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macv history

SOG was named in honor of a covert US Special Ops unit that fought in Vietnam. That unit was known as Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG). Its existence once denied by the US Government, it wasn't until long after the war that the SOG story could even be told.

The following is excerpted from "US ELITE FORCES-VIETNAM," an article by Leroy Thompson that further describes the nature of this specialized group and its secret missions:

Separate from "conventional," unconventional operations of the 5th Special Forces Group were the clandestine operations of Military Assistance Command Vietnam/Studies and Observations Group (MACV/SOG). The Studies and Observation Group (SOG) was a cover name to disguise SOG's real function, and the name "Special Operations Group," as it was sometimes called, described its real mission more accurately. Activated in January of 1964, SOG was a joint services unit composed of members from all four branches of the armed forces, including Navy SEALs, Marine Recons, Air Force Special Operations pilots of the 90th Special Operations Wing, but predominantly Army Special Forces.

MACV/SOG's missions included: cross-border operations into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam to carry out intelligence gathering or raiding missions on the enemy's 'home ground'; gather intelligence about POWs and carry out rescue missions when possible; rescue downed aircrews in enemy territory ("Bright Light" missions); train, insert, and control agents in North Vietnam to gather intelligence or form resistance groups; carry out 'black' Psy Ops such as operating fake broadcasting stations inside North Vietnam; kidnap or assassinate key enemy personnel; retrieve sensitive documents from equipment lost in enemy territory or in enemy hands; and insert rigged mortar rounds or other booby-trapped ordnance in enemy arms caches (OPERATION ELDEST SON).

Excerpted from US Elite Forces-Vietnam by Leroy Thompson (Squadron/Signal Publications, June 1986)

If you'd like to learn more about the MACV/SOG Special Forces, here are a few books worth reading.

  • apr 1964 MACV-SOG Command Histories, Charles F. Reske
  • fall 1991 The Saga of the CISO/SOG Recon Knife by Ben Baker - Fighting Knives Fall Download pdf
  • july 1998 SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam, John L. Plaster
  • aug 1999 15 Months with SOG: A Warrior's Tour, Thom Nicholson
  • jan 2000 SOG: A Photo History of the Secret Wars, John L. Plaster