket.

A psychiatrist walked by. The Soldier with PTSD said, “Help! I can’t get out!” The psychiatrist gave him some drugs and said, “Take this. It will relieve the pain.” The Soldier with PTSD said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole.

A well-known psychologist rode by and heard the Soldier with PTSD cries for help. He stopped and asked, ” How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness.” So the Soldier with PTSD talked with him for an hour, then the psychologist had to leave, but he said he’d be back next week. The Soldier with PTSD thanked him, but he was still in the hole.

A priest came by. The Soldier with PTSD called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said, “I’ll say a prayer for you.” He got down on his knees and prayed for the Soldier with PTSD, then he left. The Soldier with PTSD was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in the hole.

A recovering Soldier with PTSD happened to be passing by. The Soldier with PTSD cried out, “Hey, help me. I’m stuck in this hole!” Right away the recovering Soldier with PTSD jumped down in the hole with him. The Soldier with PTSD said, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck here!!” But the recovering Soldier with PTSD said, “Calm down. It’s okay. I’ve been here before. I know how to get out.

~ Author Unknown

Monday, February 11, 2019

Green Berets Rebuilding the Guerrilla Leader Identity

This article was written by David Walton and Joseph Long and published on the Small Wars Journal. Dr. Joseph Long is a retiring Green Beret officer and developing leadership scholar. He has conducted extensive research in understanding Guerrilla Leadership and the strategic impact of Unconventional Warfare. Dr. David Walton is a professor of national security strategy at the National Defense University. As a retired Green Beret officer with extensive operational experience in Latin America and the Middle East, his work and research focus on operationalizing great strategy for better results.

Green Berets Rebuilding the Guerrilla Leader Identity

Direct Action and Unconventional Warfare - one is in the movies, and the other is in the history books. Perhaps oversimplified, the differences between these two mission sets are at the heart of the Green Beret’s identity crisis. Both are clearly doctrinal Special Forces missions, but one dominates our cultural zeitgeist, while the other is relegated to a few weeks in the Q course and knowing glances at Semi-Annual Training Briefs. Nearly two decades at war have forced Special Forces into a corner. Special Forces has been so busy doing their job that they may have forgotten how to do their job. An entire generation of Green Berets has only known the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and the following generation has been recruited on the promise of door-kicking raids, dynamic entries, and kill/capture methodologies. But the roots of Special Forces are in the OSS, not the GWOT. These resistance skills will atrophy, from the individual through the institutional levels, if not resurrected and revitalized for tomorrow’s conflicts. Guerilla Warfare is a perishable skill and left unexercised it will deteriorate. The popular aphorism that an ideal Green Beret is a Ph.D. who can win a bar fight may soon face the stark reality that Green Berets can only win bar fights. To help understand where Special Forces must go, it is important to understand how they got where they are today.

This change in cultural identity did not happen overnight. In the last decade and a half of counterinsurgency-based conflict in multiple theaters, special operations forces (SOF) have led the way in developing successful processes for conducting contemporary military operations. The success of SOF operations has arguably influenced United States (US) political and military leaders to the degree that SOF-like methods are being duplicated in conventional circles as a new way of war. Concepts such as multi-domain operations, regionally aligned forces (RAF) and Security Forces Assistance Brigades (SFAB) with language training and distinctive berets are but some examples of SOFs most recent influence on the American way of war.

However, the increasing influence of the SOF umbrella remains problematic for the Special Forces (SF) branch. Specifically, the use of the term SOF in the media has diluted the input of SF within the SOF enterprise resulting in a disjointed sense of identity in the SF Regiment. News outlets and influential media personalities often confuse the terms SOF and SF to dilute the significance of Special Forces operations against other SOF elements. Consequently, the dilution of the SF-specific identity is increasingly impacting the SF Regiment’s ability to recruit sufficient numbers to maintain the force. Given that SOF refers to all units in the unified US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and is frequently couched as SF in the media, how can future SF members grasp the specifics of the SF mission? That said, the purpose of this paper is two-fold.

First, the authors endeavor to ignite a conversation within the SF Regiment about its enduring identity and to move toward clarity and union. Second, we propose a framing for the SF identity as a unique "triple threat" of skills that highlights distinctions of the SF branch from other SOF and conventional units, and the rebranding of the Special Forces branch as our most iconic and identifying term: Green Berets. This discussion serves only to emphasize the unique selling proposition that Green Berets maintain; it does not serve as a call for competition amongst SOF. The debate about who, what, when, where, and why the US conducts Unconventional Warfare is nearly endless. This discussion is the specifics of how, because only Green Berets are skilled in Guerilla Leadership. And therefore, even if the discussion of the specific future operating environment and accompanying mission set remains unclear, there is little doubt that the most critical Special Forces skillset resides in the ability to identify, analyze, and utilize human networks (Meredith, 2019). Whatever the mission this network-centric mindset is best incubated in the Unconventional Warfare petri dish.

Why Identity Matters

As an organization, identity matters. From a scholarly perspective, building and maintaining identity is a task that must be deliberate from senior leadership on down since it impacts organizational culture across multiple sub-fields. In leadership literature, identity is critical to developing organizational culture by combining the individual identity with social and organizational ones to create meaning for people within institutions (Alvesson, 2011). From a social movement perspective, collective identity is thought to be a critical component for mobilization and collective action (Polletta & Jasper, 2001; Tarrow, 1994). It also plays a role in cross-cultural leadership to underscore relational aspects of identity through understanding divisive cleavages that can prevent unity.

When viewed through the culture and collective action lens, there is little debate that SF is in need of a refresher. With dozens of widely publicized gaffs from the laughable through the ethically disassociated, to the downright illegal, SF is losing confidence both publically and intrinsically. From the perspective of a profession-at-arms, Green Berets require absolute confidence amongst themselves and perhaps more importantly, with their partners. An Ambassador who does not trust an SF Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) – the core SF unit structure – simply will not allow them to do what they need to accomplish under his or her jurisdiction.

