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Old 05-16-2004, 17:14   #1
Basenshukai
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Question Group Personalities

I've heard from several folks that each SF Group has its own distinct "personality". One might hear someone say: "Yeah, that guy is like that because that's how 'that' group operates. They focus on that particular aspect, as a whole." Someone made the comment to me the other day that 7th Group has tremendous collective skill in AMOUT because they have, perhaps, the best SFAUC program thus far. This may be just someone speaking proudly because of his own group, or is it really a reflection of the general "personality" and focus of the unit?

Well, with that said, how would you generally describe the focus, skills and overall personality of each group?
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Old 05-16-2004, 22:55   #2
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I had a BC who spent his whole early upbringing in the army in Germany and then 10th SFG. He refered to Latam as a land of "Fucking Savages" and alway commented he could not wait to get back to a place where people knew how to use more than 1 knife, fork and spoon when they sat down to eat dinner.

Prior to my current gig that was the only exp I had with any 10th group person and I admit it colored my view of them.
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Old 05-17-2004, 05:07   #3
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My experience with 10th Group folks is somewhat tainted as well. On the positive side, a CSM (just recently retired) who served in 10th Group for less than 10 years (most of his other time was spent with a Special Mission Unit) was the epitome of an unconventional warrior. He is someone I admire.

On the other hand, I've experienced two 10th Group officers (a major and a LTC) in the same time period. The major commanded with a feeling of distrust for the NCOs and ran the company like a conventional unit. The men recented this and the company's morale hit bottom quick. In general, they just attributed it to the man being from a different unit where things were done differently. The LTC, a good man with his heart in the right place. However, there was that certain way in which he ran the show that was different from what the guys were used to with the previous BCs (mostly 7th Grp guys). I guess that the way that 7th "Groupers" run things is a bit different and the men noticed certain things in this LTC that were not the norm. Anyway, I'm putting this as nicely as possible.

A CSM who is currently in 1SWTG (was a 7th Group guy for most of his career) put it this way: "I don't think that it is a particularly good idea to pull guys from one group and send him to another. Each group is different and it disrupts that group to make that kind of change; especially with a senior guy. Besides, all the cultural experience and language skill gained in one group may not apply at all in another."
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Old 05-17-2004, 07:35   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Basenshukai
My experience with 10th Group folks is somewhat tainted as well.
I think you will find folks that can say the same thing about their experiences with folks from every other group and it has little to do with the groups and everything to do with the individuals.

I think groups do take on different characteristics based on areas of orientation and mission profiles. The 10th mission profile was basically that of pure UW for most of its existance while other groups had more mixed mission orientations. Even as mission profiles changed for SF in general the 10th stayed more focused on the core SF mission requirements and saw the other mission such as SR, DA and FID as subsets of UW and that is how we trained and organized basically because we did not see folks pulling off DA and SR missions in Central Europe and then being able to be exfiltrated so these missions had UW follow on, rightly or wrongly, missions. Their area of orientation also brought special requirements in urban skills and unique things that fit the Central European environment. I am sure I can provide a long list of things that were best about my experience in the 10th as well as some things that needed improvement but that would be my perspective, tainted if you wish, by my own background and vision of things.

Okay, having said this, let me provide you with one perspective that is mine. I had the priveldge of being able to command a SMU where I was given the latitude to screen records, interview, and select personnel for my unit. This unit had a unique mission profile with UW, DA, SR, and CT requirements, a language requirement, and a TS requirement. I found that for the missions requirements that there was no "better SF troop" based on previous group experience from any group and I selected folks with experience from every group. The bulk of my folks came from the 10th group because language and some area orientation skills that were difficult to obtain existed and there was no time to bring others up to the level of performance required as this was not something we had to prepare for sometime in the future but something that was on going-which is what can be said of other group mission requirements also.

Now, if I may, it is not surprising to me that you found that the officer folk provided you with your tainted view of the 10th because, IMHO, it is the UW mission that is the most misunderstood and most intensive to train for. I can cite any number of examples within the officer community who neither had the training, experience, or common sense to learn from their NCOs that still think today that the underground refers to a subway system and not one of the arms of an resistance organization. We still move officers around too much and they spend too little time on A Teams and B Teams before they are forced to go off to ticket punching requirements . The fallout from this is that many never really get grounded in basic doctrine and requirements. They are really pretty easy to spot because they will spout off crap like, language-I don't need no stinking language, I talk 5.56.

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Old 05-17-2004, 07:57   #5
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You haven't lived till you have had a Company Sergeant Major report in with zero team trme, or even time in an SF Group.

Another gripe of mine.

TR
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Old 05-17-2004, 08:28   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Reaper
You haven't lived till you have had a Company Sergeant Major report in with zero team trme, or even time in an SF Group.
TR
I was going to ask "how in the hell could they do that", but remembered that this is the Army. Let me re-phrase the question.

