Special Operations Forces: The Special Forces A-Team Spec Ops Post 4

The A-Team is the operational element of Special Forces.  It is designed to conduct operations completely on its own, unlike the rest of the army which has a hierarchy of tactical and strategic operations.  The term A-Team is taken from Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha, or SFODA, usually shortened to ODA, and then to A-Team.  Its higher command is a B-Team, Operational Detachment Bravo, or ODB.  This is the equivalent of a company.  There are five A-teams per B-team.  Above that is the C-Team, Operational Detachment Charlie, or ODC.  This is the equivalent of a battalion.    There are three B-teams, thus fifteen A-teams, in each Special Forces Battalion.  Then there are three SF Battalions in a Special Forces Group.  Got it?  Right.

An A-Team consists of twelve men as follows:

Team Leader:  A captain who exercises command of the detachment and can command/advise an indigenous combat force up to battalion level.  Note that this fits is in alignment with Special Forces primary mission of being a force multiplier.  A battalion of fifteen A-Team is capable of recruiting, organizing, training and fielding fifteen battalions of indigenous troops.

Team Sergeant:  Officially known as the Operations Sergeant and the senior enlisted member of the detachment.  He advises the team leader on operations and training matters.  He provides tactical and technical guidance and professional support to detachment members.  He prepares the operations and training portions of area studies, briefbacks and OPLANs, all of which we will discuss later.  He can recruit, organize, train and supervise indigenous forces up to battalion size.

Executive Officer:  Officially known as the detachment technician.  Serves as second in command and ensures that the detachment commander’s decisions and concepts are implemented.  He prepares the administrative and logistical portions portions of area studies, briefbacks and OPLANs.  This position is filled by a warrant officer.  When I joined Special Forces this was filled by a First Lieutenant, but it changed shortly afterwards.  I was one of the last of the First Lieutenants in Special Forces.

The Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant:  Plans, coordinates and directs the detachment’s intelligence collections, analysis, production and dissemination.  He also assists the Operations Sergeant and replaces him when needed.

Two Weapons Sergeants:  Employ conventional and Unconventional Warfare (UW) tactics as tactical mission leaders.  They train detachments members and indigenous personnel in the use of individual small arms, light crew-served weapons and anti-air and anti-armor weapons.  They recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size.

Two Engineer Sergeants:  Supervise, lead, plan, perform and instruct all aspects of combat engineering and light construction engineering.  They construct and employ improvised munitions.  They plan and perform sabotage operations.  They recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size.

Two Medical Sergeants:  Provide emergency, routine, and long-term medical care for detachment members and associated allied or indigenous personnel.  They establish medical facilities to support detachment operations.  They recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size.

Two Communications Sergeants:  Install, operate, and maintain FM, AM, HF, VHF, UHF and SHF radio communications in voice, CW, and burst radio nets.  They recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size.

The A-team is designed to be even more of a force multiplier when operating in split team mode, with one of each specialty on the two six man teams.

Here is the real key to know about the A-Team:  our primary mission is to teach.

I truly believe the A-Team to be the most flexible and adaptable fighting force in the world, capable of a variety of missions, doing as much in peace-time as war-time.

As part of this focus on Spec Ops, I’ve put together three of my favorite thrillers into one book at half the price of buying them separately here in Special Ops.

Next up on Monday:  more Special Operations history with Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, and John Mosby, a daring Confederate cavalry commander in the Civil War.  All from Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success.

About Bob Mayer

West Point Graduate, former Green Beret and NY Times bestselling author Bob Mayer has had over 50 books published. He has sold over five million books, and is in demand as a team-building, life-changing, and leadership speaker and consultant for his Who Dares Wins concept. He's been on bestseller lists in thriller, science fiction, suspense, action, war, historical fiction and is the only male author on the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll. Born in the Bronx, Bob attended West Point and earned a BA in psychology with honors and then served as an Infantry platoon leader, a battalion scout platoon leader, and a brigade recon platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division. He joined Special Forces and commanded a Green Beret A Team. He served as the operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and with Special Operations Command (Special Projects) in Hawaii. Later he taught at the Special Forces Qualification Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, the course which trains new Green Berets. He lived in Korea where he earned a Black Belt in Martial Arts. He's earned a Masters Degree in Education.

Posted on September 8, 2012, in Who Dares Wins Special Operations, Write It forward and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is really interesting info, Bob. I am often reading HMB Intrigues that feature heros who have been SEALs etc. With all your info, I am getting a bigger idea of what they do for the forces. Thank you. Might come in handy when I get to write romantic suspense books.

  2. Interesting info on the structure. Thank you :)

  3. You said “A captain who exercises command of the detachment and can command/advise an indigenous combat force up to battalion level.”

    That’s a LOT of power in the hands of a 25-year-old. At more than twice that age now, that idea scares the hell out of me. We were so young and naive back then, idealistic that we could make a difference, ready to give everything to try.

    I’m so proud we’re still raising children who maintain those beliefs! Let’s just hope those sending them into harms way have learned from history.

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