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20th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is assigned to Southern Command. The 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was one of 2 Army National Guard Special Forces Groups. Each group had 3 battalions, a group support company and a headquarters and headquarters company. Each of the Group's 9 Special Forces companies have 6 Operational Detachment Alphas (ODA), or "A-teams," assigned to them. The ODA was the heart and soul of Special Forces operations.

The mission of the 2 Army National Guard Special Forces groups was to plan and support special operations in any operational environment. Special operations were conducted independently or in coordination with conventional forces.

Special operations forces differed from conventional forces in that they were specially organized, trained, and equipped to achieve military, political, economic, or psychological objectives using numerous means. Special operations forces supported the theater combatant commands to achieve national security objectives in peacetime and war, and these forces had become an integral part of the theater commander's peacetime strategy. Special Forces units performed 5 doctrinal missions: Foreign Internal Defense, Unconventional Warfare, Special Reconnaissance, Direct Action and Counter-Terrorism. These missions made Special Forces unique in the US military, because they could be employed throughout the 3 stages of the operational continuum: peacetime, conflict, and war.

The 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Alabama Army National Guard, organized with battalions from Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida received the alert notification on 1 February 1991, and entered federal active duty on 20 February 1991. The 20th Special Forces Group mobilized, trained, and was validated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Elements of the 20th Special Forces Group deployed for Operation Provide Comfort. The 20th Special Forces Group was the first-ever reserve component Special Forces Group to be mobilized.

At the time of Operation Desert Storm, in most cases there were no published or followed standard for reserve component unit premobilization training certification, and validation. Furthermore, in most cases, there was no published or followed standard for reserve component unit postmobilization training certification, and validation. The noted exception to lack of published criteria and standards was the US Army Special Forces Command (USASFC), which published criteria for training certification and validation for all Special Forces (SF) units, whether they were in the Active Army, Army National Guard, of US Army Reserve. Upon mobilization of reserve component Special Forces units for Desert Storm, USASFC staff members, with command emphasis from the Commander of USASFC, applied the published criteria and standards without deviation or question to all Special Forces units, regardless of whether they were active or reserve component. As a result of the equal application of a published standard, the soldiers of the 20th Special Forces Group, Alabama Army National Guard, broke the record for the USASFC's Intensive Training Cycle. The 20th Special Forces Group, composed of National Guard units from Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi and Kentucky, completed their 90-day certification program in half the time.

Special operations forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force conducted numerous missions supporting NATO's Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Assistance ranged from air support and rescue operations to reconnaissance and liaison duties. Nearly 700 members of the Army's Special Operations Command deployed to Bosnia in mid-December 1995 and began numerous operations throughout the Balkan nation. Included were more than 100 reservists serving in Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations positions. Army special operations units in the area included the 1st Special Forces Group from Fort Lewis, Washington; the 5th Special Forces Group from Fort Campbell, Kentucky; the 10th Special Forces Group from Fort Carson, Colorado; and the Army National Guard's 20th Special Forces Group from Birmingham, Alabama. Portions of Fort Bragg's 4th Psychological Operations Battalion, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, and 112th and 528th Special Operations Signal battalions were also in Bosnia. Special operations personnel served as liaisons between NATO forces and local nationals. Other tasks may included unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and humanitarian or civic action.




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