- Special Forces (United States Army)
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Special Forces branch
caption=United States Army Special Forces shoulder sleeve insignia
De Oppresso Liber" ("To Liberate the Oppressed")
United States Army
dates= June 19, 1952 –Present
United States of America
United States Army Special Operations Command(USASOC) United States Special Operations Command(USSOCOM)
specialization=Counter-Terrorism, Direct Action, Foreign Internal Defense, Special Activities, Special Reconnaissance, Unconventional Warfare, Guerrilla Warfare
Vietnam War Operation Urgent Fury Operation Just Cause Operation Desert Storm Operation Enduring Freedom Operation Iraqi Freedom
anniversaries=The Special Forces (Special Forces, SF, or Green Berets) are the foundational branch of the larger elite
special operationsforces (SOF), which is now a part of the United States Army Special Operations Command(USASOC), a component of United States Special Operations Command(SOCOM).
Special Forces units are tasked with eight primary missions: unconventional warfare,
foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, psychological operations and information operations. The first two emphasize language, cultural, and training skills in working with foreign troops. Other duties include coalition warfare and support, combat search and rescue(CSAR), security assistance, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian deminingand counter-drug operations; other components of the United States Special Operations Commandor other U.S. government activities may be the specialize in these secondary areascitation
title=Joint Publication 3-05: Doctrine for Joint Special Operations
date = 17 December 2003
Joint Chiefs of Staff] Many of their operational techniques are classified, but some nonfiction workscitation
first1 =Douglas C. | last1 = Waller
title = The Commandos: The Inside Story of America’s Secret Soldiers
publisher = Dell Publishing
year = 1994] and doctrinal manuals are available. citation
url = http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-05.pdf
title = FM 3-05: Army Special Operations Forces
publisher = US Department of the Army
date = September 2006] cite web
url = http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-05-102.pdf
title = FM 3-05.102 Army Special Forces Intelligence
date = 2001-07
title = Joint Publication 3-05.5: Special Operations Targeting and Mission Planning Procedures
year = 1993
url = http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/new_pubs/jp3_05_5.pdf
accessdate = 2007-11-13
author = Joint Chiefs of Staff]
Their official motto is "
De Oppresso Liber" ( Latin: "To Liberate the Oppressed"), a reference to one of their primary missions to train and assist foreign indigenous forces. [citation
title=Special Forces Mission
work=Special Forces Search Engine ]
Currently, Special Forces units are deployed in
Operation Iraqi Freedom. They are also deployed with other SOCOM elements as the primary American military force in the ongoing War in Afghanistan. As special operations units, the Special Forces are not necessarily under orders from the ground commanders of those countries. Instead, while in theatre, operators report directly to United States Central Command.
History and traditions
The US Special Forces was established out of several special operations units that were active during
World War II. Formally, its lineage comes from the 1st Special Service Force (Devil's Brigade), but that unit was more a Special Reconnaissance (SR) and Direct Action (DA) command, which operated in uniform without augmentation by local soldiers. While there were US Army Ranger units in WWII, and 1st Special Service Force was more like a brigade-sized Ranger unit, the current 75th Ranger Regiment's lineage traces back to the WWII Ranger battalions. Arthur D. "Bull" Simons served with WWII Ranger units in the Pacific, and was to become a legendary Special Forces commander.
Some of the
Office of Strategic Servicesunits have much more similarity, in mission, with the original Army Special Forces mission, Unconventional Warfare(UW), or acting as cadreto train and lead guerrillas in occupied countries. The Special Forces motto, "de oppresso liber" (Latin: "free the oppressed") reflects this historical mission of guerrilla warfareagainst an occupier. Specifically, the 3-man Operation Jedburghunits provided leadership to French Resistanceunits. The larger OSS Operational Groups (OG) were more associated with SR/DA missions, although they did work with Resistance units. COL Aaron Bank, commander of the first Special Forces group, served in OSS during WWII.