Identity remains increasingly important for understanding both the strategic role in conducting unconventional warfare (UW) and other insurgency-related military operations, as well as how SF fit into the broader Department of Defense across multiple phases of conflict. That said, years of population-centric counterinsurgency operations (COIN) have muddied the waters between the SF-specific mission, SOF, and conventional military forces. Specifically, the interaction between military and civilian forces increasingly blurs the lines between SF missions and other military operations involving civilian influence. This blurred distinction has arguably remained "insufficient for understanding the unique context of indigenous leadership” and unconventional warfare (Long, 2017).

In addition, recent conflicts continue to underscore the distinct complexity of an interstate conflict that impacts more than American military forces. These conflicts challenge the understanding of the future of armed conflict and the security dilemma for people in both powerful and developing states. Classic models for sustaining global military and economic equilibrium are being challenged by emerging dynamics and self-organizing structures (Boulton, Allen, & Bowman, 2015; Griffin & Stacey, 2005; Stacey, 2012). Thus, leadership in such complex environments must be reexamined to understand the challenges to the Westphalian world order and the role of military forces in driving strong-state behavior. Previously understood linear models are fast becoming insufficient for understanding concepts of equilibrium and balances of power in favor of complexity and “rapid organizational transformation” (Chiles et al., 2004, p. 501).

With complexity in mind, the uniqueness of the SF mission must remain the centerpiece of the SF identity as distinct from other military organizations. A unified identity will help clarify future combat roles so that the most impactful units will be chosen for the most appropriate missions, and so that the SF role within larger DoD responsibilities remains clear. Other organizations do not have to deal with challenges to identity: the maneuver branches role in the US Army “has remained constant since the earliest days of American military history: to close with and destroy the enemy” (“U.S. Army Infantry School Official Website,” n.d.). However, SF’s unique history can blur the lines and create destabilizing competition between conventional missions and other SOF units.

Understanding the SF Identity

As a branch, SF units have similarities to other units within the broader US military, yet its distinctiveness must also remain clear. SF Soldiers mostly come from the US Army infantry where they derive much of their history, culture, and training. The close association with SF and the Army Ranger School affirms this shared identity based on core skills of patrolling and small-unit tactics. Likewise, SF units share a “joint side” focus on very high-profile direct action missions, as well as information and population-oriented branches such as Psychological Operations (PO) and Civil Affairs (CA). Yet, what do Special Forces do that make them truly special?

To begin with, there must be consensus on what does not make SF unique compared to other units. One of the first claims is that SF is the force that works with foreign personnel or partner forces. However, conventional units also historically work with partner forces and have the primary role in the DoD’s Security Force Assistance mission. Although this claim is often supported by SF language requirements and cultural awareness training, the Soldiers assigned to CA, PO, and the SFA brigades are also trained in language and culture, and many of the members of the joint special operations community also receive similar training. Likewise, SF cannot claim to be the only force that conducts unconventional warfare, as CA and PO again have missions steeped in UW, as do several joint SOF and Special Mission Units (SMU). That said, SF is not unique for working with foreign forces, for learning languages, or for conducting UW, but for their unique mission of conducting special operations across the range of military operations to “disrupt or eliminate threats unilaterally, with partners or friendly indigenous forces” (Army Doctrine Publication 3-05: Special operations, 2012, p. 7).

What makes the SF branch unique is less of a specific role than a unique capability. Although SF units are not the only DoD force that works with foreign countries, SF units are the only force that works with “indigenous forces.” Often called guerrillas, indigenous forces are defined as “irregular, predominantly indigenous personnel organized along military lines to conduct military and paramilitary operations in enemy-held, hostile, or denied territory” (Joint Publication 3-05: Special operations, 2014). This is the essence of the Green Beret distinction: SF is the only force that is specially selected and trained to lead indigenous forces in “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force…to influence the indigenous population to support the resistance movement or insurgency” (Army Doctrine Publication 3-05: Special operations, 2012, p. 9).

This understanding of Special Forces is not unknown to the members of the Regiment and serves as the critical distinction between Green Beret formations and conventional and other SOF units. In capitalizing on the uniqueness of SF, we propose reframing the unique SF identity as a triple threat of maneuver, Direct Action, and information operation capability through the application of indigenous leadership. Like the infantry, SF units conduct maneuver operations either independently as part of an unconventional warfare campaign, or as part of larger combined arms coalition operations such as Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2002. However, as the first tier of the triple threat, SF is the only unit that conducts maneuver operations in combat while in the direct leadership of indigenous forces.

On the second tier of the triple threat, Joint SOF, SMUs, and SF units each conduct Direct Action and other raid-like operations. However, SF operations are unique to other SOF units because they are conducted with indigenous forces on their right and left rather than other highly trained SOF forces. This provides the same operational challenge as more dedicated raiding units, but also adds the significant leadership challenge of operating with and through indigenous forces. Lastly, SF conduct information operations and interact with foreign populations in similar ways as CA and PO units do, but SF detachments do so in the context of UW and indigenous leadership at the point of greatest impact on the battlefield. This military and leadership challenge represents the ultimate in complexity and remains the sole domain of the SF Regiment.

In summary, the comparison of the SF triple threat serves to solidify the distinct and complex nature of SF operations against the backdrop of other related but differently sourced and utilized units. This observation is particularly salient now as the recent decision of the Army to develop regionally oriented SFABs has many members of the community concerned that the SF mission is in decline. The reality is that such fears are the farthest from the truth since the ability to work with indigenous, rather than partner-nation and foreign military forces, remains the core task of Special Forces, and Special Forces are the only units capable of completing it. In this context the difference between indigenous and partner-nation forces is the inherent unorganized nature of the force upon initiation of operations. Indigenous forces are raised whole-cloth from the general populace while partner-nation forces assume that the forces are already organized for action upon US intervention. As a result, the three lightning bolts on the SF patch more accurately represent the guerrilla leadership of maneuver, Direct Action, and Information Operations as much as land, sea or air. Unfortunately, poor identity and media branding continues to dilute and limit the distinct Green Beret identity.

Reframing the Special Forces

Empirical data shows that SF remains the most well-known branch of the Army SOF enterprise compared to CA, PO, Special Operations Aviation, and the 75th Ranger Regiment. However, the use and misuse of the term “Special” in media makes discerning the value of SF against other units increasingly difficult. Studies of media framing show a high likelihood that the terms SF and SOF get congealed at significant rates such that the use of the term “Special Forces” is essentially indistinguishable from “Special Operations Forces.” That said, SF loses out on the specific framing that drives recruiting, funding, and even operational assignments. Senior DoD decision makers are less likely than the average citizen to be confused about what Special Forces is capable of, but in a business where risk mitigation is part of the charter, Special Forces should work towards clarity and developing a deeper understating of what they are best suited for, not just capable of.

