When you think about United States Army Special Forces personnel, the Green Berets stand out. We've heard the stories of their heroism, ranging Dick Balwanz and ODA 525 surviving against outrageous odds during Desert Storm to the acts of Gary Beikirch during the Vietnam War. They are very well trained (as the famous song says, "100 men we'll test today, only three win the Green Beret"), and a single ODA can make a huge impact on any mission, especially as they reach across cultural and language boundaries.
Outside of being extremely brave and skilled with their weapons, Green Berets are also trained in operating and maintaining weaponry from foreign arsenals. Given that a primary mission of Green Berets is to help train and support foreign military forces, this lesser-known skill is quite important. Take, for instance, the Special Forces troops being sent today to work with Nigerian troops against ISIS presence in West Africa, known as Boko Haram.
Green Berets train military personnel from other countries - and that requires being familiar with a lot of weapons not used by American forces. (DOD photo)
Wikipedia lists a wide variety of assault rifles used by the Nigerien Army, ranging from M16A1 rifles to Soviet-era AKMs to Heckler and Koch G3s to FN FNCs. Sounds confusing, right? Well, a Green Beret weapons specialist can help train Nigerien troops on maintaining and effectively employing just about any of those rifles, and those freshly trained troops pass lessons on to newer recruits down the line.
The result? The Nigerien Army troops who go into battle against Boko Haram now have weapons they can rely on. A single detachment of Green Berets can give an entire foreign force the much-needed, modern training to wrest any power from the hands of Boko Haram terrorists. Such is true for many missions around the world, in countries ranging from Colombia to Kenya to Iraq to Indonesia.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean Suttles (left), and Sgt. 1st Class Keith Looker (right), brief U.S. and Royal Thai Special Forces personnel on safety procedures prior to fast-rope training on May 17, 1998, during Exercise Cobra Gold '98. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Raymond T. Conway, U.S. Air Force)
In the video below, see Green Berets carry out a demonstration of foreign weapons. It's just one of the many ways that Green Berets put the hurt on the bad guys – albeit indirectly.