While Fil-American guerrilla operations in the Japanese-occupied Philippines are not part of the direct lineage of Army Special Forces, some of the early Special Forces leadership were involved in advising and creating the modern organization. They included
Russell Volckmann, who had commanded guerrillas in North Luzonand then in the Korean War, [citation
url = http://www.timyoho.com/BVAPage/HistoryPsyWar/PsyWarHistory.htm
title = The History of PsyWar after WWII and Its Relationship to Special Forces
accessdate = 2007-11-21
id = Timyoho]
Donald Blackburn, who also served with the North Luzon force; and Wendell Fertig, who developed a division-sized force on Mindanao.
During the Korean War,
United Nations Partisan Forces Koreaoperated on islands and behind enemy lines. These forces were also known as the 8086th Army Unit, and then as the Far East Command Liaison Detachment, Korea, FECLD-K 8240th AU. These troops directed North Korea's partisans in raids, harassment of supply lines and the rescue of downed pilots. Since the initial Special Forces unit, 10 Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated on 19 June 1952, but the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950, Army Special Forces did not operate as a unit in that war. Experience gained in that war, however, influenced the development of Special Forces doctrine. US Army Special Forces (SF) are, along with psychological operations detachments and Rangers, the oldest of the post-WWII Army units in the current United States Special Operations Command(USSOCOM). Their distinctive uniform item is the Green Beret. Their original mission was to train and lead Unconventional Warfare(UW) forces, or a guerrilla force in an occupied nation. 10th Special Forces Group was the first deployed unit, intended to operate UW forces behind enemy lines in the event of a Warsaw Pactinvasion of Western Europe. As the US become involved in Southeast Asia, it was realized that specialists trained to lead guerrillas also could help defend against hostile guerrillas, so SF acquired the additional mission of Foreign Internal Defense (FID), working with Host Nation (HN) forces in a spectrum of counter-guerrilla activities from indirect support to combat command.
Special Forces personnel qualify both in advanced military skills, and also specialize in an area of the world, for which they learn languages and culture. While they have a Direct Action (DA) capability, other units, such as
Rangers, are more focused on overt direct action raids, in uniform but potentially behind enemy lines. SF personnel have the training to carry out covert DA, and other missions, including clandestine SR. Other missions include peace operations, counterproliferation, counterdrug advisory roles, and other strategic missions. As strategic resources, they report either to USSOCOM or are assigned to Unified Combatant Commands.
Their lineage dates back to more than 200 years of unconventional warfare history, with notable predecessors including the
Revolutionary War"Swamp Fox" Francis Marion, the WWII OSS Jedburgh Teams and OSS Detachment 101in Burma, as well as the Alamo Scouts. Since their establishment in 1952, Special Forces soldiers have distinguished themselves in Vietnam (17 Medals of Honor), El Salvador, Panama, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and, in an FID role, with JTF-Horn of Africa, which is becoming Africa Command.
SF team members work closely together and rely on each other for long periods of time, both during deployments and in garrison. Because of this, they develop close relationships and personal ties. SF
noncommissioned officers (NCO) often spent their entire careers in Special Forces, but, until the recent emphasis on the broad range of Special Operations and the creation of the USSOCOM, officers sometimes found the higher ranks closed to SF specialists. This has changed dramatically, with SF-qualified officers in four-star positions such as USSOCOM Commander and Army Chief of Staff.
Creation of Army Special Forces
Special Forces were formed in 1952, initially under the US Army Psychological Warfare Division headed by then-BG
Robert A. McClure.cite web
url = http://www.psywarrior.com/mcclure.html
title = Major General Robert Alexis McClure: Forgotten Father of US Army Special Warfare
author = Paddock, Alfred H. Jr.
accessdate = 2007-12-09] For details of the early justification for Special Forces, see
Clandestine HUMINT and Covert Action.
