By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Palmetto State will host the U.S. Army Special Forces Association’s national convention in 2014. And Columbia and Charleston will serve as dual-destination cities for the annual celebration.
The seven-day event – June 9 through June 15 – will include static displays and demonstrations, museum and battlefield tours, shooting matches, cooking classes, and a black-tie dinner.
“South Carolina, with its rich military heritage, is the perfect venue for the convention, the attendees, and the businesses that will benefit from the influx of Green Beret veterans – active, retired, Reserve, and former – supporters and their families,” says MAJ Mike Mika, pres. of the S.C. Chapter of the Special Forces Association and the assistant operations officer in the S.C. State Guard. “Through our Special Forces Association and the convention we are furthering public awareness about our Special Forces community and heritage.”
Recognized by their distinctive green berets, the elite Special Forces are the U.S. Army’s experts in unconventional warfare.
Special Forces operators are unique combatants, operating as both independent fighters and military advisors, each of whom specialize in a particular area of expertise (i.e. medicine, communications, weapons). As advisors, Green Berets are tasked with training resistance or guerrilla troops in foreign countries. In nearly all cases, they must be able to speak at least one language other than English; and they are trained for a variety of missions such as direct action, guerilla operations, special reconnaissance, and counterterrorism.
Green Berets became famous during the Vietnam War. Like their U.S. Army Ranger brethren, they trace their lineage to the colonial wars and to guerrilla leaders of the American Revolution – like S.C.’s own Francis Marion – but their technical sophistication has expanded exponentially as have their operational responsibilities worldwide since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“[The association has] over 9,200 members worldwide,” says Mika, who also holds the distinction of being the Special Forces Association’s Man of the Year award-recipient for 2012. “I expect around 850 to 1,100 to be in attendance in 2014. The reason for the small numbers is mostly mission tempo.”
According to its mission statement, “The Special Forces Association serves as the voice for the Special Forces community; perpetuates Special Forces traditions and brotherhood; advances the public image of Special Forces and promotes the general welfare of the Special Forces community.”
[For additional information, phone MAJ Mike Mika at 843-422-1425]
– W. Thomas Smith Jr. – a former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor – is a New York Times bestselling editor and founding partner of NATIONAL DEFENSE CONSULTANTS, LLC. Visit Smith at http://uswriter.com.