B5 Systems

Ask SSD – “Is There A New SF Group?”


Earlier today, several readers sent us this photo of a Green Beret with a new flash. Naturally, they came with the question of whether there was a new Special Forces Group. Considering that in the US Army, the Green Beret is worn by Special Forces qualified personnel, it’s a good question.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t good. The Army has stood up the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), which has a mission to, “integrates with foreign partner forces, assists and advises local security operations to build partner security capacity and capability and achieve regional security in support of US National Interests.”

The 1st SFAB’s self-appointed nickname is “The Legion” and above you can see their patch, complete with tab. For some time, we’ve been hearing that they were going to wear an Olive Green Beret. Looks like it’s true as we understand this is their beret and flash.

It looks very similar to the Army’s Special Forces, which wears a darker, Rifle Green Beret. Additionally, their arrow-shaped Shoulder Sleeve Insignia is as iconic as their Beret. Considering the 5th SFG(A) has been named “The Legion” for decades, one must wonder if host nation forces won’t mistake members of the 1st SFAB and its future five sister Brigades for SF Soldiers.

UPDATE: Last night we heard that the 1st SFAB’s SSI tab has been changed from “Advise – Assist” to “Combat Advisor”. This image was posted to Instagram verifying that information.



135 Responses to “Ask SSD – “Is There A New SF Group?””

  1. Jon, OPT says:

    SF wears Kelly Green, not Rifle Green.

  2. Kirk says:

    Jeezus… When are these guys in charge of shit going to figure out that the process goes “Form unit, make special through training and harsh field experience, recognize by authorizing unique recognition feature…”, not “Form unit, make speshul by giving them fancy special thing for fancy dress occasions…”?

    Name me one damn time in the history of a military, anywhere, where you made an elite unit by giving it fancy dress first, before it did anything, or earned a right to it… I dare ya. I can’t think of one, and I’m reasonably well-read on military history from around the world.

    • Mick says:

      I felt pretty damn special when Shinseki gave us all black berets.
      Does that count?

      • Kirk says:

        Personally, I felt pretty damn ridiculous. Especially after the “don the beret” ceremony, and the cutting of the cake, etc. .

        I think that was the low point for the Clinton-era Army, to be quite honest. Yeah, like 9/11, it happened on Bush II’s watch, but it was an outgrowth of everything the Clinton Administration represented to the military.

        I have mixed and ambivalent feelings about Shinseki, to be honest. Some of the stuff he did was positive, like bringing back the mid-weight forces in the form of the Stryker Brigades, but… Jeez. The beret? I can’t quite get past that, to defend the man’s record. Let’s not even get into his do-nothing term at the helm of the VA…

        • SSD says:

          Shinseki was a good officer but not the greatest Chief of Staff. Most people don’t know that he lost one leg below the knee while with the 11th ACR in Vietnam and served all of those years with a prosthetic.

          He was a tanker and in his day, tankers wore Black berets. His decision was unfortunate. Just a few years before, there was a move to adopt the Brown Beret for the Army but SMA Gene McKinney was the guy working the issue and when he was disgraced, the initiative died along with his tenure.

          • Colin says:

            I think if I recall correctly one of his legs is at US Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle PA

    • Dhampy says:

      “Name me one damn time in the history of a military, anywhere, where you made an elite unit by giving it fancy dress first, before it did anything, or earned a right to it… I dare ya. I can’t think of one, and I’m reasonably well-read on military history from around the world.”

      You clearly intend modern history, but you don’t expressly say so. This is important because the idea of “earning” elite status is relatively modern.

      Consider the Iron Brigade. They were given regular army uniforms, according to their commanding officer, at the time as well as with hindsight, precisely to mark them as special, better, and elite. They were no better trained, equipped (worse equipped perhaps, with imported weapons of varying quality), or otherwise more battle-ready than any peers. This was when only one of their regiments had seen any fighting, and in that episode much of the regiment ran with the rest of the army. Being visually different from everyone else is identified by its members as a major factor in their success beginning with their first engagement. 3/4 of the brigade were intentionally made to be elite before they even heard weapons fired in anger. It happened to have worked.

      You also see Life Guard formations formed through early modern history where they were marked as elite purely by their uniforms, before they received any significant “right” to it. Being tall isn’t really a qualification for being “better”, except better at being tall. Notable exceptions being George Washington’s Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, which was filled with four picked men from each unit present at Boston, and Napoleon’s Old Guard, formed from veterans of three campaigns who had at least ten years of service (they also had to be tall, because that was a big part of being elite at the time).

