A few decades ago – while the Cold War was still raging – the 10th Special Forces Group would conduct an annual exercise named Flintlock. At the time the Iron Curtain encompassed many of the countries of Eastern Europe. These nations, led by the Soviet Union, formed up a military alliance called the Warsaw Pact. The response of the Western European nations along with the United States was to establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to defend Western Europe against the Communist Warsaw Pact. The Flintlock exercise was a small but important part of the overall defensive plan for Western Europe.

10th Special Forces Group, in the 1960s to early 1990s, was based at Fort Devens, Massachusetts – with one battalion forward deployed to Bad Tolz, Germany. Each year, generally early summer, the group would deploy to England and set up a Special Forces Operational Base (SFOB) on a U.S. or Royal Air Force air base. At times, it would also set up one or two battalion-level bases called Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) – usually in England, but sometimes in other countries.

The Special Forces Operational Detachment Alphas (the deployable 12-man teams) would enter into ‘isolation’ – which involved sequestration in an Isolation Facility (ISOFAC) to conduct mission analysis, planning, coordination, and preparation. Maps would be setup, operations orders wrote, briefings rehearsed, and equipment prepared. At the end of the isolation phase the SF detachment would present a ‘Briefback’ to the SF group commander and members of his principle staff. The brief was followed by questions from the commander and staff. If the brief went well and the commander was satisfied that the SF team was prepared for the mission then the detachment entered the next phase – infiltration.

The infiltration of the operational area was complex and the means of infiltration varied. For many Flintlock exercises Germany was the destination. The scenario usually stated that the country of Germany was occupied by Soviet and other Warsaw Pact countries. The SF team’s infiltration would likely be by static line parachute from a C-130 Combat Talon. Sometimes the infiltration would be by High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) if the team was a Military Free Fall detachment. If the target country was Belgium, Denmark or Norway then a waterborne infiltration was likely.