Special Operations Command was formed by the US Army Psychological Warfare Center which was activated in May 1952. The initial
10th Special Forces Groupwas formed in June 1952, and was commanded by Colonel Aaron Bank. Its formation coincided with the establishment of the Psychological Warfare School, which is now known as the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.citation
title = From OSS to Green Beret
first1 = Aaron | last1 = Bank
publisher = Pocket
year = 1987] Bank served with various
Office of Strategic Services(OSS) units, including Jedburgh teams advising and leading French Resistanceunits before the Battle of Normandy, or the D-Day invasion of 6 June 1944. COL Bank is known as the father of the Special Forces.
The 10th SFG deployed to
Bad Tölz, Germanythe following September, The remaining cadreat Fort Bragg, North Carolinaformed the 77th Special Forces Group, which in May 1960 became 7th Special Forces Group. [citation
title=Special Forces History
work=United States Army Special Operations Command ]
The Green Beret
Edson Raff, one of the first Special Forces officers, is credited with introducing the green beret, [cite web |url=http://www.groups.sfahq.com/sf_heraldry/beret/history.htm |title=History: Special Forces Green Beret |accessdate=2007-03-08 |format= |work=Special Forces Search Engine ] which was originally unauthorized for wear by the U.S. Army. In 1961, President John F. Kennedyauthorized them for use exclusively by the US Special Forces. Preparing for an October 12visit to the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the President sent word to the Center's commander, Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, for all Special Forces soldiers to wear the beret as part of the event. The President felt that since they had a special mission, Special Forces should have something to set them apart from the rest. In 1962, he called the green beret "a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom." Aside from the well-recognized beret, Special Forces soldiers are also known for their more informal attire than other members of the U.S. military.
"It was President Kennedy who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Special Forces and giving us back our Green Beret," said Forrest Lindley, a writer for the newspaper "Stars and Stripes" who served with Special Forces in Vietnam. "People were sneaking around wearing it when conventional forces weren't in the area and it was sort a cat and mouse game," he recalled. "When Kennedy authorized the Green Beret as a mark of distinction, everybody had to scramble around to find berets that were really green. We were bringing them down from Canada. Some were handmade, with the dye coming out in the rain."
Special Forces have a special bond with Kennedy, going back to his funeral. At the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of JFK's death, Gen. Michael D. Healy, the last commander of Special Forces in Vietnam, spoke at Arlington Cemetery. Later, a wreath in the form of the Green Beret would be placed on the grave, continuing a tradition that began the day of his funeral when a sergeant in charge of a detail of Special Forces men guarding the grave placed his beret on the coffin.citation
title = Washington Talk: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963; Hundreds Are in Capital For 25th Remembrance
journal = New York Times
first1 = Barbara | last1 = Gamarekian
date = 22 November 1988
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE6D81230F931A15752C1A96E948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all]
The men of the Green Beret caught the public's imagination and were the subject of a best selling, if semi-fictional, book "
The Green Berets" by Robin Moore,citation
title = The Green Berets
first1 = Robin | last1 = Moore
publisher = St. Martin's Paperbacks
year = 2002] a hit record, "
Ballad of the Green Berets" written and performed by Barry Sadler, " The Green Berets (film)" produced, directed, and starring John Wayneand a comic stripand American comic book"Tales of the Green Beret" written by Robin Moorewith artwork by Joe Kubert. See United States Army Special Forces in popular culture.
First deployment in
Cold War-era Europe
10th Special Forces Group was responsible, among other missions, to operate a
stay-behindguerrilla operation after a presumed Soviet overrunning of Western Europe. Through the Lodge-Philbin Act, it acquired a large number of Eastern European immigrants who brought much area and language skills. As well as preparing for the Warsaw Pactinvasion that never came, Vietnam and other areas of South Vietnam, El Salvador, Colombia, Panama and Afghanistanare the major modern conflicts that have defined the Special Forces.