      • Kirk says:

        I’m going to have to disagree with you, on that: The “Iron Brigade” actually wasn’t called such until after its performance at Turner’s Gap, during the Battle of South Mountain. They also didn’t really have any “special” uniform items, the notorious “Black Hat” being merely a standard Regular Army-issue Hardee Hat. I can’t find anywhere that the decision to equip them with that headgear was done with any intent to make them “elite” before the fact of their performance.

        Likewise, the various “Life Guard” elite units you describe. Most of them were “elites” because of the funding and careful selection of personnel that went into them. Some of it was ridiculous, like the fetish Frederick the Great had for tall men in his, but much of the resultant “elite performance” these units demonstrated in war came from the fact that they got the cream of the crop, manpower-wise–Especially the “Old Guard” in the Napoleonic armies.

        You don’t “magic” elite performance out of soldiers with uniform fripperies. There are a lot of folks who like to think you can, but the reality is, it doesn’t work–At least, in any long-term, truly effective manner.

      • Vernon Cole says:

        Special Forces never got their berets until after they accomplished their mission several times. President Kennedy then authorized and gave them the Green beret, calling it a mark of distinction.

    • Sean says:

      The Waffen-SS, the Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger, The US Army Airborne

    • Buck Buchanan says:

      1st SpecialService Force, World War 2 Joint US Canadian group made famous in the movie The Devil’s Brigade. They adopted their unique uniform items and accouterments before going into combat in Italy.

      • Kirk says:

        I sometimes wonder if people are being intentionally obtuse, around here.

        Look–None of the units you’re ticking off and claiming were “created elites” were made into elites by simply putting a fancy hat on a bunch of regular, average soldiers, and thus transmogrified into elite units. There were selections, intense training, and a lot of effort expended.

        • Che Guevara's Open Chest Wound says:

          No one is being obtuse. Your initial thesis has been proven historically incorrect, and you merely refuse to acknowledge that you were wrong.

  3. FormerDirtDart says:

    I’m willing to bet they’re allowing long tabbers to wear their green berets while assigned to SFAB billets and that’s what we’re seeing above

  4. Steve says:

    Wrong shade of green, hoss.

  5. Steve says:

    hoss = FDD, for clarification

  6. JM Gavin says:

    We’ll just do a “Shinseki,” and SF will switch to another color of beret. Not because someone else took our beret color away, but because, hey, we always wanted to be different. Perhaps yellow, or blue. Or yellow with blue polka dots. No more “Green Berets.” Now SF soldiers will be called “Yellow Polka Dot Berets.” A true mark of distinction!

  7. James says:

    Could this be intentional? Say a foreign govt asks for training assistance, expecting SF…….

  8. Bill says:

    Big Army for the win again! First black berets, you have leg infantry wearing maroon berets, and now green berets! Nothing is sacred to the Army.

    How many special operations units does the Army need? They have Rangers (who have there own special unit in RRD), SF, SOAR, Delta, ISA, Asymmetric Warfare Group, they had LRS and Pathfinders, now this.

    Everyone is special! (Except any Infantry unit that actually does the heavy lifting)

    • Sneaky nerd says:

      Except AWG isn’t SOF neither were the LRS or pathfinders.

    • Kzell says:

      It’s almost like…these different units have different mission sets…

      • Bill says:

        Except they were special operations and the mission creep is pretty spectacular between them (except SOAR). But history and all

      • Sneaky Nerd says:

        “LRSU are not SOF, although they share many of the same tactics, techniques, procedures, terms, equipment, and organizational structure.”

        From the LRS manual

        • SSD says:

          There is no more LRS, although, I have to say, it was more special than this thing.

          • Sneaky nerd says:

            I agree, I have much respect for the LRS but that quote is from FM 3-55.93 Long Range Surveillance Unit Operations. I am aware they don’t exist anymore but the topic was whether or not they were SOF.

    • Rebekah says:

      Except almost every individual in the SFAB is an infantryman ?

  9. AnEODguy says:

    They were going to be called Groups at first.

    • Kirk says:

      Do remember that “group” was never, ever an SF-unique unit designator. We’ve used “Group” for a lot of different unit types, particularly Corps-level support outfits used to augment lower echelons by intent–Thus, the Engineer Group, various versions thereof. A fact which used to confuse the hell out of newbies to First SF Group, when they discovered that there was also a 555 Engineer Group on Fort Lewis, back during the ’90s.

