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Last Updated: 28 March, 2016

This article is structured as follows:

  • Part 01: Background to US Army Special Forces.
  • Part 02: Entry Standards and Applications.
  • Part 03: Outline of US Army Special Forces (aka Green Berets) Selection and Training.
  • Part 04: Miscellaneous.

PART ONE: BACKGROUND

1.0     Introduction

US Army SF TabsThis article provides an overview of the recruitment, selection and training process for the United States (US) Army Special Forces.

US Army Special Forces, widely known as the Green Berets, are Tier 1 forces (i.e. undertake direct action) and are trained by the US Army’s 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), located at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre and School.

These Army Commandos form the Special Forces element of the US Army Special Operations Command (ARSOC or USASOC) Special Operations Forces (SOF) community, which is the land component of the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

Each year approximately 3,500 candidates (mainly US Army Soldiers) are given the opportunity to attend US Army Special Forces training. Although numbers vary, approximately 860 will graduate each year and join the approximately 15,000 active duty and reserve US Army Green Berets.

From boot camp to first deployment, a US Army Special Forces soldier may undertake (up to) two years of training.

Logo, USASOC, US Army Special Operations CommandAll US Army Special Forces candidates undergo a careful selection process prior to beginning their Special Forces career. During the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course, a future Special Forces soldier must demonstrate distinguishing core attributes, many that are derived from the unconventional warfare mission. These attributes have evolved over the years because of changing mission requirements and focus by the Geographic Combatant Commands to dictate the needs of Special Forces training.

As such, the US Army Special Forces training process prepares candidates for the missions they may undertake as a qualified Green Beret. US Army Special Forces are responsible for training and preparation for execution of special operations in a variety of environments, including maritime, urban, desert, jungle, arctic and mountain. Amongst others, US Army Special Forces are experts in:

  • Unconventional warfare;
  • Cultural awareness;
  • Foreign languages;
  • Training and advising indigenous forces;
  • Training and advising foreign militaries;
  • Special operations tactics and technical knowledge;
  • Mission planning;
  • Small-unit leadership;
  • Operational risk management;
  • Tactical, operational and strategic thinking;
  • Tactical communications;
  • Combat diving;
  • Para-drop operations;
  • Tactical ground mobility;
  • Fast roping and rappelling;
  • Demolitions/explosive breaching;
  • Trauma care; and
  • Intelligence gathering and interpretation.

In times of armed conflict and war US Army Special Forces personnel are required to operate in small parties in enemy controlled territory. Operations of this nature require individuals of courage and high morale who are self-disciplined, intelligent, reliable, determined and physically fit, and who possess mental, moral and physical stamina. These units will operate in support of conventional forces or independently. Principle roles are:

US Army Special Forces soldiers conduct operations worldwide in support of US objectives, through five primary missions:

  • Unconventional Warfare: Activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.
  • Direct Action: Short unilateral strike operations to kill capture or destroy personnel, equipment documents or data, to damage or interdict specified targets or activities, or to recover designated personnel or material.
  • Foreign Internal Defence (FID): Participation by civilian and military agencies of a government in any of the action programs taken by another government or other designated organization to free and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness, insurgency, terrorism, and other threats to its security.
  • Special Reconnaissance: Reconnaissance or surveillance conducted to obtain or verify by visual or other collection methods, information concerning the capabilities, intentions, activities of an actual or potential adversary, as well as the information concerning the terrain, hydrology, climatology, populace and infrastructure in an actual or potential area of operation.
  • Counter-terrorism: Actions taken directly and indirectly against terrorist networks to influence and render global and regional environments inhospitable to terrorist networks.

Every US Army Special Forces soldier maintains a high degree of proficiency in cultural awareness, including a language capability, military occupational specialty (MOS) skills and advanced skills; with each being multifunctional and multi-capable. Although trained as a specialist in a primary MOS, each soldier is cross-trained in each of the specialties. Advanced skills are also taught to enhance the operating capabilities of the force and each unit conducts extensive area and country studies.

From full combat operations, such as Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, through peacekeeping and peace enforcement in Bosnia and Haiti, to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, such as Operation Safe Haven in Panama and Operation Sea Angel in Bangladesh, Special Forces teams are usually the first forces on the ground and the last to leave.

It must be emphasised that a candidate must be physically fit at the beginning of the US Army Special Forces training process if they are to stand any chance of success. The course requires far greater expenditure of physical energy than is normally required in other peace time training. It is essential that candidates arrive fully fit, carrying no injuries and with a sound grasp of basic navigational techniques.

1.1     Aim

The aim of this article is to describe the fundamental entry requirements, selection process and training for personnel seeking to serve as a US Army Special Forces soldier, aka Green Beret.

1.2     Women and the US Army’s Green Berets

From January 2016, in accordance with current US Federal Government policy on the employment of women in the US military, service in the US Army’s Special Forces, aka Green Berets, is open to both male and female volunteers (Pellerin, 2015).

Women in the US military have, for a number of years, been able to serve in a variety of SOF-related roles, including:

  • Intelligence;
  • Military information support;
  • Civil affairs units;
  • Female engagement teams;
  • Cultural support teams; and
  • Air Force special operations aviation roles.

As of March 2015, approximately two-thirds of the roles in USSOCOM were integrated (Vogel, 2015).

1.3     Factors for Increasing the Likelihood of Success

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (7)In 2006, there were 22 explicit “most common mistakes” that could have hindered a candidate’s ability to successfully complete the SFAS course (US Army, 2006, p.5).

Further, “The Army Research Institute (ARI) has been able to closely correlate performance on the APFT and a 4-mile rucksack march with success in the SFAS Course.” (US Army, 2006, p.23).

In 2006 the average reported (US Army, 2006, p.23):

  • AFPT score for SFAS course graduates was 250 points: 229-250, 42% passed; 251-275, 57% passed; and 276 or higher, 78% passed.
  • 4-mile loaded march time for SFAS course graduates was 61 minutes: 54 or less, 81% passed; 55-64, 63% passed; 65-74, 34% passed; and 75-84, 10% passed.

Research published by the Army Research Institute for Behavioural and Social Sciences in 2010 states “The SFAS performance event scores were strongest for predicting selection, followed by scores from cognitive ability tests, the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), and finally perseverance.” (Beal, 2010, p.vi).

The research suggests as many as 40% of candidates, on any given SFAS course, will voluntarily withdraw (VW) citing insufficient physical fitness. However, Beal (2010) goes on to inform us that approximately 15% of candidates who successfully completed the SFAS course and were selected for further training had similar or lower physical fitness and IQ scores than those who VW. “These results suggest that there is an element of individual perseverance that reinforces a Soldier’s willingness to stay the SFAS course, in spite of perceived or real limitations.” (Beal, 2010, p.1).

1.4     Brief History

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (1)US Army Special Forces can trace their roots to the operational groups and Jedburgh teams of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS was formed in WWII to gather intelligence and conduct operations behind enemy lines in support of resistance groups in Europe and Burma.

After WWII, individuals such as Colonel Aaron Bank, Colonel Wendell Fertig and Lieutenant Colonel Russell Volckmann used their wartime OSS experience to formulate the doctrine of unconventional warfare that became the cornerstone of the Special Forces. In the Army’s official lineage and honours, the Special Forces groups are linked to the regiments of the First Special Service Force, an elite combined Canadian-American unit that fought in North Africa, Italy and Southern France.