outheast Asia (
Special Forces units deployed to
Laosas "Mobile Training Teams" (MTTs) in 1961 ( Project White Starlater named Project 404), and they were among the first U.S. troops committed to the Vietnam War.citation
title = History of Special Forces in Vietnam, 1961-1971
publisher = Center for Military History, Department of the Army
first = Francis John | last = Kelly
year = 1972] Beginning in the early 1950s, Special Forces teams deployed from the United States and
Okinawato serve as advisers for the fledgling South Vietnamese Army. As the United States escalated its involvement in the war, Special Forces' mission expanded as well. Since Special Forces were trained to lead guerrillas, it seemed logical that they would have a deep understanding of counter-guerrilla actions, which became the Foreign internal defense(FID) mission. 5th Special Forces Group mixed the UW and FID missions, often leading Vietnamese units such as Montagnards and lowland Civilian Irregular Defense Groups. citation
url = http://www.campbell.army.mil/5thsfg.htm
title = 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)]
The deep raid on Son Tay, attempting to recover US prisoners of war, had a ground element completely made up of Special Forces soldiers.citation
title = The Raid: The Son Tay Prison Rescue Mission
first1 = Benjamin | last1 = Schlemmer
publisher = Ballantine Books
year = 2002] .
The main SF unit in South Vietnam was the
5th Special Forces Group(Airborne) earned seventeen Medals of Honor in Vietnam, making it the most prominently decorated unit for its size in that conflict. Army Special Forces personnel also played predominant roles in the highly secret Military Assistance Command Vietnam(MACV) Studies and Observation Group, with an extraordinarily large number of covertU.S. militay personnel lost MIA while operating on SOG reconnaissance missions.
In the 1980s the US Special Forces were deployed to
El Salvador. The U.S. troops mission was to train the Salvadoran Military who at the time were fighting a civil war against left-wing guerrillas. They trained the Salvadorans for combat by providing them with military tactics and techniques. In 1992 the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Frontreached an agreement with the government of El Salvador. Successful in El Salvador, the 3rd Special Forces Group was reactivated in 1990 resulting in the current active duty Special Forces Group.
In the late 80's, there were major drug and terrorist problems within the Military's Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) which included all of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean (CARIBCOM). The 7th Special Forces were sent in conjunction with the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion to root out and eliminate the drug and terrorist problem. [http://www.americanspecialops.com/special-forces/] Officially labeled as a low to mid intensity conflict, Washington insiders knew that it could become a hotbed for terrorists or even Warsaw-pact forces that has a strong presence within Latin America.Fact|date=March 2008 As the 7th SF began their sweepClarifyme|date=March 2008 they met strong resistance and even took casualties but with the advent of new weapons Clarifyme|date=March 2008they were able to reduce the amount of casualties to a minimum and actually at one point in the fight to keep both the terrorists and the Soviets from gaining ground within Latin America.
In late 1988, tensions between the United States and
Panamawere extremely high with the Panamanian leader, Manuel Noreiga, calling for the dissolution of the agreement that allowed the United States to have bases in his country. However, the U.S. maintained their bases until everything came to a head in late December, 1989. Several Panamanian defense force members stopped the car of a young Navy LT , pulled him out of the car, stated that he was guilty of atrocities in Panama (which was not true, he had not been on any missions except to report to Panama) and then executed him in the street. Marines recovered the body and reported back to SECDEF (Secretary of Defense) who then reported to the President. The President then activated the planning section for Operation Just Cause / Promote Liberty. Just Cause was the portion of the mission to depose Noreiga and return Panama to democracy. [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/just_cause.htm] Originally scheduled to begin at 0200 hrs. on December 20th, it actually kicked off at 2315 hrs when part of a Special Forces detachment that was waiting for the signal to begin was discovered above a gate above a Panamanian checkpoint. Just Cause was the first mission to have a very large contingent of Special Operations Forces on the ground. The units that were involved with the mission were as follows: Joint Task Force Delta (Delta Force), Joint Task Force South (7th SFG, 5th SFG, 3rd SFG, 4th PSYOP Grp, 101st Air Assault, 75th Rangers), and numerous other units from other forces such as the Navy SEALs, Marine LRRPs, and Air Force CBT. The mission was successful overall and lead to stability in the region.Clarifyme|date=March 2008
Special Forces units were the first military units that went into
Afghanistanafter the September 11, 2001 attacks, although CIA paramilitary officers did do some preparation. A number of Special Forces operational detachments worked with Afghan Northern Alliancetroops, acting as a force multiplier, especially by using new techniques for precise direction of heavy air support. Units also trained the first troops of the new Afghan National Army.