      I recall that the explanation made to me, back when, was that a “Group” designation was used instead of “Brigade” due to the size and scale of the command–A Brigade is going to have three maneuver battalions and support, while a Group is usually only a couple of battalions and very limited support. Brigades are kinda-sorta supposed to be capable of independent operations, while Groups are not–You don’t get such niceties as a “Group Surgeon” with his aid station, when you’re in an Engineer Group, but you do if you’re a Brigade. Sometimes. It’s all a huge ‘effing crapshoot, with the MTOE. The way they’ve beefed up the SF MTOE, I really think they should be calling them “Brigades”, just for consistency’s sake. They’ve got the full set of supporting sub-units now, where they didn’t used to–And, that was supposedly the reason for the subtle difference between the nomenclature–A Group required attachment to another major unit, and a Brigade was supposed to be capable of independent operations.

      So, guys that get butt-hurt ‘cos they think that only SF comes in Groups…? They’re just a tad off-base.

    • Dave says:

      I see what you did there… I think. Guys are already using that Group designator though.

      • Kirk says:

        My basic point is that Group ain’t an SF-unique thing, and that the use of it isn’t necessarily something that indicates the people using it are wannabes.

        They might be, but it’s an unfamiliar unit designator to a lot of folks, who assume that it’s something high-speed, and SF-unique. It isn’t.

        • SSD says:

          They don’t stand up Groups anymore. In fact, units that were Groups are mostly now Brigades.

          • Kirk says:

            I think that may be more a reflection of the fact that we’re standing up units that are more capable of independent operation, larger, and not really appropriate to the name “group”.

            In the past, like I said, the “group” term was more used for elements like Engineers who were typically supposed to fall in on another headquarters for support. Back when, the difference between the 130th Engineer Brigade and, say, the 555th Engineer Group was both in scale and the nature of their intended mission. 130th was supposed to be a semi-independent outfit, doing engineering missions across V Corps. 555th was supposed to fall in on, and supplement I Corps assets, doing somewhat the same mission, but as a subordinate to 35th Engineer Brigade, a reserve outfit that was supposed to do things like provide the Staff Engineer to I Corps. There were, if I remember rightly, Engineer Groups who were supposed to fall in on V Corps, under Reforger.

            The whole thing is really opaque, because they’ve quit playing by the old rules with this crap. Groups were supposed to be supplemental to Corps assets, so that Corps could plus-up subordinate divisions for specific missions. Instead, that idea kinda got thrown out, and we started referring to things that were Groups in MTOE as brigades, and the old rules about things like the Brigade got an organic Surgeon went right out the flippin’ window. As well, a Brigade was supposed to be run by a flag-rank officer, and a Group was a mere full Colonel…

            New era, new rules, I guess. It’d be nice if they were codified, somewhat.

          • Lowell says:

            Except the National Guard does have groups. Such as the 115th Regional Support Group.

          • DCF says:

            A new regional support group recently stood up in Arizona.

      • Aaron says:

        Division Group, Corps Group, Army Group…

    • Jon says:

      Not sure if you were Army EOD or not, I was and we were in groups under the command (20th). If I recall correctly (don’t have doctrine in front of me now that I’m out) but groups were like what others have said: Brigade sized elements (COL commanded) that did not have internal support or were unique in nature (like EOD). Can’t remember the pub it’s in but I’m sure it’s changed. It used to define the differences in structure of the Brigade vs. Group.

      I agree with you though that it appears this new unit is trying to imitate SF.

  10. Doubting Thomas says:

    This is wrong at so many levels. This unit is absolutely unnecessary and it’s attempt to mask its useless by its wanna be SF image is just another indicator. The mission they are trying to create, training foreign military forces was, and has been performed by nearly every conventional Infantry unit for years, never mind SF units. This is nothing more than MTT. What is criminal is the attempt to steal the SF identity. If you want to be SF, go through the process. What they are doing is a case of sanctioned “stolen Valor.” However what is worse is the Army leadership bought off on this. Someone is getting a promotion of this which is sickening. No backbone in Army leadership.

    • Daniel says:

      Conventional Infantry no longer has to do this mission. SF now can hand the mission off to a specially trained force with experienced professional Soldiers instead of a unit that is 50% e4 and below who just want to talk down to their partner nation forces. These units will embed up and down the whole structure not just teach -10 shit between patrols.

    • Wake27 says:

      Just because they’ve done it for years, doesn’t mean they do it well. And few of them want to do it, now they can get back to closing with and destroying. The concept for the units is solid and has a lot of benefits. Trying to look so close to group is the problem.

      • Sneaky nerd says:

        But USSF does it well.

        Now they can go back to closing with and destroying the enemy? Through their trained partner force right?

        • Will Rodriguez says:

          USSF does do it well. There just aren’t enough of them to do it which is why we’ve pressed conventional units to do most of the job for almost two decades.

          The question is how do we do it for the future.

