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Special Forces Berlin
by James Stejskal



Detachment A

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Detachment A (39th SFD) of the Berlin Brigade was a small 90 man element of Special Forces Soldiers stationed in Berlin, Germany. They were members of a classified unit, wore civlian clothes, and spoke fluent German. The unit, in existance from August 1956 to December 1984, was involved in some of the most classified and sensitive missions of the Cold War. it would later transition to PSSE-B (410th SFD) in the years 1984 to 1990.

The men were carefully selected from the ranks of Special Forces - usually from the 10th Special Forces Group. Many were immigrants from Germany or eastern Europe - enlisted into the U.S. Army under the Lodge Act for their language and cultural background. At the beginning of the units existence six Operational Detachment Alpha teams and a staff element were transferred from Bad Tolz, Germany to Berlin.

Det A's mission included unconventional warfare, sabotage, intelligence, guerrilla operations, anti-terrorism, sniper and SWAT operations. One team from Det A participated in Operation Eagle Claw - the failed attempt to rescue hostages held by Iran in 1980. The men would stage from Berlin and conduct clandestine missions into East Germany. Det A also worked closely with the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. intelligence agenices and organizations.

Videos about Det A

USASOC PAO, Det A, January 14, 2015. A memorial stone dedication ceremony at Fort Bragg, NC for Detachment A, Berlin.

Deutsche Welle, January 4, 2023. Why Berlin is Still the Spy Capital. Its history as a spy-craft hotspot began after World War 2. The Allies ended Nazi rule and divided the capital into four sectors. Nowhere else did the superpowers of West and East meet as closely as in the divided city, making it a perfect place for spies. No mention of Det A in this 26 minute video, but useful for context in understanding Berlin during the Cold War.

News Reports about Detachment A

August 9, 2020. "Spies in Uniform: The US Military Liaison Mission in East Germany", by Justin Black, SpyCraft101.

January 31, 2012. "Formerly clandestine unit of Green Berets from Cold War gets public recognition", Fayetteville Observer.

January 31, 2012. "Detachment A recognized for Cold War efforts in commemorative stone laying ceremony". army.mil.




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