On this day 57 years ago, the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), activated the “Studies and Observation Group” which became known simply as SOG. 

MACV headquarters in Saigon issued General Order 6, which created a highly secret new organization, Joint Special Operations Task Force to execute clandestine operations. SOG, was approved by President Lyndon Johnson three years after President Kennedy had called for covert actions against North Vietnam. 

MACV-SOG was first activated on January 24, 1964. It was commanded by an Army Special Forces colonel but would be comprised of troops from all the services: Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Air Force, Marine Corps Force Recon, as well as CIA personnel — as SOG would soon be conducting most of the Agency’s covert operations in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia — were all part of the organization. 

SOG was controlled by the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA) and the staff at the Pentagon because MACV Commander General William Westmoreland was not authorized to conduct operations or activities outside of South Vietnam.