          Dedicating the resources to standing up more SF units so they can do ONE of the multitude of missions they are capable of vs standing up brigades that can do FID AND become conventional brigades in time of war (by infusing E1 – E4’s) is much more efficient.

  11. Old support guy... says:

    They are trying to get around the fact that you can’t make long tabbers on the quick or cheap. This is sort of a return to MAAG thinking. The QPs with the long tab know who they are. If the new unit can do the job they’ve been given, it may keep SF from having to do as many FID deployments. That lets them do more CoIn ( which is what the WOT really is.

    • Kirk says:

      The old MAAG may be a good idea to emulate… But, I don’t remember them as being a fully-constituted unit, more an ad-hoc headquarters with various plug-in support elements. Were there line combat outfits assigned to do the training of the allied line units?

  12. Kirk says:

    I do like the color of that beret, though… It’s too damn bad Shinseki didn’t plump down for either OD or a nice brown, if he had to give the entire Army freakin’ berets.

    I still think the whole black beret thing was a travesty from start to finish. Why the hell couldn’t they have left well enough alone, and just kept us wearing a functional patrol cap…? I mean, seriously–The beret has got to be the single most impractical piece of headgear I ever had inflicted on me, outside of the damn flying saucer for the old dress blues…

    • Daniel says:

      Take that back! The bus driver hat is way better than the garrison cap.

      • Kirk says:

        Yeah… I’ll try to remember the amount of grief I had attempting to keep mine in serviceable condition, across multiple PCS moves, and while it was in storage between uses. Garrison cap, no problem–Easy maintenance, and you could dry-clean it. The flying saucer? Lordy, lordy, lord… That damn thing was money-sink.

        • SSD says:

          The overseas cap was awful. It was pointy like a dunce cap.

          • GANDIS says:

            Maybe it’s an Air Force thing, but I like the flight cap. Just look at General Olds in Vietnam Nam with his on. Bomber!

  13. Terry Baldwin says:

    So is this unit headgear or is it “awarded” only to individual “operators” in the SFAB when they qualify? Anyone else remember when Light Infantry Divisions were going to get dark brown berets in the mid-80s to identify those units as “elite” infantry?

    In the late 70s a lot of units had berets: black for Rangers and Cavalry; the 101st had a myriad of colors, dark blue for infantry (like AF SF), lighter green for MPs, etc. 1st Cav had one unit with gray berets.

    Airborne units had maroon of course – but none except the Rangers and SF had been officially authorized. GEN Rogers put an end to that in 78 and it would be GEN Meyers that would reauthorize the maroon beret in 1982 as I recall.

    And most still remember the all army black beret decision and the Rangers transitioning to tan. Bottom line, we have been down this road many a time. I agree with Kirk above, headgear does not make anyone elite or special.

    SF was doing the work for 10 years before the original green beret was authorized. Likewise the Rangers and Airborne had established their battlefield reputations long before their respective berets were recognized.

    I do not know, but I suspect this is unit headgear and every cook and bottle washer in the SFAB will wear it for uniformity sake. I have no beef with the SFAB concept, but I do not think it will last long as an “elite” formation. I remember how all the Ranger qualified NCOs from the 82nd were reassigned to the 7th and 10th Light Divisions when they were first stood up. As quick as they could those guys made their way back to Bragg. At least there they could get jump pay.

    FID can be hard, dirty and thankless work. If that is the only thing in your mission profile it will get old fast. I do not see a lot of incentive for guys to stay in an SFAB for a career like they do in the SF Groups and the Ranger Regiment. And if you do not get long service guys to stay in an organization the level of individual professionalism and unit esprit will eventually drop rather than rise. Of course, I could certainly be wrong and time will tell a different story. I wish the SFABs luck.


    • Kirk says:

      I look at this, and I wonder… What would “right” look like?

      I agree with you, and I don’t like what they’re doing, but what are the alternatives? We need something, organization-wise, to do actual army-building in allied countries, and what we’ve been doing ain’t cutting the mustard. SF is a concept geared towards unconventional warfare, and since they made them their own branch, I’m afraid that an awful lot of the skills pertinent to running a line formation have gone bye-bye. I don’t think that SF is quite the answer, when we want to stand up an Armored brigade or division in Iraq–And, we need to be able to do that.

      I watched the Army try to stand up brand-new Stryker Brigades, and I did not like what I watched from the sidelines. I’ve been in conversions from one sort of unit to another, and I didn’t like how they managed that, either–There’s a hell of a lot of cultural difference between a Heavy Engineer battalion that’s only ever done Corps support missions, and a divisional mech Combat Engineer battalion. Culture, SOP, and a whole host of other crap don’t translate well, or come out of nowhere. From my experience, I don’t think we do it right, at all.