Special Forces grew out of the establishment of the Special Operations Division of the Psychological Warfare Centre established in May 1952 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In June 1952, the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was established under Colonel Bank. Concurrently with this was the establishment of the Psychological Warfare School, which ultimately became today’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre and School. The 10th Special Forces Group deployed to Bad Tolz, Germany, in September 1953. The remaining cadre at Fort Bragg formed the 77th Special Forces Group, which in May 1960 became today’s 7th Special Forces Group. The intervening years saw the number of Special Forces groups rise and fall.

Special Forces soldiers first saw combat in 1953, deployed from the 10th SFG (Airborne) to Korea. These soldiers worked with partisan forces conducting operations behind enemy lines.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, teams of Special Forces soldiers deployed to Laos to work with the Royal Laotian Army. Operation White Star was the precursor to Special Forces operations in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Special Forces teams worked as advisors to the Vietnamese Army and the Civilian Irregular Defence Forces, trained and led quick-reaction units called Mike Forces, and conducted cross-border operations as the Studies and Observation Group, MACV-SOG. The 5th SFG was formed as the requirement for Special Forces troops grew. Special Forces spent 14 years in Vietnam.

The three decades following Vietnam witnessed Special Forces participation in virtually every campaign fought by the US Army.

In Grenada, Haiti, Panama and the Balkans, Special Forces teams conducted unconventional warfare operations in support of the Regular Army. In Operation Desert Storm, General Norman Schwarzkopf described the Special Forces as ‘the eyes and ears’ of the conventional forces and the ‘glue that held the coalition together.’

In the post-9/11 Global War on Terror, Special Forces has played a critical role in destroying Taliban/al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, rooting out insurgents in Iraq and training foreign troops to fight terrorists or drug warlords.

US Army Special Forces are experts in unilateral direct-action operations and unconventional warfare, as well as having thorough knowledge of foreign languages, customs and cultures. In addition, they are experts of training and organising insurgents, surrogate fighters, indigenous forces and foreign militaries in support of US national objectives.

1.5     US Army Special Forces Job Classifications

US Army Special Forces personnel are identified by the Military Occupational Speciality (MOS) designation 18X as per their qualifications:

  • 18A: Special Forces Officer: Commander or team leader of a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha (SFOD-A, or ‘A’ Team), a highly trained 12-man team that is deployed in rapid-response situations. Officer organise the mission, outfit the team and debrief them on the mission objective.
  • 180A: Special Forces Warrant Officer: Deputy Commander. Combat leader and staff officer functions.
  • 18B: Special Forces Weapons Sergeant: are the weapons specialists, capable of operating and maintaining a wide variety of US, allied and other foreign weaponry.
  • 18C: Special Forces Engineer Sergeant: are specialists across a wide range of disciplines, from demolitions and constructions of field fortifications to topographic survey techniques.
  • 18D: Special Forces Medical Sergeant: although they are trained with an emphasis on trauma medicine, they also have a working knowledge of dentistry, veterinary care, public sanitation, water quality and optometry.
  • 18E: Special Forces Communications Sergeant: can operate every kind of communications gear, from encrypted satellite communications systems to old-style high-frequency Morse key systems.
  • 18F: Special Forces Operations and Intelligence Sergeant:

PART TWO: ENTRY STANDARDS AND APPLICATIONS

Information regarding the basic requirements for enlistment or commissioning in the US Army can be found by clicking on the links, which the reader is advised to read if not already familiar.

Unlike the UK model of SF, the US Army accepts direct entry applicants, i.e. civilians with no prior military experience. As a result, volunteers for the US Army’s Special Forces may be accepted from both US civilians and US military personnel (both officer and enlisted) from any branch of military service to serve with the US Army’s Special Forces Teams.

Consequently, there are three recognised pathways to becoming a US Army Special Forces soldier:

  1. Enlist as a civilian;
  2. Enlist while in the US Army and apply for a transfer; or
  3. Enlist from another Branch of Military Service.

2.0     Special Operations Recruiting Battalion

The Special Operations Recruiting Battalion (SORB) is responsible for the recruitment of US Army Special Forces. Its headquarters is located in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. SORB has a global footprint, meaning it can provide recruitment services and support to personnel at a regional level.

2.1     General Requirements and Eligibility for All Candidates

Subject to the requirements outlined below, all US Army Officers and Enlisted (Other Ranks) personnel are eligible to attend US Army Special Forces training.

General Requirements for all candidates:

  • Minimum Qualifications:
    • US Citizen.
    • Aged 20-30 years old for Active Duty and 20-35 years old for National Guard (since April 2011, National Guard must take the Oath of Enlistment on or before their 35th birthday (USANG, 2016a)).
    • Must be a high school graduate or have a general educational development (GED) certificate (waiverable).
    • Must successfully complete the Future Soldiers Pre-Basic Training Task List.
    • Active Duty only (for US Army National Guard caveat see Section 2.5 below).
    • Must be able to swim 50 meters wearing boots and battle dress uniform (BDU) prior to beginning the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). All soldiers will be given a swim assessment at the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) course to determine whether they are a swimmer or non-swimmer.
    • Achieve a minimum score of 240 on the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), with no less than 70 points (80 for officers (MILPER Message Number 15-248)) on any event using the standards for age group 17 to 21.
      • This up from 229 points, with no less than 60 points on any event using the standards for age group 17 to 21 (US Army, 2006).
      • APFT calculator.
    • Must be able to meet medical fitness standards as outlined in AR 40-501.
    • Must have 20/20 or corrected to 20/20 in both near and distant vision in both eyes.
    • Defence Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) rating of 1/1 or higher if proficient in a foreign language.
    • Must be eligible for a ‘SECRET’ security clearance (security clearance is not required to attend the SFAS course).
    • Must be airborne qualified or volunteer for (and successfully complete) airborne training.
    • Not currently serving in a restricted MOS or branch.
  • All applicants must not:
    • Be barred to reenlistment or be under suspension of favourable personnel action.
    • Have been convicted by court-martial or have disciplinary action noted in their official military personnel fiche under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (Article 15) within two years. This provision can only be waived by the Commanding General, United States Army Special Warfare Centre and School on a case-by-case basis.
    • Have 30 days or more lost time under USC 972 within current or preceding enlistment.
    • Have been terminated from SF, ranger, or airborne duty, unless termination was due to extreme family problems or a medical condition that has been resolved (US Army, 2006).

The US Army’s Special Forces recruit from all branches of the US Army and there is no specific MOS that qualifies for Special Forces duty. Candidates are advised to do their very best in whichever field they choose and then apply for the SFAS course. However, no soldier, regardless of MOS or basic branch, will be recruited if they are unable to reclassify from their current MOS or basic branch into career management field 18 (CMF 18); the Special Forces MOS stream.

One year of college is preferred, but is not a mandatory requirement for enlistment.

