Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Douglas Biggs

Committee Members

David Vail, Carol Lilly, Torsten Homberger


5th Special Forces Group;Desert Shield;Desert Storm;Oral History;Special Forces


This thesis uses memories of former members of 5th Special Forces Group as the lens to explore the impacts and context of US Army Special Forces operations and activities during the Persian Gulf War. The Persian Gulf War was the defeat of the Iraqi military in Kuwait at the hands of a technologically superior United States force. Historians have focused Persian Gulf War scholarship on three key aspects: the interpersonal relationship between the United States military commanders and political leaders, the rapid deployment of military forces to the Middle East, and the use of airpower to strike at enemy centers of power. They produced substantial scholarship on the lessons of the Persian Gulf War set against the backdrop of the end of the Cold War and the rise of a unipolar world. Missing from the conflict narrative is an accounting of the operations and actions of the United States Army Special Forces. The addition of United States Army Special Forces soldiers’ experiences to the historical narrative will allow for examination of the impacts of Special Forces operations during the conflict. It will describe how United States Army Special Forces soldiers served as trainers to six divisions of Arab armies they then led into combat against Iraqi Forces. Additionally, it will examine the impact of the reconnaissance missions Special Forces soldiers conducted in advance of the invasion, at times more than 300 kilometers behind enemy lines, to prepare for offensive operations. By drawing from the memories of Special Forces soldiers, this thesis will demonstrate the complexities inherent in Special Forces’ missions and why their roles in combat operations continue to expand today.



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