CHAPTER VIII

The Balance Sheet

An elite group has always appeared within the Army during every war in which the United States has been engaged. The Minutemen in the Revolution, the Cavalry in the Civil War, the Rough Riders in Cuba, the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I, the Rangers in World War II, and the Helicopter Pioneers in Korea—always some group has captured the imagination of the American public and has embodied the national ideals of the American fighting man.

As surely as such groups arose, there arose also the grievances of the normally conservative military men who rejected whatever was distinctive or different or special. The conservative approach to military matters is, of course, by and large the safest, most effective, and most practical. It is in the American character, however, to attack problems vigorously, to attempt rapid and complete solutions, and to accomplish the business at hand with a certain amount of independent daring and courage. Thus, the emergence of Army units combining these characteristics is not unusual but is the historical pattern. Future planners would do well not only to recognize this American military phenomenon but also to capitalize on it.

In the conduct of conservative military affairs, revisions of current military modes are frequently resisted with missionary zeal and emotional fervor simply because they mean change, they are different. In the complexities of handling national defense matters, a defender of the status quo can find many reasons for not doing something. If a new military program or unit is being developed in order to meet new needs, new threats, or new tactics, consideration should be given to the use of elite U.S. Army units, despite the customary resistance to change or elitism usually found in conservative establishments.

The U.S. Army Special Forces had the continuous and unswerving support of each commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Generals Harkins, Westmoreland, and Abrams recognized the value of the Special Forces operations and consistently provided the unit with maximum support, direction,

Page 161 

and guidance. Because Special Forces was a unique organization with many talents and demonstrated capabilities, each commander had somewhat different ideas on how to use it. Regardless of the employment, however, each commander was completely receptive to new tactics and techniques, new plans and programs, and new operational possibilities. Operational requests, personnel requisitions, and. administrative and logistical demands were promptly and carefully attended to and authorized whenever possible. Whatever shortfall in Special Forces operations may have occurred, it never came as a result of lack of support from the head of the Military Assistance Command.

One single statutory action that proved most beneficial to the Special Forces was the approval in September 1963 of an Army regulation which dealt with the administrative, logistical, and financial support for paramilitary forces and provided the means by which such support could be obtained, managed, controlled, and accounted for. Before that date support arrangements were accomplished on an ad hoc basis, leaving no firm, acceptable method for accomplishing these requirements on an approved, departmental, permanent basis. The publication of this regulation for the first time placed Department of the Army support for paramilitary activities on a sound, respectable, businesslike footing.

Support by the U.S. Air Force in the Republic of Vietnam was superb. The tactical air force and airlift command elements performed outstanding feats in support of Special Forces. For example, airlift for the first of the three combat parachute assaults conducted by the Special Forces in South Vietnam consisted of nine C-130 aircraft. These planes were assembled, rigged, operationally prepared, spotted, and ready for take-off within a few hours after the approval of the operation was given. The first aircraft crossed the intended drop zone exactly on the minute prescribed. In October 1966 tactical aircraft, hastily scrambled, provided the firepower to rescue a sizable contingent of Special Forces in the Plei Trap Valley. Without these fighters, the force stood to receive staggering casualties. Tactical aircraft provided instant response to missions generated by the mobile guerrilla forces, including resupply of vital necessities. Airlift command was largely responsible for the movement each month of 17,000,000 pounds of supplies in 500-pound lots to Special Forces camps throughout Vietnam. The armed C-47 gunship was a tremendous help to camps under attack and accounted for the continued existence of camps many miles removed from immediate relief forces or firepower.

The U.S. Navy contributed significantly to the successful opera-

Page 162

tions of the 5th Special Forces Group, and this assistance took many forms. For instance, the Navy provided its entire inventory of patrol air cushion vehicles in the theater during the monsoon operations in IV Corps in 1966-1967. These craft, together with the Special Forces airboats and motorized sampans, raised havoc with enemy forces slowed down or stopped by the floodwaters in the Mekong Delta. Navy personnel also acted as instructors for the irregulars piloting the airboats and sampans. Navy river patrol craft worked harmoniously and successfully in joint land operations with troops of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group and the Special Forces advisers. Navy SEAL (sea, air, land) teams conducted joint training and exercises with scuba teams from the Special Forces.

