Special Forces soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) received dozens of combat medals, among them three Silver Stars, the nation’s third-highest award for valor under fire, for their actions during a single deployment to Afghanistan.
In addition to the three Silver Stars, during the six-month deployment, the 2nd Battalion, 7th SFG operators received seven Bronze Stars for valor, the nation’s fourth-highest award for valor under fire, 17 Army Commendation Medals, and 21 Purple Hearts.
“This is a reminder that even in the modern age, warfare is still about courage under fire,” said Colonel Steven Marks, the deputy commanding officer of 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), in a press statement. The valor we are recognizing today happened at the most tactical level — face to face fighting, close-quarters combat, hand grenade-range.”
During its deployment, the 7th SFG Green Berets were supported by fellow operators from the 3rd Special Forces Group and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians from the 717th Ordnance Company.
1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) Deputy Commander Col. Steven M. Marks salutes a 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier during a ceremony at the chapel on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after presenting him a medal for valorous acts during the battalion’s recent deployment to Afghanistan. Liberty chapel Jan. 9. (U.S. Army.)
The ceremony was held at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, the home of the 7th SFG.
Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan was led by the 7th SFG for the duration of the deployment.
Despite the fact that there are approximately 14,000 troops from all branches currently deployed to Afghanistan, only a fraction of these see any action. And those that do engage the enemy in close combat serve in their majority in Special Operations units. The disproportionate contribution of SOF units to that war, largely explained by the unconventional nature of the conflict, can also be glimpsed by the casualties. In 2019, every active-duty Special Forces Group lost at least one operator.
A few months ago, the 10th Special Forces Group achieved a similar distinction by receiving over 50 combat awards in the span of a single deployment.
“As a witness on the ground during this time, I can speak for the incredible progress over a six-month period these brave men achieved to bring stability to an unstable nation,” added Colonel Marks. The unit was credited from preventing Taliban forces from seriously threatening or capturing any provincial capitals, which, in return, enabled for the smoother function of the Afghani government.
But regardless of the achievements on the tactical level, strategic success — or even objectives — remain elusive. The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban continue to be inconclusive. Meanwhile, 20 American warfighters died in the country in 2019. The last of whom was Sergeant 1st Class Michael James Goble, a 7th SFG Green Beret, who was killed on 22 December. The guys on the ground will continue to bring in results. But without a strategic vision, it’s a hit-and-miss affair.