The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) derives its lineage from the
unit of World War II fame -- The First Special Service Forces. "The
Devils Brigade" -- a combined Canadian-American Force, constituted 5
July 1942 in the Army of the United States as Headquarters and
Headquarters Detachment,1st Battalion, Third Regiment,1st Special
The Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Battalion, Third
Regiment, 1st Special Service Force was first activated and trained at
Fort William Henry Harrison, Montana. The unit participated in the
Italian campaign and saw additional action in France. It was disbanded
in France on 6 February 1945.
The unit was reconstituted in the Regular Army, on 15 April 1960, and
was designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special
Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. On 21 September 1961 at
Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was
officially activated. One year after the 5th Group was organized,
elements of the 5th Special Forces Group began serving temporary duty
tours in the Republic of Vietnam.
Full deployment of the Group was completed in February 1965. Although
young in years of existence, from its operational base at Nha Trang,
the Group deployed throughout the four military regions of South
Vietnam. Its operational detachments established and manned camps at
270 different locations which trained and led indigenous forces of the
civilian irregular defense groups, as well as regular units of the
Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam. Despite being one of the
smallest units engaged in the Vietnam conflict, the Group colors fly
twenty campaign streamers, and its soldiers are among the most highly
decorated in the history of our nation. Seventeen Medals of Honor were
awarded, 8 posthumously.
The Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) Vietnam
1966-1968, The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) Vietnam 1968;
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam 1964-1969;
and Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, 1st Class, Vietnam
1968-1970. Other teams and elements received numerous other unit
citations including, Naval Presidential Unit Citation, valorous unit
awards and numerous Vietnamese unit awards. On 5 March 1971, the colors
of the 5th Special Forces Group were returned to Fort Bragg, North
Carolina by a 94-man contingent led by then Col. (later Maj. Gen.
Retired) Michael D. Healy, thereby terminating their official Vietnam
The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) remained at Fort Bragg, North
Carolina until 10 June 1988, when the Group colors were cased at a
ceremony marking its departure from Fort Bragg. The colors were
officially uncased by Maj. Gen. Teddy G. Allen, Commander of the 101st
Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, CO. (now Maj. Gen.)
Harley C. Davis, Commander of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne),
and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Dennison on 16 June 1988 at its new home
at Fort Campbell, KY.
The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) added to its rich combat
history during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In August
1990 the Group was called upon to conduct theater operations in
Southwest Asia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During this
crisis the Army's First Special Operations Task Force, (ARSOTF),
consisting of elements of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
comprising 106 special operations teams performing a myriad of missions
that spanned the scope of operations: support to coalition warfare;
conducting foreign internal defense missions with Saudi Arabian Land
Forces, performing special reconnaissance, border surveillance, direct
action, combat search and rescue missions; and advising and assisting a
pan-Arab equivalent force larger than six U.S. divisions, as well as
conducting civil-military operations training and liaison with the
Kuwaitis. The border surveillance mission assigned the 5th Special
Forces was among the most vital in providing "ground truth" to the
American and Pan Arab Forces. A new chapter in coalition warfare was
written while new military relationships were forged which continue
their importance today.
In August 1992, a full four months prior to the deployment of
major U.S. Forces, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) were
conducting operations in the country of Somalia, again, providing
On 11 June 1993 Gen. Wayne A. Downing, Commander in Chief of the U.S.
Special Operations Command, presented the Valorous Unit Award to the
5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) for service during Operation Desert
Storm from 17 January 1991 to 28 February 1991.
In 1995 the 5th Special Forces team was in Pakistan's northern
frontier near China and Afghanistan. Training with the Pakistani
Special Services Group, the mission was just one of hundreds performed
by Green Berets across the world in recent years, designed to build
regional awareness in some of the most remote parts of the globe.
Special operations forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force
conducted numerous missions supporting NATO's implementation force in
Bosnia. Assistance ranged from air support and rescue operations to
reconnaissance and liaison duties. Nearly 700 members of the Army's
Special Operations Command deployed to Bosnia in mid-December 1995 and
began numerous operations throughout the Balkan nation. Included are
more than 100 reservists serving in Special Forces, civil affairs and
psychological operations positions. Army special operations units in
the area included the 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash.; the
5th Group from Fort Campbell, Ky.; the 10th Group, Fort Carson, Colo.;
and the Army National Guard 20th Special Forces Group, Birmingham, Ala.
Portions of Fort Bragg's (N.C.) 4th Psychological Operations Battalion,
96th Civil Affairs Battalion, and 112th and 528th Special Operations
Signal battalions are also in Bosnia. Special operations personnel
served as liaisons between NATO forces and local nationals. Other tasks
may included unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special
reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and humanitarian or civic action.
- 1st Battalion
- 2nd Battalion
- 3rd Battalion
- Group Support Company
- 19th Air Support Operations Squadron [19th ASOS]
The mission of the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron, Blue
Lightning, is to integrate air and space power into the combat plans
and operations of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the 5th
Special Forces Group (Airborne).
The Blue Lightning squadron provides tactical air control parties and a
weather station for Campbell Army Airfield, as well as supporting
worldwide Air Force taskings.
The squadron is about 130 people strong, located in several locations
around Fort Campbell, KY, work with units who have very diverse
As of mid-2001, the squadron was scheduled to occupy, by winter of 2001, a new squadron facility.