Much like military snipers, there is a considerable misunderstanding of the unique mission that Special Forces perform. There is a one hour special tomorrow night on CBS at 7:00 PM for those who wish to watch and see. Most of the world seems fixated on spilling blood and killing people but mostly that is not what we are trained to do.
CBS) In a rare chance to show America's elite Special Forces up close, 60 Minutes spent over two months with a Green Beret unit as they trained a group of Afghan soldiers and then went into battle with them against the Taliban.
Lara Logan's report, examining a strategy requested by the president to train more Afghan troops, will be broadcast this Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Logan interviewed several of the 12-man Special Forces team, Operational Detachments Alpha 7215 or ODA-7215, who will be identified only by their first names for security reasons. Also called Green Berets, they're a part of the military's Special Operations division whose traditional role is training foreign armies. Says one of them named Martin "We're definitely not Rambo…He was a Green Beret. That's not us at all," he says. The Green Berets have a different mission. "That's one of the things that makes us unique in the Special Operations community. We wanted a way to help a country fight its own wars and that’s kind of where we come in," Martin tells Logan.
The 60 Minutes team lived with the unit and shot all aspects of its routine, including training the Afghans, who were recruited from the Afghan Army and specially trained before being turned over to Martin and the other Green Berets. They also went on missions and into combat with them several times, recording firefights with the enemy and the accidental wounding of civilians and their own men. On one occasion, one of the Afghan soldiers accidently shot Martin in both his legs. A trained combat medic, he treated himself and was evacuated to receive surgery. Martin was able to return to the unit only a day later.
Bill, another Special Forces soldier, has mixed feeling about that incident. "You're angry at the individual because it's something that could have been prevented…and then you're angry at yourself because we're training them," Bill tells Logan. "So, that means we failed at some point." On another day, an Afghan soldier shot himself in the foot. ODA-7215 had to drive home the most basic of lessons for the Afghan soldiers, a rehashing of how to hold a weapon and when to have its safety device engaged, despite the fact the Afghans had months of prior training.
Back out on a mission - at night, when most are conducted - the cameras rolling, the unit and their Afghan charges battle it out with a group of Taliban fighters, displacing them from their stronghold and then defending the enemy's counterattack. They took a casualty. "One of our commando machine gunners took a round through the throat and he died instantly," says Bill in an interview with Logan back at camp. "I was ****ed off. It's a really personal thing when another guy is trying to kill you." Nine Taliban were killed, but their commander escaped.
The Taliban is stronger than ever say the Green Berets, and the Afghans need their help. "I absolutely believe we need to stay here and see it through," Bill tells Logan. "The end state is them saying, 'Okay, thanks. We don't need you anymore. We appreciate the help, but we've got it now."