After the end of World War II, there were about 14 million refugees in western Europe. The military referred to them collectively as “displaced persons,” or “DPs.” At the same time, a large number of eastern Europeans had refused to return to their countries, which were now under the repressive Soviet Union. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., a U.S. senator, who had seen how foreign units had been integrated into the German and Russian militaries, envisioned the creation of similar postwar units in West Germany.

Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., the Republican junior senator from Massachusetts, had been pushing to form a Volunteer Freedom Corps (VFC) since 1948. He believed that such a force could help the American Army defeat Communist designs in Europe.

The Lodge-Philbin Act (U.S. Public Law 597, 81st Congress, 2nd Session), commonly referred to as the Lodge Act, authorized the voluntary enlistment of 2,500 unmarried foreign national males in the U.S. Army. The Lodge Act would end up providing more than a hundred eastern European soldiers to the then-new Army Special Forces as well as Psychological Warfare units in the early to mid-1950s. 

Now, even with the U.S. changing its focus from counter-terrorism missions to a near-peer conflict with China and Russia, there aren’t going to be pitched battles between massive armies as in WWII. There will be more of what we’ve seen in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and other areas of the world. Thus, irregular warfare conducted by proxies will take on an even bigger role in the future, especially in the aforementioned regions.

The realm of proxy forces is right in the wheelhouse of Special Forces, whose ability to raise, train, and lead guerrilla forces in support of U.S. objectives is unmatched. It isn’t new: SF has been doing it since the early 1950s in Europe, in the 1960s with the Hmong and Montagnard people in Southeast Asia, the mujahadeen in Afghanistan, the Nicaraguan Contras, and more recently, the Anbar Awakening in Iraq, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

Iran has used more proxies than anyone else. Some of its proxies are even recruiting their own proxies, as recently seen in Iraq. Turkey has used proxy forces in Syria, Libya, and recently in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict. Russia and China will be doing the same in the next hotspots, which appear to be in Africa as that continent heats up. 

One of the pillars of Army Special Forces is their language and cultural capabilities. This enables them to insert into any foreign land, link up with groups of resistance fighters or allied armies, and battle the enemies that threaten the region. Some of that has suffered during the Global War on Terror as SF troops, which were area-oriented far from the Middle East, were forced into operating there in support of military operations. (Of course, just like what transpired during the Cold War, Special Forces will have to compete with the CIA for assets.)

Back in the 1950s, the Lodge Act soldiers were a key building block of the early SF during the Aaron Bank years and into the Vietnam war.