Special Forces participated in the initial invasion of Iraq, by infiltrating through the north and coming down through the Debecka Pass and clearing it on their way to Baghdad. When major combat operations were declared over, the Iraqi Army was disbanded and Special Forces was charged with building and training a new Iraqi Army. Since then, Special Forces have had large numbers of operators conducting combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan with their respective armies. Although all Special Forces Groups (SFGs) have operated in Iraq and Afghanistan, typically 3rd and 7th SFGs deploy to Afghanistan and 1st, 5th, and 10th SFGs mainly deploy to Iraq. Although Army National Guard SFGs (19th and 20th) deploy less then Active Duty SFGs, they usually deploy to Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Special Forces is divided into five
Active Duty(AD) and two Army National Guard(ARNG) Special Forces groups. Each Active Duty Special Forces Group (SFG) has a specific regional focus. The Special Forces soldiers assigned to these groups receive intensive language and cultural training for countries within their regional area of responsibility (AOR).citation
url = http://www.soc.mil/SF/SF_default.htm
title = United States Army Special Forces Command] Due to the increased need for Special Forces soldiers in the
War on Terror, all Groups—including those of the National Guard (19th and 20th SFGs)—have been deployed outside of their areas of operation (AOs), particularly to Iraqand Afghanistan.
Operational Team - SF Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) composition
A Special Forces company consists of six ODAs (Operational Detachments Alpha) or Alpha Detachments. Formerly, they were referred to as "A-teams", but this has fallen out of favor since the 1980s. The number of ODAs can vary from company to company, with each ODA specializing in an infiltration skill or mission set (e.g. HALO, combat diving, mountain, maritime operations, etc).
An ODA typically consists of 12 men, each of whom has a specific function (MOS or
Military Occupational Specialty) on the team. The ODA is led by an 18A (Detachment Commander), usually a Captain, and a 180A (Detachment Technician) who is his second in command, usually a Warrant Officer One or Chief Warrant Officer Two. The team also contains the following enlisted men: one 18Z (Operations Sergeant), usually a Master Sergeant, one 18F ( Assistant Operations Sergeant), usually a Sergeant First Class, and two each of 18B (Weapons Sergeant), 18C (Engineer Sergeant), 18D (Medical Sergeant), and 18E (Communications Sergeant). The B's, C's, D's and E's work in senior/junior roles with the seniors, ideally having the rank of Sergeant First Class, and the juniors having the rank of Staff Sergeant or Sergeant.
Company - SF Operational Detachment-Bravo (ODB) composition
A Special Forces company, when in need, will deploy an Operational Detachment Bravo, (ODB) or "B-team," usually composed of 11-13 soldiers. While the A-team typically conducts direct operations, the purpose of the B-team is to support the A-teams in the company. There is one B-team per company.
The ODB is led by an 18A, usually a Major, who is the
Company Commander(CO). The CO is assisted by his Company Executive Officer(XO), another 18A, usually a Captain. The XO is himself assisted by a company technician, a 180A, generally a Chief Warrant Officer Three, and assists in the direction of the organization, training, intelligence, counter-intelligence, and operations for the company and its detachments. The Company Commander is assisted by the Company Sergeant Major, an 18Z, usually a Sergeant Major. A second 18Z acts as the Operations NCO, usually a Master Sergeant, who assists the XO and Technician in their operational duties. He has an 18F Assistant Operations NCO, who is usually a Sergeant First Class. The company's support comes from an 18D Medical Sergeant, usually a Sergeant First Class, and two 18E Communications Sergeants, usually a Sergeant First Class and Staff Sergeant.
Note the distinct lack of a weapons or engineer NCO. This is because the B-Team generally does not engage in direct operations, but rather operates in support of the A-Teams within its company. Each SF company has one ODA that specializes in HALO (military free fall parachuting) and one trained in combat diving. Other ODA specialties include military mountaineering, maritime operations, and personnel recovery.
