Green Berets: Rebuilding the Guerrilla Leader Identity

Green Berets: Rebuilding the Guerrilla Leader Identity
U.S. Army Photo by SGT Ian Ives

Direct Action and Unconventional Warfare - one is in the movies, and the other is in the history books. Perhaps oversimplified, the differences between these two mission sets are at the heart of the Green Beret's identity crisis. Both are clearly doctrinal Special Forces missions, but one dominates our cultural zeitgeist, while the other is relegated to a few weeks in the Q course and knowing glances at Semi-Annual Training Briefs. Nearly two decades at war have forced Special Forces into a corner. Special Forces has been so busy doing their job that they may have forgotten how to do their job. An entire generation of Green Berets has only known the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and the following generation has been recruited on the promise of door-kicking raids, dynamic entries, and kill/capture methodologies. But the roots of Special Forces are in the OSS, not the GWOT. These resistance skills will atrophy, from the individual through the institutional levels, if not resurrected and revitalized for tomorrow's conflicts. Guerilla Warfare is a perishable skill and left unexercised it will deteriorate. The popular aphorism that an ideal Green Beret is a Ph.D. who can win a bar fight may soon face the stark reality that Green Berets can only win bar fights. To help understand where Special Forces must go, it is important to understand how they got where they are today.

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