The Birth of the Special Forces


Yellow Belt
Nov 21, 2007
Reaction score
By William J Pehush and Damian Ross of The Self Defense Company

Today concepts like unconventional warfare and covert operations are universally known and are a common site on the news in hot spots like Afghanistan. Every branch of the military has elite units of troops to handle highly dangerous and specialized operations. Politicians have grown to rely on them to handle sensitive matters quickly and discretely. There have always been elite fighting units. This idea of specially trained troops being used for special missions has is origins in World War II when the Allies needed a new breed of warriors to wage a clandestine war against the Axis powers. The man who spearheaded this effort was Aaron Bank. He would build Special Forces from the ground up and the face of modern warfare forever.

When World War II broke out Aaron Bank was in his forties and considered to be old for combat duty, so in order to get in on the action he joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) the United States intelligence agency that would later become the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since he had traveled in Europe, spoke several languages and was a skilled athlete he was just the type of man they needed. The problem was that the OSS had no experienced guerilla warfare experts, so Bank and other recruits went to train in Scotland along side experienced British instructors who had fought in Yugoslavia, Greece, and France. They learned many things included communications, sabotage, and most importantly close combat techniques. Martial arts expert William E. Fairbairn taught the Americans everything he knew about hand-to-hand combat including real world self defense techniques and sentry removal using knives and other weapons.

Once his training was complete Bank parachuted into Nazi occupied France with other commandos to aid French in their guerilla war against the Germans. Along with fighting the enemy he had to coordinate between the two resistance groups. With blades, bullets, and bravery the commandos terrorized the Germans day and night until the Allies invaded in force. He would even recruit a company-size unit of anti-Nazi Germans for a mission to capture Hitler. Bank and other OSS operatives supported, trained and fought along side allied partisans in Europe and Asia and let them know they werent alone in their fight. They were teachers and warriors who made difference.

Were they effective? General Dwight D. Eisenhower said that in France the OSS and the French resistance did the equivalent of 15 divisions and the OSS had similar results in other areas of the war. Even though OSS other Special Forces units were successful it still took Bank years to convince the Army to create a permanent branch of Special Forces for future conflicts. Eventually Army Secretary Frank Pace gave him the green light to begin organizing and recruiting. Since all Special Forces units had been disbanded after the war Bank had his choice of recruits from units like, the First Special Service Force, Merrill's Marauders and even former guerilla fighters from Europe. Highly trained, battle tested and experts in martial arts and close combat these men would be the first Green Berets.

Aaron Bank retired from the military in 1958, but continued to be an advocate for Special Forces troops arguing that a few well trained soldiers fighting along side indigenous fighters could make more of an impact than conventional forces. In the 1970's he fought to improve security as nuclear power plants and was openly critical of how Special Forces troops were used in several conflicts. In 1995 Congress declared Bank "The Father of the Green Berets," and in 2002 the year the great warrior celebrated his 100th birthday President George W. Bush thanked him for developing the unconventional warfare programs that are still in use today against terrorists. He proved that with the right training, equipment, and most importantly the right mindset that a handful of soldiers could make a big difference in combat. Like the cadence says, When there is trouble in the world today count on the men in the Green Beret.

Martial Arts | Martial Arts Training | Martial Arts Videos

Latest Discussions