The U.S. Marine Corps, especially in the 1962-1964 period, developed an outstanding relationship with the Special Forces. The Special Forces camps in the I Corps area literally lived or died depending on Marine helicopter support in those early days, when supply runs were made into the most rugged areas. Marine helicopters evacuated the survivors of Camp A Shau in early 1966. Joint operations using Marine reconnaissance units with civilian irregular and Special Forces units were most successful, as were certain innovative tactics devised together, such as airlifting

Page 163

105-mm. howitzers to predetermined meeting sites to attack enemy units preparing to assault outgunned friendly forces. In May 1967 civilian irregulars, Special Forces troops, and U.S. marines fought side by side in defense of the camp at Con Thien administering a blistering defeat to the North Vietnamese Army.

The instances of co-operation and mutual support listed above are very few and do not reveal the deep confidence each service had in the other. Rather, they are random examples of common effort, intended to emphasize the truism that service rivalries diminish in inverse proportion to the nearness of the firing line.

In Vietnam there were certain factors that operated against the efforts of the U.S. Special Forces, and over which the Special Forces had little or no control. For the first time in its history the United States found itself waging a military and a political contest simultaneously. The Korean War was limited, as were the numerous incidents between 1945 and 1960. The new factor encountered in the Vietnam conflict was the departure from the sequential "military-then-political" actions of previous wars, in which the military effort was primary and foremost. Decisions to be made were evaluated principally in terms of military consequences, with political implications incorporated as part of a long-range integration of effort. As territory was rolled up, military government forces followed, to be supplanted later by civilian agencies restoring civilian control and development. In Vietnam military decisions were viewed in terms of the political consequences they might have, a situation to which the average military professional was unaccustomed. The usual primary military objectives of "closing with the enemy and defeating him" were limited by political decisions. The immediate impact on the military unit often took the form of misunderstanding, aborted tactical plans, and communication gaps.

There was a lack of understanding throughout all ranks on the nature of insurgent wars and of that in Vietnam in particular. Most U.S. Army schools had failed to incorporate many of the lessons learned in the Korean War. The march and countermarch across the European plain were still the staples for instruction well into the 1960s. Reports from Vietnam that the enemy was a mighty jungle fighter of indomitable prowess, spurred on and nurtured by the knowledge that his political convictions were right, caused the military service schools to juggle hastily the instructional units in the curriculum to accommodate this type of foe. Despite these efforts, the elemental lessons of infiltration, scouting and patrolling, reconnaissance, ambush tactics, night fighting, and unortho-

Page 164

doxy in tactics and logistics had to be learned and relearned on the ground in Vietnam. The twelve-month tour of duty operated against any one commander's accumulating very much experience or passing it on to his successors. The experience of the Special Forces ultimately proved that the night and the jungle belonged to the fighter who could use them best.

The fundamental communications gap stemmed in great part from the education gap. The cliche that the American soldier is the best informed soldier in the world was often repeated but it was sometimes dubious whether he was informed at all. Certainly, in terms of proportionate time, very little effort was made to explain to him Vietnamese or Oriental culture and customs; had the average American soldier been better informed, many actions of the Vietnamese would have been at least understandable, if not palatable to him. So acute was the lack of information that in 1962 special courses on countering insurgencies were hurriedly devised for senior officers, but the course content was a long time getting down to the individual foot soldier. The advice of foreign experts in insurgency and counterinsurgency was sought and followed— even though their expertise, for the most part, had been acquired in different locales under totally different ground rules. As a result the random and usually irrelevant courses of action that were taken had little or no bearing on the Vietnam struggle.

The lack of adequate preparation for the Vietnam War within the active Army took many forms. Not only were the political and sociological aspects of the war given less than full attention, but also the related areas of language training, civil affairs (or civic action, as it became known), psychological operations, and interdepartmental co-ordination received little emphasis. The personnel actions which bothered the Special Forces members most were the complete and continual disregard by departmental personnel officials of the comparative combat responsibilities of Special Forces people. Because the table of equipment for a Special Forces group specified the position of a Special Forces lieutenant colonel as the commander of a Special Forces company, no amount of correspondence ever really convinced the personnel managers at Department of the Army that this position was really the equivalent of that of a battalion commander in terms of combat responsibility.

