Special Forces

Would be nice for them to finally realize that the troops need to come home. JMO
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So what's the difference between the green berets and delta force? So is delta force the product of the green berets?
GREEN BERETS are regular Army. DELTA FORCE is a specialized unit designed to go after one time specific targets.
I beg your pardon, GB. Green Berets were there before the Delta Force. They were started thanks to JFK during VietNam and were the precursors of SF. They were anything but regular army and I double-dog dare you to tell one of them that!
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I beg your pardon, GB. Green Berets were there before the Delta Force. They were started thanks to JFK during VietNam and were the precursors of SF. rbo; rbo; rbo; rbo; drill; drill; drill; They were anything but regular army and I double-dog dare you to tell one of them that!

That is my understanding too. To be clear I really don't know much about the GB. A very close friend is in 5th Group and on a team. I knew him when he was in Strikers. What amazes me about the GB, is the amount of training that they get along with the selection process.

I may be wrong, A person joins the Army, after a while they go up for selection. If they are selected (many do not make it) they go to Q (qualification), From Q they are assigned to a group. Teams are made up based on needs of the assignment. After a person has been on a Team for a while they can try to get into Delta (I don't know or remember the process).

GB was formed under JFK and General Yarborough. Upon graduation of Q, a GB also receives a serial number "Yarbough Knife".

I am very clueless about Delta, I believe the came after the GB, but can not say for sure.
On another thread, I think it was entitled "The Stay Behind Boys" or something like that, I posted an early history of SF. I don't see the thread anymore, it must be in byte heaven. If I can find it on my computer I will repost it. I may not have it anymore, that was three computers ago.

Master Rigger

When I joined SF I was an E-6 over five with at least three years left. This was exactly what they wanted. You had to be a triple volunteer, for the army, for airborne and for the forces.

In 1964 the washout rate was 90%. Because of pressure from above the washout rate was gradually reduced to about 30% by the time I joined. Most old timers felt this was bad for the forces and I agree. However, I probably would not have made it back in the good old days.

A group consisted of about 1500 men made up of 36 A teams, 9 B teams and 3 C teams. Unlike the regular army where the battalions are the front piece, in SF the C teams were there simply to support the A teams. They would consist of an HQ, a staff, supply and admin. By choice they usually occupied a run down old building on the bad side of the base with no signs, no whitewashed rocks and no fanfare.

A C team could be augmented with virtually anything the mission needed. I have seen augmentations of psy ops, civil affairs, civil engineers, preventive medical detachments, vetrinary detachments, MI detachments and in one case an MP detachment. The MP's HATED to be assigned to SF. Its no wonder, the SF have no organic equipment on the TOE, none. Everything was "borrowed". Whenever anything went missing short of shoplifiting at the PX, the first place the MP's looked was at the nearest SF unit. Each group was assigned an ASA unit with goodies in the way of electronic intelligence.

My individual training initially was as an engineer and I gleefully became an expert in boobytraps. Some of those guys were so good they could cut a steel girder with explosives and make it look like a torch did it. For my second specialty I looked around and saw what everyone was carrying and quickly chose intelligence. All that guy carried was a map and a notebook.

The lowest rank on the TOE was E-5, but by the time (1974) I joined they were taking promising young troops right out of AIT so I ran into some E-4's just joining teams. This was after Q course and the first trade school. Usually by the time they had finished cross training they had made E-5.

Your'e right, in early 1967, if you took the road from Pleiku west through An Khe to the Cambod border, it was all Indian country from there to the DMZ. With the exception of the Cav, the Marines in I Corps and the newly arrived 4th Inf, our helicopter battalion based at Qui Nhon was the only aviation unit in all of the northern Vietnam. We had a company at Pleiku helping the 4th Inf get it together and a company at Da Nang with SF. Those were exciting days, several of our crews "crossed the fence" into Laos and some even went across the DMZ. Dak Seang was the bad place for SF. As one old timer put it, "it started out bad and went downhill from there." It was in close proximity to hill 875, a place that was infamous as early as 1963. SF lost a lot of people around Dak To. Most of the SF that became POW were captured around Dak To.

