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17 June 2014

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Medicine Man

The more I learn about the Special Forces, the more I love them. Hard men who - paradoxically - are looking to defeat their enemies, though not necessarily kill them. It really sounds like it is more dangerous work than kicking in doors.

FND

It seems to me that there is something wrong with the Seal team recruitment criteria, training, or both. A large number of them are public braggarts. Green Berets tend to be highly professional, low key, and have a sense of humility. Most people outside the Army would not even realize they were Green Beret. Admittedly, this is anecdotal based on my own very limited acquaintances with a few Green Berets. Still, I think the Seal program should look at the Army Green Beret training for lessons learned. I realize the purpose of the Seal is different as well, but they need to can the macho BS.

turcopolier

FND

SEALS and Delta are muscle bound commandos. Green Berets are not. pl

JM Gavin

COL Lang,

On use of the term "operators," USSOCOM has been referring to all SOF shooters as "operators" for a few years now. The MOS title for a MARSOC 0372 is "Critical Skills Operator."

I still don't use the label "operator" to refer to Theater SOF, and never will, but "operator" can now be properly used to refer to all SOF shooters, although I believe it is better used for employees at the phone company.

DOL,

JM Gavin

turcopolier

JM Gavin

Green Berets are Special Forces soldiers. That is what Aaron Bank would have wanted. As for the rest, I don't care what they call them. pl

The Twisted Genius

I'm pretty sure the term operator in the SOF community came from Charley Beckwith's exchange tour with the SAS. Somebody from o'er the seas can tell us if that term is common in the SAS and SBS. He borrowed a lot from the SAS in establishing SFOD-D (Delta) including organizing into troops and squadrons. That spread to the special mission unit (SMU) that I was in. I figured it was just SMU terminology. Now JM Gavin points out that USSOCOM has been referring to all SOF shooters as operators. Goes to show the pervasiveness of the commando mentality. Like I said, the Green Berets have always been the red headed step children of the DOD. I'm with Colonel Lang, "Green Berets are Special Forces soldiers."

Here's what Aaron Bank, himself said on the matter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg6-udJ_OTs

Medicine Man

I want to ask why the Green Berets are the red headed step children of the DOD. Intelligence and subtlety just aren't big ticket items?

The Twisted Genius

Medicine Man,

In many ways Special Forces are the mirror image of conventional units and even the various "commando" units. They focus on those outside themselves, those they teach, train and fight beside. They are open to the ways and customs of others and often embrace those ways. They are warriors in the sense of the Samurai and chivalric knights as expressed in our motto, De Oppresso Liber. The exact translation is debated, but I take it as a command, Liberate the Oppressed. This is a far more nuanced warrior ethic than that expressed by the rest of our armed forces and definitely more nuanced than the "brainless Hulk smash" image expressed in the MSM. Don't get me wrong. The Green Berets are also capable of visiting extreme and effective violence upon their enemies.

Special Forces soldiers are comfortable with who they are. They are professionals, but they reject the careerism of conventional forces. Until the establishment of the special operations career field, the Green Berets took a big hit to their career progression. They don't care. They'd rather do what they do. They are not impressed by the trappings of rank and higher positions. This does not sit well with those of higher rank and position.

Medicine Man

TTG,

Thank you for the explanation. It is depressing that the GB's rejection of vanity is a prominent cause of their status in the US armed forces.

Tyler

Related anecdote about the cost:

Trying to get back to Afghanistan from Qatar while on R&R, I was in Kuwait heading to the big PX on the shuttle bus. The staff sergeant sitting behind me noticed my patch and asked if I was out of Salerno. I replied in the affirmative and turned to face him and we began to talk, as he had worked out of FOB Chapman a bit and had gone on a few missions with my company when he was there.

I told him I was interested the work they did and asked some questions about the language training, and then related a story about how when the SF recruiters came to our company. We had been told by our platoon sergeant to shut our word holes and not say a word if they asked for questions. All four platoons in formation had apparently gotten the same speech because no one said a word. The recruiters, non plussed, told us they'd be in the Education Annex if anyone wanted to do 'Army work and not babysit NTC'(which at the time seemed the limit of what we would ever do). When I showed up there were about seven other members of my unit there - I had not been the only one who had the same thought.

He laughed and related his own story, about how when he went to SFAS and passed, he came back to find all of his stuff in the company area, with the First Sergeant telling him that if he didn't want to be part of them, he could go fuck himself and find somewhere else to live. So for a while he lived in the Group's support barracks until he passed Selection. This was with the 82nd ABN in 1999. Far cry from nowadays.