In contrast, other formations under the USSOCOM umbrella are branded in more specific terminology. SEALs and Rangers have a particular brand that is less confused with other SOF units, as does Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations. That said, the SF branch's use of the term “Green Beret” remains a similarly identifying brand associated with this distinct history and storied reputation. In fact, when reports are specifically oriented to SF units, the term “Green Beret” is used to avoid confusion with other forces. However, the opposite has happened, and the SF regiment should promote rather than degrade the unique distinction of the title “Green Beret" to describe themselves and their unique capabilities.

Conclusion

The formation of an organization’s identity is a critical function of leadership and must be approached as a deliberate activity with a known end state. As a Regiment, Special Forces have an interest in acknowledging their uniqueness among fellow maneuver, Direct Action, and Influence Operations units. Unfortunately, nearly twenty years of indigenous leadership has been diluted by the similarities between the SF and SOF terms, and competition for budgets and missions has incentivized all branches to compete for relevance.

For these reasons, the time has come for the Special Forces Regiment to relook its identity and reframe Green Beret skills to be as valuable and special as they truly are. The ability to function as a strategic triple threat in indigenous-based military operations should be embraced with pride, even against more fashionable emerging aims such as Security Force Assistance and regional orientation. Even when SF conduct unilateral operations without indigenous forces, it should remember that their true strategic value stems from the ability to lead guerrillas, and the strategic effects of those indigenous forces will always be greater than SF acting alone.

Likewise, while Special Forces ties to indigenous forces can come at the expense of other combat forces gaining operational experience or accomplishing vital tasks, the SF function helps the entire US military win wars as part of a team. When they are the main effort, SF must demonstrate the capabilities of this triple threat, and likewise remain adaptable to being useful when in support of other units. Uniqueness is not an excuse for a “super soldier” mentality though. When SF train to look, act, and perform differently from other units, they must ensure that they see the big picture and avoid divisiveness with other branches. The ability to lead combined teams of SF Soldiers, guerrilla, auxiliary and underground forces, and indigenous populations of mostly developing countries suggests that SF should remain the most capable team players when working with other DoD units. The unique SF jargon of “G chief” and “getting in the G base” applies in almost everything they do. SF must embrace the ability to treat every situation with the care and cultural savvy of a UW operation.

Lastly, the strategic nature of the SF branch is seen as they are often called to serve at the political level of conflict, and often where indigenous forces matter greatly. However, if SF fail to solidify the core identity of unique leadership of those forces, then US political decision makers will remain hesitant to send them into the fight. This is especially salient given the networked and unconventional nature of adversarial efforts to build their own friendly government-like structures amidst competing political and social groups. They are using “special forces” to undermine US interests, and it is high time the US pushes back with its own Special Forces, a job specifically designed for Green Berets and their triple threat capabilities.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Army Issues New Reprimand to Leader of Green Beret Team Ambushed in Niger

The Army has issued a new reprimand to the leader of the Green Beret team that was ambushed in 2017 in Niger. Capt. Michael Perozeni was cited in a letter dated Jan. 16 for not performing proper pre-mission training before the mission that led to the ambush, according to military officials. The reprimand, issued by Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, the head of the Army’s Special Operations Command, will go into Captain Perozeni’s “local” personnel file, meaning it should not follow him throughout his military career.

Four American soldiers and five Nigerien troops were killed in the Oct. 4, 2017, ambush while searching for a militant linked to the Islamic State. Captain Perozeni was reprimanded earlier, in October, for failing to ensure his team was adequately trained before working with the Nigerien troops.

But the Pentagon rescinded that admonishment, which was issued by Maj. Gen. Edwin J. Deedrick Jr., the commanding officer of the First Special Forces Command. Jim Mattis, the defense secretary at the time, chided top military officials for improperly focusing on junior officers’ roles in the botched mission, rather than those of more senior officers.

Captain Perozeni had told his commanders that the team of Green Berets did not have the necessary equipment or intelligence for an unplanned raid on a local militant during the mission, and had asked to return to base. Instead, Lt. Col. David Painter, a battalion commander based in Chad, ordered Captain Perozeni’s team to continue. It did, and was attacked by dozens of militants linked to the Islamic State.

Colonel Painter and his top enlisted soldier, who is now the command sergeant major of the 3rd Special Forces Group, were also reprimanded last month. As a result, Colonel Painter, who was punished for improperly overseeing predeployment training, will step down from commanding an adviser battalion that is slated to deploy to Afghanistan in coming weeks.

The Special Operations Command declined to comment and referred questions to the Pentagon. Colonel Painter’s reprimand was first reported by Politico. Some Special Forces officers have privately said the Army has done little to reform personnel policies, unrealistic predeployment training requirements and deployment timelines since the 2017 ambush.

Captain Perozeni was put in command of the Green Beret unit — Team 3212 — just weeks before it deployed to Niger. Senior military officials, including acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of Special Operations Command, are expected to consult on Friday about a congressional report that is due Wednesday and will outline the lessons learned by Army Special Forces from the ambush.

Eight people have been punished as a result of the ambush, including Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, the head of Special Operations forces in Africa. Col. Bradley D. Moses, then the commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group, is the only person in the Special Operations chain of command involved in the ambush that remains unpunished. Colonel Moses is currently the chief of staff of Army Special Operations Command, and according to a defense official, he is slated to be promoted to brigadier general.

Article from the New York Times

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Houston Boy Scout Troop 242 - 12 new Eagle Scouts

This is a feel good story - gives you hope for American youths. Great Job Houston Boy Scout troop 242 !!

Historic Houston Boy Scout troop continues to flourish



After learning to tie knots and administer first aid, delivering lunches to low-income preschool children and building trails and dams in Houston’s parks, a dozen young men in khaki shirts and sashes crowded with merit badges trooped onto the stage Saturday morning at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. They were being promoted to the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor in the Boy Scouts of America.

