Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army's Elite, 1956–1990

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9781612004440: Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army's Elite, 1956–1990

Highly classified until only recently, two U.S. Army Special Forces detachments were stationed far behind the Iron Curtain in West Berlin during the Cold War. The units' existence and missions were protected by cover stories, their operations were secret. 
The massive armies of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies posed a huge threat to the nations of Western Europe. US military planners decided they needed a plan to slow the juggernaut they expected when and if a war began. The plan was Special Forces Berlin. The first 40 men who came to Berlin in mid-1956 were soon reinforced by 60 more and these 100 soldiers (and their successors) would stand ready to go to war at only two hours' notice, in a hostile area occupied by nearly one million Warsaw Pact forces, until 1990.

Their mission should hostilities commence was to wreak havoc behind enemy lines, and buy time for vastly outnumbered NATO forces to conduct a breakout from the city. In reality it was an ambitious and extremely dangerous mission, even suicidal. Highly trained and fluent in German, each man was allocated a specific area. They were skilled in clandestine operations, sabotage, intelligence tradecraft and able to act as independent operators, blending into the local population and working unseen in a city awash with spies looking for information on their every move.

Special Forces Berlin was a one of a kind unit that had no parallel. It left a legacy of a new type of soldier expert in unconventional warfare, one that was sought after for missions such as the attempted rescue of American hostages from Tehran in 1979. With the U.S. government officially acknowledging their existence in 2014, their incredible story can now be told.

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From the Author:

Their enemy: the Armies of the Warsaw Pact - over 1 million strong.
Their mission: Buy NATO time in the event of a Soviet attack against Europe.
The odds against them: Suicidal.

These days we often hear of the exploits of special military units like "Delta" and the SEALs. But what about the unit that led the way in the field of unconventional warfare and counterterrorism?

"No force of its size has contributed more to peace, stability and freedom."

That's what the former head of US Army Special Operations Command, Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland said about the unique subject of this book.

This is the history of a unique US Army Special Forces Detachment and the men who served in it. Known initially as Detachment "A" Berlin, it was stationed far behind the Iron Curtain in West Berlin, inside the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic. This unit existed for one reason: to cause havoc behind the enemy's lines.

Like all American Special Forces units, Detachment "A" traced its origins to the Office of Strategic Services, but its methods of operation were unlike those of any other "SF" unit. The book describes the unit's origins and the reasons for its existence through recently declassified files and first person histories of those who served there. These voices will show the unit's evolution as the enemy and the environment changed. The men relate the details of their improbable mission, how they prepared, and how it was to be accomplished. It is told from the soldiers' viewpoint along with the strategic overview from the top. 

Special Forces Berlin's wartime mission was classified Top Secret and was largely unchanged throughout its existence, but it had a second important peacetime mission. In the late 1960s, unrest struck the capitals of Europe as left-wing radicals and Palestinian nationalists began to use terrorism to achieve their political goals. In response, the US European Command ordered the unit to prepare for a new mission: Counterterrorism. The level of expertise it achieved, along with its skills in urban unconventional warfare, led to its participation in the attempted rescue of the American hostages in Teheran, Iran.

Although the ill-fated Iran Hostage Rescue Raid has been generally covered elsewhere, this book tells an aspect of the story that has never been covered - the Detachment's mission and its men on the ground who led the way for the main force. The history ends with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the unit left a legacy that served as a guide for the creation of a new kind of Special Mission Unit. 

How can I tell the story? I was there. I served in the unit twice and know the men, mission, and environment well. But this is not my story or my history - it is the history of everyone who served in the unit before, with, and after me. It is told with their stories alongside the history from the unit's files and with images to illustrate the activities from the early days until the end. 

This is a history that may only be told once. Few records remain and many of the men who served in the units are gone. No official history was written and the words contained in this work may well be the definitive history of this very unique US Army unit.

From the Back Cover:

The previously untold history of a highly classified US Army Special Forces Detachment covertly stationed in West Berlin, Germany during the Cold War, poised to act if war ever broke out.

"With this excellent telling, James Stejskal has made an important contribution on several levels to our acknowledged history of US Army Special Forces and the development of today's American special operations capability. The book recognizes a unit, the members of which were among the most impactful of giants on whose shoulders the current special operators stand, whether in the SF groups or in the most clandestine of our special operations "SMU" outfits. ... Their exploits, known to few by design, but long rumored can now be shared with the public and SOF professionals. It is fi tting too that the unit be recognized and her members honored before time finishes with these great men."

- LTG Charles T. Cleveland, US Army Retired

"Jim has done an exceptional job capturing and portraying the operational challenges and spirit of commitment by unit members to the mission. Det A was my third Special Forces duty assignment and 4th ODA experience. ... Special Forces existed to make the seemingly impossible feasible and it was a technically sparse time where only the men made success possible. ... The teams going over the wall, I did not envy. However, the psychological pressures of potentially operating in an urban unconventional warfare environment under Soviet occupation were far different that operating in mountains or jungle and many fine folks preferred the open cross wall mission or chose to move on to 1/10 SFGA in Bad Tolz and we recruited from them in return. A great time, outstanding folks, and cherished memories. Special mention for SGM Jeff Raker who was a mentor to all and the glue that bound us together. Any potential for success derives from his influence on the unit."

