Monday, August 15, 2011

Special Forces at War - An Illustrated History Southeast Asia 1957-1975 part1

The origins of Army Special Forces began officially during World War II when the First Special Service Force, a combined United States-Canadian commando brigade led by the legendary Major General Robert T. Frederick, was formed to conduct sabotage and special strike missions behind enemy lines. On February 26,1942, the U.S. Secretary of War authorized the soldiers to wear a crossed-arrow badge, symbolic of the famous U.S. Indian Scouts. This elite brigade assured the Allied advance in Italy by smashing through the German mountain bastion of Monte le Difensia in a six-day winter battle that allegedly earned it the enemy appellation, "The Devil's Brigade." The modern Special Forces derives much of its regular heritage and its distinctive crossed-arrows insignia from the First Special Service Force. The roots of Special Forces unconventional warfare can be traced directly to the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during World War II by Colonel William 0. "Wild Bill" Donovan. The OSS was a secret government organization that infiltrated well-trained volunteers into enemy-occupied countries where they organized and assisted resistance groups. For example, small teams of OSS Jedburgh agents regularly parachuted into northern Europe. These teams, consisting of two liaison officers with an enlisted radio operator, linked up with underground resistance fighters to provide equipment and technical expertise for guerrilla tasks. The OSS also operated successfully in southern Asia.