The following jobs are outside of the Special Forces 18-series CMF, but hold positions in a Special Forces B-Team. They are not themselves considered to be Special Forces, as they have not completed SFAS and SFQC:
* The Supply NCO, usually a Staff Sergeant, the commander's principal logistical planner, works with the battalion S-4 to supply the company.
* The Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) NCO, usually a Sergeant, maintains and operates the company's NBC detection and contamination equipment, and assists in administering NBC defensive measures. [cite web |url=http://www.campbell.army.mil/sf/structure.htm |title= Structure |accessdate=2007-03-08 |format= |work=Fort Campbell Internet Home Page ]
In a regular force troop, this level of command could be compared to a company (although the commander is a Major (O-4) and not a Captain (O-3))
Battalion - SF Operational Detachment-Charlie (ODC) composition
A C-team is one of the operational detachments of the Special Forces. It is a pure command and control unit with operations, training, signals and logistic support responsibilities. Its basic organization follows the same lines with a Lieutenant-Colonel (O-5) for commander and a Command Sergeant Major (E-9) for the leading NCO. There are an additional 20-30 SF personnel who fill key positions in Operations, Logistics, Intelligence, Communications and Medical. A Special Forces battalion usually consists of 3 companies.
F group strength
Until recently an SF Group has consisted of three Battalions, but since the Department of Defense has authorized US Army Special Forces Command to increase its authorized strength by one third; a fourth Battalion will be activated in each Active Duty Group by 2012.
A Special Forces Group is usually assigned to a
Unified Combatant Commandor theater of operations. The Charlie detachment is responsible for a theater or major subcomponent, and can raise brigade or larger guerrilla forces. Subordinate to it are the Bravo detachments, which can operate battalion and larger forces. Further subordinate, the Alpha detachments typically raise company sized units when on UW missions. They can form 6-man "split A" detachments that are often used for Special Reconnaissance (SR).
election and training
Entry into Special Forces
Entry into Special Forces begins with Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS).citation
url = http://www.goarmy.com/special_forces/
title = Special Forces Overview
author = Department of the Army] Getting 'Selected' at SFAS (Phase 1) will allow a candidate to continue onto the next four phases of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) (aka - 'The Q Course'). If a candidate successfully completes these next four phases he will graduate as a Special Forces Soldier and will be placed into a 12 man Operation Detachment Alpha (ODA) Team.
Pipelines to SFAS
A version of SFAS was first introduced as a selection mechanism in the Mid 1980's by the Commanding Officer at the time; Brigadier General James Guest.
Today, there are two ways that an individual can obtain orders allowing him (Army Special Forces is closed to females) to attend SFAS::* As an existing soldier in the US Army with the Enlisted rank of E-4 (Corporal/Specialist) or higher and for Officers the rank of O-2 (1st Lieutenant) promotable to O-3 (Captain) or existing O-3s. :* The other path is that of direct entry, referred to as Initial Accession. Here an individual who either has no prior military service or who has separated from military service is given the opportunity to attend SFAS. Both the Active Duty and National Guard components offer Special Forces Initial Accession programs. The Active Duty program is often referred to as the 18-Xray or 18X Program because of the Initial Entry Code that appears on the recruits orders.
In preparation an Initial Accession (IA) recruit will generally undertake upwards of six months of fulltime training prior to attending SFAS. This initial training comprises three parts:
One Station Unit Training(11X-OSUT) at Fort Benning, Georgiais essentially an Infantry-focused Basic Combat Training(BCT) and comprises:::*Firstly, 1 week (although sometimes two weeks) at the 30th AG Reception Battalion where a recruit is administratively prepared for entry into the United States Army. ::*Then 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training.::*And finally the recruit attends five weeks of Infantry Advanced Individual Training(AIT).:A recruit will graduate from this 16-week period with the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 11-Bravo or 11B (Infantryman).