2.2     General Requirements and Eligibility for Enlisted Candidates

  • Enlisted applicants must be in the pay grade of E-3 to E-6 or E7s with no more than 12 years’ Time in Service (TIS) and 9 months’ Time in Grade (TIG).
  • Successful completion of SFAS is a prerequisite to the SFQC.
  • Achieve a General Technical (GT) score of 110 or higher and a combat operation score of 100 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
  • Stabilisation of current drill sergeants and detailed recruiters will not be broken.
  • Specialists, Corporals, and Sergeants who successfully complete SFAS will normally have their Retention Control Point (RCP) waived to attend the SFQC. Upon successful completion of SFQC, they will be allowed continued service. Staff Sergeants approaching their RCP will not be allowed to apply. Each Sergeant First Class (SFC) must have no more than 12 years’ TIS (waiverable) and nine months’ TIG when applying for SFAS. SFCs must also be able to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to the SFQC within six months of selection from SFAS.
  • Soldiers on assignment will not be allowed to attend SFAS without their branch’s prior approval. Soldiers on orders to a short tour area will be allowed to attend SFAS if a deferment is not required. These individuals will be scheduled for the next available SFQC after their DEROS (WHAT). Soldiers who volunteer for SFAS prior to receiving assignment notification will be deferred to allow SFAS attendance. For SFAS graduates, assignment to the SFQC will take precedence over any assignment conflict.
  • OCONUS-based (Outside Continental US) soldiers may attend SFAS in a TDY (Temporary Duty) and return status anytime during their tour. Upon successful completion of SFAS, Soldiers will be scheduled for the next available SFQC provided they have completed at least two-thirds of their overseas assignment obligation and have received Human Resources Command approval for curtailment of the remainder of their overseas tour obligation. Soldiers serving on a short tour will not have their assignment curtailed.
  • CONUS-based (Continental US) soldiers may attend SFAS in a TDY and return status anytime during their tour. Upon successful completion of SFAS, Soldiers will be scheduled to attend the SFQC ensuring that they will have completed at least one-year time on station prior to PCS.
    Must have a minimum of 36 months remaining TIS upon completion of the SFQC.
  • MILPER Message 14-220 states the following conditions as non-waiverable, automatic disqualifiers for SFAS and SFQC:
    • A domestic violence conviction or a pending criminal indictment or information associated with a domestic violence indictment The illegal use of a controlled substance while serving on active duty.

2.3     General Requirements and Eligibility for Officer Candidates

  • Must be in the pay grade of O-2, 1st Lieutenant (OF-1) and be in the targeted year group (YG) for the Captain’s Board.
  • Have at least a Secret security clearance prior to final packet approval and meet eligibility criteria for Top Secret clearance.
  • Have completed the Officer Basic Course and have been successful in their branch assignments prior to application for Special Forces.
  • Have a Defence Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) Score of 85 or higher or a DLPT of a minimum of 1/1 reading and listening score.
  • Have a minimum of 36 months remaining TIS upon completion of SFDOQC.
  • Must be able to meet medical fitness standards as outlined in AR 40-501.
  • US Army Reserve and National Guard officers are ineligible to apply for SF training.

2.4     Candidates from another Branch of Military Service

The US Army has developed Operation Blue to Green for personnel, both officers and enlisted, from the US Navy and US Air Force who wish to transfer to the US Army.

There are also opportunities for selected members of the US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard.

Interested personnel should speak to their local US Army Recruiter or the SORB for further information.

2.5     US Army National Guard Candidates

There are opportunities for ex-Active Duty SF personnel to continue SF duties with the US Army National Guard (USANG) units of USASOC, scroll down to Section 4.0.

There are also opportunities for candidates with no prior military service (NPS) to join the US Army’s National Guard Special Forces (USANG, 2016a). The NPS SF enlistment contract in the US Army National Guard is usually referred to as a REP 63 contract, similar to the 18X contract for Active Duty candidates. The REP 63/18X contract only applies to states with SF units, consequently availability varies and is very selective. The REP 63 contract is a minimum enlistment of six years (USANG, 2016a).

PART THREE: OULTINE OF US ARMY SPECIAL FORCES SELECTION AND TRAINING

3.0     US Army Special Forces Selection and Training Phases

The journey to becoming a US Army Special Forces operator is not easy (an understatement, perhaps!). US Army Special Forces training is rigorous and highly selective, but the courage and strength individuals will gain as a candidate will stay with them for their entire life.

The US Army Special Forces selection and training process is the training pipeline for candidates wishing to join the US Army’s Special Forces community.

In addition to Phase 1 (Basic Combat) Training, candidates must also have completed Phase 2 (Advanced Individualised) Training and volunteer for airborne training (unless already qualified) to be eligible for US Army Special Forces selection and training.

Detailed information on Individual Employment Training (IET), Basic Combat Training (BCT), Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and One Station Unit Training (OSUT) can be found here.

All US Army Special Forces candidates will undertake a number of distinct phases of training (Table 1), in which candidates are taught the fundamentals of Army special warfare through formal US Army schooling.

 Table 1: US Army Special Forces training pipeline
Serial Phase Enlist as a Civilian Enlist while in the US Army and apply for a transfer; or from another Branch of Military Service. Duration
1 N/A Enlistment Process  Variable
2 N/A Special Forces candidates will usually attend infantry (11B) OSUT, which combines Army BCT and infantry AIT, in one 15-week course at Fort Benning, Georgia. IET consisting of BCT and AIT specific to the soldier’s job.  Variable
3 N/.A Basic Airborne Course (BAC), also at Fort Benning. BAC must be completed prior to Phase I  3-weeks
4 N/A Special Forces Preparatory Course 3-weeks, 4-days
5 N/A Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course 19-days
6 I-VI Start of  Special Forces Qualification Course 68-weeks
6a I Introduction to Unconventional Warfare 6-weeks
6b II Small Unit Tactics/SERE Training 13-weeks
6c III MOS Training 16-weeks
6d IV CULEX (Robin Sage) 4-weeks
6e V Language and Culture 4-weeks
6f VI Graduation and MFF 5-weeks

3.1     US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre and School

The US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre and School (USAJFKSWCS) constitutes the training centre and institution of US Army SOF. The USAJFKSWCS serves as the USASOC proponent for all matters pertaining to:

  • Individual training;
  • Developing doctrine and all related individual and collective training material;
  • Providing leader development;
  • Developing and maintaining the proponent training programmes and systems; and
  • Providing entry level and advanced individual training and education for Special Forces, Civil Affairs and psychological operations soldiers.

More detailed information on USAJFKSWCS (such as organisation, leadership and structure) can be found here, scroll down to Section 5.0.

3.2     Basic Airborne Course

US Army, Airborne Training, Basic Airborne CourseCandidates must complete basic airborne training, which is realised through the Basic Airborne Course (BAC), at some point during their Special Forces training.

Invariably this training is completed prior to any preparatory course (discussed next), perhaps after successful completion of the SFAS course but definitely before commencement of the Special Forces Qualification Course.

The 3-week BAC is delivered by the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (part of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade), located at Fort Benning in Georgia.

The purpose of BAC is to qualify volunteers in the use of the parachute as a means of combat deployment and to develop leadership, self-confidence, and an aggressive spirit through mental and physical conditioning.

The course, delivered in three week-long modules, teaches candidates the techniques involved in parachuting from aircraft and landing safely, as outlined in Table 2 below.