I've heard some VN Vets say that it seemed like the Special Forces were "the biggest damn unit in the Army" post-Vietnam, as everyone claimed it. Any truth to that observation?

Jim Ticehurst

Our Son in Law was a Navy SEAL ..He was killed on Active duty just before their baby was Born..He was Humble..and a Great Young Man We were Proud of Him..He was about 5'8" tall...slender to medium Build and was Know as the Iron Man in BUDS..No Bulging muscles..Just athletic ability and Will..I did some Partys with the Seals..A few had Big Guns..The rest were medium build like Rick..No Braggarts..Just an Air of Confidence..I admire them..The Green Berets and Anyone else willing to Serve Honorably in the United States Military..Most do their Jobs well..

Tthe Twisted Genius

Tyler,

It's a rare first sergeant or commander that welcomes his best troops being siphoned off for SFAS or any other school/assignment. Even those who support their troops trying for something better are never thrilled about losing a good soldier.

As for the poseurs claiming to be Special Forces in Viet Nam when they weren't, that's all part of the "stolen valor" phenomenon. It's usually just sad and pitiful wannabes sitting on their barstools. In the worst cases, it's sleazy and criminal grifters in it for illicit gain.

turcopolier

tyler

SF expanded a lot during the VN war and by the end there were people in SF who would not have been acceptable before. I did not serve in SF after the war. I went into the strategic intel business focused on the Islamic World. pl

John Minnerath

I was in the 1stSFG in the early 60's when the big expansions began and new groups were being created. We had guys coming in who had no clue what we were about. Many of us didn't like this one bit.
All the senior people were WWII or Korea and were so pissed off were just waiting for the right moment to turn in their retirement requests.

The Twisted Genius

SF went lean again after Viet Nam. Only the 5th, 7th and 10th were active. In the 80s, the 10th only had five teams in a company instead of six, even during our Lebanon MTTs. We started seeing a few guys coming in on SF option enlistments. That didn't sit well with a lot of the older troops. I had to jump between my heavy weapons leader and one of the newbs one day. The newb was not showing proper deference to the toughest SOB in the Group and I feared a murder in the making or at least a serious injury and a ruined career. Years later we met again in a SMU. My old heavy weapons leader was now a sergeant major. He thanked me for keeping him out of Leavenworth for murder. We had a good laugh and a few beers over it.

The GWOT expansion brought a huge expansion in SF. All the old groups were brought back. The companies all had six teams and a fourth battalion is being added to the groups. I knew a few SFQC instructors who were extremely stressed from trying to keep up standards in the face of the demand for more graduates. I don't know how that's working out.

Tyler

I don't know about Q course stuff but I heard from a few guys back in 03 04 that the requirement was "fogging up a mirror if you breathe on it" in SFAS.

John Minnerath

TTG
Yes lean indeed. Mid (?) '64 D Company in the 1st became provisional. Some time after I left the entire Group was deactivated. I don't recall just when it was activated again.

Fred

TTG,

FWIT in the nuclear navy field we faced the same problem of " trying to keep up standards in the face of the demand for more graduates" in the '80s (the 600 ship Navy). The problem is the risk of losing a team (or a ship) due to a mistake by someone who's skills and abilities were better used in another MOS.(Where they would excel rather than be a borderline performer)

Tyler

Did any of you SF gentlemen ever participate in a dog lab?

I've read this book:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/564337.Sympathy_for_the_Devil

And its sister book, Night Dogs (where he covers what I assume is his experience in a dog lab), to pieces. I thought some of you here might enjoy it.

John Minnerath

In the early years the training for a Special Forces Medic was the longest and toughest of any of the jobs on a team. Dog lab was a part of it where actual gunshot trauma was practiced. It was all kept fairly quiet, but we all heard about some personal experiences there. They weren't only trained to handle battlefield injuries of the team but also provided medical aid to the local civilians.

Next toughest was the radio training. Back then everything was Morse code, no satellites for relays, lots of complicated electronics for that day and age. The word "cell phone" didn't exist.

Tyler

Mr. Minnerath,

I believe its still that way, as iirc SF Medics are the equivalent of a PA when they get done with their training pipeline. I remember when I was at the SF in doc they looked at my GT score and said "Hope you like medicine, troop".

We did some goat labs in Afghanistan and that wasn't too bad, but I don't like goats either. I can't imagine doing that to a dog though. Those men have some nerves of steel.

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