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5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces Regiment

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) traces its lineage and honors from the unit of World War II fame, the 1st Special Service Force, the "The Devils Brigade." The unit was first constituted on 5 July 1942 in the Army of the United States, as part of the 1st Special Service Force a combined Canadian-American force. The unit was designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Battalion, Third Regiment, 1st Special Service Force. and was first activated and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison, Montana.

The unit participated in the Italian campaign and saw additional action in France. In total the unit participated in 6 campaigns of the Second World War: Aleutian Islands, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France (awarded campaign streamer with arrowhead indicating participation in the initial assault) and Rhineland. The unit was disbanded in France on 6 February 1945.

The unit was reconstituted in the Regular Army on 15 April 1960. It was concurrently consolidated with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion (first activated on 1 September 1943), and the consolidated unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. Its organic elements were constituted on 8 September 1961. The 5th Special Forces Group was designated as an airborne unit on 21 September 1961 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, leading to the addition of the Airborne modifier, as part of a reorganization and restructuring affecting all Special Forces groups.

One year after the 5th Special Forcse Group was organized, elements of the Group began serving temporary duty tours in the Republic of Vietnam. Full deployment of the Group was completed in February 1965. Although young in years of existence, from its operational base at Nha Trang, the Group deployed throughout the 4 military regions of South Vietnam. Its operational detachments established and manned camps at 270 different locations, where Special Forces soldiers trained and led indigenous forces of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) program, as well as regular units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Despite being one of the smallest units engaged in the Vietnam conflict, the Group was awarded 20 campaign streamers for its service in Vietnam.

The soldiers of the Group were among the most highly decorated in the history of our nation. Seventeen Medals of Honor were awarded, 8 posthumously. The Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) Vietnam 1966-1968, the Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) Vietnam 1968; Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam 1964-1969; and Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, 1st Class, Vietnam 1968-1970. Other teams and elements received numerous other unit citations including, Naval Presidential Unit Citation, valorous unit awards and numerous Vietnamese unit awards. On 5 March 1971, the colors of the 5th Special Forces Group were returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina by a 94-man contingent led by then Colonel (later Major General) Michael D. Healy, thereby terminating their official Vietnam service.

On 3 February 1986, the lineage and honors of the former Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion, were withdrawn from that of the 5th Special Forces Group. They were consolidated with former Headquarters and Headquarters Companies, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th Ranger Infantry Battalions, former Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Infantry Battalion, and Headquarters, 75th Infantry, and the consolidated unit was redesignated as Headquarters, 75th Ranger Regiment, which thereafter had a separate lineage.

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) remained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina until 10 June 1988, when the Group colors were cased. The colors were officially uncased by Major General Teddy G. Allen, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Colonel (lator Major General) Harley C. Davis, Commander of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and Command Sergeant Major Joseph Dennison on 16 June 1988 at its new home at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) added to its rich combat history during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In August 1990, the Group was called upon to conduct theater operations in Southwest Asia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During this crisis the Army's 1st Special Operations Task Force, (ARSOTF), consisting of elements of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) comprising 106 special operations teams performing a myriad of missions that spanned the scope of operations: support to coalition warfare; conducting foreign internal defense missions with Saudi Arabian Land Forces, performing special reconnaissance, border surveillance, direct action, combat search and rescue missions; and advising and assisting a pan-Arab equivalent force larger than 6 US divisions, as well as conducting civil-military operations training and liaison with the Kuwaitis. The border surveillance mission assigned the 5th Special Forces was among the most vital in providing "ground truth" to the American and pan-Arab Forces.

In August 1992, a full 4 months prior to the deployment of major US Forces, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) were conducting operations in the country of Somalia, again, providing "ground truth".

On 11 June 1993, General Wayne A. Downing, Commander in Chief of the US Special Operations Command, presented the Valorous Unit Award to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) for service during Operation Desert Storm from 17 January 1991 to 28 February 1991.

In 1995, the 5th Special Forces team was in Pakistan's northern frontier near China and Afghanistan. Training with the Pakistani Special Services Group, the mission was just one of hundreds performed by Green Berets across the world, designed to build regional awareness in some of the most remote parts of the globe.

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.

The Group was redesignated on 1 October 2005 as the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Regiment.

At a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on 8 August 2008, the 5th Special Forces Group activated a fourth battalion. The activation of 4th Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group was the first activation of a special forces battalion in almost 16 years. The activation marked the beginning of an expansion that was to include one new battalion for each of the 5 active duty groups. The activation of 4th Battalion satisfied a global need for Special Forces by providing more soldiers to support ongoing missions around the world.




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