 Table 2: Outline of Basic Airborne Course
Week Purpose Description
1 Ground Training
  • On day one, candidates will undertake a APFT and 5km run.
  • During Ground Week, candidates begin an intensive programme of instruction to build individual airborne skills, which will prepare candidates to make a parachute jump, and land safely.
  • Candidates will train on the mock door, the 34 foot (10 metre) tower, and the lateral drift apparatus (LDA).
  • In order to progress to the next module of training, candidates must individually qualify on the 34 foot tower, the LDA, and pass all physical training requirements.
2 Tower Training
  • The individual skills learned during Ground Week are refined during Tower Week and team effort or the ‘mass exit’ concept is added to training.
  • Training aids include the 34-foot towers, the swing landing trainer (SLT), the mock door for mass exit training, the suspended harness, and the 250-foot (76 metre) free tower.
  • Tower Week completes individual skill training and develops team effort skills.
  • In order to progress to the next module of training, candidates must qualify on the SLT, master the mass exit procedures from the 34-foot tower, and pass all physical training requirements.
3 Jump Training
  • During Jump Week candidates must successfully complete five parachute jumps with the T-11 parachute at 1,250 feet from a C-130 or C-17 aircraft.
  • Candidates must run to the air field each day, conduct sustained airborne training, and then don their equipment and await their turn to jump.
  • Prior to jumping with their combat equipment, each candidate will conduct a rigging exercise with their instructor to show them the proper rigging of their Airborne Combat Equipment.
  • Generally, two of the jumps are ‘combat equipment jumps’, in which the jumper carries a Molle ruck with MAWC (Modular Airborne Weapons Case), and a dummy weapon.
  • Three jumps are ‘Hollywood’, in that the jumper only wears the parachute and reserve.
  • The last jump combines combat equipment with a night jump, giving candidates a complete understanding of a night combat equipment jump.
3 Graduation
  • In order to graduate, candidates must:
    • Pass an APFT in the 17-21 age group standards
      • (Male: 42 PU; 53 SU; 15:54 2 MI; & 20 Second Flexed Arm Hang
      • (Female: 19 PU; 53 SU; 18:54 2 MI; & 20 Second FAH).
    • Complete all physical fitness distance runs.
    • Qualify on the Mock Tower.
    • Qualify on Parachute Landing Falls.
    • Qualify on Swing Landing Training.
    • Complete all 5 qualifying jumps from a C-130 or C-17 aircraft with a T-11 Parachute.
  • Graduation is normally conducted at 0900 during the summer months and 1100 during the winter months on Friday of Jump Week at the south end of Eubanks Field on the Airborne Walk.
  • However, if weather or some other reason delays the scheduled jumps, graduation may be conducted on Fryar Drop Zone (DZ) one hour after the last jump hits the ground.
  • Guests and family members can observe all of the jumps at Fryar Drop Zone, attend the graduation ceremony and participate in awarding the ‘wings’ to their paratrooper.

Unlike the British Army’s Parachute training, physical training is conduct during BAC. In contrast, UK military personnel must undertake and pass a Pre-Parachute Selection course prior to parachute training.

3.3     Special Forces Preparatory Course

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (10)Preparatory training for US Army Special Forces was first considered after the events of 9/11, as a means to widen the pool of available candidates for the US Army’s Special Forces training pipeline (Martin, 2010).

Prior to this, US Army Special Forces candidates were drawn from a qualified pool of experienced soldiers who had already proven themselves in conventional units. The Special Operations Preparation and Conditioning (SOPC) course, as it became known, enabled soldiers at the rank of Private to enter Special Forces training. However, “course criteria and graduation requirements would not change, only who was assessed for further training.” (Martin, 2010).

The SOPC course was initially delivered as a 2-week package using an “’off-the-street’ recruiting program” (Martin, 2010), i.e. direct entrants (the vast majority of candidates for Special Forces around the world must undertake another role in the military prior to applying for Special Forces). Although Lieutenant Colonel Joe Martin, the officer charged with this task, tells us he used PCS time to extend this training by 10-days, giving approximately 4-weeks in total.

The initial instructor cadre consisted of five National Guard Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), forming the foundation of Martin’s new training detachment (Martin, 2010). The National Guard already had a successful programme which prepared National Guard 18X candidates for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course.

The course eventually evolved into:

  • Special Operations Preparation and Conditioning Course I (SOPC I): Delivered to candidates after Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training but before the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course. The course for these direct entry candidates had three objectives:
    • To provide training in land navigation skills;
    • To further develop their physical fitness; and
    • To teach basic small unit tactics.
  • Special Operations Preparation and Conditioning Course II (SOPC II): Candidates successful on the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course would undertake SOPC II and then continue with the Special Forces Qualification Course.

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret, SFQC, Canadian SoldierLieutenant Colonel Martin, commander of the original training detachment, set a solid foundation for direct entry candidates. The last soldiers to undertake the SOPC, achieved “…a never-before-heard-of 98 percent selection rate…” on the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course, in contrast “The current (selection) graduation rate of the in-service Soldiers is about 40 to 45 percent.” (Eidson, 2004).

The SOPC training detachment eventually evolved in to Company Echo, a unit of the Support Battalion of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne).

The SOPC lasted from November 2001 to October 2004 when it underwent a revamp and became the Special Forces Preparation Course (SFPC), which largely followed the structure of the previous SOPC course (Edison, 2004):

  • Special Forces Preparation Course I (SFPC I): Added an additional 25 days to the (then) 24-day Special Forces Assessment and Selection course
  • Special Forces Preparation Course II (SFPC II): Added an extra 18-days of training for candidates selected to continue on to the Special Forces Qualification Course.

The purpose of the performance-orientated SFPC was to prepare and condition (mentally and physically) candidates (18X and REP 63 (National Guard)) for the rigours of the SFAS course, and the subsequent Special Forces Qualification Course. The major elements of the SFPC, largely based on the SOPC, included:

  • Physical conditioning;
  • Map reading and land navigation instruction;
  • Land navigation practical exercises; and
  • Common task training.

Company E, Support Battalion of 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), would oversee the new 25-day Special Forces preparation Course which, beginning in October 2004, would be required training for candidates attending the SFAS course.

A variety of sources state differing training duration: 2-weeks, 2-weeks 4-days; 19-days, 21-days; and 30-days, although all accurately describe its purpose. Interestingly, in February 2016, the US Army’s recruiting website (goarmy.com) suggests the course is 2-weeks in duration and is known as the Special Operations Preparation Course (US Army, 2016). Contrastingly, and also in February 2016, the SORB website did not mention anything about a preparation course (SORB, 2015). The US Army National Guard states it is a 3-week Special Forces Preparation and Conditioning (SFPC) course (USANG, 2016a).

As noted in the FY 2016 Academic Yearbook, published in a special issue of Special Warfare (magazine of USASOC), US Army Special Forces preparation training is now delivered via the Special Forces Preparatory Course which is a 3 week, 4 day course at Fort Benning in Georgia.

There are typically 10 courses per year, with up to 120 candidates per course (approximately 1200 candidates each year).

The course is designed to “optimize 18X and REP-63 (National Guard) Soldiers physical and mental performance and preparation for successful completion of the SFAS course.” (Special Warfare, 2015, p.29). Topics covered during the course include:

  • Nutrition;
  • Hydration;
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation;
  • Exercise programme development;
  • Land navigation; and
  • Leadership in dynamic and complex environments.