      So, what do I think would work “right”, for those cases? Well, I think we should select a successful like unit that we want to clone, and then plus that sumbitch up to around 200% strength, gradually twinning every sub-element in it. Then, day of, you randomly select which sub-unit goes with which formation, announce it, and have yourself a little ceremony where you congratulate everyone–And, then the new unit boards trucks and runs off to its new home. The way we did the transition from the 44th Engineer Battalion (Corps) (Heavy) to the new MTOE as division mech just did not work out at all well. They should have just beefed up 2nd Engineers, who had a lengthy history as divisional engineers, and then hived off the troops needed to make a new battalion once everyone was on the same sheet of music. Likewise, having watched and tried to help friends who were caught up in the 5th Stryker Brigade thing… Wow, was that not the way to do it.

      So… We have a mission: Assist allied nations in building line units in an actual army. SF isn’t quite suitable, ‘cos they’re mostly unconventional, so… How should we be doing that?

      I kinda don’t get a good vibe off this thing, here, because things like this beret seem to be more of a priority than actually, y’know, solving the damn problems inherent to the mission. Like, where the ‘effing hell are you going to find the linguistics folks you need, when you’re out doing the coach, teach, and mentor mission out at the platoon and squad level, where it’s really needed?

      We don’t do this sort of thing well, at all. And, we need to, badly.

      • Angry Mike says:

        When did every soldier, sailor & airman become an “”operator””?

        WTF does that even mean any longer?

        All my travels across LEO and any mil unit, every one is an operator….

        Where did this come off the rails?

    • DCF says:

      SFAB soldiers are all senior NCOs and experienced officers. No junior enlisteds at all.

  14. Norbis says:

    Stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen.

    • Kirk says:

      Obviously, you haven’t met my dogs…

      They want “fetch”, fetch is gonna happen. Or, nothing else will…

  15. Dave says:

    This SFAB stuff makes sense if the goal is to partner with nations like Afghanistan, Iraq, and places where we have a large presence. And that only makes sense if the goal is to free up ODAs to conduct FID and UW in other places.

    This has been described as a broadening assignment for officers. So post KD captains can try and go to the SFAB for a couple years before heading back to their branch.

  16. Stefan S. says:

    So glad I’m retired. Useless Greenish Berets! LOL

    • Kirk says:

      That’s exactly what the troops are going to turn this into, in all likelihood. I wonder why the brass can’t see that coming?

      “Ballad of the Green-ish Berets”, here we come.

  17. SSD says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned that the flash reminds them a little bit of the 75th flash.

  18. Evets Steve says:

    US Army SF is just the JV of Private Military Contractors anyway. take off the hat and Come and Work where you’re the ghost you deserve to be.

  19. Ramsey says:

    Sooooooo like MTT teams in Iraq?! Except now it’s like a unit?! And what’s next?! We need a unit to have Pink Berets… or even better raindow colored beret?

  20. Joe says:

    And the Marines will sit by the side and laugh at all of this…

  21. Che Guevara's Open Chest Wound says:

    I think its a great idea!!! If these poor SFAB guys are going to have to work with the retards some of these countries field as an army, we might as well throw them a bone.

    “SFAB leads the way in liberating the oppressed and also owns the night!” is going to be one cool unit motto.

    Here endeth the sarcasm.

  22. roger mobley says:

    still have my original Beret from 1969 with Crest only during training then 6th Flash and then 46th SFCA Flash which it’s still adorned with, BUT the best looking headgear ever (IMHO) was the old CUNT cap with the 173rd patch on it

    • SSD says:

      173rd patch?

      • Job says:

        After I EARNED my beret in May of 69 I couldnt bear the thought of wearing any other headgear. Even when jumping I hated that steel.pot. it came off right after my PLF. That being said the beret is probably the most useless headgear the Army has ever issued. It’s hot in the Summer, doesnt shade your face. It doesnt shed water or keep your head warm in the Winter. It doesn’t last long. It’s hard to keep clean. Still, once you’ve earned it you don’t want to take it off.

  23. JB says:

    “Yeah baby, that’s right, I’m a Green Beret…”


  24. Scubasteve says:

    But the Army already has ‘Practically Special Forces’ with their Civil Affairs folks.

    What would Bruce Campbell say? “Don’t just be FAB, be S-FAB!”

    • Groundpounder says:

      Im sorry you misspelled Civil Affairs, i think you meant PYSOP

    • GD442 says:

      I am going to one up you. I was told by the Senior Civil Affairs Instructor at SLC at the time that we in “Civil Affairs” IS better than Special Forces…It was at that very moment in my life that I was ashamed to be a man that was part of the Civil Affairs CMF. The delusionalism knows no bounds…I decided to get out shortly there after and finished college. I am going to be a high school teacher to better prepare children that the world is a lie.

