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Category: In The Fight – Unit Profiles (page 1 of 4)

From The History Department: WWII U.S. 10th Mountain Division In Italy

Department of Defense, “CLIMB TO GLORY” (1945)

The Big Picture recounts the history of the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, from the division’s arrival in Italy to the capture of Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere.

From The History Department: “Special Forces” – The Big Picture 1962

“Distinguished motion picture, stage, and television star, Mr. Henry Fonda, is the host-narrator for this issue of THE BIG PICTURE – which turns its attention to the soldiers of the Special Forces.”

“From the rigorous, demanding training at the Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to an exciting Special Forces Training Mission high in the Bavarian Alps, THE BIG PICTURE audiences will find this release timely, entertaining and informative!”

The film looks in particular at the 10th Special Forces Group.  The 10th Special Forces Group is responsible for operations within the EUCOM area of responsibility, as part of the Special Operations Command, Europe (SOCEUR), as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East.  10th SFG was formed on 19 June 1952, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, under the command of Colonel Aaron Bank. The Group was split in 1953, with one half being sent to Germany, while the other half remained at Fort Bragg to form the core of the 77th Special Forces Group.

In 1968, the majority of the unit transferred to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, with the exception of 1st Battalion, which remained in Germany. Between 1994 and 1995, 10th SFG moved to Fort Carson, Colorado, which remains its current home.

10th Special Forces Group began training with unconventional warfare groups from friendly countries in the 1960s, beginning with NATO allies. The Group has also trained various components of the militaries of several Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Iran, as well as Kurdish tribesmen. Units of the 10th SFG have participated in humanitarian missions to the Congo, Somalia, and Rwanda. 10th SFG was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1991 during the First Persian Gulf War. The 10th SFG has been heavily involved in the War on Terrorism, deploying to Georgia, North, West, and Central Africa, Afghanistan, and to Iraq.

(Hat tip to former 10th SFG member Ken G. for alerting us to the video)

Swedish Army Rangers

Winter is coming….  These guys can handle that.

This short film, in Swedish, follows some aspiring Jaeger (Rangers) through part of the selection course.

This action-packed clip shows Jaegere (Rangers) from the Mountain Platoon engaging in a live fire react-to-ambush drill, while using snowmobiles.

Estonia – training a nation of insurgents

The little Baltic country of Estonia has a long history of being subjegated under the rule of its larger neighbors – at various times being ruled by Sweden, Germany and Russia.  After 22 years of independence, Estonia was invaded and annexed by Stalin in 1939, then ‘liberated’ (occupied) by the German Nazi forces in 1941, and finally re-occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1944.  Estonia remained under the boot of the Soviet Union until declaring their independence from the USSR in August 1991, and finally being granted independence from the USSR in September 1991.

map-of-estoniaMap of Estonia and neighboring countries, courtesy of

Since regaining independence, Estonia has pursued a foreign policy of close co-operation with Western Europe and the US – Estonia has been a member of NATO since March 2004, and a member of the European Union since May 2004.  The aim of the Estonian National Defence Policy is to guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state and its constitutional order. Strategic goals include enhancing interoperability with other NATO and EU member forces – and to this end, Estonia has been punching above its weight in participation of overseas NATO missions.

xa-180est_in_afghanistanMembers of the Estonian Defence Forces use armored personnel carriers to patrol Tor Ghar, Afghanistan, Sept, 22, 2008.  U.S.Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Freddy G. Cantu

Along with orienting itself more to the West, Estonia’s relations with Russia have deteriorated.  Now with the recent resurgence of Russian extra-territorial aggression and expansion, the Estonians are understandably nervous about the possibility of history repeating itself – again.

But what if the unthinkable were to happen?  What if the Russians did invade again?  What would little Estonia be able to do to resist?  Well, they have a plan for that and it involves training a nation of guerilla fighters….

01estonia0-web1-superjumbo Members of the Estonian Defense League set off for a patrol competition near the town of Turi in central Estonia. The events, held nearly every weekend, are called war games, but they are not intended to be fun. Photo: James Hill, The New York Times.

“Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.”

Read all about it here:  Spooked By Russia Tiny Estonia Trains A Nation Of Insurgents – New York Times

US-Canadian First Special Service Force

The First Special Service Force was a unique bi-national commando unit comprised of soldiers from the US and Canadian armies that was raised during WWII. 

1st SSF spearhead patch

The First Special Service Force was activated on 9 July 1942 as a joint Canadian-U.S. force of three infantry battalions and a service battalion. Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena, Montana was chosen as the primary training location, due to its flat terrain for airborne training and its close proximity to mountains for ski and winter training. Following its initial training period in Montana, the FSSF relocated to Camp Bradford, Virginia, on 15 April 1943, and to Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, on 23 May 1943.


Members of ‘The Force’ conducting parachute training at Ft. William Henry Harrison.  Public domain copyright, Wikipedia

On 10 July the Devil’s Brigade sailed for the Aleutian Islands off Alaska. On 15 August 1943, 1st SSF was part of the invasion force of the island of Kiska, but after discovering the island was recently evacuated by Japanese forces, it re-embarked and left ship at Camp Stoneman, California, and returned to Fort Ethan Allen, arriving 9 September 1943.

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