The 12 were one of the largest groups of African-Americans to achieve the honor at the same time in Houston’s history, according to their troop, number 242. As Boy Scout participation across the nation has steadily declined — the number of Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts fell 8 percent between 2012 and 2017 — the historically African-American troop has been flourishing in Third Ward.

Parents drive their children from across town to participate in the program, said Jeffery Misher, a cubmaster who became a Troop 242 Eagle Scout in 1978. The troop counts the children of former Congressman Mickey Leland, former City Council member Anthony Hall and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee among its alumni.

And 54 years after it started, the troop — founded by a pastor who had been rejected from a white Boy Scout troop as a child — is still promoting nearly as many Eagle Scouts as it did in the ’70s, when the nationwide popularity of the program hit its peak. The reason for troop’s continued success? “It truly is a family,” said Tanyel Bennett, mother of freshly minted Eagle Scout Shane Bennett. Misher also compared the troop to family. “Families, if they’re working properly, are strong,” he said.

At a park in southwest Houston on Sunday afternoon, Shane Bennett, Dameion Crook and Eric Sims, each wearing his newly awarded Eagle Scout pin, were still basking in the glow of their success. They said they had formed bonds within the scouting community. “It made me think about coming back to support people when I’m older,” Sims said of those relationships. “I grew close to other scouts,” Crook said. “I wanted to do more and see the troop grow.”

Scouting also led them to undertake initiatives in the wider community. The path they walked Sunday along the Willow Waterhole, lined with signs identifying the types of nearby trees, had been laid through the efforts of nine Eagle Scouts and a Gold Award winner, the Girl Scout equivalent. Bennett, one of the scouts who had led the trail project, said working on the path had taught him how to delegate as he coordinated a team of volunteers in putting down gravel and installing signposts. Crook and Sims learned about dealing with bureaucratic paperwork as they secured permissions to beautify their high school, Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy, by installing an outdoor seating area with chairs, stools and bird feeders.

And the troop also provided a forum for frank discussions on subjects such as racism and police brutality. “Our scoutmaster told us how the world works,” Crook said. “You need to try harder than other people.” By making the rank of Eagle Scout — something only 4 percent of Boy Scouts achieve — they have already been recognized for their outstanding character. “People look at you differently when you say you’re an Eagle Scout,” Bennett said. “They know you have high expectations for yourself.”

Article from the Houston Chronicle

Monday, January 28, 2019

Latest Green Beret Casualty - SFC Joshua Beale, 3rd Special Forces Group

The Pentagon on Wednesday released the name of an Army Green Beret who was killed Tuesday 22 January 2019 during combat operations in central Afghanistan. Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Joshua “Zach” Beale, 32, died in Uruzgan Province after succumbing to wounds sustained from small arms fire. He was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This was Beale’s fourth overseas tour, and his third tour to Afghanistan.

“Joshua was a smart, talented and dedicated member of 3rd SFG (A) and the special operations community," Col. Nathan Prussian, 3rd Group’s commander, said in a statement provided to Army Times. “He will be greatly missed by everyone who had the fortunate opportunity to know him.” Beale was a native of Carrollton, Virginia, and had more than seven years of service in the Army. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Old Dominion University in 2008 and enlisted in 2011. He attended basic training and airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia. Beale then graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2013 and was subsequently assigned to 3rd Group.

His awards and decorations include three Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, a Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal, the Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge and the Combat Infantry Badge. Beale was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Beale’s death comes less than a week after Sgt. Cameron Meddock, an Army Ranger, died from wounds he suffered while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Badghis province. The Taliban are also currently holding peace talks with an American diplomatic team in Doha, Qatar, in order to reach a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Article from the Army Times

Monday, January 21, 2019

Special Atomic Demolition Munition units: "We all knew it was a one-way mission, a suicide mission"

Some of you SFA members are likely intimately familiar with the SADM having practiced HALO, SCUBA or HALO-SCUBA insertions with the device. Hats off to you for what you trained for and were prepared to do for your country. I remember in 7th SFG, in the late 1970's, one SCUBA team and one HALO team were designated "Greenlight" teams, training to deliver the SADM via their infiltration specialty. They were called the PIG teams, after the Group Commander COL Palmer - "Palmer's Imperial Guards".

You probably did it with a firecracker when you were a kid. You'd set it on rock or a stump, then you'd light the fuse, clamp your hands over your ears and run, to get out of range of the cardboard shrapnel. Or, if you set it on someone's porch, you ran so as not to get caught. Well, that's what Mark Bentley of De Pere practiced doing in the U.S. Army, only he did it with atomic bombs: Carry one on your back, plant it somewhere, set the timer, clamp your hands over your ears and run like hell. “We all knew it was a one-way mission, a suicide mission,” Bentley, who is now 68 and quite probably not even quick enough anymore to outrun firecracker shrapnel, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

You might not have realized they ever made A-bombs small enough for one man to carry, but they did. They had one called the W54 that fit into a duffel bag. It was less than a tenth as powerful as “Little Boy,” the one dropped on Hiroshima a quarter-century earlier, but without benefit of you being able to fly away in an airplane before it goes off. There was also a bigger one that fit into a 55-gallon drum, two or three times as powerful as the one you could carry on your back, Bentley recalled.

photo at left - H-912 transport container for SADM is seen at the National Atomic Museum.

It was part of the post-WWII, Cold War era in which the Soviet Union was viewed as an expansionist threat into western Europe, said John Sharpless, newly retired professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught a class on the period. "The Soviet Union had a substantially larger land army, considerably larger than NATO and the U.S.," Sharpless said. "When you consider the possibility of war in Europe, if the Russians decided to invade from the east, it would be nearly impossible to stop them. So, one strategy was to block various access routes and perhaps funnel them into an area where you could use larger weapons against them."

That was the apparent strategy with the hand-carried nukes, Bentley said — not to nuke Russians directly but rather nuke big holes in the Alps, so that all the resultant ash would fill up the valleys and prevent Soviet tanks and trucks from being able to pass, he said. The hand-carried nukes evolved out of even smaller nuclear weapons that had been developed in the 1950s, Sharpless said. Those included the Davy Crockett nuclear warheads that could be fired from bazookas and even recoilless rifles, he said.