3.4     Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (5)The Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) course is 19-days in duration (SORB, 2015; Special Warfare, 2015; USANG, 2016a), down from 24-days (US Army, 2006), and is delivered by the Support Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), located at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

There are typically 10 courses per year, with 350 candidates per course (approximately 3500 candidates per year).

“Although selection by training attrition has proved to work, it can be extremely wasteful.” (Horn & Balasevicius, 2007, p.41). High attrition rates on the Special Forces Qualification Course during the 1980s provided the impetus for change. After a year of working with the US Army Research Institute, the SFAS course was first delivered in 1988 (Horn & Balasevicius, 2007).

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (6)Simply put, the SFAS course is designed to reliably predict successful completion of the Special Forces Qualification Course and subsequent service with the US Army’s Special Forces. With this in mind, the SFAS course assesses and selects soldiers for attendance at the Special Forces Qualification Course on six attributes that are considered important for all Special Forces soldiers, and include (US Army, 2006):

  1. Intelligence;
  2. Trainability;
  3. Physical fitness;
  4. Motivation;
  5. Influence; and
  6. Judgment.

Candidates will participate in a variety of activities designed to place them under various forms of mental and physical stress. SFAS utilises an individual-focused assessment process that is designed to assess a candidate’s potential and qualities through:

  • Behavioural observation;
  • Analysis via performance measure; and
  • Recording data.

All the tasks the candidates undertake are performed in a neutral environment with limited information and no performance feedback (which can lead to issues of self-doubt for candidates). However, it is understood that this is changing/has changed, meaning candidates will receive performance feedback.

As such, the SFAS course is designed to test a candidate’s survival skills, and places an even stronger emphasis on intense physical and mental training. Consequently, the SFAS is considered the start (or first real phase) of US Army Special Forces training.

Major elements of the SFAS course include:

  • SF Assessment and Selection;
  • Language Survey and Personal Interview;
  • Language Head Start; and
  • Candidate receives language and MOS assignment.

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (8)The weekly schedule of the 2006 version of the SFAS course included (US Army, 2006):

  • Week 1: In-processing; Army Physical Fitness Test; Swim Assessment; Rucksack Marches; Run Assessments; Medical Briefing; The Adult Basic Education Version ‘A’; MMPI; and DLAB.
  • Week 2: Land Navigation; Map Reading; Compass Course; Land Navigation Practical Exercises; and Land Navigation Exams.
  • Week 3: Team Events; and Long Range Movement.
  • Week 4: Out-counselling; Selection Board; Selection Ceremony; Security Interviews; and Out-processing.

For illustration only, the type of physical training a candidate could encounter on the SFAS course includes:

  • US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (9)Physical Fitness: Run 2 miles in under 14 minutes (7 minutes per mile), but closer to 12 minutes (6 minutes per mile) is preferred.
  • Run: 4 and 6‐mile runs, maintaining an 8 minute per mile pace.
  • Rucksack Marches: 6, 10 and 15 miles carrying 45lb rucksack without food or water (estimated average weight once food and water added is 60‐65lbs). Candidates should be able to maintain a 15 minutes per mile pace (i.e. 4 mph).

Candidates who successfully complete the SFAS course can move on to the Special Forces Qualification Course which is designed to develop Special Forces soldiers into experts in unconventional warfare.

  • Officer Candidates: After successful completion of SFAS, officer candidates will attend a Special Forces approved Captain’s Career Course (Section 3.5 below).
  • Enlisted Candidates: Return to their home station and await receipt of PCS orders to Fort Bragg (including family).
  • Enlisted Combat Medic Candidates: Refer to Section 3.6 below.

3.5     Special Forces Captain’s Career Course

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (12)As of Financial Year 2016 (FY16), officer candidates who successfully complete the SFAS course “will PCS to Fort Bragg to attend the ARSOF common core (Phase I of 18A Captain Career Course).” (HRC, 2015, p.4).

Phase I of the Special Forces Captain’s Career Course (CCC), is known as the Special Operations Forces Officer Common Core and is 12-weeks in duration (Special Warfare, 2015).

There are typically 8 courses per year, with 48 candidates per course (approximately 384 candidates per year).

The course utilises a curriculum approved by the School for Advanced Leadership and Tactics, and TRADOC, as well as manoeuvre lessons.

Following selection for promotion to the rank of Captain (OF-2), officers normally attend the branch Captain’s Career Course (CCC). This is typically the second major branch school officers attend before company-level command. The branch CCC has two phases:

  • Phase I: Consists of branch specific technical and tactical training with integrated common core instruction. This training prepares officers to command and train at the company, battery or troop level and to serve as staff officers at the battalion and brigade levels.
  • Phase II: This is the staff process phase (CAS3) which prepares officers to function as staff officers at battalion, brigade and division level. The aim of the course is to improve an officer’s ability to analyse and solve military problems, improve the ability to interact and coordinate as a member of a staff, improve communication skills and understand Army organisations, operations and procedures.

The purpose of Phase I of the 18A CCC is to educate newly selected SF captains in applying the art and science of mission command at the company, battalion, and brigade levels by focusing lessons on Army doctrine, planning methodologies, training management, unified land operations, and manoeuvre, tied together through aspects of critical and creative thinking, resulting in agile and adaptive leaders. A capstone exercise then leverages the latest mission command system and technology in a week-long high-paced ULO exercise that reflects the current operating environments.

Prior to the introduction of a specific 18A CCC, candidates attended a Special Forces approved Captain’s Career Course (USANG, 2016b), for example:

  • 16-week Manoeuvre Captain’s Career Course (MCCC), located at Fort Benning in Georgia.
  • Infantry or Armour Captain’s Career Course.

3.6     Special Operations Combat Medic Course

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (8)The Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) course is 36-weeks in duration and is delivered by the Joint Special Operation Medical Training Centre, located at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

There are typically eight courses, of 87 students, per year and candidates must successfully complete the SOCM course no more than 2-years prior to entering the 18D Medical Sergeant Course (Phase IV of the Special Forces Qualification Course), which is for enlisted candidates (US Army, US Navy and US Air Force) who have or will be assigned to a special operations medical job (Special Warfare, 2015).

This progressive course, which consists of 19 academic modules, is designed to take an individual from having no medical background to performing acute lifesaving interventions in just 36-weeks, and will teach the new medic the skills and knowledge required to manage combat casualties from initial point of injury through to evacuation (thus increasing team survivability).

Other benefits of the course include:

  • Teaching students the skills that enable them to prescribe appropriate treatments for diagnosed diseases in accordance with tactical medical emergency protocols and their corresponding formulary.
  • Certification as National Registry Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) at the basic level.
  • Qualifying in basic life support, paediatric education for pre-hospital providers and advanced cardiac life support.

Finally, during the SOCM course candidates must take the Advanced Tactical Paramedic Examination, which is a cumulative, externally promulgated written exam administered by the USSOCOM ATP Certification Committee which must be passed in order to deploy as a USSOCOM medic.

3.7     Special Forces Qualification Course

Following successful completion of the SFAS course, and any other prerequisite courses, candidates will be scheduled to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). SFQC is also known as the ‘Q’ course and is a “67 week” course (Special Warfare, 2015, p.30).