:2. After Infantry OSUT, a recruit will attend the Basic Airborne Course (BAC) (aka - Jump School) held at the
United States Army Airborne Schoolalso situated at Fort Benning, Georgia. BAC is a three-week course designed to train a soldier in the skill of military parachuting. Should the soldier graduate this course - and not all do - he will receive orders authorizing him to wear the coveted 'jump wings' military parachutist insignia.
:3. Finally the recruit will attend the Special Forces Preparation and Conditioning (SFPC) Course I on Temporary Duty (TDY) at
Fort Bragg, North Carolina. SFPC is a four-week course with the purpose preparing both Initial Accession and non-combat arms Current Duty SF candidates for Phase I of the Special Forces Training Pipeline: Special Forces Assessment and Selection(SFAS).
:SFPC I focuses primarily on improving a candidates functional strength and cardiovascular fitness levels, military forced march ability (Rucking), and military Land Navigation skills; three major reasons for candidate attrition during SFAS.
Special Forces Assessment and Selection
SFAS is an evaluation that now lasts 14 days. As of December 2007 a shortened SFAS of 14 days was tested and finally approved.
Enlisted selection at SFAS is normally around 30-35%. Many will not even complete the course instead choosing to Voluntarily Withdraw (VW), some will become injured and be 'Medically Dropped', and not all who complete the course will be selected; a 'Board' may decide that a candidate is simply not Special Forces material or not yet ready to attempt the next phase in training.
Selection Outcomes:*Those who do quit or who are Involuntarily Withdrawn by the course Cadre due to obvious inadequacies are generally awarded an NTR or Not-to-Return status. This will generally end a candidate's opportunity to ever become a Special Forces soldier. Existing military candidates will return to their previous units and IA candidates will be transferred to an infantry unit as an 11B Infantryman.:*Generally candidates who are 'medically dropped' and who are not then medically discharged from the military due to serious injury are allowed to 'recycle' as soon as they are physically able to do so.:*Individuals who complete the course but are 'Boarded' and not selected are generally given the opportunity to attempt selection again in 12 or 24 months but at this time this reattempt period can be heavily affected by deployments.
Current Duty candidates usually return to their previous units to await being admitted to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). Because of the training backlog that the current Special Forces growth mission (33% over 5 years) has caused this wait can be anywhere from one to six months. Because an Initial Accession (IA) candidate lacks a 'previous unit' he will normally enter the Q Course immediately.
Active Duty candidates who successfully complete SFAS but are not already Airborne qualified are assigned a class date to attend Basic Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia prior to reporting to Ft. Bragg.
MOS, group, and language selection
Upon selection at SFAS all Active Duty Enlisted Current Duty and IA candidates will be briefed on the:*The five Special Forces Active Duty Groups:*The four Special Forces Military Occupational Specialities (MOS) initially open to them :*And the numerous languages that each Special Forces Group specializes in
They will then fill in what is often referred to as a 'Wish List'. In this list an enlisted selected candidate will rank in order of preference the MOS he desires to be trained in (Bravo, Charlie, Delta, or Echo) and both selected enlisted and selected officer candidates will list in order of preference the Group he wishes to initially serve in (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th) and the language he desires to be trained in.
Language selection is dependent on the candidates
Defense Language Aptitude Battery(DLAB) test score and which Group they are placed into. Different Groups focus on different areas of responsibilities (AORs) which require different languages.
A Board will immediately convene to assign each enlisted and officer candidate his MOS, Group placement, and Language. The MOS, Group, and Language that a selected candidate is assigned is not guaranteed and is based upon the needs of the Special Forces community, but it is understood that generally 80% of selected candidates are awarded their primary choices.
Upon successful completion of the Q-Course the recently graduated Active Duty Special Forces Soldier will be given orders to Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to the group they were given after SFAS.
Both Current Duty and IA National Guard (ARNG) selected candidates will have already negotiated their MOS and Language selected and had it written into their enlistment contract prior to SFAS.
Upon successful completion of the Q-Course the recently graduated ARNG Special Forces Solder will return the National Guard Group that he initially enlisted into (either 19th group (West coast) or 20th group (East coast)).