Yeh, tanks were first used by the NVA at Lang Vei and nobody could figure out why. I knew some of the people at Lang Vei and that battle goes down as the epitome of inter service rivalry at its worst. The place was a fortress and could hae been held even against tanks - 2 106 recoiless rifles and a hundred LAWs - if the preplanned artillery suport supposed to have been provided by the Marines on Khe Sanh had been forthcoming. Instead the Marine commander refused to believe there were tanks in the wire and withheld fire. The camp commander called in B-57's right on the camp, two PT-76 tanks were destroyed right outside the command bunker. NVA losses were so heavy they hauled the bodies away with elephants. The place remained deserted with a curse hanging over it until we reoccupied it. I have more to say about Lang Vei but it is hard to tell the story without acrimony.


I was in DaNang In 1963 with 10th Group(3 of us)Kicking bundles out of a Huey over near the Cam Boarder.I didn;t realize until today exactly where I was at the time.I appreciate being able to read it. CR 10thsf-Bad Toelz, Germany 1962-1963 . By the way I was an E-4,someone had written they didn't know if there were rank in SF below E-5, but there were a few.
Well. That's what I get for trying to place a compliment. When I said GREEN BERETS were Regular Army, I meant they aren't made up of your run-of-the-mill weekend warrior jugheads. I was attempting to pay the GREEN BERETS a compliment. A good friend of mine is ex Special Forces, who also happens to be the Webmaster of my American Legion Post. He's also a Jump Master, and still holds his active statis. He's one of the most active guys in our unit, and works full time for the US Government.

Repelling out of helicopters was enough for me.
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The Special Forces came first, then they became Green Beret's after J.F.K.'s visit to Fort Bragg. Special Forces then were approved by J.F.K.
to wear the Green Beret after his visit.

Then came our first Hostage Response Team; "Blue Light" made up of mostly Rangers. I believe it was developed in the early years of the 1970's.

Then came SFOD-D to replace "Blue Light".

Then came the SFOD-D(Special Forces Opeational Detachment Delta). At first Delta selected SF over anybody else. Then in the the early 1980's I believe, Delta then took anybody from the Coast Guard up through the Marines. Those from any branch who could handle the training were considered though they may not be allowed to join SFOD-D because of

The same may apply to SEAL TEAM 6.

The training was directly from the SAS selection process book because they had been doing this job for over many years before. So that they had been on so many missions before they had gathered a wealth of info to give to SFOD-D.

Nowadays, they constantly train with the F.B.I.'s, Hostage Rescue Teams, L.A.P.D's SWAT Teams, Green Berets and the Great Britains own SAS.

Hope this is helpful.
Then came our first Hostage Response Team; "Blue Light" made up of mostly Rangers. I believe it was developed in the early years of the 1970's.

Then came SFOD-D to replace "Blue Light".

Blue light was a 5th SFGA operation and was disbanded after Beckwith got Delta up and running and unless its changed it is an all Army unit, with most candidates coming from SF/75thRR
Vietnam Studies - SF

Hello Rotor,

While doing some research I stumbled upon this thread and read your entries. I thought I would send you an email asking if you may be able to give me some insight.

I recently found a book that belonged to my uncle who passed a few years ago. I was always curious about his career, but too young and shy to ask questions. The book I found is titled "Vietnam Studies U.S. Special Forces 1961-1971" Inside the book was a note with a header typed "HEADQUARTERS, 15th BATTALION, 4th TRAINING BRIGADE - Fort Knox, Kentucky"
It was handwritten to my uncle that said "SSG SHELL (B-15) 1974"
It also had a note explaining here was a "copy for him and to share with other interested personnel" and signed by Aleksander Einseln "LTC, Infantry Commanding"

Does the B-15 refer to 15th Battalion? Or does the B refer to the detachment? I read through parts of the book trying to find anything I could. I also googled 15th Battalion, 4th Training Brigade... All I could find was 4th POG, which is explained in the Vietnam Studies book.

My uncle served 11 years in the Marine Corps, and then joined Army SF. However, I learned he trained with Navy Seals for a short time because SF made him go to California to learn German For the most part I thought he mainly trained other soldiers at Camp McCall. Do you think you may have known my uncle? I know it was a small group back then. His name was James Shell. I know he did many covert operations and there is a lot I will never know, but any help I can get would be great. For instance, my coworkers Father-in-Law was also in 1st SF and I learned his group was named "The Devil's Brigade" and they received that name from a German Nazi who died and had written "The black devils are all around..."

Thank you & I hope to hear back from you.

