In 2006, a group of senior sergeants in 3rd Ranger Battalion began growing out their beards on Fort Benning, Georgia. It was an unusual sight within a unit famed for its “high and tight” haircuts. The group of Rangers was being detailed to a secret mission in Pakistan, one which would attempt to relaunch the Lodge Act which allowed European defectors and refugees to join the US Army as a fast track to gaining American citizenship.
The 2006 attempt to create a cell of Pakistani counter-terrorist operators that would work for American interests was one of two dismal failures during the Global War on Terror to resurrect the Lodge Act. The concept behind it is valid, but for various reasons the actual execution was flawed. The bottom line is that is a difficult, if not impossible, for Americans to completely blend in with foreign cultures.
Take myself for example. I won’t be blending in anywhere unless we decide to go fight the IRA in Ireland and even then, my cover would last about until the second I open my mouth. Granted, others would fare better. I was always a little jealous of some of the guys in 7th Special Forces Group. The many hispanic Americans assigned to that unit deploy to Central and South America and are able to better integrate with the local culture than I ever could in the Middle East. This leads one to wonder if it isn’t worth attempting another Lodge Act, but one in which applicants for Special Forces are carefully screened and tested.
In a new article written by Special Forces officer Douglas Livermore, the argument is made that giving the evolving threats from numerous rogue states as well as bigger threats from adversarial nations in the Pacific Rim and Eastern Europe, that the only way Special Forces will be able to operate effectively in these theaters in by making use of indigenous talent.
The concept has worked before. I wrote about the Lodge Act a few years back saying:
The idea behind the Lodge Act was to create a sort of American foreign legion, the ultimate Unconventional Warfare unit made up of men who defected from the USSR and its satellite states. With their in-depth knowledge of enemy nations and foreign language capabilities, they could be trained in Infantry and Ranger tactics before having their skills polished with instruction in sabotage and other forms of Unconventional Warfare. This was the sort of thing that Colonel Banks had some first hand knowledge in, of course, from his experience in the Second World War with the Jedburgh teams.