Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Quick answer to a question on another site

Lilly asked about the numbering scheme for A-teams, and Jack Army responded in this post. Since it seems like at least one person in the world is interested, I thought I'd explain a bit further.

Almost all of the Army's Special Forces fall under USASFC, the United States Army Special Forces Command, which in turn falls under USASOC, the United States Army Special Operations Command, which also commands the Rangers, Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs, and the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment. USASOC is part of SOCOM, the Special Operations COMmand, which runs all of the military's Special Operations Forces (Army SF, Navy Seals, etc.)

Army Special Forces is broken down into Special Forces Groups (usually referred to as "Group.") There are 5 active duty groups, and each is responsible for a different region of the world. 1st Group is responsible for the Asia/Pacific region, 3rd Group for Africa, 5th Group for the Middle East and Central Asia, 7th Group for Central and South America, and 10th Group for Europe.

There are also two National Guard groups, the 19th and 20th. In days past, 19th Group was closely aligned with 1st Group, and 20th was aligned with 7th Group. That was an artifact of the days when there were four Reserve / Guard Groups (11th, 12th, 19th and 20th) and only four active duty groups (before 3rd Group came on line.) Each Reserve Group was paired with an active duty group. 11th and 12th Groups were deactivated in the early 1990s as part of the "peace dividend" after the "end of history" (anybody remember that now?) Now, with the GWOT, that pairing is pretty much out the window, and there's a good bit of discussion about how to handle the National Guard groups going forward.

Since 9/11, part of some groups have been deployed to areas outside their assigned region to support the GWOT. For example, parts of 7th Group have been deployed to Afghanistan.

Each Group is organized into three battalions, and each battalion is organized into three companies. Each company in turn contains six A-teams. So, a given SF soldier might be assigned to a team in B Co, 2nd SF Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, for example.

In addition to a place in a company and battalion, each A-team has a unique identifying 3-digit (except for 20th group, see below) number. For example, a team might be known as 931 or 562.
The first number designates the Group the team belongs to: all 5th Group teams begin with 5(say, 573). 10th Group uses 0 as their starting number (say, 062), and 19th Group uses 9 (say, 931.) 20th Group is different; they use 20 as their group designator, so they have 4-digit team numbers (say, 2044.)

The second number designates the company within the group. There are 9 companies per group (3 battalions x 3 companies per battalion) and the numbering scheme reflects that organization. The companies are numbered sequentially, starting with 1 (Alpha Company of 1st Battalion) and running to 9 (Charlie Company of 3rd Battalion.)

The third number designates the team within the company, from 1 to 6. (The company headquarters, or B-team, is usually designated with a 0 (for example, 970.) It used to be standard to assign the number 4 to all of the HALO teams (teams specializing in free-fall parachuting - 774, for example) and the number 5 to all of the SCUBA teams. Beyond that, some Groups standardized team assignment for other teams (Lilly mentions one group that designated all of its recon teams with a 2) but that wasn't consistent across the groups.


Anonymous Lilly said...

Ah well, I read the thing about the "2" being used to designate recon teams in the book "Masters of Chaos" by Linda Robinson, top of page 63. She was writing about 5th Group then, because the number was ODA 532. She just mentioned something brief about the last digit of a team number briefly in parenthesis and never elaborated on it, so I got curious. Thanks for the detailed explanation. And believe me, there's plenty of people out there interested in these kinds of things. They're just shy.

I'm ready for that quiz now :)

3:12 AM  

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