Command and control rules, procedures, and adjustments suffered because of the lack of understanding of the nature of the war, the lack of education in fighting it on a daily basis, the lack of communication throughout the chain of command, and the inbred convictions acquired during combat operations in World War II and

Page 165

Korea. The lack of preparation for this war had certain effects. For one thing, it led to a preoccupation with statistics. In many instances the success or failure of an operation was validated by the statistical considerations attending it. The usual method of determining the efficacy of psychological operations, for example, was by counting the number of leaflets dispensed or the number of loudspeaker broadcasts made. Often preconceived operational methodologies were a handicap. Senior U.S. Army commanders arrived with combat methods for the conduct of operations firmly in mind. That the methods did not fit the times or the struggle did not keep the commanders from using them. It often took a substantial period of time to educate such commanders to the facts of life. For example, they were slow to learn that the Vietnamese troops were allies, not subordinates; that the CIDG forces were indeed civilians and irregulars, and CIDG companies did not equate in terms of numbers, firepower, or training with U.S. Army infantry companies; and that all troops of whatever national origin in a given tactical area of responsibility did not automatically come under the command of the U.S. area commander.

There was, too, a certain lack of imagination in the development of new tactics. Deviations from current doctrine, however outdated that doctrine might be, were not systematically sought or encouraged. Unusual formations such as the mobile guerrilla forces and the clandestine resupply methods were accepted because of their demonstrated success. Long-range reconnaissance units, such as Projects Delta, Sigma, and Omega, were welcomed because of their exceptional record of performance, yet reconnaissance teams in major U.S. combat units continued to scout and patrol only as far out as the organic weapons of their units could cover them. The search for combat intelligence still followed the stereotyped pattern of seeking and reporting information, analyzing it so that it became useful intelligence, then seeking more of the same; seldom was a unit concerned with information about the interior control organization—the so-called infrastructure—of the enemy. Fighting camps, floating camps, and waterborne operations in conjunction with helicopters were accepted more as oddities than as adaptations to particular conditions. Night operations were the exception in most units, though as early as October 1966 all irregular operations supervised by the Special Forces began and, where practicable, ended during the hours of darkness.

A sound principle of war deals with the chain of command. This principle holds that orders are best carried out and control and discipline are best maintained by making each level of author-

Page 166

ity aware of its responsibility for carrying out a mission. The ubiquitous helicopter damaged the chain severely since the temptation to deal with subordinates several layers down was too great to resist. Indeed, the war became known as the "small unit commander's war," quarterbacked by a senior commander circling overhead. With a platoon leader, for example, getting precise instruction from a division commander, the teamwork and leadership development between the platoon leader, the company commander, the battalion commander, and the brigade commander were bound to be disrupted.

Certain factors were controlled by the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam and contributed positively to the success of the group effort. The table of organization and equipment remained flexible. Personnel, organizational detachments, equipment, and administrative arrangements could be easily adjusted within the personnel or fiscal ceilings imposed. The Special Forces had many military occupational specialties in its tables. Additional units not of the Special Forces but with similar occupational roles, such as medical or engineer, were easily added, controlled, and supervised. The fragmented, independent operation of the group facilitated ad hoc attachments where and when required. The volunteer status of members of the Special Forces effectively weeded out many unqualified men.

Training programs within the Special Forces were of long term, forty-four to sixty-two weeks. Such training combined with follow-up training in a secondary specialty produced soldiers of high professional standing.

The requirement that a man volunteer for both parachute and Special Forces training, the high training standards, the premium on independence and reliability, the emphasis on team loyalty and dedication, and the development of a sense of belonging to an exceptional unit tended to produce the most professional and most capable noncommissioned officers in the U.S. Army. The record of combat decorations, repeated tours in Vietnam, combat efficiency, and manifest pride in the organization reflect this professionalism.

Command of the 5th Special Forces group was placed in the hands of Special Forces officers. In the early days this empirical requirement was not a prerequisite for assignment. Beginning in 1966, the normal policy became a succession of assignments, starting with command of the 1st Special Forces Group in Okinawa and concurrent orientation tours in Vietnam; thereafter, the commanding officer of the 1st Special Forces Group succeeded to command of the 5th Special Forces Group.

Page 167

There were also present within the structure of the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam certain factors that worked against the efficiency of the group.

