Brief History

On 1 September 1956, six 10th Special Forces Group Operational ODAs and a staff element was designated as the Security Platoon, Regimental Headquarters, 6th Infantry Regiment, Berlin, Germany. As part of the 6th Infantry Regiment, Detachment A’s mission was to deploy ODAs from West Berlin into East Germany. The U.S. Commander of Berlin designated their targets as vital in his fight for the city, other priority targets were established in the U.S. European Command’s (USEUCOM) Unconventional Warfare Plan.

While the basic plan remained unchanged at the end of 1961, on 1 July 1959 the six ODAs were reorganized into five mission task groups. After completing the assigned demolition missions, the five groups were under the control of the 10th Special Forces Group, whose primary focus was Central Europe. Two of the groups were prepared to move to pre-designated operational areas or return to West Berlin for “stay behind” operations. With only a few modifications based on command relationship changes and the general threat in the European Theater of Operations, this concept of operations was the basis for the Detachment’s primary mission under the USEUCOM Operational Plan.

The Detachment’s secondary mission was coordinating and developing plans and conducting operations in support of the USEUCOM Counter-Terrorist Contingency Plan. Each operator was proficient in unconventional warfare and special operations in an urban environment, as well as tactics, techniques, and procedures to neutralize or contain potential terrorist threats. This mission tasking remained in effect until October 1984 when Detachment A was officially ordered to deactivate. Throughout its existence, Detachment A remained a highly-skilled and relevant USEUCOM operational asset.

Detachment A was designated to provide selected operational elements to participate in Desert One and Operation EAGLE CLAW, the United States’ attempt to rescue its citizens taken hostage in Iran in November 1979. Despite its failure, EAGLE CLAW helped spur military reforms and resulted in Detachment A’s participation in several EUCOM joint special operations. Detachment A was designated to provide selected operational elements to participate in Desert One and Operation EAGLE CLAW, the United States’ attempt to rescue its citizens taken hostage in Iran in November 1979. Despite its failure, EAGLE CLAW helped spur military reforms and resulted in Detachment A’s participation in several EUCOM joint special operations.

Most noteworthy were the Special Operations Task Force Europe (SOTFE) Flintlock exercises, which were designed to allow the 10th Special Forces Group to exercise its ability to infiltrate into Western Europe under denied conditions. The men of Detachment A performed local asset functions for 10th SFG ODAs by providing drop zone reception committees, transportation assets, and safe house locations.

SOTFE was redesignated as Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) in 1983. Detachment A continued to support their joint exercises. In the exercise FLEET DEER, a revamped element of Detachment A established and operated a comprehensive escape and evasion network for NATO aviation personnel. The network spanned an operational area in Southern Germany that extended from France to the Czechoslovakian border in 1984.

In 1982 and 1983, three ODAs from Detachment A acted as HUMINT asset and information collection agents, supporting ARFOR REFORGER exercises, demonstrating their versatility and projecting to the conventional Army the concept of employing Special Forces as a force multiplier.

Berlin Special Forces