"The problem was, the blast range was larger than the trajectory," he said. In other words, you couldn't shoot them far enough to keep yourself out of harm's way. That essentially was the same worry about the hand-carried nuclear mines that Bentley and his fellow soldiers were training to plant: You were unlikely to be able to get out of range yourself. The funny thing is, Bentley put in for the duty. And no, not because he was suicidal.

The year was 1968, when the Vietnam War was still raging, and Bentley, a new high school graduate, had an alarmingly low draft number. "It's the only lottery I ever won," said Bentley, who was holding lucky number 27. Enrolling in college, getting married, having a son — none of it staved off the inevitable. "The question was, do I go in as a draftee and essentially become a target for two years, or do I enlist for three and maybe get to do something I want?" he said.

He decided to enlist. His timing wasn't great; the draft was eliminated just about when he signed the dotted line. But at least the Vietnam War was coming to an end. He eventually found himself at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, home of the Army engineers. At first, he was trained in a program to deliver acetylene and oxygen to engineers to do repairing and welding in the field. That program was finally deemed unfeasible and he was transferred to one of the Special Atomic Demolition Munition platoons. He recalled he was in one of two such platoons stationed stateside, training, while several others were stationed in central Europe.

Anyway, Bentley never got to the Alps. He kept training and practicing against the possibility of Soviet aggression in Virginia. They took turns carrying a dummy version of the bomb into the woods near the base, setting the timer and imagining the results. "You constantly trained," he said. "You talk about something being driven through your brain — that's all you ate, slept and thought about eight hours a day."

He got to carry the duffel bag bomb once and set the timer. "You set your timer, and it would click when it went off, or it went ding or I forget what, but you knew you were toast," he said. "Ding! Your toast is ready, and it's you."

In theory, you could set the timer to give you enough time to flee properly, but somebody would have to stay behind and secure the site, Bentley said. "The Army is not going to set a bomb like that and run away and leave it, because they don't know if someone else would get ahold of it," he said. "They have to leave troops there to make sure it's not stolen or compromised, and that would just be collateral damage. You didn't go out with the thought that it was anything other than a one-way mission. If you're Bruce Willis, you get away, but I ain't Bruce Willis."

Mercifully, even the platoons stationed near the Alps never got a chance to set off a real one. Maybe the Army decided nukes were better off being dropped from planes, or maybe the threat of attack dwindled as the Cold War was beginning to wind down, Bentley was never sure. But he wasn't surprised. "I banked on them never doing it," he said.

While actually having to do it would be a scary proposition, merely hanging out in a base not too far from Washington, D.C., and training for it was pretty good duty in Bentley's mind. "It was a great place to be stationed," he said. "Being a history nut, I had battlefields to visit . . . Jefferson's home at Monticello, Madison's home a couple miles away. We went camping on weekends, at Bull Run. How many people can say they camped at Bull Run, at a national Civil War battlefield?"

Bentley got out in August 1975, a few years before the Special Atomic Demolition Munition units were entirely disbanded. For some reason, he didn't find a lot of civilian employers clamoring to hire someone trained in hand-delivering atomic bombs. His undergraduate degree was in business education, but he quickly learned teaching wasn't for him, so he got a master's degree in personnel and industrial relations and spent most of his working years dealing with union negotiations and other human resources jobs. “The best thing I ever did was go into the Army,” Bentley said. “You won’t hear many people say that, but you were exposed to so many different ways of life, occupations, places to live, people.”

Article from the Army Times

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mrs. Murphy

You mention the name Audie Murphy around a millennial or a snowflake and you get a blank stare. You mention the name Pam Murphy around just about anyone and you get the same blank expression – except for those who may have lived in or near Sepulveda or Van Nuys, California. I have always said the toughest job in the world is the spouse of a military person.

Audie was only 46 years old when he died in a helicopter crash into the Virginia Mountains. He was bothered all his life when he came back from the war and it really affected his life. He never got the medical help he should have gotten.

Not many young people know who Audie Murphy was or how big a war hero he was. Two or three of the medals he earned would make most service men proud, but to have earned his decorations in battle is truly unbelievable.

List of Decorations for Audie Murphy:

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star (with oak leaf cluster)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (with oak leaf cluster and Valor Device)
Purple Heart (with two oak leaf clusters)
U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal
Presidential Unit Citation (with First Oak Leaf Cluster)
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with One Silver Star), Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine Campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France)
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal (with Germany Clasp)
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
French Fourrage in Colors of the Croix de Guerre
French Legion of Honor - Grade of Chevalier
French Croix de guerre (with Silver Star)
French Croix de guerre (with Palm)
Medal of Liberated France
Belgian Croix de guerre (with 1940 Palm)

Additionally, Murphy was awarded:
The Combat Infantry Marksman badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar.

Isn't it sad the media can tell us all about the BAD that goes on, but ignores the GOOD people? If a movie Star or politician stubs their toe we have to hear about it for Days!

(From the Los Angeles Times on April 15, 2010)

Pamela Murphy, widow of WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, died peacefully at her home on April 8, 2010. She was the widow of the most decorated WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, and established her own distinctive 35 year career working as a patient liaison at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration hospital, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they were a VIP.

Any soldier or Marine who came into the hospital got the same special treatment from her. She would walk the hallways with her clipboard in hand making sure her boys got to see the specialist they needed. If they didn't, watch out.

Her boys weren't Medal of Honor recipients or movie stars like Audie, but that didn't matter to Pam. They had served their Country. That was good enough for her. She never called a veteran by his first name. It was always "Mister." Respect came with the job.

"Nobody could cut through VA red tape faster than Mrs. Murphy," said veteran Stephen Sherman, speaking for thousands of veterans she befriended over the years. "Many times I watched her march a veteran who had been waiting more than an hour right into the doctor's office. She was even reprimanded a few times, but it didn't matter to Mrs. Murphy. "Only her boys mattered. She was our angel."

Audie Murphy died broke in a plane crash in 1971, squandering millions of dollars on gambling, bad investments, and yes, other women. "Even with the adultery and desertion at the end, he always remained my hero," Pam told me.

