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The U.S. Army Special Forces had a 14-year long history of
involvement in Vietnam. The first members of Special Forces to
serve in Vietnam were from the 14th Special Forces Operational
Detachment. This 16-man detachment entered Vietnam in 1956 to
train a cadre of Vietnamese Spcial Forces teams. The first
Special Forces Soldier to die in Vietnam (1956) was Captain
harry G. Cramer, Jr. Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s many
Special Forces detachments would deploy to South Vietnam.
5th Special Forces Group. In September 1964, the 5th Special
Forces Group set up its headquarters in Nha Trang. The 5th Group
would stay in Vietnam until it re-deployed to Fort Bragg, North
Carolina in 1971.
Special Forces Camps in Vietnam
List of Special Forces Camps, 1961-1971, Center for Military
History, U.S. Army
Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG)
U.S. Army Special Forces ODAs, assigned to the CIA's cover
organization, MAAG's Combined Studies Division (CSD), provided
support in the form of training and advising to Montenard
villagers belonging to the Civilian Irregular Defense Group
(CIDG) program. Teh program began in 1961. The belief of the CIA
and military at the time was that a paramilitary force of
minorities in the central highlands would expand South Vietnam's
counterinsurgency efforts into remote areas.
Buon Enao Experiment. The forerunner to the CIDG program was
an experiment in village defense conducted in the Central
Highlands village of
Village Defense Program (VDP). CIDG was originally called the
Village Defense Program - the name was changed to CIDG when
MAAG, Vietnam was restructured and changed its name to the U.S.
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).
In July 1962 U.S. DoD directed that all overt Special Forces
paramilitary activities be transferred from the CIA to MACV.
Piasecki, Eugene G. "Civilian Irregular Defense Group: The
First Years: 1961-1967", Veritas, Vol. 5, No. 4, posted
on website of Small Wars Journal.
Websites with Information about Special Forces in Vietnam
MAC V SOG Special Forces History. A comprehensive website
providing information, photos, and more about Special Forces in
Vietnam - Army Special Operaions by GlobalSecurity.org
Project Delta, Detachment B-52. The small clandestine
organization of about 100 Special Forces Soldiers proved to be
one of the most successful special reconnaissance operations of
the Vietnam War. The unit was formed in May 1964 as a covert
organization; and it lasted for about six years - deactivating
in July 1970. It was tasked with training the Civilian Irregular
Defense Group and the South Vietnamese Special Forces (known as
Luc Luong Dac Biet) in conducting long-range reconnaissance
patrols deep in enemy territory. The activities of Project Delta
were classified until years after the wars conclusion. About 600
men total served in Project Delta.
Running Agents into North Vietnam. There
were a number of programs mounted by the Central Intelligence
Agency and U.S. Army Special Forces to infilitratrate
intelligence agents and resistance fighters into North Vietnam.
Most of these were unsuccessful and resulted in the capture and
execution of the operatives. Some were 'turned' by the North
Vietnamese intelligence service and used as 'doubles'.
Publications about Special Forces in Vietnam
Department of the Army, Vietnam Studies: U.S. Army Special Forces 1961-1971,
CMH Publication 90-23, Washington, D.C. 1989 (First
Department of the Army, US Army Special Forces and
Similar Internal Defense Advisory Operations in Mainland
Southeast Asia, 1962-1967 (U), AD502694, Research Analysis
Corporation Technical Paper RAC-TP-354, McLean, Virginia, June
http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/ . . . /438.pdf
White House, Guerrilla Operations in Viet-Minh Territory,
National Security Action Memoradum No 26, March 9, 1961.
President Kennedy directed the DoD and CIA to launch guerrilla
operations in Viet-Minh territory at the earliest possible time.
NSAM No 26 posted on the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
1. This was directed in National
Security Action Memoradum Number 57: responsibility of
Paramilitary Operations, June 28, 1961.
2. On the turning of intelligence
operatives by the North Vietnamese read "New Vietnam Spy Tale
Sheds Light on How the U.S. Lost the War", Newsweek, by
Jeff Stein, April 30, 2015.