      • Stefan S. says:

        Those 98TH CA guys all came from their new CMF thinking they were Operators. Till they went to Haiti and got busted for turning over their side arms in a Brothel. Operators my dupa!

  25. John Smith says:

    Combat-Advisor is doctrinally incorrect. Security Forces Assistance (SFA) does not include advising in combat.

    • Steve says:

      Actually, the last rewrite of JP 3-20 cites that SFA is conducted across the range of military operations, to include combat. Check it out for yourself–not that I like it, but it’s now doctrine.

  26. Groundpounder says:


  27. 32sbct says:

    In addition to the beret, what’s with the flash. The rules were that only airborne, SF, or Ranger units would have a distinctive flash. When did that change? Why does this unit rate its own flash? I’m, assuming they are not on jump status. I think this is all window dressing to get Soldiers to join the unit. Bad idea.

    • some other joe says:

      Those weren’t “the rules.” Originally, every unit going to the black beret would have their own flash, approved by IOH, of course. You think figuring out what SSI you wear is tough? For the flash, you have to go to the unit’s coat of arms, which is normally different from the DUI. For those that aren’t too dissimilar, consider 70th Armor’s green crest with gold arrowpoints on a green flash. For contrast considerations, 2d Cav’s boy scout badge on an orange flash.

      So the decision was made that only current flashes would remain with all others going to the Army flash on the black beret (and rangers would retain their distinctive flash on the black.) All new flashes must be approved on a case by case basis by IOH, which they haven’t done yet for a black beret wearing unit. The process exists.

  28. Kirk says:

    Let’s be honest with ourselves: The last time we really succeeded at “build-an-army” was Korea. The ARVN had moments of shining glory, particularly in ’73, but the majority of the time, it was kinda-sorta an abysmal failure. At least, in terms of the perhaps unrealistic expectations everyone had of it.

    Same-same with Iraq. Afghanistan. And, a bunch of others I can think of. What’s the common denominator, here? The enemy, whether Communist or Islamist, has always managed to gin up, from pretty much the same raw human material, a pretty effective enemy force, while “our guys” are usually shiite on the battlefield.

    I don’t think this gets enough self-examination, or critical thought. We’re obviously doing something wrong, or at least, sub-optimal. What is it?

    We need to go back and look at the record of what we’ve done, where we’ve succeeded at building other armies, and where we’ve failed. As well, an open-eyed look at what other countries have done in this regard–Great Britain did a hell of a number on the Arab Legion, which to this day is a well-regarded professional force. What was their secret? Did they just get lucky, or were there factors in what they did that enabled the long-term success of the Arab Legion, which grew into the Jordanian military?

    I think the evidence that we’re doing something wrong is pretty clear; the question is, how do we fix that?

    The Indian Army might be a model–The Brits had full-scale British units working along with native units, which were run by a mix of British officers and native ones. Was that a more effective model? Should we have done similar things in Iraq and Afghanistan? The old-school MAAG model, where we merely provided “advisers” may not be effective, when there is no real underlying cultural structure for an effective military. Providing “advisers” to what amount to armed gangs and warlords, who lack a real soldierly tradition of selfless service to the nation may get you forces in the short term, but as soon as you turn your back…? Maybe it would have been smarter to start from ground zero, with new and uncontaminated personnel.

    These are questions we need to answer, and I kinda get the impression from what I’m seeing that this new unit is maybe less concerned with answering them than it is with building a pretty little empire for some careerists.

    • some other joe says:

      The British model you mention (India, Palestine, etc) was predicated on the math problem of how to defend the British Empire when lacking enough Englishmen (and Scots and Welshmen and Irishmen, natch) to garrison the world. Raising local forces you openly rule with your trained officer corps was their answer. Consider that the 7th Gurkha Rifles and the 1st Punjab Regiment weren’t (technically) any less British Regiments than the Royal Hampshire Regiment or the Argyll or Sutherland Highlanders. The British tradition was always to raise regiments locally.

      For the US to do the same in Iraq or Afghanistan or Bosnia or elsewhere would mean the US tacitly admits that these places have been annexed and then they potentially come into the same status as Puerto Rico or Guam. That’s the political cost.

      • Randomer says:

        Not entirely correct.

        The foreign units were mostly raised in the case of India by the East India Companies three principality armies so were distinct from the regular British army of the time. Officers commisioned into the Company armies did not have command authority over regular troops (British army officers by comparison could command both regular and company troops, Wellington (when he was still Arthur Wellesley) did for example.