She went from a comfortable ranch-style home in Van Nuys where she raised two sons to a small apartment - taking a clerk's job at the nearby VA to support herself and start paying off her faded movie star husband's debts. At first, no one knew who she was. Soon, though, word spread through the VA that the nice woman with the clipboard was Audie Murphy's widow. It was like saying General Patton had just walked in the front door. Men with tears in their eyes walked up to her and gave her a Hug. "Thank you," they said, over and over.

The first couple of years, I think the hugs were more for Audie's memory as a war hero. The last 30 years, they were for Pam.

One year I asked her to be the focus of a Veteran's Day column for all the work she had done. Pam just shook her head no. "Honor them, not me," she said, pointing to a group of veterans down the hallway. "They're the ones who deserve it."

The vets disagreed. Mrs. Murphy deserved the accolades, they said. Incredibly, in 2002, Pam's job was going to be eliminated in budget cuts. She was considered "excess staff." "I don't think helping cut down on veterans' complaints and showing them the respect they deserve should be considered excess staff," she told me.

Neither did the veterans. They went ballistic, holding a rally for her outside the VA gates. Pretty soon, word came down from the top of the VA. Pam Murphy was no longer considered "excess staff."

She remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was 87. "The last time she was here was a couple of years ago for the conference we had for homeless veterans," said Becky James, coordinator of the VA's Veterans History Project. Pam wanted to see if there was anything she could do to help some more of her boys. Pam Murphy was 90 when she died. What a lady.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Special Forces Heritage - OSS or 1st Special Service Force?

The following is an article written by David S. Maxwell, COL (ret), SF titled "Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?" and posted on the Small Wars Journal. Maxwell is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Previously he was the Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies in the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University. He retired as an Army Special Forces Colonel with command and staff assignments in Korea, Japan, Germany, the Philippines, and CONUS, and served as a member of the military faculty teaching national security at the National War College. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, the Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth and the National War College, National Defense University.



Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?

It pained me to read the latest issue of the USASOC Historian Office's publication Veritas and it pains me even more to have to write these words. You might not be familiar with Veritas because it is not published on line, only in an expensive high gloss print publication. The specific article in the recent edition is “The OSS Influence on Special Forces.” The article can be downloaded at this link:

The author's thesis is that since only 14 members of the OSS actually served in Special Forces their contribution was not as great as has been described over the years. The author uses fashionable modern academic analysis focusing solely on data and numbers to reach this outrageous conclusion: “The result was concrete evidence of disinformation and exaggeration perpetuated by the active force and veteran associations.” The only “concrete evidence” the author cites is the number 14. (As an aside there were at least 15 members of the OSS who served in Special Forces from 1952 to 1954. His list fails to include Robert McDowell who served with the OSS in Yugoslavia.)

The author is trying to prove his thesis by relying on numbers. However, he undermines his argument with this statement:

Therefore, the five former OSS instructors in the SF Department, constituting approximately one-third of the instructor cadre from 1952-1954, are the ones who provided the most influence from their OSS experiences on the developing force. Because the five interacted with or impacted every soldier trained in the SF program at the school, they gave students undergoing instruction an exaggerated impression about the overall presence of former OSS veterans in SF.

What the author fails to recognize and appreciate is that the OSS was an organization known for two things: punching well above its weight, i.e., making outsize contributions from its small numbers; and for conducting effective influence operations. At its peak there were some 13,000 members with 7500 serving overseas which was less than one Army division while the Army fielded over 90 divisions in WWII. Its Morale Operations branch focused on “persuasion, penetration, and intimidation” to destabilize governments and mobilize indigenous resistance at the strategic and tactical level.

Rather than assess the numbers of OSS members in SF the author would do a great service by reminding readers that today’s SF assessment and selection, organization (especially the ODA), training, doctrine, and most important the foundational mission of SF, unconventional warfare, are directly related to and descended from the OSS. For those interested I recommend perusing the USASOC web site OSS Primer and Manuals accessed. USASOC’s own website says: “Special Forces traces its roots as the Army’s premier proponent of unconventional warfare from the Operational Groups and the Jedburgh teams of the Office of Strategic Services.” I personally traced the development of SF doctrine and the unconventional warfare mission from the OSS to the present (then 1995).

Yes, other U.S. Army officers made significant contributions to the development of SF such as Russell Volckman, Wendell Fertig, and Donald Blackburn. They brought back tremendous overseas experience and demonstrated a unique quality necessary in SF: when there is a lack of guidance, organization, and support, operators must be able to take the initiative and organize indigenous resistance in support of national security objectives. Their guerrilla warfare experiences in the Philippines added important perspectives to the guerrilla warfare experiences of OSS members in Europe as well as in Burma and throughout Southeast Asia. But they did not bring back the organization, training, and doctrine that resided in the OSS and was passed on to SF.

The author could have written a very positive article and highlighted the outsize contribution the members of the OSS made to SF. They were the conduit for assessment and selection, organization, training, doctrine, and unconventional warfare. Most important the contributions they made continue to this day with appropriate modifications based on evolving global conditions, experience, and technology.

Furthermore, I know of no Special Forces officer or NCO who does not believe with all his heart that Special Forces (and the entire joint SOF enterprise) is a direct descendent of the OSS and shares the lineage with the CIA and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. While the numbers can justify the author’s thesis he does not account for the intangibles of history, tradition, and the influence of those larger than life figures in the OSS as well as the actual OSS documentation and doctrine that provide the foundation for modern SF. To accuse the active force and veteran organizations of disinformation to belittle the contribution of the OSS to SF is an insult beyond belief.

So, what should be done? Normally those finding fault with an article will demand a correction. In this case a correction and acknowledgement of the error is insufficient. Nor is an apology demanded. This is the second recent error filled article published in Veritas. A previous article on the Special Action Force Asia required a correction and nearly four pages of clarification.

What this article indirectly highlights is that the US Army has failed to include the OSS in the lineage of Special Forces. This is most likely because the OSS was not an Army unit (like SOF today it was a very effective joint and interagency (civilian) organization with members from all services). Therefore, the Army chose to make the 1st Special Service Force the predecessor of US Special Forces. While original members of the 1st SSF were recruited by Colonel Aaron Bank to join SF (along with paratroopers and foreign troops through the Lodge Act) the “Force” was a hyper-conventional American and Canadian direct-action raiding unit. While it fought valiantly and deserves recognition for its tremendous exploits it did not make formal contributions to the assessment and selection methodology, the organization of the Special Forces A Team or the unconventional warfare mission.