Special Forces Qualification Course
For various reasons 20% of selected candidates will not complete the demanding Q Course Training. Ultimately out of every twenty candidates who attend SFAS only one will eventually earn the right to wear the Green Beret. The Q-Course offers some of the toughest and longest training in the US military with training running as long as 6 months to a year.
When a candidate does enter the Q Course, he is assigned to the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg. IA Candidates and Current Duty candidate who have not already attended the Warrior Leader Course, will attend the 3 week Common Leadership Training (CLT) course. The goal of the CLT is to provide the candidate with the basic skills required to perform as a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) at the rank of E5 (Sergeant); the minimum rank level of any Operation Detachment Alpha team member. IA canidates and Current Duty non-combat canidates will also attend the 3 week long Special Forces Preparation and Conditioning Course II, designed to reinforce and perfect the basic infantry skills in small unit tactic (SUT) and patrolling.
Phase II is a 13 week block of instruction in Small Unit Tactics (SUT), Prisoner of War training - Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), and lethal hand to hand combat & element of surprise disarming techniques. After Phase II, recruits begin Phase III called the "language blitz" this is a recent change to the pipeline. Depending on the language assigned to the recruit, it is either 9 or 15 weeks of language training. After which they are required to attain a minimum rating in their assigned language.
Following the completion of Phase III, recruits then begin Phase IV for specific training within one of the five initial Special Forces specialties: 18A, SF Officer; 18B, SF Weapons Sergeant; 18C, SF Engineering Sergeant; 18D, SF Medical Sergeant; and 18E, SF Communications Sergeant. 18A, 18B, 18C, and 18E training courses are 15 weeks long, and the 18D training course is 48 weeks long.
The recruits finish their Special Forces training by participating in ROBIN SAGE, a 4 week long large-scale unconventional warfare exercise (Phase V) before being awarded the Special Forces tab and Green Beret. [cite web |url=http://www.training.sfahq.com/article_final_exam_green_berets_02_10_27.htm |title=Final Exam for Green Berets |accessdate=2007-03-08 |format= |work=Special Forces Search Engine ]
After successfully completing the Special Forces Qualification Course, Special Forces Soldiers are then eligible for many advanced skills courses. These include the Military Free Fall Parachutist Course, the Combat Diver Qualification Course, the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course, and the Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance and Exploitation Techniques Course. Additionally, Special Forces Soldiers may participate in special operations training courses offered by other services and allied nations throughout their careers.
pecial Forces MOS descriptions
*18A - Special Forces Officer
*180A - Special Forces Warrant Officer
*18B - Special Forces Weapons Sergeant
*18C - Special Forces Engineering Sergeant
*18D - Special Forces Medical Sergeant
*18E - Special Forces Communications Sergeant
*18F - Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant
*18X - Special Forces Candidate (Active Duty Enlistment Option)
*18Z - Special Forces Operations Sergeant
Note: Individuals desiring a career in Special Forces who have no prior military service or who have separated from military service may enlist directly into the 18X MOS, and upon successful completion of upwards of six months of initial training be given the chance to be selected at the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course (SFAS).
It should be noted that other personnel in MOS designations outside of 18 series often support SF teams directly.
Air Force Special Operations Command
Former United States special operations units
List of special forces units
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group(MACV-SOG), Vietnam War-era special operationsunit
Special Forces Association
The Special Warfare Memorial Statue
United States Army Special Forces in popular culture
* [http://www.soc.mil/SF/SF_default.htm Special Forces Command website]
* [http://www.bragg.army.mil/specialforces/default.htm Special Forces Recruiting at Fort Bragg official website]
* [http://www.soc.mil/swcs/swcs_default.htm United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School]
* [http://www.specialforcesassociation.org Official website of the Special Forces Association]
* [http://www.socom.mil/ United States Special Operations Command]
* [http://www.goarmy.com/special_forces/index.jsp United States Army Special Forces Overview(GoArmy)]
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