The United States Army has met an unusually complex challenge in Southeast Asia. In conjunction with the other services, the Army has fought in support of a national policy of assisting an emerging nation to develop governmental processes of its own choosing, free of outside coercion. In addition to the usual problems of waging armed conflict, the assignment in Southeast Asia has required superimposing the immensely sophisticated tasks of a modern army upon an underdeveloped environment and adapting them to demands covering a wide spectrum. These involved helping to fulfill the basic needs of an agrarian population, dealing with the frustrations of antiguerrilla operations, and conducting conventional campaigns against well-trained and determined regular units.
As this assignment nears an end, the U.S. Army must prepare for other challenges that may lie ahead. While cognizant that history never repeats itself exactly and that no army ever profited from trying to meet a new challenge in terms of the old one, the Army nevertheless stands to benefit immensely from a study of its experience, its shortcomings no less than its achievements.
Aware that some years must elapse before the official histories will provide a detailed and objective analysis of the experience in Southeast Asia, we have sought a forum whereby some of the more salient aspects of that experience can be made available now. At the request of the Chief of Staff, a representative group of senior officers who served in important posts in Vietnam and who still carry a heavy burden of day-to-day responsibilities has prepared a series of monographs. These studies should be of great value in helping the Army develop future operational concepts while at the same time contributing to the historical record and providing the American public with an interim report on the performance of men and officers who have responded, as others have through our history, to exacting and trying demands.
All monographs in the series are based primarily on official records, with additional material from published and unpublished secondary works, from debriefing reports and interviews with key
participants, and from the personal experience of the author. To facilitate security clearance, annotation and detailed bibliography have been omitted from the published version; a fully documented account with bibliography is filed with the Office of the Chief of Military History.
Colonel Francis John Kelly is eminently qualified to write the story of U.S. Army Special Forces. In 1960 he chaired the committee at the Command and General Staff College which produced the U.S. Army's first definitive approach to counterinsurgency, "The Role of the U.S. Army in the Cold War." He also wrote and conducted the Senior Officer Counterinsurgency Program course of study at the U.S. Army War College and served as a division chief in the Special Warfare Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, Department of the Army. For two years he commanded the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) on Okinawa, which provided multiple operational teams for combat service in Vietnam. From June 1966 to June 1967 he commanded the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Vietnam. Upon his return, he became the Commander of the Combat Development Command Institute for Strategic and Stability Operations at Fort Bragg. In all these positions, he strongly influenced the development of tactics and techniques, equipment, organization, and doctrine. After service in Vietnam, Colonel Kelly undertook the task of complete reorganization of the basic unit, the Special Forces Group, at the same time revising the doctrine. In September 1970 he was assigned as Senior Army Advisor to the State of Colorado in Denver.
VERNE L. BOWERS
The Adjutant General Major General, USA
15 September, 1972 Washington, D.C.