Things Have Changed


by Bob Gerken

 Things have changed. We left jungle fighting in Vietnam. We were then, this is now. Now, although the enemy is hard to detect as in RVN, the warfare style is totally different. Even the terror tactics used by VC and NVA are mild compared to what these guys are doing. The weapons are different, more technology to do what it took hundreds to do before. The force is smaller, better equipped than we were. (Just ask anyone who had to carry the angry 109 generator for the commo guys).

This is always the way with warfare. The face may appear different but the insides are still the same. It is always the heart of the warrior that perseveres. When I went through branch, the thing that was stressed the most about unconventional warfare (and that IS what this is) is to remain flexible. This is where SF has always had it over the rest of the services.

We have always had the ability to adjust to the situation. We had to or we died in place. The primary hot war mission of SF has been and will probably remain to organize, equip and train indigenous personnel in the conduct of guerrilla/insurgent operations. The primary cold war mission, likewise, is to organize, equip and train indigenous personnel in the conduct of counter-guerrilla/counter-insurgency operations.

I don't mean to sound uppity but it seems to me that that incorporates ANYTHING that is required to win. I've been involved with everything from nation-building to guerrilla operations to SADM to recon to teaching college ROTC cadets how to kill and clean a chicken. Iraq is another example of the fact that SF can accomplish virtually any mission. That is what caused us to wind up with so many sub missions. At one time we counted over 165 submissions on our plate. I've seen us go from the "Old" SF of the early 60's with the focus on jungle warfare, to direct action missions in the early 70's to interdiction operations in the 80's and 90's.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the guys doing the job today look at us the way we looked at the Jedburg's and the OSS and the Devil's Brigade and, and, and. We built on their legacy, others have built on ours, and in turn they will pass on their legacy to others who will follow. There will always be the Rambo and Delta wannabes but they are the exception rather than the rule. I'm proud of who we were then. I'm proud of who we are today.

We are Special Forces.

Bob Gerken, 22 years with SF and proud of every one of you that have served.

God bless you. Your are indeed my brothers.