all about special forcesSpecial Forces soldiers are the subjects of many movies and forms of entertainment. They are viewed as an unstoppable force throughout the world, taking on bad guys and getting themselves out of impossible situations. The term conjures up images of Rambo and other fighting heroes.




Special Forces soldiers are certainly heroes, but with all the attention they receive from Hollywood, it is not surprising that there is a great deal of false information floating around about these elite soldiers. Here are nine things you probably did not know about the United States Army Special Forces.

1) They are not Green Berets. Green Berets are a type of hat that is commonly associated with this unit of soldiers. The actual name for the unit is Special Forces. The name probably originated from the hat awarded to those who completed a grueling training under British Commandos in World War II.

2) Along the same lines, only the United States Army Special Forces are actually ‘special forces’. It is not an umbrella term for all elite groups. For example, the Navy Seals are not also Special Forces. The proper unifying term for all other groups would be ‘Special Operations Force’. Each force has its own specialties where it excels.

3) The Special Forces are not just a group of guys who blow a lot of stuff up. In fact, it is usually just the opposite. Special Forces train specifically in language and cultural customs to be able to infiltrate the countries they are going to. They often work with training foreign troops and on tasks such as hostage rescue, peace-keeping, or counter-terrorism.

4) Though the Special Forces were officially formed in 1952, they trace their lineage back more than two hundred years to the Revolutionary War. The legendary Francis Marion was one of the fathers of guerrilla fighting and unconventional warfare, and he had great success against the British as the ‘Swamp Fox’. They also have predecessors in the Jedbough teams, who helped lead guerrilla fighting and resistance in German occupied France.

5) The highly secretive, selective branches of the CIA, the Special Activities Division and the Special Operations Group often recruit soldiers from the Special Forces. These branches of the CIA often seek to gain intelligence in hostile countries and conduct quasi-military operations that the U.S. government does not want to be associated with. This makes the highly trained Special Forces soldiers ideal candidates for the job.

6) The Special Forces were originally formed as a part of the Psychological Warfare Division. During World War II, the Psychological Warfare Division was a joint effort between the United States and England to distribute radio messages and pamphlets designed to lower the morale of German soldiers.

7) Even within the Special Forces, soldiers are divided into specialized groups. There are five active duty and two national guard Special Forces groups. Each group has a particular region that they train heavily for in terms of language and culture. In spite of the traditional groupings, however, the War on Terror has called many Special Forces solders to the Middle East to help with the war effort.

8) United States Army Special Forces soldiers will train continually over the course of their careers, but in order to be admitted to the Special Forces units, they must pass a four phase qualification course known as the Q-Course. This portion of the training can last anywhere from 55 to 95 weeks. Should they manage to complete this training, soldiers will have the opportunity to study everything from parachuting to diving to sniper shooting.

9) The motto: “De Oppresso Liber” is thought to translate to “To Liberate the Oppressed”. In actuality, the word liber is an adjective ‘free’ that could be translated ‘a free man’, and ‘de oppresso’ would be more an overwhelmed man. The phrase would therefore be more accurately translated, “from a caught man, a free man’.

All those living in the United States owe a great deal of thanks to the United States Army Special Forces, and all the military. These soldiers endure a great deal of hardship to become an elite fighting force protecting the United States from threats originating all over the world. Serving all over the earth, they have shown themselves to be exemplary leaders and a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully this helped to clear up some misconceptions and teach you a bit about the truth of the Army Special Forces.

2 Responses to “De Oppresso Liber Does Not Mean ‘To Free the Oppressed’, and Eight Other Things you Did Not know About the Special Forces”

Re: #8. As former Special Forces soldier, I want to point out that, normally, a man is already Airborne qualified before being admitted to the Q-Course. There are exceptions, but they are rare. BTW, I was once the G-3 Training Officer at the USAJFK Special Warfare Center.

An excellent descriptionj of differences and operations, thank you. I’m glad for the clarification and the history lesson. They certainly don’t teach this is high school. And with the advent of Hollywood glorification, there is much that is missed, lost in the translation or entirely left out about these unique groups of soldiers/sailors.

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