Every mission that the National Guard Special Forces conducts is arduous, hazardous and sensitive in nature. The primary mission of SF is to clandestinely train and lead small foreign populations in unconventional warfare. Specifically, there are five types of missions SF performs. These are:
- Unconventional Warfare (UW) - SF Soldiers are experts in guerrilla warfare, as well as training foreign resistance forces in the tactics of subversion, sabotage, intelligence collection and unconventional recovery. A typical UW mission can last months or even years. Additionally, these missions allow conventional U.S. forces to enter a country covertly and build relationships with the local populace.
- Direct Action (DA) – DA missions are quick-duration strikes to seize, capture, recover or destroy enemy weapons and information or to recover designated personnel or material. Other purposes of DA missions include removing an enemy that is gaining power and influence in a foreign nation, and protecting American nationals or Soldiers held in foreign countries.
- Foreign Internal Defense (FID) – These missions are launched when a foreign nation requests help to end lawlessness or protect itself from rogue enemy nations during war or at peacetime. SF organizes, assists and trains foreign militaries in protecting their citizens.
- Special Reconnaissance (SR) – Before conventional U.S. Army forces strike an enemy, SF is often sent in behind enemy lines to assess troop and weapons strengths and overall operations. These covert, fact-finding operations uncover needed information about the enemy. The success of the following conventional force is often contingent on these missions.
- Counterterrorism (CT) – SF conducts offensive strikes to prevent, deter, pre-empt and respond to terrorism. The covert capabilities of SF Soldiers allow them to conduct these missions in areas where conventional forces cannot operate.
SF Soldiers rely on stealth to do their jobs. Teams are organized in small, highly trained groups. This ensures maximum efficiency during a mission.
Teams are made up of 12 men, called Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA). Each team consists of a commander (officer), assistant commander (warrant officer), operations/intelligence sergeant and noncommissioned officer in charge, as well as two of each of the following: weapons sergeants, communications sergeants, medical sergeants and engineer sergeants. Each Soldier in an ODA is specially trained and cross-trained in different disciplines.
The main difference between Active Duty service and Guard service is Operational Tempo (OPTEMPO) or number of training and deployment days.
Your National Guard Special Forces training is one weekend (three to four days) per month plus an additional two to four weeks of training per year. Deployments are also less frequent. You will generally be deployed once every two to three years for six to 15 months. This allows you to live as a civilian as well as a Soldier.
A National Guard Special Forces Soldier must maintain the same certifications, currencies and qualifications, as well as attend the same military courses and schools, as Active Duty Army Special Forces.
The history of the Special Forces began with WWII. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), along with other Allied forces, assembled small teams of commandos called Jedburghs to infiltrate France and Northwest Europe. These teams were clandestinely dropped behind enemy lines and worked with local resistance fighters against German forces.
The Army Special Forces as known today began in 1952. During the Vietnam War, President John F. Kennedy brought SF to prominence and gave us our civilian name, the Green Berets.
Special Forces Soldiers have distinguished themselves in Vietnam (17 Medals of Honor), El Salvador, Panama, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Today, the Army National Guard Special Forces continues to be a vital instrument for liberty around the world. Do you have what it takes to join them?