After my return from the Playground of the Orient (my recruiter had a warped sense of humor) I spent some time in an Armored Cav Regt until I ran into a guy I had gone through basic with who was a CPT in the Special Forces, this was in 1974 so we are still talking about the Army Green Berets. He talked me into coming over so I made some connections and joined what was then called "the other Army".

Airborne qualification was the only major requirement at the time although you would have to pass rigorous courses to complete qualification.

The "Q", or qualification course was nothing like airborne or Ranger school, none of the loud harassment, but it alternated between strong academics and hands on exercises all designed to stretch your limits. I think most of the reason for this was that the lowest ranking EM was an E-4.

We earned our berets at the end of Q course and then began our individual training. Probably the most intense individual training was for Special Forces medic. The course was a year long at Ft. Sam Houston and involved the famous (or infamous) dog ward, where a medic was assigned a stray dog about to be put down, the dog was gunshot and the medic had to save its life. We had great confidence in our medics, they could perform an appendectomy if need be.

The force structure of Special Forces was unique and generated much criticism and suspicion from regular officers. Initially officers were rotated into a Special Forces detachment for a two year tour, but these officers rarely got into the assigment and simply kept afloat until their tiem was up and they could move on. By the time I joined this had changed and officers were qualified as Special Forces almost becoming a separate branch.

In a regular infantry unit the smallest combat unit that can operate for long periods independantly is a battalion. In Special Forces the smallest unit that existed was designed to operate independantly for long periods of time, this was the "A" team.

An "A" team had either 12 or 14 men, depending on the mission and was designed to be split without restricting its capabilities. There were two officers, a CPT and a 1LT, a team sergeant, an E-8, and assistant team segeant, E-7, two light weapons experts, two heavy weapons experts, two radio men, and two engineers. Where there were two specialists, the senior one would be an E-7 and the other would be an E-6. In this fashion the team could be split in half and function as effectively as a whole team. Crosstraining was required, each NCO would have to be proficient at two jobs so talent depth was guaranteed. The team sergeant functioned in the capacity of an operations officer, being responsible for training and planning the ops when in the field. The assistant team sergeant functioned as the intelligence expert on the team. Each of these sergeants were crosstrained in another job. In this original organization it is easy to see why officers felt they had no function, they really didn't. When officers began to be assigned permantly to SF structure this changed and officers began to function as team managers.

Noticable in this description is a complete lack of support organization. No organic equipment was assigned other then personnel gear and weaons so a higher level unit, called a "B" team was created. This unit had admin and logistical support capability for several "A" teams, was usually the equivelant of a company HQ and was commanded by a senior CPT or MAJ. Each "B" team had a functioning S-1, S-2, S-3 and S-4.

A "C" team was created to function as a battalion level unit, again providing logistical and admin support. A quirk of the SF emerged here, neither the "B" or "C" team had organic equipment assigned. For vehicles or anything else they needed, they had the authority to draw on higher commands.

"C" teams were organized under a Group, a regimental HQ sized unit that functioned like a regular army brigade HQ.

In the late 70's a requirement began to arise requiring more specialists for a mission then an "A" team could provide, so specialists would be borrowed from several teams and grouped together for a specific mission. When they began looking for a name for this organization that consisted of only a HQ with no obvious ongoing function and only a permanant force consisting of staff functions, some wag suggested "D" team and so Delta force was created. Later, specialists would be called from other services for short term missions. When someone says they belonged to Delta Force for two years, you can legitimately raise your eyebrows. At least in the early days, things may have changed since I left.

If this is interesting to anyone I can continue in another installment. Thanks for your indulgence.

Rotorwash :cool:
Re: B-team, C-team designations. The main effort of Special Forces in Vietnam was orgainized according to Corp regions. In S. Vietnam, there were four corp areas. These were north to south, I corp (pronounced "eye" corp, II corp (two corp - central highlands), III corp (three corp central lowlands to Mekong) and IV corp (four corp-Mekong Delta).

The country-wide SFOB headquaters was in Nha Thrang. Each C-team was named according to its corp... thus "C-2" was in Pleiku, and was the headquarters for SF operations in the II corp region.

Within each C-team corp area were several "B" teams. These would be numbered double digit... first digit representing the C-team, second digit representing which B team. Thus "B-24" was a B team at Kontum, reporting to the C team at Pleiku. "B-23" was a B team at Ban Me Tout in II corp.

