"What is so Special About Special Forces"

By: Command Sergeant Major William E. Edge

Whats so special about Special Forces? I've been asked that question for twenty years and answering it for thirteen. To me, this is whats so special about Special Forces:

It's the only combat unit in the Army where enlisted men can and do command troops, in schools as teachers, in guerrilla bands as organizers and leaders, in foreign armies as advisors and leaders. Where else can staff sergeants be assigned as platoon leaders, sergeants first class as company commanders and master sergeants as batallion commanders?

You dont think three companies of 150 men each and a 40 man scout platoon is a battalion? Why, because they were "Yards, or Cambodians, or Nungs"?

Hogwash. Did you ever hear of the Mike Force? Delta? Sigma? Omega? CCN? Did you ever hear of the Snake teams or the States teams? All of these were led by US Special Forces men and NOT by the bare-chested, snake-eating, guitar-playing, media-induced image of the Green Berets, God-how I hate that term applied to men.

Damn it, a green beret is a hat and nothing but a hat! Special Forces are SOLDIERS! The Special Forces I refer to are the men who worked from Khe San, Ashau, Phu Bai, Kontum, Dak To, Lang Vie and a thousand other places that were denied to the enemy because 12 or 6 US soldiers lived there and dared "Charlie " to come and take it.

And He did, and other Special Forces soldiers and their "Yards, Cambodes, and Nungs" in the Mike force went and fell on him and waged a gut-twisting war on him, no quarter asked, none given. War waged at the bottom of the line--No big 175s, no 8 inchers for cover, Air when you could get it, and we got plenty, usually called in by Sergeants, those lovely big HOBOS and the sleek fast movers all bringing death from the sky to our common enemy.

Special Forces NCOs played such roles. Sixteen Medals Of Honor, more than 50 DSCs. 50% of them posthumously awarded were a partial reward.

The heart of the SF group is the A detachment. 10 Sergeants and two officers. a self contained, do anything group of men. And yet they are the first to tell you it cannot be done with out the support of those unsung heros who man the supply, commo, personnel, psy war, civic action and flight organizations farther back.

You see it really is a team, and the A team is only a part, the blade of the ax. But it takes the whole ax to cut the tree, and thats the real SF, the whole ax. Officers, good men with blisters and cuts from stringing wire, sunburn and bug bites from filling sandbags, bruised shoulders from firing BARs and M1919A6s [oldies but goodies] right there in the mud and blood with their troops.

These officers wore oak leaves and bars, but you could not tell because their shirts were hanging on a tree limb while they sweated with the troops. BlueMax, Splash, Iron Mike, the Greek, Roger P, Bucky, and a blue-eyed black captain with steel nerves were leaders you could respect and never forget.

Hard-eyed Majors who personally led a relief party to rescue a wounded sergeant first class, cut off, lost and pursued by the remnants of an NVA company, and brought him out alive, shot but alive. Lean and mean "slick" pilots who stood that groaning "HUEY" on it's tail to load wounded "Yards" or yanked you out on a McQuire rig for a ride you would not forget. And soft voiced chaplains giving comfort to the dying in a bloody mortar pit in the drenching rain, to a man whose God was probably a spirit.

And the Medics, Ah, those Medics, the eighth wonder of the world. Their routine feats read too much like fiction, but they were more than that, they were also superb riflemen, scouts, killers as well as healers.

That was Special Forces; it wasn't all Sporting Bar and Saigon. Rather it was hard-eyed reality and too much death. We had our crooks and drunks and quitters all to our shame. We also had our GIANTS, and by God, most were enlisted men, there because they wanted to be there. Profesionals, now semi-dormant, training as force multipliers, honing their skills. They are few in number but strong in mind and spitit. They await the next call.

Oh, how I will miss them, their freindship, respect, their scorn and hate. Its all part of being special. Mr. Webster defines Special as "distinguished by some uncommon quality, designed or selected for some particular purpose, having an individual character, noteworthy, unique."

And remember, go to any division in the US Army and count the right shoulder patches, you will see that Special Forces cadred out a lot of top notch talent to the rest of the Army. I'm sure you get the point.

Anyway thats how I answer the question.