        They also had non native British units for that matter (normally brigaded into one British and 2 native regiments in the early days). Again separate ranks and pay structure.

        The structure you are thinking of only came about after the Indian Mutiny and the abolition of the East India Company when the British Indian Army was formed. This also had a different officer corps, pay structure and ranks. However, it was always commanded by a British officer (who could have previously held an BIA commision, Bill Slim for example.

        Wildly off topic, apologies.

    • Will Rodriguez says:

      El Salvador?

  29. Norbis says:

    This has been the talk of Fort Bragg today. A lot of eye rolling. The fact that some guy thought hijacking other’s Esprit De Corps was a good idea is sad. What is more sad, is no one else put a stop to it.

    There will always be tab/beret envy; A few years ago I remember rumors that CA wanted their own beret and we laughed then… At least CA didn’t want to steal the green color.

  30. Terry Baldwin says:

    As I said earlier, I have no issue with the SFAB concept. But I do have a problem with the “combat adviser” tab – if it is part of a unit SSI. I am no expert on Army heraldry but the tab appears to me to be more appropriately an individual qualification like the Sapper tab.

    So is it a tab the members of the brigade earn individually of part of the SSI?

    No disrespect to the members of the SFAB, but this all seems like someone is overly concerned about making the FID mission “sexy” or a little more “high speed” than it usually is.


    • john smith says:

      FID and SFA are two different missions. They are NOT doctrinally the same thing. FID is for internal defense and can be done indirectly, directly or in combat. SFA is assistance to a host nation foreign security force and does NOT include combat operations.

      “SFA does not include direct combat by US forces, as
      direct combat does not build the capability or capacity of FSF. ” JP 3-22

      • Terry Baldwin says:


        Certainly not identical terms true but closely related as are most military Security Cooperation (SC) activities. FID does focus on internal threats while SFA can also mean enhancing HN capacity to deal with external threats.

        HQDA, FM 3-07.1, Security Force Assistance, May 2009. Paragraph 1-14: “Several operations or programs directly or potentially relate to SFA. These operations and programs provide the context for SFA. They include security cooperation, security assistance, foreign internal defense, internal defense and development (IDAD), and security sector reform.”

        As a practical matter the nuance is more often related to the color of U.S. funds that pay for our participation in the activity. On the ground they do indeed look very much alike.


    • Tom says:

      The tab is part of the unit patch and just like the brownish/greenish beret they are not authorized to wear once a Soldier leaves the unit. The beret is not as green as it is pictured in the above photo. It’s more brown and when I was given mine, I thought the rangers would be more upset with the color than the SF.

      None of the SFAB Soldier have given input on the name, beret, patch. These have been handled at the highest of levels of the Army. In fact, the CSA ( A long tabber) has been closely working with the unit to develop these items.

      • Terry Baldwin says:


        Good to know. Thank you much for the information. As I said, I am not throwing stones at the members of these new formations – I just have some concerns. Good luck to you.


  31. Stu says:

    They’ll never be as elite as that unit that wears the leopard print berets.

  32. Kirk says:

    Y’know… I’d love to see the staffing that was done on this, just for grins and giggles. My bet is that there were some mid-grade officers who saw a chance to get something “special” for the unit, and glommed onto that opportunity with both hands, and then some not-too-switched-on senior officer said “Yeah! That’s a great idea! Let’s do it!”.

    I’ve never actually seen the supposed background staff studies that were done for the black beret fiasco, because those have never been (to my knowledge, anyway…) made publicly available to us peons, but one of my old XO’s was able to get a look at them while he was working at the Pentagon, and about all I could get out of him about the whole thing was that he thought the staffing was ludicrously bad, especially in terms of wishful thinking about the effect on the Ranger Regiment. And, apparently, the people doing the staffing on that went out of their way to avoid it going across the desk of any actual former Ranger Regiment types…

    What do you want to bet that something similar happened here?

  33. Old SF Guy says:

    I have no issue with the SFAB mission. In fact I support the concept of Conventional Force SFA unit. I don’t support a “wannabe” SF unit. The beret and tab issues is off the rails folks. A group-like unit patch, “greenish” beret, and motto of the “The Legion” is an epic fail that exceeds the farce of taking the black beret from the Rangers. SOF cannot be massed produced. Our Army looks silly. More than anything I am disappointed to see that our senior leadership would not recognize how this spits in the face of the SF Regiment – a force that has busted its chops for the last 16 years of war without a break. Lowest dwell in the force. I only hope the decision makers reconsider. For those interested in supporting the SF there is a petition circulating on Change.org.