In the early years, their role as advisers rather than operators was not made clear to most Special Forces troops. In their desire to accomplish positive gains and as a result of their concern for the welfare of the irregulars, attachments were formed between the Americans and the irregulars which adversely affected the Special Forces effort. The Vietnamese Special Forces initially resented the "big brother" role assumed by many U.S. Special Forces troops; the irregulars, who had relatively little empathy with the Vietnamese, assumed that the U.S. Special Forces would stand with the irregulars against the Vietnamese. These misplaced assumptions were partly responsible for the Montagnard uprising in September 1964. In time both the Americans and the irregulars came to understand and respect the Special Forces advisory role.

It is usually accepted by the military that U.S. Special Forces detachments were more successful in advising local governments than were other U.S. advisory elements. When the full circum-

Page 168

stances were known, it was seen that much of the success of the detachments stemmed from their access to "more supplies, more quickly obtained." Detachments doing double duty as advisers for the Vietnamese Special Forces and advisers to local civil government agencies did either job well but seldom both successfully.

The buildup in South Vietnam from 1965 to 1967 outstripped the capability of the continental United States replacement system to furnish trained men. Standards dropped—in the field of communications, for example, the ability to perform at a high rate of speed in continuous wave communications declined—and it became necessary to give each new arrival an examination in his specialty before sending him out to a camp. This additional burden slowed down the operational pace because men had to be diverted to conduct the tests. Lowered standards invited less competent men who could not stand the rigors of the independent, isolated, and perilous life of a camp. From 1966 to 1967 a study was undertaken by the Walter Reed psychiatric unit in conjunction with the 5th Special Forces Group to determine whether it was possible to devise a test or examination that could predict which Special Forces soldiers were likely to break down in a camp environment. After a year of intense and careful study, it was concluded that the best indicator of who would or would not succeed as a positive member of a detachment in the field was the judgment of the senior Special Forces noncommissioned officer who trained or supervised the man. Frequently a Special Forces man would be dropped from the force as not suitable, but by one device or another would regain a position in the Special Forces.

The practice of placing the Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp forces, together with the U.S. and the Vietnam Special Forces detachments, under operational control of Vietnamese and U.S. military commanders was a throwback to conventional lines of command and control. The reasons for such control lines are obvious, but they proved less successful than when the group commander controlled all his men. Aside from the technical, communications, and operational reasons that could be advanced, the average Special Forces man in a camp had better morale and esprit when under group command.

Credits

The U.S. Army Special Forces made significant progress in many areas during its term of service in the Republic of Vietnam. As a tactical combat unit, the U.S. Special Forces dealt with the Vietnamese Special Forces in both an advisory and an operational

Page 169

capacity. This primary relationship did not impair or preclude other working relationships with U.S. armed forces, Free World Military Assistance Forces, U.S. government agencies, or Vietnamese government agencies.

Positive contributions were made by the Special Forces over the years to the American national effort to defeat the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. These contributions were made not only to the immediate operations of the war, but also to the development of the Special Forces as a general purpose unit within the U.S. Army troop structure. As a result, any doubts about the value or practicality of having this type of unit in the permanent U.S. Army force structure were removed.

The record of service performed in the past becomes doubly valuable when viewed in the light of possible combat in the future. If, as predicted, the cycle of wars continues to emphasize the limited-objective, political-military struggle and to avoid massive dispositions of regular forces, the U.S. Army Special Forces will not have to prove its claim as an exceptionally effective combat unit in the limited conflict.

Starting with a relatively austere organization and lacking clear objectives and co-ordinated support programs, and improvising tactics and techniques at widely scattered locations, the U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam achieved notable success. Its members demonstrated repeatedly their combat ability, esprit de corps, determination, and willingness to sacrifice. Remarkable is the fact that this level of effort was just as strong and effective at the end of the campaign as it was ten years earlier in the beginning.

The conceptual soundness of the organization for Special Forces was tested thoroughly. Though the force was never intended for conducting such programs as the Civilian Irregular Defense Group projects the flexibility of its detachments, the ability of the force to use support in many forms and from many sources, and the number of specialties represented in each detachment enabled small detachments operating independently to achieve a variety of objectives.

Within its own organizational and support limits, the U.S. Special Forces successfully practiced a number of new tactics and techniques of the highest professional caliber. Notably the force was responsible for the formation and employment of the mobile guerrilla forces—BLACKJACK Operations—and of extended distance reconnaissance and security forces—Projects Delta, Sigma, and Omega; the constant circulation of Special Forces resources from pacified to contested geographic areas of Vietnam; successful

Page 170

operations with other Free World Military Assistance Forces and joint operations with other armed forces; the construction of fighting camps, and in the Mekong Delta region, floating camps; the full-scale employment of irregulars in night operations exclusively; the conduct of waterborne operations in a carefully planned flood campaign, using the Special Forces "navy"—some 400 water craft consisting of airboats, sophisticated U.S. Navy craft, and locally acquired motorized sampans; and the formation and development of airborne-qualified irregular forces as a mobile strike force for use as reserves or as exploitation forces.

