In my latest novel, TIME FALL, Lt. Art Sutton and his six-man “Fox” team are members of the US 2nd Ranger Battalion. Sutton was a survivor of the assault on Pointe du Hoc during the Normandy invasion on D-Day, June 6, 1944. I based “Fox” team on the real life “Alamo Scouts,” who were small teams of highly trained volunteers, operating deep behind enemy lines.
Sutton’s team was trained for the fictional “Operation Bandstand” – their sabotage mission behind German lines in Bavaria – by British Commandos. The Commandos were formed following Winston Churchill’s call for “specially trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror…” Sutton and his men were tasked with carrying out just such a “reign of terror” in Germany, including sabotage, assassinations, and attacks on Nazi party and military targets. The British in actuality trained many American soldiers who went on to become the leaders of US Special Forces in the postwar years.
During the Vietnam War, the US Special Forces’ mission and tactics changed. Rather than internal strike forces, the groups changed into a training cadre that focused on unconventional warfare and counterinsurgency tactics. Modern Special Forces, such as the Navy Seals unit that killed Bin Laden, continue to operate with similar tactics.
Today, the USA has many military and intelligence organizations popularly known as Special Operations Forces (SOF). Many but not all of the military units are components of the Department of Defense’s United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) commands and controls the Special Mission Units (SMU) of USSOCOM. These units perform highly classified activities such as the operation to capture or execute Bin Laden.
Lt. Art Sutton’s 2nd Ranger Battalion still exists as part of the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. The Rangers and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are controlled by JSOC when deployed as part of JSOC Task Forces such as Task Force 121 and Task Force 145. Rangers – some of whom are the grandsons of World War II soldiers like Art Sutton and his “Fox team” comrades – are still performing dangerous, highly classified, missions behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries.