”With the arrival of a new year, part of a new command vision will soon take place in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) footprint. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command initiated a plan to reinvigorate the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum”
Whenever a command issues a statement like that, most experienced people cringe because they know what follows isn’t going to be good news. And it wasn’t. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) is closing the Special Warfare Museum located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This latest maneuver by USASOC has touched a nerve within the Special Forces community. Actually it has plain pissed them off — and with good reason.
The Special Warfare Museum was treasured by the SF community because it was the only place that featured the history of the Special Forces groups, Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations, and above all the O.S.S. where the SF lineage originated from. The tiny but packed museum was located on Ardennes Street, on Fort Bragg, smack in the middle of the SF area, and adjacent to the Green Beret statue, Bronze Bruce.
The reason for the closure has been hazy, to say the least. First USASOC said it was for inventory. However, nothing had been done with the Special Warfare Museum or gift shop with input from either the Museum Association or the Special Forces Association. But that shouldn’t be a surprise: several years ago, without a peep, USASOC moved the statue of Bronze Bruce in the middle of the night to where it now stands.
So, back at the end of January, the USASOC Public Affairs Office (PAO) released a statement saying that the U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Museum would become the Army Special Operations Forces Musuem. The plan was to “reinvigorate” the Museum. They’d temporarily close it to identify and catalog items. The museum, they said, would open back up in February 2020. The new ARSOF museum would expand to include other USASOC units, notably the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment based at Fort Campbell and the 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Benning.
In the published piece USASOC wrote: “The idea of the reorganization is to take ownership of ARSOF’s proud history and to get artifacts into the hands of Soldiers by intellectually engaging students and Soldiers in areas where they congregate. It is intended to keep artifacts on display engaging, relevant, and fresh.” Apparently, in USASOC, “reinvigorate”, “relevant and fresh” means closure.
On April 24, 2020, USASOC then published “ARSOF History: Embracing the Future” which implies that the museum does not and will not ever exist. It states that “USASOC will preserve ARSOF history by leveraging technology through virtual historical exhibits and graphic displays to make ARSOF history more accessible to everyone.” Virtual? Like a website? For the Special Warfare Museum. Ouch. Then it says that the command will work with the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville to display some exhibits.
When news of this first hit, Special Forces troops, past and present were rightfully ticked off. They felt like their lineage and history were being flushed down the drain. But calmer heads prevailed. A very well respected member of the Regiment, Chris Zets, has been in talks with the USASOC History Office. He’s kept everyone abreast of the situation and everyone has been forwarding his findings.
The USASOC History staff told Zets that they felt the museum was best served staying right where it is for the foreseeable future, but with some improvements and changes. Yet, the CG had the final say and he ignored an earlier meeting in which Zets was told that SF stakeholders would be part of the COA development.
Then another well respected former 7th SFG NCO, Joe Callahan, got involved and sent out a letter that was quickly forwarded to members of the Regiment far and wide.
Callahan’s comments were straight and to the point, “So the all-knowing USASOC again wants to change the historical face of Green Beret lineage…people come to the Museum to SEE GREEN BERET HISTORY!” Do you think that Callahan is overstating things? Think again. When the 7th SFG was creating a poster for its 50th anniversary in 2010, they crafted a picture of Joe Callahan as the centerpiece.
This is the same USASOC history office that posted a story in USASOC’s official magazine “Veritas” saying that Special Forces originated from O.S.S. (they do), and what the SF troops have long believed to be gospel is a “fallacy” and a product of “disinformation.”
So, pardon us if we don’t believe that USASOC will not mess up Special Forces history forever. “Embracing the Future?” Right. By erasing our history.