In the late 1950s. the fear that the Soviet Union would invade and overrun Western Europe was very real. So the U.S. had come up with a contingency plan. A small unit of unconventional warriors who would conduct guerrilla warfare, train indigenous forces, and operate behind Soviet lines until the Western allies could liberate their territory. This unit was the secretive 10th Special Forces Group. 

The 10th Special Forces Group was formed in 1952. Besides a New York Times article in 1955, the unit was kept under the radar. Then, in 1959, Americans were properly introduced to these phantom fighters in an episode of The Big Picture, which was produced with the assistance of the Army’s Signal Corps. 

The phantom fighters had already accumulated significant experience conducting unconventional warfare during WWII and Korea. They would soon become known for their distinctive green headgear. Their green beret.

The Necessity of the Unconventional

During World War II most American unconventional warriors were part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which had also been conducting intelligence operations. Yet, due to the typical short-sightedness and petty jealousies that permeate Washington, OSS and unconventional warriors were deemed expendable after WWII ended. 

The Lodge Act was very important for the beginning of Special Forces.
Lodge Act Special Forces soldiers show that the time-honored tradition of hands in the pockets goes back to SF’s earliest days.

So, OSS was disbanded less than three weeks after the Japanese surrender as President Harry Truman hated the head of the OSS, General William “Wild Bill” Donovan. However, things changed shortly after the war when the Central Intelligence Agency was created on July 26, 1947, and Truman signed the National Security Act into law.

Five years later, Aaron Bank, a former OSS operator, was given command of the newly formed 10th Special Forces Group. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company was established on May 19, 1952. The Group itself was activated a month later on June 19, 1952. The first class of Special Forces troops graduated later in 1952. 

After a year of intensive training and expansion, the 10th Special Forces Group grew to 1,700 personnel. Then, about half of the officers and men were transferred, along with the Group Headquarters, to Lenggries, in the German Alps, and later to Bad Tölz at Flint Kaserne. Ironically, their headquarters in Bad Tölz were in a former German SS officer training barracks. 

At around the same time, 100 Green Berets were also deployed to Korea. There, they trained anti-Communist North Korean partisans (called the United Nations Partisan Forces Korea) on the off-shore islands.