Thursday, April 19, 2012

Green Berets (aka "Special Forces") as plain clothes spies

The media has confused special operations terms, but "Special Forces" is the "Green Berets" (as they are colloquially known),  many confuse it with "Special Operations" which is the catch all term describing, and including all commandos and special operators (Rangers, SEALs, etc). Special Forces means only the Green Berets, and they are truly unique among the world's elite forces because their famous fighting expertise is only a part of what they do, 
Green Berets are teachers, and leaders, and cultural diplomats who know the local language and customs, they live among the indigenous tribes and guerrillas or troops, they specialize in intelligence and have the capability to raise, train and lead large guerrilla forces.
FROM WIKIPEDIA: The main mission of the Special Forces was to train and lead unconventional warfare (UW) forces, or a guerrilla force in an occupied nation that no one is allowed to know. The Special Forces are the only U.S. Special Operations Force (SOF) trained to employ UW. The 10th Special Forces Group was the first deployed SF unit, intended to operate UW forces behind enemy lines in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. As the United States became involved in Southeast Asia, it was realized that specialists trained to lead guerrillas could also help defend against hostile guerrillas, so SF acquired the additional mission of Foreign Internal Defense (FID), working with Host Nation (HN) forces in a spectrum of counter-guerrilla activities from indirect support to combat command.
Special Forces personnel qualify both in advanced military skills and the regional languages and cultures of defined parts of the world. While they have a Direct Action (DA) capability, other units, such as Rangers, are more focused on overt direct action raids conducted in uniform but potentially behind enemy lines. SF personnel have the training to carry out covert DA, and other missions, including clandestine SR. WM

Excerpt from this article "Competition In The Shadows" updating CIA and Special Forces operations:
SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is being called on to do more in the next decade as U.S. military policy pulls back from large scale combat in favor of special operations.
Then there are the problems with several intelligence agencies. Over the last three years SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and the CIA convinced Congress to allow the two organizations to merge some of their operations and share personnel and other resources. This is a process that started during World War II and, despite some political ups and downs, never completely stopped. By the time September 11, 2001, rolled around the CIA was routinely requesting Special Forces operators to work directly for them, a custom that goes back to the early days (1950s) of the U.S. Army Special Forces.
The Department of Defense now allows Special Forces troops to be trained for plain clothes and uniformed espionage work in foreign countries. The Special Forces have unofficially been doing this sort of thing for decades, sometimes at the request of the CIA. In 1986, the Special Forces even established an "intelligence operations" school to train a small number of Special Forces troops in the tradecraft of running espionage operations in a foreign country. In practical terms, this means recruiting locals to provide information and supervising these spies, agents, and informants.

By law the CIA controls all overseas espionage operations, and many senior CIA people are not happy with this SOCOM competition. Lower ranking CIA operatives are more open to cooperation. That's because the CIA and Special Forces were both founded by men who had served with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) during World War II and the close relationship continued after the OSS veterans retired from their CIA and Special Forces careers. While senior CIA people tend to lose sight of this, the field operatives can still clearly see the advantages.

The army wants to more aggressively use Special Forces troops for espionage so that the "battlefield can be prepared" more quickly. This is seen as necessary in order to effectively run down fast moving terrorist organizations. Currently, the Special Forces depend on the CIA to do the espionage work in advance of Special Forces A-Teams arriving. In practice some Special Forces troops are often there, along with CIA personnel, doing the advance work of finding exactly who is who, what is where, and, in particular, who can be depended on to help American efforts. The CIA has not made a big stink about this Department of Defense effort, if only because the CIA is short of people and is still aggressively recruiting people for anti-terrorism operations. Besides, a prime source of new CIA agents has long been former or retired Special Forces operators. With the new espionage training Special Forces troops are getting the CIA will be able to hire these guys later and put them to work without having to train them in a lot of espionage techniques. SOCOM is also believed to be hiring retired CIA personnel to help run SOCOM intel operations.

SOCOM isn't the only ones thinking outside the box. In 1998, the CIA revived an organizational name they originally created in the early 1960s: the Special Operations Group. The original SOG (which eventually had its name changed to "Studies and Observation Group" for security reasons) used CIA personnel, Special Forces troops, and local tribesmen to run intelligence patrols into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam during the early days of the Vietnam war. Actually, the CIA was doing this since the late 1950s. But once SOG was set up the CIA handed it over to the Special Forces but continued to run their own SOG missions in other parts of the world until bad publicity and Congressional hostility pretty much brought the organization to a halt in 1990. article

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