Unit History

3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Distinctive Insignia

Flash: The original 3rd Special Forces Group was activated in 1963. Its cadre colors of yellow, black, red and white were taken from the 1st, 5th and 7th Special Forces Groups and from the 1st Special Forces Training Groups, respectively. The unit was deactivated in 1969, and then reactivated more than 20 years later in 1990. The new group members were taken primarily from the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), so a black border was then included in the new flash to recognize their contribution.

Crest: The Special Forces crest insignia was adopted in 1960 and approved as the Special Forces regimental designator in 1984. Its design reflects both the lineage and mission of Special Forces.

In 1890, the crossed arrows were officially prescribed as uniform insignia for the U.S. Army Indian Scouts who served in the American west from 1860 through 1939. In 1942, during World War II, a joint U.S./Canadian special operations unit was established to conduct operations behind enemy lines. Members of this First Special Service Force wore the historic crossed arrows as their branch insignia.

In the current Special Forces crest, the intersecting dagger represents the V-42 dagger issued to each member of the force. The encircling scroll which arches at the base bears the Special Forces motto "DE OPPRESSO LIBER" which is translated from Latin as "To Free the Oppressed."

3rd Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Regiment

The 3rd Special Forces Group, part of the 1st Special Forces Regiment, has a history participating in special operations since World War II.

The 3rd Group traces its history back to July 9, 1942, when it was activated at Fort William Henry Harrison, Mont., as a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment for 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment, 1st Special Service Force. The Special Service Force was a combined Canadian-American organization charged with operations behind enemy lines in Europe.

During World War II, the unit participated in campaigns in the Aleutian Islands, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France and the Rhineland. The unit was disbanded on Jan. 6, 1945, in France.

On April 15, 1960, the unit was reconstituted in the regular U.S. Army. It was consolidated with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Ranger Infantry Battalion, to form the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Regiment.

This 3rd Group was activated on Dec. 5, 1963, and then inactivated Dec. 1, 1969, both at Fort Bragg, N.C.

During these years, the 3rd Group's area of operations were primarily the Middle East and Africa. One of the unit's responsibilities were to train the armed forces of Mali, Iraq, Ethiopia, the Congo and Jordan.

In 1986, the former Ranger elements with which 3rd Group was previously consolidated were withdrawn and consolidated with the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The remaining 3rd Group element - the 1st Special Forces Battalion - was activated again on July 1, 1990, at Fort Bragg. The 2nd and 3rd Special Forces Battalions were activated and added to the 3rd Group on Oct. 16, 1991, and Oct. 17, 1992, respectively.

Though the unit was primarily assigned to western Africa - where they trained troops in crisis response and peacekeeping missions - it deployed for three months to the Gulf War, where they participated in the Liberation and Defense of Kuwait campaigns.

The 3rd Group was decorated with the Army Superior Unit Award for service from 1994 to 1995.

On Oct. 1, 2005, the unit was redesignated as 3rd Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Regiment.

The 3rd Group was also decorated with the Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations in Afghanistan from 2006 through 2007.

Special Forces Crest Insignia U.S. Army Special Forces Command Beret Flash Patch

Special Forces Shoulder Patch

The gold and teal Special Forces shoulder patch, originally approved in 1955, is authorized for wear by personnel of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) and subordinate units.

Gold and seal colors are assigned to units that are at first "branch unassigned," like the Special Forces. The arrowhead shape represents the craft and stealth of the Native American Warriors who inspired the First Special Service Force and reflect the skill of the Special Forces Soldier. The upturned dagger represents the Fairbairn-Sykes knife used by British Commandos in World War II, a version of which was also used by members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Three bolts of lightning bisecting the dagger evoke the unconventional nature of Special Forces operations and represent their ability to strike or infiltrate rapidly by air, water or land.

Worn above the shoulder insignia are the Airborne and Special Forces Tab. The Airborne Tab is authorized within the Army in three colors to coordinate with those colors used in the shoulder sleeve insignia. Approval for the shoulder patch was amended in 1958 to include the black and gold Airborne Tab. The gold and teal Special Forces Tab was approved in 1983.