The best corrective that the USASOC Historian’s office could undertake would be to petition the Army to add the OSS to the lineage of Special Forces. I strongly recommend that Army Special Operations community pursue righting this wrong by the Army and restore Special Force’s proper lineage. This will be a fight, but it will be a fight worth having. And lastly, I would demand that Veritas be published online so that the entire national security community can read about the history of Special Operations and the entire special operations community, academia, retirees, and interested Americans can provide oversight of the research conducted.

Postscript

COL Maxwell also provides the following: I was provided this explanation as to why the reason why the OSS is not in the SF lineage by someone who has worked the issue in the past:

QUOTE The Office of Military History steadfast refused to include the OSS in the lineage of ANY U.S. Army unit and is based upon three main factors:

1. The OSS was an ad-hoc organization

2. The OSS was formed from volunteers

3. The OSS was not a recognized TO&E Table of Organization and Equipment)

END QUOTE

I can kind of understand the bureaucratic reasons for 1 and 3 but I am not sure why the unit being formed of volunteers is a problem. SF consists of triple volunteers. I wish we could accept the history as it really is rather than apply some arbitrary rules that deny reality and history.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Christmas 1944

The below was published by Keith Nightingale on the Small Wars Journal with the original title "Fried Chicken and Family – Christmas 1944". COL (ret) Nightingale served two tours in Vietnam with Airborne and Ranger (American and Vietnamese) units. He commanded airborne battalions in both the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division. He later commanded both the 1/75th Rangers and the 1st Ranger Training Brigade. The original article can be viewed at this link: http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/fried-chicken-and-family-christmas-1944

Christmas Day 1944, near Trois-Pont, Belgium, was truly a white Christmas. It was also incredibly cold, especially for those 82nd paratroopers that were holding a tenuous thin line against the best combined armed force the German army could muster. Due to the lack of manpower, men were scattered in two-man foxholes across a much broader front than normal tactics dictated. In such situations, necessity breeds violation.

Combat is the ultimate test of doctrine and wise commanders adjust doctrine to meet tactical necessity. The men were at the crest of a large hill mass that faced another even larger mass, separated only by a partially cleared but snowbound field. Their position could be reached by only the suggestion of a bad road worn into the land by years of wood collectors and game wardens. By no stretch, could it support the requirements of an infantry unit. As such, it did not.

The troops, most still wearing only the light summer paratroop fatigues and leather boots, spent much of their time simply trying to survive. The frequent forays of probing German units served as momentary periods of warmth as adrenalin fired the near-frozen skin and viscera of the combatants. Once quiet resumed, the necessary acts to retain or gain some form of warmth took precedent. Open fires were out of the question. Consequently, the outposts huddled in small foxholes for body warmth and occasionally built small twig fires in the bottom for a moment of heat. But only a moment.

Some had “acquired” a quilt or blanket from some luckless peasant quarters earlier or had the foresight to steal the blanket off their beds in Soissons, France, where they had been recovering from Market-Garden. Very few had the new shoe pacs or even galoshes, so quick was their departure the evening of 17 December. Virtually all troops had bedsheets as hasty camouflage cover.

16 December had brought the juggernaut of two panzer armies against the thinly held Ardennes sector. Very quickly, two US regiments of the green 106th Division were overrun and surrendered. All along the Belgian border area, US units were thrown back in disarray coalescing in pockets of resistance as best they could. Engineer elements blew bridges and with great courage, stoically defended crucial crossing sites and intersections. Places such as Bastogne, St. Vith, Malmedy, Trois-Pont, and Fraiture began to fill with withdrawing elements, mostly leaderless and in some panic.

General Dwight Eisenhower, after understanding the magnitude of the effort, released his only Theatre reserves, the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions at 1900 on 17 December. They were only at part strength with many troops on leave and much of their ordnance in shops for repair. Only a minimal amount of ammunition was locally available.

Loading on hastily assembled Red Ball Express vehicles, mostly open trucks, the troops deployed as rapidly as they could be assembled with only minimal attention to unit integrity so great was the need. Throughout the night, and in alternating sub-zero and sleeting weather, they traveled east to the disintegrating sectors. One division would go to Bastogne in the southern area and the other to Werbomont, further north. Ultimate assignment would be determined after MG Jim Gavin, Acting Corps Commander in the absence of MG Ridgway in the UK and CG, 82nd, met in Bastogne with MG Middleton, the CG VIII Corps.

By luck of the draw and a shorter distance to travel, the 101st arrived in Bastogne, and Gavin ordered it to hold the road structure. The 82nd would go to Werbomont and figure it out from there, so tenuous was any intelligence on German dispositions and intentions. Gavin, meeting the lead elements of his division in the early dawn of 18 December, and with no real feel for enemy dispositions, sent them east on a line paralleling the high ground overlooking the valley between the Rivers Salm and Ourthe. This was a long ridge stretching from Belgium almost into Germany. This would be the northern shoulder of what was soon labeled “The Bulge.”



One of these elements was the 505 PIR which was assigned the easternmost portion of the loosely held line. It was a small group of troops from one of the three battalions that found themselves on a very cold Christmas, receiving presents beyond price. The outpost had been in intermittent contact all day and much of the preceding night. Sleep was a forgotten luxury. Both extreme cold and professional German infantry, well-supported by artillery and armor, forced a maintenance of alertness that a hard core NCO would have envied.

The troops were closely rationing the few boxes of K rations they had snatched in France. Most had eaten the main meals some time ago and were now subsisting on cigarettes, gum, candy, and memories. There was no reason to believe this situation would soon change.

In this area, daylight was a rumor and dark a reality. Fog, even in this most frigid air, had frequently clouded and rolled over the position obscuring all but a few meters to the front. The NCOs in response, sent small patrols and outposts as far forward as the leading edge of the fronting woods, not daring a further positioning for fear of the outposts being bypassed.

Every step broke the hard dry snow surface and sounded across the ground. Here, the snow was dry as flour but crusted. A walk of less than a hundred meters was exhausting. A small patrol could be a full day’s affair. Stealth was achievable only under the dark snow-laden trees that delineated the irregular open ground. The rough roads and paths were packed with deep drifts, all but impenetrable except by armor—of which the Germans apparently had a great deal.

Dark arrived quickly here, with less than six hours of furtive daylight to bar its entrance. The skies had been consistently low, leaden, and impenetrable. The only consistency was the sharp, surgical precision of the cold. No planes were seen or heard. Silence was deep and profound except for the sudden eruption of artillery announcing a German thrust in the sector. A battle would be fought, and calm and cold would then return.

The troops talked in low mutterings through blue lips and clenched teeth. Talking expended energy and movement was prized more than conversation. What talk there was, was of past Christmases, sumptuous feasts relived mouthful by mouthful, and warm surroundings. While they talked to Army efforts to feed a Christmas feast, they were completely aware that this would not happen here, at this time. But, they were wrong.

Famous for being “up front” and for caring for his troops, MG Gavin did not shirk this moment—though his position would allow him to do so. Christmas Day 1944, was not auspicious other than for the precarious nature of his command. Stretched very thin along rugged snow packed terrain, his command was constantly engaged by a force superior in arms but not in will. Only because of the tenacity and ingenuity of his troops, was Gavin able to hold his positions.

From his headquarters in Bra-sur-Lienne, Belgium, as he always did, he visited as many troop positions and subordinate commanders as he could. A review of the Division Operations Report (OpRep) indicates the history for that day.

OPREP 25 December 1944

All units successfully broke contact with the enemy and withdrew to the new defense line (NOTE: the 82nd had been ordered to withdraw to a tighter line in the rear by General Bernard Montgomery the night before. This, somewhat, allowed a reduction of the distance between them. But it also forced Gavin to find his elements in new positions.)

325th Glider Infantry, the 1st Battalion, filled the gap between the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 7th Armored Division by occupying DRI-LE-CHESLIN and VAUX-CHAVANNE. At 2200 hours, an enemy infantry attack was repulsed. The 2nd Battalion as Division Reserve and the 3rd Battalion as Regimental Reserve occupied positions near AU-HETRE.

504th Parachute Infantry—2nd and 3rd Battalions occupied new positions along the line EN BERGIFA to BRA-VAUX-CHAVANNE. The 1st Battalion, in Regimental Reserve, vicinity of BRA.

505th Parachute Infantry—the 2nd and 3rd Battalions now occupied new defensive positions between TROIS-PONTS and BASSE-BODEUX. 1st Battalion occupied a position 3000 yards north of BASSE-BODEUX as Regimental Reserve.

508th Parachute Infantry—occupied new defensive positions along the line HAUTE-BODEUX, EN BERGIFA with all Battalions on the MLR. The 3rd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment (28th Inf Div) was relieved of attachment to the 508th Prcht Inf Regt.

307th Airborne Engineer Battalion laid minefields; constructed field fortifications called abatises, and blew bridges to form a barrier along the Division Front.

B Company, 86th Chemical Battalion, A Company, 703d TD Battalion, and 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion were attached to the Division. C Company, 563d Antiaircraft Artillery, Automatic Weapons Battalion was relieved of attachment to the Division.

END OPREP

Previously, on 24 December, the skies had cleared. On one hand, this was a Godsend permitting planes to fly for the first time since the initial attack. Fighters assisted the Division several times in taking out German armor, now constricted on narrow mountain roads and almost out of gas. But, there was a downside.

The open skies meant a much colder temperature for the troops, bound in deep snow and ice. The somewhat warming effect of the low clouds and fog was lost. Concurrently, night brought an almost full moon, eerily illuminating the sparkling snow across the entire front. What once was lost to sight, was now open and at a good distance. Only the dark, laden pines and fir trees obscured vision. It was in the early morning of 25 December that General Gavin began what was his normal day—visiting the units, talking to the troops, and encouraging them where they needed the most support. He was always mindful of the mental condition and emotional needs of his troops. If he could not supply warmth, he could supply spirit. Most often, that was all his troops needed to carry the day.

Preparing to depart his CP with his aide, Hugo Olson, and a driver, he stopped briefly at the mess, took an empty K ration box and went into the kitchen. He returned to his vehicle and asked Hugo to navigate the jeep to his first position. Over the course of the day, he would traverse more than 15 miles of frontage, visiting each of his subordinate units.

The first elements he visited were from the 325 GIR, now holding the high ground along Baraque De Fraiture, the scene of tenacious Tank-Infantry combat the previous few days. The 325, now fully blooded in Normandy, was an integral and highly competent force despite their lack of Airborne status.

Next were elements of the 508th PIR, a mixed element of the 517th and 509th PIRs and the 504th PIR. The recently added 517th and 509th elements had been rushed from the UK as Airborne reinforcements and were not a normal part of the 82nd. However, as Airborne, Gen. Gavin welcomed them to the Division and gladly added them to his stretched forces.

Well past dark and at almost midnight, the General’s jeep found itself at the base of a hill near the last unit. A barely discernible trail was indicated through the deep snow by a small path cut by soldiers who had gone before. The jeep began to wind its way up the narrow twisting trail until it was almost completely snowbound near the crest. At this point, General Gavin ordered the jeep to stop and jumped out. He was almost waist deep in snow but could clearly see the troop positions in the shining moonlight and moved methodically toward them. To his rear, his driver followed with a K ration box in his arms.

Coming upon the men, now on full alert to the people looming behind them, they recognized the general and assumed a loose posture of attention. Gen. Gavin, as he always did, immediately put them at ease with a:

“Hey fellas. Merry Christmas.”

He jumped down into the nearest position, followed by his driver and opened the K ration box and its small remaining portion of fried chicken. He passed the box around to each man who quickly reached in and extracted a piece. While Gen. Gavin held light conversation, the troops eagerly gnawed the long cold meat.

After a few minutes, he turned to his driver and said;

“Come on. Let’s go.”

With that comment, he departed, leaving his troopers with some of the greatest gifts they could have, something to digest for both the stomach and the soul. This is why soldiers fight and would fight for him. It was a lesson in loyalty, dedication, compassion and steely resolve-for both the superior and the subordinates.