SEALgrinderPT interviews Special Forces Operator with Bravo Tango
SGPT: Tell us about yourself?
BT: I am currently in the Q course training to be a Special Forces Medic. I came in through the 18X program and I have no prior military experience.
SGPT: How did you decide on the Army Special Forces?
BT: I always knew I wanted to be in Special Operations since I was very young but I lacked confidence in my abilities and always though of it as a “dream job.” It was not until I went to infantry OSUT that I started to learn what I was capable of and that there are really no limits on the human body.
SGPT: Did you train before entering the Army? What type of training?
BH: Before joining, I mainly lifted weights like a bodybuilder and occasionally did sprints and other HIIT training. I was no where near “spec ops” shape before joining but I believe that the sprinting helped me transition to running shape starting with 2 miles, progressively moving on to longer 5 mile runs in infantry training.
SGPT: For those unfamiliar can you tell us where Special Forces Selection training occurs? How long? What types of events?
BH: Special Forces training starts with Infantry OSUT for 18X candidates. Infantry OSUT or basic training is an 14 week course at fort Benning, which is followed by airborne school at the same location. This is followed by Special forces prep course(SFPC) and SFAS, which are conducted at a satellite location at Fort Bragg. both SFPC and SFAS are approximately 3 weeks long. As long as you really apply yourself, infantry OSUT can help you transition to military shape (running) while SFPC gets you in SF shape (rucking). SFPC is designed to emulate SFAS but with better sleep and nutrition.
SGPT: What are 3 tips you would give a Special Forces candidate to help them graduate training?
BH: I know this may seem obvious but Never Quit! if you are on the last mile of a long run and you decide to slow down or stop because you are uncomfortable, you have already started to condition yourself to quit when things get tough. If you push through and don’t give up, you are teaching yourself to perform out of your comfort zone.
remember why you are there. I dreamed about being in the SF community for so long and I couldn’t imagine telling my 12 year old self that I quit on my dream simply because things were too difficult. I also knew I couldn’t face my family who sacrificed so much for me to be here.
going back to my first point. prepare yourself before hand and put in the miles before you attend SFAS. Set small goals for yourself and slowly build up to the point where you believe you need to be and you will not be disappointed when the time comes to go to selection.
SGPT: What was the hardest part of training for you?
BH: The toughest part of training for me came during the final week of selection. I was sleep deprived and my body was broken down but you are still expected to perform. There was one day that week where I thought there is no way that I can keep going at least 25 times (no exaggeration)but I put one foot infront of the other and completed that event.
When I finished selection, I had stress fractures in both legs and a hip injury since I was never an endurance athlete but that is a very small price to pay.
SGPT: How much ruck hiking is there? Should a candidate be focusing on rucking with weight? Or long distance running with trail shoes?
BH: SFAS has an insane amount of Rucking and you will have a very heavy ruck on your back during every event except for the PT test, o course, and timed runs.
I never rucked till I joined the Army but long distance running and hill sprints are a good alternative. Rucking too much can cause injuries so I limited it to a 6 mile ruck once a week and trail running 3 times during the week. The Marsoc fitness prep app that you can get on your phone has a lot of great workouts for SOF candidates.
SGPT: What was a typical day like for you in training?
BH: When I was waiting to go to the prep course, we had 1 PT session a day followed by a major smoke session. During this smoke session, on average 5 guys would VW from the course but they were the type of guys who should not have been there in the first place. After getting selected, we PT on our own and are responsible for holding ourselves to a high physical standard.
SGPT: did you happen to read a good book before entering training that may have helped you?
BH: Their are a couple books that I recommend that helped me prepare. The first half of Lone survivor gives good insight into the mindset of a warrior and gives little mental tricks that I ended up using in training. The Green Berets by Robin Moore gives a great insight into who green berets are and how they operate. it is also a great read.
SGPT: What’s next for you?
BH: My focus right now is on completing the SF medic course. It is a lot of studying but is a much needed skill in the SF community.
SGPT: Thanks for the interview Bravo?
BH: I am also happy to help anyone who is interested in SF. One thing I would like to point out is that their is no specific body type for SF. I have seen big dudes push through and endure the long runs but I have also seen very small guys carry their rucks as fast as anyone. The only thing required to complete the course is wanting to succeed more than anything. I saw guys who look like captain America drop because when things got tough, they decided it was not for them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brad McLeod knows first hand about mental toughness. After passing Hell Week and Dive Pool Comp at BUD/S, he failed a math test and was kicked out of training. A year later, he returned, graduated, and served as an operator on the Navy SEAL Teams.
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