Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Perhaps not so quiet and not so professional...

When I was a little teeny privvit back in the 1980's I wanted to be Special Forces so bad it hurt. I didn't have what it took: I bolo'ed two patrols in Phase I, got recycled, lost my motivation and just frankly pussied out - "DOR'ed", or "dropped on request".(That's me, BTW, standing behind SFC Harris in the GI-issue birth control glasses. To this day - 29 years later, I can still remember my drill sergeants, SFC Raymond Harris and SSG Ricardo Layne. Just curious - anybody of the other enlisted scum here still recall their hats from BCT?)

I'm not proud of what I did in SFQC, but I'm not ashamed, either. I tried as hard as I could - at the time, still being young and unformed - and when I ended up in the 82nd Airborne I became a sergeant and a good one. I served as well as I could. I trained my troops to survive, and to be the best aidmen they could be.On the other had, it sounds like these Special Forces guys didn't serve nearly as well as THEY should have:
"...shooting at targets down range while Afghans are standing right next to the targets, to screaming obscenities at them, calling them “fucktards,” and inflicting group punishment because they couldn’t master the “load, unload” drill..."
One thing I liked about the idea of SF back in the day was the concept that they were this immense force multiplier. You parachuted a dozen guys and a pantsload of gear into some trackless wilderness and after six months you had an entire little army, a native Mike Force led by the GIs ready to take on the local enemies on their own ground.

But it becomes increasingly apparent that the Charlie Beckwith/Special Air Service camorra have completely captured the Army SF community. Our "Special" Forces are now just a bunch of door-kickers with fancy hats. That's NOT what I enlisted to be. In that respect, my then-failure looks better with time. I'm glad I didn't live to be the First Sergeant of an SF-ODB that runs a bunch of glorified SWAT teams.

And what's even sadder?
"These SF guys are supposed to be the ones who know how to operate outside the big bases with the local population, but did you notice where they live? On a big box FOB, isolated and removed from their Afghan charges which is obvious, because none of them spoke a word of Dari or Pashto. They are good troops being poorly served by commanders who keep them isolated and removed from the people they are supposed to be protecting. They will never be able to gain the situational awareness required to do real COIN if they remain confined to the Big Box FOBs."
Go and read all of it.It makes me kinda sad and kinda mad, and I say that as the guy who back in 1981 loved the Special Forces and wanted that beautiful 1st Group flash on his green hat more than he wanted to have wild monkey sex with Debra Winger AND Jamie Lee Curtis.

(Crossposted from GFT)


  1. This is what happens when the DOD leadership says, hey, wouldn't it be cool if we had like 20,000 more SF guys in the force? like tomorrow?

    Quotas are assigned, funds have to be spent, and the average skill capability drops. We don't get the best of the best because quantity becomes more important than quality.

    Of course the ironic part is how the technology side of DOD goes just the opposite, stressing high quality, low numbers over adequate quantity, adequate capability. It's the way of things.

  2. I like freerangeinternational, he's usually got a lot of good common-sense things to say.

    This post reminds me of my 2005 Afghanistan deployment. I was supporting a Combat Search and Rescue unit and we have our own "special" forces - pararescuemen (who are still quiet professionals for the most part, IMO). Anyway, once I get on the ground on deployment I always like to go and introduce myself to the other 2-shop people. I met with everyone except the SOF people. They were housed in a compound within our base - it was almost like a keep within a castle - seriously. I could never get past the gate guard. The guards phoned back and received the reply that they weren't interested, even when I pointed out that if their boys got in trouble, it would be my boys that would come and save them.

    Things changed about a month later in August when that SEAL recon team got compromised and 3 of them killed. There was one survivor (Marcus Luttrell) who was eventually recovered. He wrote a pretty bad book about it. The SoF folks finally became interested in our help after their own recovery helo got shot down (killing 16). It was a team effort to get him out and I'm glad I got to play a small role in that. Those SoF people play a bit better with others now, but not as much as they should. As always, people are often too worried about their little rice bowls than complete cooperation and coordination.

  3. My DI's were Sr. DI SSgt Pollock, DI SSgt Cole, and DI Sgt Perroti.
    The 1st Lt, CC, was the one who told me that football, though a great sport, is also a career killer for being a Marine.
    Oh, well, better than ending up like a couple of HS friends did in Beruit, I guess.