The SFQC consists of six sequential phases of training, upon completion of which candidates earn the right to wear the Special Forces tab and don the famous Green Beret.

Each of these phases is designed to foster an expertise (focusing on core SF tactical competencies in support of surgical strike and special warfare) in the following areas: Career Management Field 18 MOS classification; Small Unit Tactics; Unconventional Warfare; Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE); language proficiency; and regional cultural understanding.

For accuracy, enlisted candidates attend the SFQC and officer candidates attend the Special Forces Detachment Officer Qualification Course (SFDOQC).

3.8     SFQC Phase I: Introduction to Unconventional Warfare

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret, CakePhase I of the SFQC is Introduction to Unconventional Warfare, is 6-weeks in duration and separated into five modules. In the past, it has been known as Course Orientation, Course Orientation and History, and as the Special Forces Orientation Course.

There are typically 6 courses per year, with 240 candidates per course (approximately 1440 candidates per year), which are delivered by 4th Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne).

The purpose of Phase I is to act as an introduction to US Army Special Forces and topics covered include:

  • Special Forces History;
  • Doctrine;
  • ACEP/ATL;
  • Methods of instruction;
  • Negotiation and mediation;
  • Medical wellness screening and assessment;
  • Introduction to Human Dynamics (THOR3, Adaptive Thinking and Leadership and Regional Analysis);
  • Organisation;
  • Command and control (C2 architecture);
  • Core tasks and mission;
  • Special Forces attributes;
  • Special Forces mission planning;
  • PMESII-PT system of regional analysis;
  • Land navigation;
  • Introduction to small unit tactics;
  • Patrol orders and Troop leading procedures;
  • Introduction to branch/MOS and duties and responsibilities of each 18 series MOS;
  • Physical fitness and nutrition;
  • Airborne refresher;
  • Introduction to unconventional warfare; and
  • Participation in the CULEX (Robin Sage) as a member of a guerrilla force to establish a foundational understanding of unconventional warfare.

3.9     SFQC Phase II: Small Unit Tactics and SERE Training

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (11)Phase II of the SFQC is Small Unit Tactics (SUT) and is 13-weeks in duration.

There are typically 6 courses per year, with 240 candidates per course (approximately 1440 candidates per year).

The purpose of Phase II is to act as an in-depth study of and practicum to US Army Special Forces small unit tactics, providing the tactical combat skills required to successfully operate as a competent team member of a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha (SFOD-A). Topics covered include:

  • Basic and advanced combat rifle marksmanship (1-week);
  • Small-unit tactics, at the Squad and Platoon level (5-weeks);
  • Special Forces common tasks or common skills training (2-weeks);
  • Urban warfare operations;
  • Special Forces mission analysis;
  • Advanced Special Operations Level 1 techniques;
  • Sensitive-site exploitation (SSE) procedures;
  • Military decision-making process (MDMP);
  • Tactical Operations Orders; and
  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Level C training (15-days).

3.10     SFQC Phase III: Military Occupational Specialty Training

Phase III of SFQC is MOS Training and is 16-weeks in duration.

There are typically 6 courses per year, with 48 candidates per 18B/C/E course, 40 candidates per 18D course, and 24 candidates per 18A course (approximately 1248 candidates per year).

The purpose of Phase III is to provide candidates with their employment training within their MOS. Topics covered in this phase of training depend on the MOS. The decision of which MOS and foreign language a candidate will be trained in is based upon their personal background, aptitude scores (AFQT and DLAB), personal desire and needs of the Special Forces unit they will join.

Each candidates attending SFQC is assigned to one of five Special Forces Career Management Field 18 (CMF 18) MOS for enlisted candidates or Area of Concentration (Branch 18) for officer candidates. Table 3 provides an outline MOS training.

 Table 3: Outline of MOS training
Week Purpose Description
18A Detachment Officer Course
  • This course trains selected officers in the critical branch (18A) tasks and competencies required to perform the duties of a detachment commander of a SFOD-A.
  • It focuses on the full operational spectrum of problem analysis and resolution design associated with SF core missions across the elements of the national power spectrum.
  • Duties and functional-area familiarisation of the 18 series MOSs (communications, engineer, medical, weapons, intelligence) include: the military decision-making process; special operations mission planning; adaptive thinking and leadership; special reconnaissance; direct action; unconventional warfare; foreign internal defence; counterinsurgency operations; military operations in urban terrain; interagency operations; warrior skills; advanced special operations skills; OPFUND management; elements of national power considerations; culture; in-depth core mission analysis; information operations, planning and conduct of ODA training; and three field training exercises.
18B Weapons Sergeant Course
  • This course trains and qualifies NCOs in the basic skills and knowledge required to perform duties as a weapons sergeant within an SFOD-A.
    Direct- and Indirect-fire systems and procedures: mortars, light/heavy weapons, sniper systems, anti-armour systems, forward observer and fire direction centre procedures, close-air support; warrior skills; combatives; plan and conduct training; field training exercises. Modules include:
  • Module A Light Weapons: The purpose of this module is to produce a weapons sergeant capable of employing, maintaining and engaging targets with select US and foreign pistols, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns and machine guns and grenade launchers.
  • Module B Heavy Weapons: the purpose of this module is to produce a weapons sergeant capable of employing, maintaining and engaging targets with select US and foreign anti-armour weapons, crew-served weapons, mortars and in the utilisation of observed fire procedures.
  • Module C Tactics: The purpose of this module is to produce a weapons sergeant proficient in SF and light-infantry tactics through platoon-level in a FID environment. This encompasses mounted operations, base defence and weapons employment techniques.
  • Tactics FTX: This module develops the student’s knowledge, skills and understanding of the SF weapons sergeant on TTP that affects mission planning as it pertains to SF operations. This will increase the student’s understanding of their operational environment.
18C Engineer Sergeant Course
  • This course trains and qualifies NCOs in the basic skills and knowledge required to perform duties as an engineer sergeant within an SFOD-A.
    Basic military construction techniques and procedures; basic and intermediate demolitions; UXO/IED; target analysis/interdiction and mission planning; plan and conduct training; and field-training exercises. Modules include:
  • Module A. Special Operations Construction: To provide students with knowledge and training in the role of an SF engineer; blueprints (read/design); construction of a masonry wall; welding; concrete construction, types and siting of obstacles, wire obstacles, fighting positions, bunkers and shelters, camp construction/fortification, heavy equipment operations, electrical wiring, plumbing and logistical operations.
  • Module B. Demolitions: To provide students with baseline knowledge of explosives theory, their characteristics and common uses, calculates for various types of charges and standard methods of priming and placing these charges. Lesson plans includes explosive entry techniques, demolition material, demolition safety, firing systems, calculation and placement of charges, expedient charges and range operations.
  • Module C. UXO/IED: To provide students with knowledge and skills in the construction, demolition and emplacement of special-purpose munitions and unexploded ordnance, including IEDs. Homemade explosives.
  • Module D. Reconnaissance: To provide students with knowledge and training in target analysis/interdiction and mission planning.
    Module E. Engineer Field Training Exercise: To complete the foreign internal defence scenario-based 18C SF engineer tasks.
18D Medical Sergeant Course
  • Medical sergeants specialise in trauma management, infectious diseases, cardiac life support and surgical procedures, with a basic understanding of veterinary and dental medicine.
    Both general healthcare and emergency healthcare are stressed in training.
  • Medical sergeants provide emergency, routine and long-term medical care for detachment members, associated allied members and host-nation personnel; establish field medical facilities to support unconventional warfare operations; provide veterinary care; prepare the medical portion of area studies, brief backs, and operation plans and orders.
  • Candidates selected for MOS 18D attend 250 days of advanced medical training, including the Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) course (Section 3.6).
  • They can recruit, organise, train, and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size.
18E Communications Sergeant Course
  • This course trains and qualifies NCOs in the basic skills and knowledge required to perform duties as a communications sergeant within an SFOD-A using some of the most sophisticated communications equipment in the Army.
  • The course provides training in computer applications (A+, NET+, SEC+), satellite radios, antenna theory and radio wave propagation. Soldiers will learn how to construct field-expedient antennas, employing communications procedures and techniques and communicate through HF, VHF and UHF spectrums, all culminating with a field training exercise. The goal is to develop a world-class SF communicator capable of employing, accessing and familiar with SF, joint and interagency communications. Modules include:
  • Module A. Communications/IT Foundations: The Computer Applications module instructs the Soldiers to become proficient in computer applications A+ training, NET+ and SEC+ training. The A+ training provides Soldiers the training necessary to troubleshoot and repair basic computer components, hard drives, power supplies, motherboards, video cards and other internal components of a computer. The NET+ training provides Soldiers the training necessary to network computers in a LAN and WAN and setting up servers and routers. The SEC+ training covers computer and network defensive security measures. Module A also covers basic communications foundations, such as Antenna Theory, Antennas, COMSEC, SDNLV(x), SOMPE-G and Falconview.
  • Module B. Tactical Communications Systems: The TCS module covers the common radios/systems in use such as the AN/PRC-150, AN/PRC-117G, AN/PRC-137, AN/PRC-148, AN/PYQ-10 (SKL), vehicles communications systems, Rover, MMBJ, FBCB2 along with associated operating programmes.
  • Module C: Field Communications Applications: This is a 7-hour, performance-based assessment where the students are placed in a field environment with a required individual equipment load. Students navigate between five different points. At each point, there is a communications performance exam. The student is briefed at each station of the action, condition and standard for that individual station. The following are the different areas that can be tested: FMLOS, HF and antenna theory, SATCOM and SDN-L. The movement lanes average around 8.5 kilometres (straight-line distance).
  • Module D. Field Performance Exam Max Gain: The field performance exam measures the Soldiers’ ability through testing and grading to measure the proficiency in the use and techniques of the equipment and procedures he was taught throughout the SF Communications Sergeant Course. The Soldiers must achieve a passing grade to become qualified.

