Read Part Two HERE

Sergeant Major William Bowles said of this time, “In the 1st SFG (Okinawa) my company was assigned Korea as an area of operations. We taught and trained the South Korean units in unconventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, and in weapons employment. We also taught them parachuting and small unit tactics,” (Murphy). In 1959 Special Forces Captain John Firth was slated to establish a more permanent training detachment in Korea and although he took part in numerous infiltration exercises on the peninsula that year, it wasn’t until early 1960 that Green Berets began to arrive on TDY (temporary duty) orders to fill out the detachment.

That the men were assigned TDY duty demonstrates that there was a desire to create a permanent SF detachment in Korea but that one had not been formally authorized, which finally happened in 1961 when members of 1st Special Forces Group began getting orders officially stationing them in Korea under the operational control of KMAG. This new Special Forces advisory unit was referred to on official paperwork from the time as Detachment 40. Firth and his men provided training and assistance to the ROK Army as well as coordinating between various units. Det 40 also provided the intake for arriving Special Forces A-Teams coming into country from 1st Special Forces Group. The next year, the Det was recognized as the resident Special Forces team in Korea. The Det was never larger than a normal 12-man A-team at any given time and was stationed in Kempo at Camp Mercer.

At the same time, Special Forces was setting up in residence teams in the other countries they frequented in the region such as Thailand, Taiwan, and the Philippines as well, all of which belonged to Special Action Force Asia (SAFASIA), which included Special Forces soldiers from 1st Group, civil affairs, psychological operations specialists, engineers, intelligence, and Army Security Agency troops which could be deployed as a regional based task force (Simpson, 68). They also had assigned “Special Munitions” teams which came into play in Korea later in the 1960’s.