Special Forces History

Special Forces History

In 1950, the Lodge Act was passed, which provided for the recruiting of foreign nationals into the United States military. It was originally planned that half of the members of the Special Forces would be native Europeans. Many of the initial members of the first SF Group created, 10th SFG(A), were Lodge Act recruits, who were strenuously anti-Communist.

By 1952, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) activated at Ft. Bragg, NC.  The unit focused on Guerrilla Warfare during the Cold War in Europe.  Most of the original members were former OSS, Rangers, resistance members, and/or displaced foreign nationals.

In 1953, half of 10th SFG(A) relocated to Bad Tolz, Germany, while the other half remained at Ft Bragg, NC to be reflagged as 77th SFG(A). 

In 1956, 10th SFG(A) moved six detachments to West Berlin with missions to conduct 'stay behind Unconventional Warfare'.  (https://www.detachment-a.org/)

Meanwhile, 77th SFG(A) conducted its first deployment to Vietnam in 1956. 

In 1957, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) activated.  1st SFG(A) was made of personnel hand picked from 77th SFG(A).  

Later in 1960, 77th SF Group was re-designated 7th SFG(A).  

In 1961, a CIA covert operation in Cuba, known as the Bay of Pigs incident, ended in disaster and greatly damaged the image of the United States.  This led President Kennedy to the Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, NC to better understand Counter-Insurgency.  During the visit, Brigadier General Yarborough disobeyed the orders of the Ft. Bragg Commander and greeted President Kennedy wearing his unauthorized Green Beret.  By Presidential Order, the Green Beret became the official head gear of Special Forces.  The President viewed Special Forces as the instrument he had been seeking for his strategy to counter Soviet expansion and Communist subversion.  

That same year, 5th Special Forces activated at Ft. Bragg.  The Group moved its official headquarters to South Vietnam in 1964.  

3rd Special Forces activated in 1963.  Focused on Africa, this lineage follows them today.  That same year, Special Forces created reserve and National Guard Groups, two of which still exist today, 19th and 20th SFG(A).