The Special Forces founded and operated the theater school, known as the MACV Recondo School, for training reconnaissance troops for all U.S. and Free World forces. It also developed a decentralized form of logistic support featuring direct sea, air, and road shipments to forward supply points in all corps tactical zones. The Special Forces produced a series of handbooks, describing in detail how to carry out any portion of the group's business, from building a camp to serving as an investigating officer. The group developed a civic action program which placed the emphasis on

Page 171

performance rather than philosophy, and on self-help rather than charity; a flexible and controlled accounting system for supplies and funds; and an annual Special Forces campaign plan for utilization of the force in furtherance of announced objectives of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. The group also developed a body of lessons learned for review by the Continental Army Command, and, where appropriate, insertion into its training programs.

The Special Forces made recommendations for future doctrine, organization, and equipment. Doctrinally, it was suggested that the mission of Special Forces be expanded beyond the rather narrow specialty of unconventional warfare. Organizationally, recommendations were made to rearrange the detachments to provide greater administrative and logistic capabilities; to add Judge Advocate, Inspector General, Comptroller, and Engineer personnel; to revise drastically the intelligence section; and to give greater responsibility to the noncommissioned officers.

Debits

The U.S. Army Special Forces performance in Vietnam revealed several shortcomings that were constantly under review and analysis, but were still thorny problems at the termination of operations. For instance, psychological operations continued to fail for a number of reasons. There were not enough trained people in the field. Further, the attitude toward integration of psychological operations into tactical plans was indifferent at many levels of command. Direction of the psychological operations effort from the MACV level seemed to emphasize the civic action support theme, to the exclusion of unit level psychological operations tactics and techniques.

Policy direction for the integration of U.S. and Vietnamese psychological operations at the brigade and group level was ambivalent. When guidance did come, it was usually too proscribed to be usable at the lower levels of command. Psychological operations were essentially defensive in nature. Opportunities or suggestions for offensive psychological operations were usually buried in the useless and meaningless statistics of numbers of leaflets delivered or broadcasts made.

The American soldier is the most generous person on earth. It follows that he runs the risk of exhibiting too much concern or extreme paternalism. Since the military and political struggles in Vietnam were being waged simultaneously, the less privileged

Page 172

members of local society made unwarranted assumptions from this display of generosity as to the amount and depth of American support for their cause. The genuine American concern for improving the lot for the underprivileged was given free rein in the early days of the Special Forces in Vietnam; nor was any attempt made by the group to control or limit this generosity firmly up to the time of the group's departure from the country. The sympathy for the minority groups was construed by some as interference to the point that it weakened the American position of rendering advice and assistance to the Vietnamese Special Forces counterparts. Add to this the American characteristic of impatience to get a job done, and the result was a further gap between the Vietnamese Special Forces and the civilian irregulars.

Despite the successful accomplishment of its role of advising, assisting, supporting, arming, clothing, feeding, and shepherding 42,000 irregulars at the peak CIDG strength, and an additional 40,000 Regional Forces and Popular Forces in the local government advisory role, the Special Forces troops were continually conscious of mistrust and suspicion on the part of many relatively senior field grade U.S. military men. This state of affairs, which came about chiefly from a lack of knowledge of Special Forces operations, their limitations and their capabilities, gave rise to many discrete efforts to bring the Special Forces either totally or in separate parts within the operational control of a U.S. senior official. This desire to control Special Forces assets was not restricted to operational commanders, but was evident in many staff officers as well. The most difficult operational control demands came from staff sections at Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. It is also true that some senior Special Forces officers endorsed divided control, since the division of authority, responsibility, and command and control encouraged a situation where both sides, the regular U.S. military chain and the group headquarters, could be played against one another to the advantage of the local U.S. Special Forces commander. To some Special Forces men, the notion of transferring operational control of field detachments to other U.S. Army elements was attractive since it removed a great deal of responsibility for day-to-day operations from the group headquarters. It is a matter of record that the group was most successful when operated as a group, under strong central Special Forces leadership.

