SF troops come from humble and austere beginnings. The original Special Forces troops were formed on Smoke Bomb Hill in 1952. Special Forces were created as former members of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) were assigned with paratroopers and Rangers, with a sprinkling of former members of the Army’s 1st Special Service Force, to fill out the ranks of the 10th Special Forces Group headed by Colonel Aaron Bank.

OSS and SF were tasked with training, equipping, and leading indigenous forces in the art of guerrilla warfare. The mission of the 10th, according to Bank, was to “to infiltrate by land, sea or air, deep into enemy-occupied territory and organize the resistance/guerrilla [sic] potential to conduct Special Forces operations, with emphasis on guerrilla warfare.”

It was just in June of 1983 that Special Forces-qualified troops celebrated the first milestone, of several to follow, with the authorization to wear the Special Forces tab. The “long tab,” as it is known, was worn on the uniform’s left shoulder. The teal and gold tab would become a symbol of who “was SF qualified.” 

In the past, support troops assigned to SF units would wear a green beret with just a unit identifier (Candy Stripe) under the unit crest. Before the tab’s introduction, qualified SF troops were referred to as being “Flash qualified” as only Green Berets wore a full flash on their berets. After the tab was created, support troops went to a maroon beret with a full flash while only SF qualified troops would henceforth wear green berets.