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Home > UNS > 130930-01



What a ‘Legion Detachment’ is made of

By Staff Sgt. Barbara Ospina
5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Public Affairs

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 30, 2013) – A Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha is designed to be comprised of 12 highly trained Green Berets.

The team typically includes two of each specialty to include: weapons, engineering, medical, communications, and intelligence sergeants. The teams are led by a detachment commander, assistant detachment commander and a senior Special Forces team sergeant.

There are many skills and abilities that give Green Beret’s their elite title, but one thing that is certain, is that Green Berets deploy all over the world as one of America’s premier fighting forces in no more than 12-man elements relying on each other.

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), also known as The Legion, completed its second annual Best SFODA Competition on Sept. 10, 2013. The competition not only challenged each man to his fullest ability, but it challenged the overall team as well.

Four SFODAs volunteered for the competition, each representing their respective battalion, and competed to determine the "Best ODA" within 5th SFG (A). Each team was required to be team pure, meaning it had to be the team that trains, operates and fights together; no additions or substitutions of team members were permitted.

The men jumped approximately 1,500 feet from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter into a water drop- zone, marking the beginning of the challenge. Participating in a parachute jump may be standard training for a Green Beret, but that adrenaline rush was followed with an exercise that tested their minds and required them to use their unique language capability and speak fluent Arabic in order to progress. They threw a 50-pound ruck sack on their backs and ruck marched through the night, competing for the best time.

The teams participated in various stations designed to test their knowledge and current training as Green Berets to include: a stress shoot, mortar emplacement, a mystery event (hand to hand combat in urban terrain), an obstacle course, and a weapons pile test. Following certain stations, members from the teams were required to conduct a "commo shot," showing the team's communication ability from a remote or hostile environment.

This year’s mystery event, entitled mystery because the teams are not given any information related to the event until they arrive at the station, consisted of a standard shoot house that simulated urban terrain with real role players simulating both innocent civilians and hostile enemy within the same structure. This forced the Soldiers to quickly transition from a friendly environment to a hostile environment; and forcing them to engage in hand to hand combat.

The second to last event was the recently constructed 5th SFG (A) obstacle course. The course consists of three full lanes of more than 20 simulated tough-man obstacles. This challenging event was strategically placed following the end of nearly 30 miles of ruck marching and mental and physical exhaustion forcing each man to demonstrate their inner strength.

Although there were less than ten overall events, the competition stretched more than 24 hours, providing the teams little to no sleep, and a challenged around every corner.

As the four detachments completed the last station, they had a sense of pride in completing the event, even though they would not know who would earn the title of “Best ODA” until the scores were calculated.

"The most important thing that we did was stay together," stated the team sergeant from the winning detachment. "We knew from the first event that no matter what we were finishing the competition together. Everyone on the team knew that and pushed each other to finish strong,"

Although each detachment demonstrated exceptional effort and the final standings were close Green Berets from 3rd Battalion, 5th SFG (A) placed first in the overall competition.

According to Command Sgt. Maj. Dwayne Cox, the command sergeant major for The Legion, the competition is not designed to destroy the Soldiers, it is designed to test their abilities as members of a team and build camaraderie and esprit de corps through friendly competition.

"We don’t want to hurt them,” commented Cox. “We want to challenge them.”

Each detachment completed the challenge and endured a series of events designed to test their minds and bodies to the max, proving they exude the Special Operations Forces' Attributes.