Frederick award presented to 1st Bn., 10 SFG (A) for second year in row


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice Archive/2010/August/100827-01.html

STUTTGART, Germany (USASOC News Service, Aug. 27, 2010) – During World War II, Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick became a legendary figure for valor and heroism after leading his men in numerous hellacious battles against overwhelming odds as commander of the First Special Service Force “Black Devils,” a precursor to modern Special Forces units.

Today Frederick is honored with a namesake award presented by retired FSSF members to both Canadian and American Special Forces operators who exhibit the best of the qualities Frederick sought.

This year’s American recipient is Master Sgt. Joe Dickinson, a Green Beret from 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). This is the second consecutive year the award has gone to a 1st Bn., 10 SFG (A) Soldier.

Dickinson accepted the award during the 63rd Annual First Special Service Force reunion in Helena, Mont., held Aug. 13 – 16 and viewed his accomplishment more as a team achievement than an individualistic honor.

“The Frederick award is an individual award but you don’t do a lot of the things you do without strong people on your team,” Dickinson said. “There has to be some collective strength surrounding that individual allowing him to earn such an award.”

Dickinson earned the award for his performance as the operations sergeant for Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha 0112. In the award nomination, he was praised for leading “one of the most successful detachment combat rotations in the history of Task Force-10 in support of the International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan.”

Having deployed into theater without a team leader, normally a seasoned captain, Dickinson expertly managed not only his team of U.S. Special Forces Soldiers, but also the integration of 12 Romanian Special Forces soldiers, thus creating a combined SOF force.

“Working with the Romanians was an excellent set up; instead of 12 guys on an ODA, now you have 24 guys on a team,” Dickinson said complimenting his partner nation counterparts. “There are some incredible Romanians who were with us. We were able to accomplish a lot by working with them in our area of operations.”

Dickinson was able to lead his men in developing critical relationships with local and regional Afghanistan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF senior leadership.

He was also instrumental in expanding a 15-man civilian checkpoint into four 15-man Afghanistan Ministry of Interior supported road maintenance teams that provided 24-hour security along traffic routes adjacent to their communities.

His team’s actions significantly influenced the enemy terrain, whether it was by killing them or conducting counter-insurgency operations against them.

“Under Joe’s leadership and guidance, ODA 0112 waged one of the most successful counter-insurgency campaigns while deployed as part of Task Force 10 – Afghanistan,” said Dickinson’s company commander. “Joe has unique abilities to identify the use of lethal and nonlethal measures at the appropriate times, demonstrating a balanced approach to achieve great effects on the battlefield.”

Dickinson was very candid and brutally honest about how his team shaped the environment in their area of operations – also calling it his team’s “crowning achievement.”

“We were a very competitive entity for the human terrain,” he said in his no-nonsense tone. “We were able to sway people’s opinion and decision making, were able to move segments of the population away from Taliban control and were able to disrupt allegiance to the Taliban. We also assessed the depth of Taliban control and their mechanisms.”

Just as Frederick showed uncommon valor in battle, Dickinson also displayed moments of valor on numerous occasions in Afghanistan. He was significantly praised for actions on Dec. 27, 2009 in which he led his ODA on a mission through an insurgent stronghold, during which enemy forces attempted to overrun his team.

Although Dickinson was leading a lightly armed patrol, the enemy forced his hand… and paid the price. During an hour of intense fighting, Dickinson and company killed six enemy forces and received no friendly casualties. For his actions, he was recommended for the Bronze Star with Valor.

Another example of his valor came to light during the early morning hours of May 19, 2010 when Taliban fighters conducted a sudden, well-coordinated, complex attack on Bagram Airfield and more than 30 insurgents armed with automatic weapons, hand grenades, RPGs and suicide vests stormed the base at two separate locations.

Dickinson and four members of his team were conducting refit operations within 150 meters of one of the Taliban breech points when the attack occurred. He fearlessly took point for his team and engaged the insurgents to repel the attack, then ran 25 meters across a potential mine field to provide life-saving medical treatment to a wounded Marine.

For his heroic actions, Dickinson was recommended for the Silver Star Medal.

Despite recognition for two high valor acts during his recent deployment, garnering medals is not something for which Dickinson and his team strive.

“It was a very difficult situation and we moved very quickly,” Dickinson said. “The five of us that were there made instantaneous decisions to repel the Taliban attack. Shortly after we arrived at the scene, we started taking care of business. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time when all hell broke loose. We were not thinking about valor or awards, just that we had each other’s back if one of us was taken out.”

Just as Frederick was known for whipping his troops into a tough cohesive military formation, Dickinson constantly pushes his team to draw on each other’s strengths.
Commenting on Dickinson’s leadership style and warrior mentality, his senior communications sergeant described him as intense, but also very caring.

“Master Sgt. Dickinson deliberately places value in effects and performance, while avoiding status quo norms and appearance-based perceptions,” the sergeant said. “The team sergeant is the driving force of any ODA, so our collective focus became very performance and mission oriented in an analytical way.

“His human side is not that of a joker nor ‘just one of the guys’ type, but he fully understands the team member’s family obligations and does whatever feasible to allow the men on the team to take care of their families so they can focus at work.”

Dickinson’s company commander sees his selection for the Frederick Award as symbolic of what it means to be a Special Forces noncommissioned officer. Although it is an individual award, he views it as a reflection of the detachment and the outstanding accomplishments made by the individuals of ODA 0112.

“Joe never took unnecessary risks and always had the interest of his team members while at the same time inflicting high numbers of enemy causalities and protecting the local Afghan populace,” he said. “He relentlessly sought to improve the individuals on his team by continually mentoring and developing his young NCOs to become the next generation of Special Forces leaders.”

As for Dickinson, he knew about Frederick’s exploits and was honored to be selected for the award. Most importantly, Dickinson was proud of his team and how they conducted Special Operations missions in Afghanistan – symbolically of how Frederick’s men ruthlessly fought the enemy in World War II.

And just as Frederick’s FSSF used the darkness of the night to conduct covert operations, Dickinson’s men used the element of surprise to aggressively conduct assaults against the enemy.

“One thing that I take personal pride in is that each time we engaged the enemy, we shot first,” Dickinson said with a hint of seriousness in his voice. “We did not get ambushed – not once.”

Master Sgt. Joe Dickinson (center), 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), received the Robert T. Frederick award given to both Canadian and American Special Forces operators that exhibit the highest degree of professionalism. It was the second year in a row a Green Beret from 1st Bn., 10th SFG (A) has received the award. (Courtesy photo)