1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) Reaches a Milestone: The Evolution of the Nation’s Premier Partnership Force




The 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) holds an annual wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. President Kennedy’s contributions to U.S. Army Special Forces...








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The 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) holds an annual wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. President Kennedy’s contributions to U.S. Army Special Forces include authorizing the “Green Beret” as the official Special Forces headgear.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

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Originally designed in 1955, the Special Forces shoulder sleeve insignia was worn by soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command from 1990-2014 and has been worn by all 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) soldiers since 2016.








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Originally designed in 1955, the Special Forces shoulder sleeve insignia was worn by soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command from 1990-2014 and has been worn by all 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) soldiers since 2016.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

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Lt. Gen. (Retired) Darsie D. Rogers, Jr., oversaw the transformation of U.S. Army Special Forces Command into 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) during his tenure as commanding general from 2013-2015.








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Lt. Gen. (Retired) Darsie D. Rogers, Jr., oversaw the transformation of U.S. Army Special Forces Command into 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) during his tenure as commanding general from 2013-2015.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

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At a November 5, 2019, ceremony, Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette (left), the Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, accepts the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) colors from the outgoing commander, Maj. Gen. John Deedrick...








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At a November 5, 2019, ceremony, Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette (left), the Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, accepts the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) colors from the outgoing commander, Maj. Gen. John Deedrick (center), and prepares to pass them to the incoming commander, Maj. Gen. John W. Brennan Jr. (right).
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

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The 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) is a 21,000 Soldier strong, division-level Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) command within the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). Established in 2014, it traces its origins to the provisional activation of the U.S. Army 1st Special Operations Command (1st SOCOM) in 1982. As 1st Special Forces Command celebrates its 10th anniversary on July 24, 2024, it is fitting to look back at the major evolutions of this command since 1982.

1st Special Operations Command (1982-1990)

In the early 1980s, the Army staff and U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance (CENMA) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (Fort Liberty since 2023), identified a void in national strategy and force capabilities at the pre-crisis and low-intensity conflict levels. The Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Edward C. Meyer, tasked the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) with studying the problems facing ARSOF and recommending solutions for these areas. With the TRADOC study still ongoing, the Army took two steps to correct deficiencies already identified. It provisionally established the 1st SOCOM at Fort Bragg on October 1, 1982, using CENMA billets. Simultaneously, it reorganized CENMA to create the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, placing it under TRADOC.

Commanded by Brig. Gen. Joseph C. Lutz, 1st SOCOM provided the higher headquarters for active-duty ARSOF units, which consisted of Special Forces, Rangers, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations. Within a few years, 1st SOCOM would add dedicated Special Operations Aviation, Support, and Signal units. A major subordinate command of U.S. Army Forces Command, the 1st SOCOM mission was to prepare, provide, and sustain ARSOF.

In May 1987, 1st SOCOM was designated as the Army component of the newly activated U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Following the activation of USASOC on December 1, 1989, 1st SOCOM became one of its two major subordinate commands, alongside the U.S. Army Reserve Special Operations Command. This short-lived arrangement lasted less than one year.

During the 1st SOCOM era (1982-1990), ARSOF demonstrated its value in low-intensity conflicts and combat operations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere. In the competition phase, it helped hold the line against the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies in Central Europe in the waning years of the Cold War. Additionally, some of the earliest American troops deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990 for Operation DESERT SHIELD were from 1st SOCOM.

U.S. Army Special Forces Command (1990-2014)

On November 27, 1990, as part of a major ARSOF realignment, 1st SOCOM was inactivated and replaced by the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (USASFC). Initially commanded by Maj. Gen. James A. Guest, who had previously commanded 1st SOCOM, USASFC performed the man, train, and equip mission for all nine U.S. Army Special Forces groups then in existence (five active-duty, two Army National Guard, and two U.S. Army Reserve). Additionally, for a brief period in the early 1990s, USASFC also controlled the 528th Support Battalion and 112th Signal Battalion.

Special Forces Soldiers assigned to USASFC deployed extensively during the 24-year history of the command, beginning with Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, and continuing through the 1990s in places such as the Balkans, Haiti, Somalia, and Liberia. Following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., USASFC forces were among the first on the ground in Afghanistan for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and contributed extensively to the various other conflicts during the post-9/11 era. In doing so, they continued to demonstrate their global reach, and their ability to make an outsized impact on the battlefield.

1st Special Forces Command (2014 – Present)

On July 24, 2014, citing emerging Special Warfare requirements and the need to enhance training, readiness, and oversight of ARSOF components, Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, Commanding General, USASOC, established the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) (Provisional), under the command of Brig. Gen. Darsie D. Rogers, Jr. Replacing USASFC, 1st Special Forces Command’s purview extended beyond the five active-duty and two Army National Guard SF Groups to include the 4th and 8th Psychological Operations Groups, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, and the 528th Sustainment Brigade.

Headquartered at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) mission is to assign, equip, train, certify, and validate ARSOF and units to conduct global special operations in support of theater and national objectives. On order, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) deploys as the Army core of the Special Operations Joint Task Force headquarters to execute command and control of special operations and/or forces in support of global crisis response missions.

Soon after its establishment, 1st Special Forces Command headquarters deployed and assumed responsibility for the Special Operations Joint Task Force supporting Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, the counter-Islamic State mission in Iraq and Syria. In the ten years since, the Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations, Special Forces, and ARSOF Support Soldiers of 1st Special Forces Command have provided continuous support to the seven Theater Special Operations Commands, as well as other Combined Joint Task Forces, across the spectrum of conflict. They have done so with an unrivaled combination of creativity, audacity, and lethality, establishing themselves as the nation’s premier partnership force.

Following Maj. Gen. Rogers, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) was subsequently commanded by Major Generals James E. Kraft, Jr., Francis M. Beaudette, E. John Deedrick, Jr., John W. Brennan, Jr., and Richard E. Angle. Today, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) is commanded by Maj. Gen. Lawrence G. “Gil” Ferguson, who is assisted by Chief Warrant Officer Five Felix Mosqueda, the Command Chief Warrant Officer, and Command Sergeant Major David R. Waldo.

Learn more about Army Special Operations history at www.arsof-history.org.

The original post of this article was published on this site - RLTW

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