Each B team had several A-teams. These were number in three digits, first two according to B-team, third according to A-team. Thus A-242 was a camp at Dak Pek, reporting to B-24...

Therefore, B-15 would have been a B-team in I corp, but its camps would have been numbered A-15x. I cannot find a reference to B-15. B-16 was in Dha Nang, B-13 was at Kam Duc, overrun in spring, 1968. Perhaps B-15 was some specialized unit. Note: don't assume that the existence of ... say ... B-16 means that there was a B-12, B-14 etc. Numbers were retired as unit command locations were changed.

In addition to administrative B teams, there were B teams formed for special missions, given numbers starting with "5" so as not to confuse with the corp area operational A and B teams. For instance B-50 was Operation Omega, B-51 became MACV-SOG, B-52 - Delta, B-56-Sigma. There were also B-team mobile strike forces based in Nha Thrang and others in each C-team, and later in each B-team.

The "seals" of that era were such a small group, few had heard of them.. and they were pretty strictly in IV corp. Their mission and training were radically different from SF. I would wonder about the "B-15"... it probalby was not a reference to a B-team in Vietnam. All SF were trained at Fort Bragg. Re: The reference to 15th battalion, etc., in the Kentucky reference. I think maybe the 10th SF group transfered from Bad Tolz Germany to Kentucky, but left a detachment in Germany about that time. Perhaps B-15 part of that group. But the training brigade would not fit SF.

Also, a marine, assigned to an army unit (special forces), training with a navy unit would be unusual, unless he ETS'd from the marines and joined the Army (I knew one SF in Vietnam that had done that). Perhaps you have mis-interpreted some of what your uncle told you.
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Hello Tiffany,

The 4th Training Brigade is probably the command that was responsible for basic and advanced infantry training. They could have any number of battalions assigned and the battalions could be numbered anything that worked, so I would suggest the B-15 is Company B, 15 Training Battalion, 4th Training Brigade.

Special Forces never designated battalions, only groups, so this is probably not a SF designation. The Groups back in the 70's were assigned geographical areas of responsibility. 10th Group stationed in Germany was responsible for Europe and the Middle East. 1st Group in Okinawa was responsible for the Far East. 8th Group was originally established in the Panama Canal Zone with responsibilty for South America. 3rd Group had responsibility for Africa. 5th and 7th Groups were stationed at Bragg for assignment wherever. If your uncle was learning German then he was probably headed for 10th Group. The Vietnam Studies series of books were essentially a "lessons learned" compilation that was used for training purposes, again reinforcing the idea that he was involved with training troops.

The "Devil's Brigade" refered to the 1st Special Services Force, a joint US-Canadian outfit that was disbanded at the end of World War II. Ostensibly Special forces follows the footsteps of those guys, but the reality is that the function and historical lineage of SF is much closer to the OSS of World War II.

I never knew him personally, but that does not mean he was not involved in training I endured, I have been all over McCall, and recently I returned there, and was surprised it is as flat as it is, I remembered it as being up hill all the way, no matter which way you were going.

If you can find out what Group he was with, that will go along way to finding out moe about him. How long was he in for? If he served 11 years with Marines, he probably had at least 10 in the Army.


15TH Battalion, 4th Training Brigade

" Inside the book was a note with a header typed "HEADQUARTERS, 15th BATTALION, 4th TRAINING BRIGADE - Fort Knox, Kentucky"

That is the basic combat training brigade at Fort Knox. I was in D, 16th Battalion, 4th Training Brigade in 1971 while attending basic training at Fort Knox. At that time, they also had a 2nd Training Brigade for those individuals receiving advanced individual training as a cook or a clerk. Nothing like seeing a company of cooks running down the road in the dark dressed in cook's whites. Road guards with reflective speed limit signs were superfluous.
Like a platoon of Casper and friends. Is that the school where Army cooks were taught how to make corn flakes tasteless and disgusting?
Re: B-team, C-team designations.

Jack, good to see you.

Like a platoon of Casper and friends. Is that the school where Army cooks were taught how to make corn flakes tasteless and disgusting?

I always wonder about that. Maybe it is because. Ask a cook what he did before he enlisted, probably say something like, "I was a mechanic."

