Monday, August 15, 2011

Special Forces at War - An Illustrated History Southeast Asia 1957-1975 part2

The U.S. Army Special Forces also tracks its lineage to Col. Frank D. Merrill's renowned "Merrill's Marauders," a rugged jungle-warfare contingent officially known as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). The Marauders fought throughout northern Burma, where its 3,000 soldiers engaged the Japanese in five major battles and 17 other actions. The most famous Marauder epic was the completion of a wide-sweeping movement, virtually unsupported except by air, that placed them several hundred miles behind enemy front lines and led to the capture of the vital Myitkyina airfield. When the Army Special Forces was first organized, it also acquired the heritage and honors of the six ranger battalions of World War II and the 15 ranger companies of the Korean conflict. These units derived from the first American rangers, which were raised from militia volunteers during the French and Indian Wars. Led by the notable Major Robert Rogers, the rangers operated with stealth and daring against hostile Native American tribes, and the colonists later used these same tactics against the British during the Revolutionary War. The modern U.S. Army Special Forces was steeped in this rich legacy when its initial 10th Special Forces Group was activated on June 20, 1952, at the height of the Korean War. The Army recalled Colonel Aaron Bank, a former Jedburgh commander, from Korea to North Carolina to activate this guerilla operations group in case of a Soviet invasion of western Europe. Colonel Bank's small nucleus of troops trained intensively in parachuting and basic unconventional warfare methods at Fort Bragg and Camp MacKall in North Carolina, and they completed advanced courses in mountain glacier, rock-escarpment, and cold weather operations at Camp Carson, Colorado. Within nine months of formation, the 10th' Special Forces Group contained 1.000 hand-picked troops, many of them combat veterans of the rangers or OSS.