Why would they do something like that? Wouldn't that put the CSM at a dissadvantage as far as discharging his duties in addition to causing operational problems with the company?

I hope those aren't stupid questions.
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:27   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kyobanim
I was going to ask "how in the hell could they do that", but remembered that this is the Army. Let me re-phrase the question.

Why would they do something like that? Wouldn't that put the CSM at a dissadvantage as far as discharging his duties in addition to causing operational problems with the company?

I hope those aren't stupid questions.
In his own words: "Hell, everyone knows you can't make CSM in SF unless you had an SF Company."

Yes.

Not stupid questions, just stupid decisions.

We have also had Company, Battalion, and Group commanders without a day on an A Team after Robin Sage, and USASOC and USSOCOM Commanders who were not SF qualified.

Makes FID and UW interesting.

Go figure.

TR
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Old 05-17-2004, 10:09   #8
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I have served in the 5th, 7th, 8th, 10th and 46th C0. They are, in fact different because each had a distinctly different orientation and mission. To say one was "better" than another is like saying "Mine is bigger than yopurs". The 5th was in RVN and I served in C&C. The 7th (while I was there) really had no mission other than a holding company for rotating troops in and out of RVN. That has changed. The 8th was a Special Action Force with many MTTs going to Latin American Countries., the 10th (in Germany) was UW oriented to include "Stay Behind" which seems to be what the terrorists in Iraq are conducting. The 46th Company was primarily involved in training the Thai SF and BPP as well as other classified operations in Laos and and parts east.

I learned most of my SF Lore in the 10th; got my combat experience in the 5th;and hated the 7th in 69-70. I think they kept it screwed up so people would volunteer to go back to RVN. I served as a UWO and SAR instructor in the 8th and as an UWO instructor in Thailand.

One thing I learned: When you leave a unit it is the "worst" you have ever served in. When you arrive at your new assignment itsucks as compared to your last -- at least that's your story. When you arrive at a new unit you hear how good it "used to be" - just before you arrived and how it now sucks. Tends to give one a complex.

Perhaps it would be better to say that Groups differ in their missions rather than personality. If I had a choiuce I would pick the 10th in Germany of course neither that assignment nor I are available.
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Old 05-17-2004, 14:55   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Reaper
In his own words: "Hell, everyone knows you can't make CSM in SF unless you had an SF Company."

Yes.

Not stupid questions, just stupid decisions.

We have also had Company, Battalion, and Group commanders without a day on an A Team after Robin Sage, and USASOC and USSOCOM Commanders who were not SF qualified.

Makes FID and UW interesting.

Go figure.

TR
Hmm, sounds like the military is a branch of the federal government or something . . .
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Old 05-17-2004, 17:16   #10
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I think that problems come up when senior leaders cross-over groups. The first thing that my NCOs mention regarding a certain SF company comander on his first trip down south was that he did not understand the language and customs of that region. He did not display the ability to adapt to their culture and thus, ended up avoiding the indigineous senior military leadership at all costs. As one warrant officer put it: "He would tell me 'Chief, you're in charge, I have to go to CONUS'".

One CSM that went from 7th to 3rd Group, as a SGM (I believe it was either at this level, or at the CSM level, I don't remember too well), described the situation this way: "Really, I wanted to perform my duties in this group [7th SFG], but at the time it was not possible; there was no position for me there. I went to 3rd Group with the feeling that although I had tremendous experience as a senior NCO and leader, that I lacked in the cultural department. There are nuances and details that you just don't pick up from a briefing. So, I made sure that the guys had what they needed and supported them in doing their jobs."

Honestly, I don't think any one group has the upper rung over another. It just so happens that my experiences took place with some folks from the same group. And, except for one case in particular, I think it has more to do with a different way of doing things than anything else.
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Old 05-17-2004, 17:59   #11
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The Good, The Bad and can be the Ugly.

Specialization has its advantages. However don't get too wrapped up in Language and Area Studies. By over specializing you decrease your overall deployability. Just think if you are needed in LA tomorrow instead of where ever you are now. IIRC the only personnel on a team REQUIRED to be language qualified were the Tm Leader and a few NCO's. The main and IMHO most important trait of Special Forces is flexibility. Though it helps, believe it or not it is entirely possible to deploy with just a minimal "working Knowledge" of the host language. Kid yourself all you want but Americans will always speak foreign languages like Americans. That is the reason that the highest qualification in a language is reserved for "native speakers".

In my opinion rotating between groups helps to homoginize Special Forces. Take some good from ehere you are at and drop it off where you are going.
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Old 05-17-2004, 19:56   #12
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Re: The Good, The Bad and can be the Ugly.