The two MOS 180A (Special Forces Warrant Officer) and 18F (Special Forces Operations and Intelligence Sergeant) are for veteran SF personnel, and therefore not entry-level.

3.11     SFQC Phase IV: CULEX (Robin Sage)

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (4)Phase IV of the SFQC is the Unconventional Warfare Culmination Exercise, known as CULEX (Robin Sage), is 4-weeks in duration and has been in use for over 40 years.

There are typically 6 courses per year, with 144 candidates per course (approximately 1364 candidates per year).

The purpose of Phase IV is to act as a litmus test for candidates by testing their SF skills (acquired in individual and MOS training) within a realistic, practical unconventional warfare exercise.

Candidates are organised into squads (SFOD-A) and inserted into a notional country, made up of several counties spanning North Carolina, which is rife with political turmoil and armed conflict. Candidates must navigate the region and complete specified missions. Thus, candidates develop/hone their skills in unconventional warfare, advanced special operations techniques, air operations, the military decision-making process, and infiltration and exfiltration techniques.

Candidates must also assess the combat effectiveness of guerrilla forces (typically other earlier stage candidates) before training them in basic individual tasks from each of the MOSs, as well as collective tasks in basic small unit tactics.

3.12     SFQC Phase V: Language and Culture

US Army Special Forces, Green Beret (2)Phase V of SFQC is Language and Culture and is 24-weeks in duration.

The purpose of Phase V is to provide candidates with basic special operations language training in the language assigned to them at the completion of the SFAS course. Languages are broken into two categories based on their degree of difficulty.

  • Category I/II: French, Indonesian-Bahasa and Spanish; and
  • Category III/IV: Arabic, Chinese, Mandarin, Czech, Dari, Hungarian, Korean, Pashto, Persian, Farsi, Polish, Russian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Urdu and Pasto.

Candidates receive instruction in three basic language skills:

  • Speaking;
  • Participatory listening; and
  • Reading (limited).

The following areas of emphasis are covered during this phase of training:

  • Overview of physical and social systems;
  • Economics;
  • Politics and security;
  • Infrastructure and technology information; and
  • Culture and regional studies.

Language instruction focuses on functional application geared toward mission-related tasks, enhanced rapport-building techniques, cultural mitigation strategies, interpreting and control of interpreter methods.

To successfully complete Phase V, candidates must achieve a minimum Inter-agency Language Roundtable in listening and speaking as measured by the two-skill Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI).

3.13     SFQC Phase VI: Graduation and MFF

Soldiers stand in formation, preparing to don their Green Berets for the first time, during a Regimental First Formation ceremony. (Photo provided by USAJFKSWCS Public Affairs)
Soldiers stand in formation, preparing to don their Green Berets for the first time, during a Regimental First Formation ceremony. (Photo provided by USAJFKSWCS Public Affairs)

Phase VI is the final phase of the SFQC and is comprised of 5-weeks of out processing, the Regimental First Formation where students don their green berets (and Special Forces tab) for the first time, the graduation ceremony and Military Free Fall Parachutist Course (MFFPC).

Graduation focuses on the graduation ceremony and out-processing, is 1-week in duration, and celebrates candidates (not inconsiderable) achievements.

For the MFFPC, there are typically 14 courses per year, with 52 candidates per course (approximately 728 candidates each year). The course consists of two modules:

  1. MFF ground training: Packing of the Ram Air Parachute System main parachute, parachute donning procedures, emergency procedures and aircraft procedures/jump commands, and body stabilisation in the vertical wind tunnel.
  2. MFF operations: Aircraft procedures, emergency procedures, body stabilisation and how to exit an aircraft from the door or ramp using dive or poised exit positions. Rigging of weapons, combat equipment, night vision goggles and the use of portable oxygen equipment. MFF parachute operations consist of MFF parachute jumps from altitudes of 9,500 to 25,000 feet with and without weapons, combat equipment, night vision goggles (NVGs) and supplemental oxygen system in day and night conditions.

PART FOUR: MISCELLANEOUS

4.0     Summary

US Army Special Forces training is open to all male and female officers and enlisted personnel of the US military. US Army Special Forces training seeks to attract determined, highly-motivated, intelligent, reliable and physically fit individuals to serve with the US Army’s Special Forces Groups. This article provides the basic information to allow individuals to make an informed judgement before applying for US Army Special Forces training.

4.1     TV Documentaries

First aired in November 2003, ‘Inside Special Forces’ was a 1-hour National Geographic Special documentary which took a behind the scenes look at the US Army’s Special Forces.

