Just over a year after the U.S. Army’s Psychological Warfare Center officially activated its Special Operations Division in May 1952, the Green Berets received their first mission.
A handful of soldiers assigned to the newly minted 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) were deployed to Bad Tolz, Germany, in September 1953 as part of a “stay-behind” operation to push back against growing Soviet control over Western Europe. The soldiers organized guerrilla resistance fighters along German border, destroyed enemy infrastructure, and generally scared the bejesus out of Russian forces — and they did it all without public recognition.
It would take six more years before the American public finally met the soon-to-be-fabled Green Berets in the oddest way possible: the 30-minute mini-documentary “Phantom Fighters.” The film — produced by the Army Signal Corps and first broadcast on the Corps’ documentary program, “The Big Picture” — captures soldiers with the 10th SFG conducting field training exercises “in the vicinity” of Bad Tolz.
The Army video plainly states that the 10th SFG is ”trained to organize guerrilla resistance in enemy occupied territories,” but these soldiers do a little more than advising and assisting; in the 10th, a narrator explains, “a man's hand is as deadly a weapon as a rifle or hand grenade.” And while the Army mini-doc may seem a tad too cheerful, it’s a nice reminder of the gritty, hazard-filled origins of the Green Berets as they become increasingly entwined in combat operations around the world.
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)
The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.