    As for SF being snooty...I think to much of Hollywood, Rambo, and the other crap hero movies has had too much of an influence on the minds of our youth.
    Hollywood always plays up the "hero" standing strong, firing from the hip, doing all the heroic "ooh-ahhh!" stuff that sells tickets, and garners rave reviews.
    It also happens to get people killed in real life too.

  4. Winger and Curtis?????

    I have to say Chief that despite your good looks, charm, hospitality and sometimes-good-judgement that your taste in hollywood sex symbols sucks. Whatever happened to Jane Russell and Raquel Welch??

    It is a good thing you finally reformed and married the good-looking-Mrs-FDChief.

  5. Jason: My own story is a good example of that. I got in in 1980, at the very low point of the VOLAR period. DA had gutted the SF in the RIFs after RVN; a huge chunk of experience in the teams was gone. Ronnie Reagan was coming in, the Army was ramping back up, and the SF wanted more bodies.

    They did it the dumb way - they opened SFQC to kids like me, privates right out of BT/AIT. Of course, we failed massively - but not as massively as we should have. I think a lot of the "rangerization" of the SF can be traced back to this period. The teams were handed a lot of young guys without the maturity to do what the old studs had done with the 'Yards in the RVN. But they were good soldiers, and they could move, shoot and communicate with the best of them. Thay helped the SF move the direction that DA and the SAS/direct action crowd wanted them to go.

    Andy, Sheerah: Part of the problem, I think, is that SOF has been absorbed in the direct-action part of the clandestine war for too long. The "old SF" was outside the regular Army community because of their focus on unconventional/guerilla warfare. The "new SF" has become the shock troops of the CIA and the higher HQ. In the first case the Echelons Above Reality didn't want anything to do with the SF because they were weird and different. In the second, the SF doesn't want to hang with the miles gregarius because they're on the Inside with the Super Sneaky Inside Terror Fighters.

    Either way, it's kind of a mess.

  6. mike: Jane Russell? How old do you think I am?

    Jane was a babe, but she was a babe from my Dad's time, not really mine. We didn't have old movies on cable in the late 70's and 80's, so she was just a rumor of nuclear bazooms to me in my prime.

    And Raquel always seemed too plastic for me, like some sort of scary fembot.

    I liked the 80's Debra and Jamie because of their public attributes that I appreciate in my Domestic 6; lithe, spunky, smart, athletic, outspoken and inventive.

    In fact, not sure about Winger, who seems to have dropped out of public life, but Jamie Curtis is still a babe at, what, 60?

    Woof! (That's my OTHER dog imitation).

  7. Jamie Lee Curtis in "True Lies"... Mmmmmmm. Remember her running around in a man's shirt in the first "Halloween" movie? Yeah, she hot.

  8. Jeff Huber's got something that might be of interest to snake eaters and those who may have ever wanted to be snake eaters:


  9. Publius: This is the original TV story that the poster at freerangeinternational was talking about. If you follow my original link he brings up most of the same things Huber discusses. It sounds like the PAO pricks at ISAF really screwed the pooch linking their team with the news crew.

    The SF really has a problem if this is a typical MTT. Sad, really. Not surprising, but sad.

  10. Well guys, I'm out of the hospital after collapsing my right lung two weeks in a row.

    The second time my ER nurse was an ex-Special Forces guy with an interesting pair of specialties... medic and sniper. I forget the guys name though. Big dude with a beard.

  11. Damn, Charles! Hope you're mending.

    SF types get some interesting cross-training. Part of the fun. At least, it used to be. Not so sure I'd enjoy it now that the Ranger/DA mentality has soaked in there so deeply.

  12. Well the lung is still working and I'm feeling a lot better, so I ain't complaining much: the chemo was a bitch though, and trashes your white blood cell count. Infusion #2 is Thursday morning.

  13. Charles,
    A little correction is needed here-it's FORMER SF and ex Marine. Let's keep things in perspective here.
    Also one should seldom believe everything that one hears from people. Many are called but few are chosen as FD Chief so aptly wrote.
    Why in the hell would any sane military organization take a non combatant like a pecker checker and militarize him with a sniper rifle.?
    Yeah, i know -he switched mos's at reenlistment. I've heard that 1 before.
    I've been thinking on this thread for several days ,and i must say that back in my SFOC days the training that we rec'd really did make us Jed's and prepared us to fight WW2. Just a thought.