Established during the Second World War, the 1st Special Service Force (SSF) was a joint American-Canadian commando unit. It participated in all major combat operations in Italy and Southern France before being deactivated in 1944. Because of its formidable character and night-combat expertise the Germans nicknamed it “Black Devils.”
The U.S. Army’s modern-day Special Forces Groups — there are five Active Duty (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th) and two National Guard (19th and 20th) — and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) trace their lineage back to the SSF. The location where the SSF’s deactivation ceremony took place, a village in Southern France named Menton, has become ingrained in the history of its SOF descendants.
In December of every year, a commemoration event called Menton Week offers an opportunity to the Special Forces operators and their Canadian SOF brethren to come together and celebrate their common ancestry, and to honor their comrades who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
This year, the American and Canadian commandos were joined by Thai Special Forces operators in their celebration of Menton Week. Moreover, a small contingent of Rangers from the 2nd Ranger Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, also participated in the event.
(All Soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Canadian Special Operations Regiment and Third Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry who were killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001, are individually announced during a ceremony held to honor their sacrifice. DVIDS.)
The celebratory events were held in the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) compound in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington State. Events included the Gladiator Challenge, a mixed-martial art (MMA) competition, parachute jumps, a swim, a shooting competition, a medium distance ruck march, and an Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) competition — which was comprised of bench pressing, weighted sled pushing and weighted pull-ups.
Furthermore, there was a family day where family members of the Green Berets and of the support personnel. The family day events included the shooting of a wide variety of contemporary and WWII and modern-day weapons, such as the M3 Grease submachinegun, M1 Garand rifle, Glock 17 pistol, M4 rifle, and M2 .50 Browing heavy machinegun.
The CSOR specializes in Special Reconnaissance (SR) and Direct Action (DA) missions. The Canadian Special Operations Command (CANSOFCOM) is comprised of: CSOR; the Joint Task Force 2 (JTF-2), which specializes in counterterrorism and is the Canadian equivalent of the Delta Force; the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron; and the Joint Incident Response Unit, which specializes in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) warfare.
Canadian SOF units were some of the first troops on the ground in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. They have also deployed in Iraq, Syria, and Africa in support of anti-ISIS operations.