Ask a mechanic what he did before he enlisted, probably say something like, "I was a cook."
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Great threads Men. During my first enlistment in 1985 i had taken the Special Forces physical test early and had requested jump school continuously from Fort Campbell then from Wharton barracks in w. Germ.When my term was about to expire i met a medic from the 10th. He gave me better insight on the process, so after some red tape i reenlisted for 6 years and was guaranteed jump school immediately which i was totally ready for, i was in the best shape of my life and my duty station was going to be camp Mccall, i did not know what i was going to do there but being a 12 bravo i was stoked.A month later i broke my ankle in two places and it was over, i had 2 steel screws in it and all the negative comments took a toll on me, so i got out on an early out that was offered to my MOS at the time.I knew that i wanted to be part of this Battalion and nothing else would ever fill that void.I feel like there was an alternate 15 years of my life that i did not experience. Was it like the reg. army where most of the time you wanted to tell some lazy ass lifer to f- off or was there a better day to day life where truly everyone complimented the others assignments. I knew the reg. army was somewhere i did not want to be.
Good to have you on board, GS.

The Special Forces evaluation period was recently changed from two weeks to three weeks. This is just the place where they evaluate you to see if you can begin training. It starts off with the log pit where applicants are tested physically using 20 foot logs and teamwork. Other tests include a course where you are given basically junk, some old pipe, old tires, rope, etc. and as a team you have to move a 400 pound barrel of concrete five miles. In another exercise the team is given a jeep trailer with one wheel and some other junk and they have to move everything five miles. The "Nick Course" is an obstacle course designed by Nick Rowe who was a prisoner of the Viet Cong for five years before he escaped. It is mentally and physically very challenging. Night navigation course is another fun event, locating three points in a triangle at night, alone, little sleep and unable to use roads. Each student has an electronic tag so instructors can follow everyone so no one gets too lost. Not many make it through this course. Then people go to the Q course and actually try to earn the green beret. Only then do people go to the specific schools. The medic school is the longest, over a year long and includes the infamous "dog school." An SF medic can easily perform an appendectomy. I have a riend who was an SF medic, he got out after his fifth deployment and is a paramedic. He has to be careful because there are things that he knows how to do but can't because of liability issues.

I think in your time they may have been taking what the SF guys called "the babies" where guys were given the opportunity to attend the selection school right out of basic. They quit doing that because the maturity of the candidates was not sufficient to qualify them for SF and the washout rate was so high it was just a waste of time.

In my day and during the Carter years there was no selection school, you went right into the Q course, but you had to be a triple volunteer, army, airborne and SF. SF was referred to as "the other army" and was looked down on by the regular army although they consistently outperformed regular army units. We, in particular had fun with the airborne, we referred to the 82cnd as the "palace guard." I once had a first sergeant tell me there was no place for me in the army and he was going to make it his personal goal to get me back into civilian life. One year later I put a flash-bang on his latrine door.

Puleez don't call Marine Recon, Seals and whatever the Air Force has "Special Forces." They are not, they are under the command of Special Operations along with Special Forces. When Carter created the fiasco in Iran no one ever knew about the Special Forces operator who went into Iran early under the passport of an Irish businessman and arranged the trucks that would be used to get people out to be picked up. When the SEALS got UBL the Special Forces operator was the beggar sleeping next to a house down the street with the radio telling the helicopters there was no activity, surprise had been achieved. In the morning he boarded public transportation to Karachi, then got on a plane to Singapore and on to Rome. Let the SEALS have the headlines, you will never know SF was there.

Just recently I had the opportunity to have lunch with one of the SF guys who was first into Afghanistan and one of the Rangers who was in Mogadishu and was an advisor to the movie "Blackhawk Down." The three of us and three other guys, at lunch. That was a treat.

I was stationed in Butzbach, West Germany when the Iran debacle occured. Every unit in Europe went on full alert the next morning. My 155mm artillery unit went so far as to convoy our ammo carriers down to Freidburg to be combat loaded, then roadmarched down to Frankfurt to the airbase. We were convinced we were going to Iran to get our people out... but of course Carter backed down, the spineless jellyfish. I know this isn't special forces related, but your mentioning of the failed hostage rescue brought back some memories.
The guys name was Dick Meadows. He was a SF master sergeant promoted directly to captain in 1967 I think. If you go to the Special Ops Museum in Fayetteville, his picture is hanging in the hallway to the theatre. After everything fell apart he escaped over the border to Turkey.


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