EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The 4th Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), which calls itself the Spiders, was activated on Sept. 28, marking the last expansion that included one new battalion for each of the five active-duty Special Forces groups.
More than 150 people attended the ceremony that took place on Meadows Field. Among the guest were Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Brig. Gen. Christopher K. Haas, Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) commander and retired Brig. Gen. Michael Ferguson.
“What that unit, its colors and commander really represent are the Soldiers and their Families who serve and sacrifice in the defense of our nation, our allies and partners,” said Col. Miguel D. Howe, deputy commander, 7th SFG (Abn.) and the host for the ceremony.
Howe took a moment to acknowledge a fallen Soldier during his speech. “These Soldiers are obviously men and women of courage, but they are also men and women of character who live by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage, men and women who embody the warrior ethos, who always place the mission first, never quit, never surrender and never ever leave a fallen comrade. Men like Staff Sgt. Andrew Britton- Mihalo,” said Howe.
Britton-Mihalo was killed April 25, while serving in Afghanistan.
Scott took a moment to honor the Soldiers of the 7th SFG (Abn.), formally acknowledging a few such as Sgt. 1st Class Chris Corbon, who lost his legs in an improvised explosive device explosion in February 2011, Britton-Mihalo and Sgt. Jesse Britton, Britton-Mihalo’s widow.
The 4th Bn. currently has more than 300 Soldiers assigned and will continue to expand and reach 100 percent manning around the summer of next year.
Lt. Col. Martin Schmidt and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey D. Healey lead the 4th Battalion.
“Today we formally welcome a new unit to our ranks, our 4th Special Forces Battalion — the Spiders,” said Howe.
“The activation of the 4th Battalion enables 7th Special Forces Group (Abn.) to better sustain repeated, back-to-back worldwide special operations,” said Lt. Col. Jimmy Brownlee, the group’s public affairs officer.
“A fourth battalion relieves some of the stress our Soldiers and Families face by providing more dwell time at home station between deployments.”
Haas told the 4th Bn. Soldiers they made history with the activation. But, he said, “I know this is only the beginning.”
The activation satisfies the current global need for Special Forces by providing more Soldiers to support ongoing missions around the world.
“In less than a year, your command, this battalion will be tested on the distant battlefield of Afghanistan, and I’m confident you will make history there,” said Haas. “You will accomplish every assigned mission with courage and commitment.”
Operational experience over the last several years has validated the Special Forces mission sets, demonstrating their specific relevancy and application in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2001, 7th SFG (Abn.) has maintained a continuous deployment rotation in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while maintaining a constant presence in their assigned area of responsibility — Central and South America.
“Spiders, it’s an honor to be the first commander of this already proud battalion,” said Schmidt. “You’ve come a long way, but our journey and work is just beginning. Make no mistake that when the drum beats in either the sands of the Middle East or within the triple canopy of South America, Las Arańas of 4th Battalion will answer the call in defense of this great nation.”
“Lo Que Sea, Cuando Sea, Donde Sea,” said Schmidt, which translates to “Whatever, Whenever, Wherever,” the 7th SFG (Abn.) motto.