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Gazette Premium Content Green Beret colonel makes rare speech

By Tom Roeder Updated: November 10, 2013 at 1:02 am

The commander of Fort Carson's 10th Special Forces Group wouldn't say where his Green Berets are, and not much about where they have been in 12 years of war.

But the Oct. 30 speech by Col. George Thiebes was a milestone. The commander of the region's most secretive unit spoke in public and praised the accomplishment of his troops.

The Green Berets are a group of veterans who call themselves "quiet professionals." While other veterans tell tales of combat gallantry, the Berets keep their lips sealed.

Thiebes addressed a Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance Luncheon and discussed Special Forces culture and core values that he said will allow Green Berets to face the future with few changes.

The reason the Green Berets will seemingly stand still as the rest of the Army endures the convulsions of the post-war Pentagon is that units such as 10th Group have thrived on uncertainty and constant change.

"What will be required of our Green Berets in days ahead has not changed," Thiebes said.

One fact Thiebes revealed: 10th Group troops have been busy. In the past year, 1,000 of the soldiers have worked in 42 countries - primarily in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

That's no surprise.

Soldiers from 10th Group were some of the first Americans in the 2003 attack on Iraq. The Fort Carson troops advised the Kurds in northern Iraq that played a key role in the defeat of Saddam Hussein.

In Afghanistan, 10th Group soldiers have trained police and military units in a similar role. Last week, the group mourned one of its soldiers killed there.

The group also has had soldiers working in central Africa, training local troops to tackle the Lord's Resistance Army - a group led by Joseph Kony.

Thiebes couldn't confirm the presence of his soldiers in Uganda and Sudan, but said progress was being made in the region.

"Joseph Kony's force is weaker," he said.

The key to 10th Group's success, and what makes it so attractive to military planners, is using tiny numbers of troops to produce massive results.

With roots that go back to the World War II Office of Strategic Services, Green Berets have allowed the military to fight wars on the cheap, using other nations' forces.

A prime example is the 12-year war against al-Qaida that's been waged in the Philippines.

A few Americans there have been able to help Filipinos wage a successful campaign that has reduced the insurgent group's activities and influence.

 

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