4.2     Useful Documents

The following documents can be found within the various websites listed in the Useful Links Section below.

  • Future Soldiers Pre-Basic Training Task List: http://www.army-portal.com/pdf/pre-basic-training-tasklist.pdf [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].
  • MILPERS Message Number 14-220: FY15 Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) Officer Accession Panel Announcement (Regular Army): http://www.sorbrecruiting.com/Docs/Milper_Message_Number_14-220.doc. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].
  • AR 40-501 – Standards of Medical Fitness: http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r40_501.pdf. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].
  • DLPT Guides and Information: http://www.dliflc.edu/resources/dlpt-guides/. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].
  • DA Form 705 – Army Physical Fitness Test Scorecard, version May 2010: http://www.apd.army.mil/pub/eforms/pdf/a705.pdf. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].
  • US Army Doctrine and Training Publications (31 Series Collection, Special Operations): http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/31_Series_Collection_1.html
  • USAREC Pamphlet 601-25 – In-Service Special Forces Recruiting Programme (Officer & Enlisted) (2006-11-14).
  • Soldier’s Manual and Trainer’s Guide MOS 18 (http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/STP_1.html [Accessed: 17 February, 2016]):
    • STP-31-18-SM-TG: Soldier’s Manual and Trainer’s Guide MOS 18 Special Forces Common Skills Skill Levels 3 and 4 (2003-10-24).
    • STP 31-18B34-SM-TG: Soldier’s Manual and Trainer’s Guide MOS 18B Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Skill Levels 3 and 4 (2004-10-15).
    • STP 31-18C34-SM-TG: Soldier’s Manual and Trainer’s Guide MOS 18C Special Forces Engineer Sergeant Skill Levels 3 and 4 (2003-07-08).
    • STP 31-18D34-SM-TG: Soldier’s Manual and Training Guide MOS 18D Special Forces Medical Sergeant Skill Levels 3 and 4 (INCL C1) (2003-10-01).
    • STP 31-18D34-SM-TG, Chg 1: CHANGE 1 TO STP 31-18D34-SM-TG (2009-08-06).
    • STP 31-18E34-SM-TG: Soldier’s Manual and Trainer’s Guide MOS 18E Special Forces Communications Sergeant Skill Levels 3 and 4 (2010-02-08).
    • STP 31-18F4-SM-TG: Soldier’s Manual and Trainer’s Guide MOS 18F Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant Skill Level 4 (1994-09-20).
  • FM 3-05: Army Special Operations (2014-09-01).

4.3     Useful Books and Magazines

Alderks, C.E. (1997) Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) Course: Similarities and Differences of Candidates Based on Phase Performance. PLACE: US Army Research Institute for Behavioural and Social Sciences.

Bahmanyar, M. (2005) Elite 113 – US Navy SEALs. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

Banks, L.M. (2002) The History of Special Operations Psychological Selection. Available from World Wide Web: users.idworld.net/dmangels/banks-.doc. [Accessed: 18 February, 2016].

Darby, M.J. (2004) Mind Games. All Hands: Magazine of the U.S. Navy. August 2004, pp.14-23. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/department_arch2004.html. [Accessed: 08 February, 2016].

Earl, C.F. (2014) Green Berets: Special Forces: Protecting, Building, Teaching and Fighting. Broomall, Pennsylvania: Mason Crest Publishers.

Ethos: Magazine of US Naval Special Warfare: http://www.sealswcc.com/navy-seals-ethos-magazine.html#.VriYOFh4aM8

Fairbrother, B. et al. (1992) Nutritional and Immunological Assessment of Soldiers during the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a299556.pdf. [Accessed: 18 February, 2016].

Hamilton, J. (2011) Green Berets. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Abdo Publishing Ltd.

Liptak, E. (2009) Elite 173: Office of Strategic Services 1942-45: The World War II Origins of the CIA. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd.

Liptak, E. (2014) Elite 203: World War II Navy Special Warfare Units. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

McNab, C. (2013) America’s Elite: US Special Forces from the American Revolution to the Present Day. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

Slater, L. (2016) Green Berets. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Abdo Publishing Ltd.

Stephenson, M., Dawes, J. & Snyder, S. (2007) Training for the Tactical Athlete: Assessment and Selection (SFAS). Colorado Springs, Colorado: National Strength and Conditioning Association. http://www.uscg.mil/SAPR/docs/pdf/SFAS%20prep%20book.pdf. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].

USSOCOM (US Special Operations Command) (2016) 2016 Fact Book United States Special Operations Command. MacDill Air Force Base, Florida: USSOCOM.

Werner, B. (2006) Elite 45: First Special Service Force 1942-44. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd.

White, S.S., Mueller-Hanson, R.A., Dorsey, D.W., Pulakos, E.D., Wisecarver, M.M., Deagle III, E.A. & Mendini, K.G. (2005) Developing Adaptive Proficiency in Special Forces Officers. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/rr1831.pdf. [Accessed: 18 February, 2016].

4.4     Useful Links

4.5     References

Beal, S.A. (2010) The Roles of Perseverance, Cognitive Ability, and Physical Fitness in the U.S. Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA525579&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf. [Accessed: 18 February, 2016].

Edison, J.J. (2004) Unit Activates to Prepare Volunteers for Special Forces Selection. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.professionalsoldiers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1759. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].

Horn, B. & Balasevicius, T. (eds) (2007) Casting Light on the Shadows: Canadian Perspectives on Special Operations Forces. Kingston, Ontario: Canadian Defence Academy Press.

HRC (United States Army Human Resource Command) (2015) Milper Message Number 15-248: FY16 Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) Officer Accession Panel Announcement (Regular Army). Available from World Wide Web: https://www.hrc.army.mil/Milper/PrintPreview.aspx?MILPERID=15-248. [Accessed: 18 February, 2016].

Martin, J. (2010) Birth of the Special Operations Preparation Course. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.armystrongstories.com/Story/Show/commander-us-army-parachute-team#.VsMO0fJ4aM8. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].

Pellerin, C. (2015) SecDef Opens all Military Occupations to Women. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.therecruiterjournal.com/secdef-opens-all-military-occupations-to-women.html. [Accessed: 04 December, 2015].

SORB (Special Operations Recruiting Battalion) (2015) Special Forces Training Overview. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.sorbrecruiting.com/SF_Training2.htm. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].

Special Warfare (2015) USAJFKSWCS Academic Handbook FY 2016: Special Edition. Special Warfare: The Magazine of the US Army Special Operations Command. 03 August 2015. Fort Bragg, North Carolina: US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre and School.

US Army (2006) USAREC Pamphlet 601-25: In-Service Special Forces Recruiting Program (Officer and Enlisted). 14 November 2006. Fort Knox, Kentucky: HQ US Army Recruiting Command.

US Army (2016) Special Forces: Training. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.goarmy.com/special-forces/training.html. [Accessed: 16 February, 2016].

USANG (United States Army National Guard) (2016a) Special Forces Non-Prior Service Applicants. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.nationalguard.com/special-forces-non-prior-service-applicants. [Accessed: 17 February, 2016].

USANG (United States Army National Guard) (2016b) Special Forces Prior Service Applicants. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.nationalguard.com/special-forces-prior-service-applicants. [Accessed: 18 February, 2016].

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