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Rotary Happenings: Reflections, a salute to our armed forces

By Staff | Dec 17, 2014

It’s a really busy time of the year and our Rotary meetings are just bursting with activities, including gathering volunteers to help out with the recent Harlem Heights Bountiful Blessing Thanksgiving event, to setting out the hundreds of luminary candles for both the Sanibel and Captiva Luminary night activities last weekend.

Planning is under way for our 2015 Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair in February and another smaller fundraiser being held in April to benefit the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, Inc. and BIG ARTS. Look for more news on these two events in upcoming months.

The holidays give us a chance to reflect on family, friendships, community and country, remembering what we are blessed with and for all us Rotarians, looking forward to working on and supporting projects that serve by helping others.

It is also is the time of the year when we should take a little time to remember our men and women in uniform, those who sacrifice every day for us at home. Recent headlines have brought our attention to activities performed by our government’s Special Forces in Yemen and their rescue attempts to free an American citizen from the threat of imminent death by Al Qaeda. Although this attempt ended sadly, our Special Forces Team and Navy SEAL Team Six went in with no regard for their own personal safety and with all the attention on the rescue of one American threatened with death if not ransomed by our US government. Our government policy is, “We do not, under any circumstances, pay ransom.”

That now leads me to our Rotary speaker last week, former Green Beret-Special Forces officer Brian Boyd. Although Brian was scheduled to speak before this rescue attempt, it was extremely timely topic, which was the Evolution of Special Operations – Freedom is Not Free.

Office of Special Services-OSS formulated during WWIItrained by the Frenchuntil then American intelligence had been conducted on an ad-hoc basis by the various departments of the Executive branch, including the State, Treasury, Navy, and War departments. It had no overall direction, coordination, or control. The FBI was responsible for domestic security and anti-espionage operations.

Central Intelligence Group-CIG was created in January 1946 by President Truman, which was the direct precursor to the CIA. The direct descendant of the paramilitary component of the OSS is the Special Activities Division of the CIA. Also associated with the origins of the Army Special Forces as the First Special Service Force, a joint Canadian-American unit. In 1947 the Defense Department, NSA, Air Corp, OSS, and CIA shared information and activities.

Special Forces were formed in 1952. Colonel Aaron Bank is known as the father of the Special Forces. The Vietnam era saw the testing and shaping of Special Forces policy and action for the US. The mission of the Special Forces changed rapidly in the first years from a force which had initially been used like its WWII predecessors as an internal strike force into a training force which helped develop unconventional warfare and counterinsurgency tactics.

“The first mission of the Special Forces operation in Vietnam was in 1957, when soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group trained fifty eight Vietnamese Army soldiers at the Commando Training Center in Nha Trang. As the United States escalated its involvement in the war, the missions of the Special Forces expanded as well. Since Special Forces were trained to lead guerrillas, it seemed logical that they would have a deep understanding of counter-guerrilla actions, which became the Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission. The 5th Special Forces Group mixed the UW and FID missions, often-leading Vietnamese units such as Montagnards and lowland Civilian Irregular Defense Groups. The deep raid on Son Tay, attempting to recover U.S. prisoners of war, had a ground element completely made up of Special Forces soldiers.”-Wikipedia

Special Forces operations include the Green Berets and Navy SEALS. Green Berets train soldiers, security, and strategic planning; Navy SEALS-strategic planning and action at sea, in the air, and on land- controlled by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Known Special Forces Operations seen in the news that Brian mentioned: November 1970s-Operation Ivory Coast, November 1979 Tehran Embassy Hostages, April 1980-Operation Eagle Claw, 1983-Hostage Rescue in Tehran, October 1985-Acheille Lauro, 1993-Black Hawk Down, September 2001-World Trade Center-Homeland Security, 2009-Somalia Pirates, and 2011-Bin Laden. Some of these missions were successful and some failed in their attempt but all were carried out for the protection of our freedoms.

We salute the members of our Special Forces and thank you and your families for the sacrifices you make for us.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7 a.m. Friday morning for breakfast at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always welcomed.