Quote:
Originally posted by QRQ 30
Specialization has its advantages. However don't get too wrapped up in Language and Area Studies. By over specializing you decrease your overall deployability. Just think if you are needed in LA tomorrow instead of where ever you are now. IIRC the only personnel on a team REQUIRED to be language qualified were the Tm Leader and a few NCO's. The main and IMHO most important trait of Special Forces is flexibility. Though it helps, believe it or not it is entirely possible to deploy with just a minimal "working Knowledge" of the host language. Kid yourself all you want but Americans will always speak foreign languages like Americans. That is the reason that the highest qualification in a language is reserved for "native speakers".

In my opinion rotating between groups helps to homoginize Special Forces. Take some good from ehere you are at and drop it off where you are going.
I'm surprised at reading this regarding language requirements in a team. It might be absolutely correct. Nevertheless, I disagree. As a team leader, I am certainly in contact with the leadership of the indigenous forces a bit more than say, my 18F. However, it is my men who have the most "face time" with the indigenous soldiers themselves. It is my NCOs whom will be teaching critical warfighting skills to these very men. Perhaps it is one of those quirks in each detachment, but I place an extremely high priority in intercultural communication in my detachment. There are only four members of my team whom were born speaking our target language. The rest have learned on the job and in school. However, we even communicate, intra-team, on our radios in our target language. We have run whole training operations, recently in fact, to include radio and verbal communication in our target language. I believe that it is our ability to do this that makes us different from other SOF. Rangers can do raids and ambushes, SEALs can do AMOUT, Marines can even do permissive FID. But, who can go somewhere be accepted by a totally foreign culture, fight along side them and achieve our National objectives all in the same operation? Only SF can do that. Or, at least, we do it better than anyone else.

I do understand, and agree, that there are missions, particularly of the DA types and its various subsets that require little, or no cultural knowledge (other than that necessary to fullfill intelligence requirements). This is why we have seen elements of 7th, 19th and 20th Groups involved in the CENTCOM AOR (and the folks from the NG SF Groups have come from the various active component SF Groups).

Nevertheless, I believe it necessary for each group to maintain their particular focus while still sharpening the various SF skill sets that are common to all. My Operations Sergeant, for instance, is perhaps the most knowledgeable person I know in our battalion in as far as South America. Due to his years of operating, at various levels, with the indigenous forces (not to mention his attending their most demanding courses) he has access to people and information that many envy. He is a tremendous asset to the team and the group as a whole. That kind of thing is not something built, I don't believe, from "dabbing in this and that." It is my belief that it comes from years of focus in a vast cultural area that encompasses 32 countries and makes up one-sixth of the landmass of the world. That's just my opinion, of course.
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Old 05-17-2004, 20:13   #13
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I'd have to agree with Basenshukai on this one.

Things have changed a lot in this respect over the years.

I would much rather have NCOs on my team who have been in the same Group for most of their careers.

Not that guys from other Groups can't do the job, but the soldier with a career in the same Group is just better trained, experienced, and knowledgable about the whole picture.

I am not a Vietnam era guy, but I would have to believe that all other things being equal, an E-6 on his second tour in VN is going to be a bigger asset than one reporting in from 10th (or 7th) Group for his first tour.

TR
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Old 05-17-2004, 20:27   #14
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As I said, there is good and bad. Truly professional Officers and NCOs leave something good behind whenever they transfer. Perhaps I am speaking of a much longer time frame. Men will be promoted in and out of a team. I took a different route and fon't feel it was a disadvantage. Enroute to the 10th in Germany I attended DLIWC and studied German. I guess I learned it good enough that when my car got drunk and totaled itself they took me to a German Hospitas since I wasn't speaking English. While in the 10th we went to Czech school conducted by the Berlitz Institute in Munich.

Enroute to Panama, I attended the DLIEC to study Spanish.I conducted various MTTs in Bogota in Spanish. When I arrived in Thailand, I attended a basic Thai course conducted in Lopburi.

So there you have it, a germanic, a romantic, a slavic and an oriental language. If alerted for deployment, I could learn almost any language quickly while in mission prep and area study. It worked then -- but different strokes.

The fact that all groups are now located in CONUS makes stability (and maybe stagnation) more possible than when 4 groups were located OCONUS and there was a regular rotation in and out. On the other hand, we lived among the Germans, Latinos and Thai rather than studying in our teamrooms in Homeland, U.S.A.

BTW: I had a "native speaker" from Texas with me while in Bogota. He was good for the entertainment but I had to conduct the classes. Everytime he opened his mouth he cracked the Colombians up with his Cheech Marin accent.
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Old 05-17-2004, 21:00   #15
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Cool HOKAY

Times have indeed changed. Groups are no longer stationed OCONUS. This has good and bad. The bad is lack of international travel which I truly enjoyed. The good is stability. Speaking of ODA-1 in Germany, ODA-21 Panama and SFT-43 in Thailand, I would have been content to spend my entire career in either. In reality, if I had stayed with either of those teams I may have stayed past 15 years. There are advantages to stability to the point thjat you know exactly how your team mates will react under various circumstances. I am sure I would also have appreciated a one station career and raising my family in one location.
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