Although it has been suggested that had the group been commanded by a general officer many of these travails would have been avoided, there is nothing in the Special Forces experience to

Page 173

validate that speculation. Indeed, if the position of commander were upgraded simply to counter the adverse attitudes, then the more likely consequence would have been continued distrust but under more circumspect approaches. A valid case could be made on an exception basis that the position of group commander exceeded in terms of mission responsibility and liabilities the position of any U.S. brigadier in Vietnam. Should a future commitment of U.S. military forces require the same scale of investment of Special Forces as occurred in Vietnam, the feasibility and desirability of a general officer command of Special Forces should be examined at that time.

The Future of the Special Forces

Certain hard facts have emerged from the experience gained by the Special Forces in the Vietnam War. The Special Forces, for example, can function expertly and efficiently under adverse conditions for long periods of time, as demonstrated by the performances of men stationed in remote camp locations for one-year tours. That Special Forces troops are highly motivated and determined to accomplish their missions as professional soldiers is shown by their repeated tours of duty in the combat zone. The Special Forces organization is very flexible; despite its original focus on unconventional warfare, it adjusted remarkably well to the significantly different methods of countering insurgency by use of conventional forms of warfare with civilian irregulars.

Several questions as to the future role of the Special Forces arose even before the unit departed from Vietnam. Were the tables of organization and equipment adequate and comprehensive? Should the mission of the Army Special Forces be changed to include more than the single mission of waging unconventional warfare? Should there be a permanent branch of service for Special Forces officers and men, as opposed to the detailed, temporary duty nature of their current assignments? Some of these questions are readily answered, some require substantial study.

The tables of organization and equipment have already been modified to incorporate changes brought about by the lessons learned in Vietnam. The new organization has resulted in greater flexibility of employment and more efficient operational capability for the revised group. The doctrinal mission statement of the Special Forces has been revised officially to indicate that the roles and missions are really a function of Special Forces capabilities rather than simply a single unconventional warfare role. This revision permits a broad range of possibilities from the individual

Page 174

in a direct action role to the entire group involved in a guerrilla war.

The question of the feasibility or desirability of authorizing a permanent branch of service for Special Forces officers and men can best be answered by a comprehensive, objective study. The temporary nature of an assignment to Special Forces has created an atmosphere of uncertainty for potential volunteers that has worked to the detriment of the program. Other arms and services quite naturally are reluctant to lose members to the Special Forces for periods up to three years. Within an arm or service, the necessity for formal evaluation of all members of that arm or service within a general pattern of development works to the detriment of the careers of those inclined to Special Forces assignments.

It is impossible to equate combat and command duties between Special Forces officers and their contemporaries in various arms and services. Special Forces duties and assignments exceed the norm for other arms and services, partly because of the variety of skills and talents embodied in a small force. Quite a few Reserve officers refused to apply for Regular commissions because such action, if approved, took them out of Special Forces immediately and placed them in a career pattern of assignments which were, in their opinion, less appealing than the Special Forces.

As for enlisted men, the education and training necessary to qualify as a Special Forces man led individuals into rather parochial fields. Yet as centralized promotions and proficiency pay criteria became more demanding, the tests for proficiency and standing focused on regular unit performance to the disadvantage of the Special Forces noncommissioned officer. An operations sergeant trained by Special Forces is now competing with an infantry unit operations sergeant through a test mechanism that is focused on the infantry unit, with no allowance for the Special Service unit.

The usual arguments against a permanent branch for Special Forces center on the number of men in the program, the similarity with other combat arms in terms of duties, and a variety of cliches designed to avoid the possibility of setting a precedent for other specialists. If the over-all troop basis of the future contains the permanent feature of Special Forces units, then an analysis in depth should be made to determine the feasibility and desirability of authorizing a permanent branch of service for the members of those units.

One inescapable fact has clearly emerged. The Special Forces men earned on the battlefield their rightful place in the United

Page 175

States Army. Tough, resourceful, dedicated, and efficient, the men of the Special Forces stood and fought as well and as bravely as those of any fighting unit in our country's history. They are firmly committed to their official motto of "Free the Oppressed" and with equal firmness to their unofficial yardstick: "We are known by what we do, not by what we say we are going to do."

The Special Forces men did their duty well and honorably in Vietnam. They kept faith with the Army and with the United States of America.