    • Combat Diver says:

      The worst part is… the CSA of the Army, General Miley is a former 5th SFG(A) officer… a Legionairre himself. How did this get past his desk?!

      • Tom says:

        He’s the one that directed us to change the tab to Combat Advisor! I love how all the people on this forum are up in arms about this, when this unit was created by the CSA. He approved all items and has made trips to Fort Benning to personally see this unit be developed.

        • Old SF Guy says:

          Sometimes senior leaders are off the mark, even if the CSA was in SF back in the 80s for a stint. In SF our leaders can always rely on a team sergeant to speak and tell us “hey sir, that’s f-ed up.” Otherwise the sycophant career officers influence an otherwise good leader to make bad decisions. Same thing with the black beret. I wonder if any of the senior MFE NCOs at Benning told the Chief a few of these decsions are off the mark? I bet not. Well, hopefully he is listening. DOL.

  34. Melbourne Gorris says:

    I was in the 5th SFG(abn) and a Recondo instructor in 1968. We have always been called “The Legion”. What ever Leg puke came up with this has never has never had and original idea in his life. No Q course, No Flash, No Green Beret.

  35. Ed Harrington says:

    I believe the US Army has a unit that can and does that mission…US Army Special Forces. Also you have taken a name from an army unit that already exists.

    • Will Rodriguez says:

      The problem is there aren’t enough SF and conventional units have doing most ofthis work for almost two decades.

      You don’t need super qualified SF (and all the resources/time required to create them) to do FID.

  36. Former group guy says:

    Yeah, earned my Green Beret and spent my entire enlistment in 5th Group. This is a slap in the face to every SF guy, JFK, and Yarbrough.

  37. Edgar Peacock says:

    So when one of these folks who didn’t go thru a 2 year vetting (the Q’s best work is wringing out the people who can’t avoid getting DUIs or doing other dumb shit that displays irresponsibility) starts a shitstorm by acting a fool in the presence of a host nation VIP, while wearing identical uniform identifiers, who wants to bet the heat will come down on SF?

    • Will Rodriguez says:

      It hasn’t over the last two decades where conventional units have been doing the overwhelming majority of FID.

  38. Doc Ferrand says:

    It’s sad people can not expand their own horrizons and develop their owen signiture rather than try to benefit for a long and honorable history stepped in deep roots and traditions. JFK awarded the “green beret” for this distinct unit. This is another shame part of military that instead of making service member rise to the occasion low the”bar” to make everyone feel special. Welcome to corporate Army. What SF soldiers do they do for a deep meaning than an articale of uniform; however, those artcles are earned and cherished.

  39. James C Johnson says:

    As of noon, 2017.10.29, there were over 66,000 signatures of individuals that are not happy about SFAB branding. It’s not the mission,,, It’s the name SFAB, the patch (a flipped Viet Nam RECONDO school), the legion (from the 5TH SFGA) and the stolen green beanie ??


  40. Will Melton says:

    You people are like little girls talking about the shade of green. Anything green is stolen valor. That is the political talking point all the senior leadership is pushing to justify the stolen valor. ” Oh, it is not this green it is the other green.” This is complete BS. It is amazing what a bunch of legs will do to make themselves feel special. The unit mission may be legit but these people are going to feel pretty stupid once they realize how they will be treated. illegitimate is what they are. These people think this will fade away. They have no idea how strong and long-lasting the will of a REAL GREEN BERET is. They will never git it and we will never stop raising hell about it. It will be on the news by the end of the week making them look like idiots. It is amazing what people will do to get their next rank.

    Will Melton
    US Army Green Beret Retired

    • Breck wilson says:

      Will I agree with you 100%only SF has earned the right to wear a Green beret no matter what shade of green.if you haven’t earned a maroon,tan or green it should be black like every other unit.

  41. n. delise says:

    this is getting ridiculous. Did the SMA get involved with this? Were other CSM’s or SGM’s involved in this. If it is a morale thing and trying to persuade personnel to join, well, why do we not do that for all of the MOS’s/Specialized units that are understaffed? There is so much to say to this, I am really disappointed that the Army would approve this. I am ok with the SSI, but a beret, really??? The Soldiers joining the SFAB according to the recruitment site”Soldiers and leaders assigned to SFABs will be the best within their respective career management fields” Within THEIR CMF’s. They are not in a new CMF. They are not on the Drill trail, in the Regiment, not a part of the 18th Airborne Corps. Some have gone through Assessment and Selection, but so did the Female Engagement Teams. Let it be. Give them their SSI and or Tab, and then tell them to move on smartly. A black beret is good for everyone else, they can don the same with pride or get out.