- Ron Sheckler, ODA3

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Book Description Casemate 2/17/2017, 2017. Hardback or Cased Book. Book Condition: New. Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army's Elite, 1956-1990. Book. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-9781612004440

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Book Description Hardcover. Book Condition: New. This book relays the history of a little known and highly classified US Army Special Forces Detachment that was stationed in Berlin, Germany from 1956 to 1990. It came into existence in response to the threat posed by the massive armies of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies to the nations of Western Europe. US military planners decided they needed a plan to slow the massive Soviet advance they expected when and if a war began. The plan was Special Forces Berlin. The first 40 men who came to Berlin in mid-1956 were soon reinforced by 60 more and these 100 soldiers (and their successors) would stand ready to go to war in a hostile area occupied by nearly one million Warsaw Pact forces until 1990. If war came, some of these men would stay in Berlin to fight the enemy, while others would cross the most heavily defended border in the world and disappear into the countryside to accomplish their tasks behind Soviet lines. The Detachment were also involved in operations elsewhere, including involvement in the attempted rescue of American hostages from Tehran in 1979. When SF Berlin was disbanded, its files and records were for the most part destroyed or lost. Written by a veteran of the unit, this narrative of the unitís activities is based on the recollections of the men who served in it, coupled with what little declassified, official documentation is available.REVIEWS ". a story that had to be told, and who better to tell it than Chief Warrant Officer James Stejskal who has established his credentials as a historian and researcher in various articles as well as his seminal work on the Swakop River Campaign and World War I in South West Africa The Horns of the Beast. In addition, his service in the US Army Special Forces in Berlin during the 1970s and 80s gives him the insight to comment cogently on that portion of US Army Special Forces history that impacted on the doctrine of both urban unconventional warfare and counter terror operations. . a historical record without which the story of United States Army Special Forces would not be complete. Congratulations to Chief Stejskal on an excellent work of military history. CSM Jeffrey Raker, US Army Special Forces (Retired) , The Drop, the journal of the Special Forces Association, Summer 2016. Bookseller Inventory # 5655895

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Book Description Casemate Books, United States, 2017. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. It is a little-known fact that during the Cold War, two U.S. Army Special Forces detachments were stationed far behind the Iron Curtain in West Berlin. The existence and missions of the two detachments were highly classified secrets. The massive armies of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies posed a huge threat to the nations of Western Europe. US military planners decided they needed a plan to slow the juggernaut they expected when and if a war began. The plan was Special Forces Berlin. The first 40 men who came to Berlin in mid-1956 were soon reinforced by 60 more and these 100 soldiers (and their successors) would stand ready to go to war at only two hours notice, in a hostile area occupied by nearly one million Warsaw Pact forces, until 1990. Their mission should hostilities commence was to wreak havoc behind enemy lines, and buy time for vastly outnumbered NATO forces to conduct a breakout from the city. In reality it was an ambitious and extremely dangerous mission, even suicidal. Highly trained and fluent in German, each man was allocated a specific area. They were skilled in clandestine operations, sabotage, intelligence tradecraft and able to act if necessary as independent operators, blending into the local population and working unseen in a city awash with spies looking for information on their every move. Special Forces Berlin was a one of a kind unit that had no parallel. It left a legacy of a new type of soldier expert in unconventional warfare, one that was sought after for other deployments including the attempted rescue of American hostages from Tehran in 1979. With the U.S. government officially acknowledging their existence in 2014, their incredible story can now be told. Bookseller Inventory # AAJ9781612004440

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Book Description Casemate Books, United States, 2017. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. It is a little-known fact that during the Cold War, two U.S. Army Special Forces detachments were stationed far behind the Iron Curtain in West Berlin. The existence and missions of the two detachments were highly classified secrets. The massive armies of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies posed a huge threat to the nations of Western Europe. US military planners decided they needed a plan to slow the juggernaut they expected when and if a war began. The plan was Special Forces Berlin. The first 40 men who came to Berlin in mid-1956 were soon reinforced by 60 more and these 100 soldiers (and their successors) would stand ready to go to war at only two hours notice, in a hostile area occupied by nearly one million Warsaw Pact forces, until 1990. Their mission should hostilities commence was to wreak havoc behind enemy lines, and buy time for vastly outnumbered NATO forces to conduct a breakout from the city. In reality it was an ambitious and extremely dangerous mission, even suicidal. Highly trained and fluent in German, each man was allocated a specific area. They were skilled in clandestine operations, sabotage, intelligence tradecraft and able to act if necessary as independent operators, blending into the local population and working unseen in a city awash with spies looking for information on their every move. Special Forces Berlin was a one of a kind unit that had no parallel. It left a legacy of a new type of soldier expert in unconventional warfare, one that was sought after for other deployments including the attempted rescue of American hostages from Tehran in 1979. With the U.S. government officially acknowledging their existence in 2014, their incredible story can now be told. Bookseller Inventory # AAJ9781612004440

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