SGPT: What was the hardest part of Special Forces training for you? When did you go through?
AS: I attended Selection in July/August of 2005, started the qualification course in October of 2005 and graduated April of 2007. I would have to answer this from two points in my life. During the “Q” course, the hardest part for me was the learning curve that I found myself in being a non-combat arms or soft skill soldier before I attended. The course is mainly populated with infantry guys.
So, for me, learning everything that correlated with the job of an infantry man on top of learning how to be a Special Forces Engineer was probably the hardest. It’s like I was learning two jobs at the same time. The physical aspect wasn’t too hard for me personally. I’m a decent sized guy that can carry weight.
Special Forces Training from Day 1 to graduation
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From the other perspective and where I am now. Nothing about Special Forces training was hard. I’ve been through significantly harder times actually doing the job of a Green Beret. If I had to do it all over again, I would! I’d do it in a heartbeat. This job has been so rewarding. The experiences I have gained and the caliber of men I have served with in Special Forces, I wouldn’t trade for anything. There is no one I’d be more honored to have standing by my side when the bullets start flying, than anyone in the spectrum of Special Operations. I’ve seen cowardice in the face of fear during combat, but never from my Special Forces brethren. These guys press forward, staring into the face of death and immerging victorious.
SGPT: What are 3 tips you would give a Special Forces trainees to help them graduate training?
AS: Number 1: Never Quit and Never accept defeat! We are in a profession that quitting is NOT an option.
Number 2: I know it may sound a little weird, but visualize yourself as an Operator. If you can truly believe and feel it to your core, you will be successful. Never let in self-doubt. I tell this to guys all the time right before they start their training. I personally believed I was already a Green Beret before I had graduated the course. Every patrol I went on in training I visualized that I was in a foreign country, operating as part of a Special Forces detachment. I also kept a Special Forces Tab in my soft cap (head gear) that reminded me every time I took it off of the end state. Once you have truly accepted it in your mind, it’s a done deal.
Check out the book Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior to get a good perspective on Spec Ops training.
You will of course still have to train really hard just to get a chance to try out for this group.
Inside the Green Berets
Number 3: Train, but don’t overdo it. Everyone thinks before they go that they aren’t ready. You are probably more ready than you think. I never thought I was truly ready to be tested. But, every day I was out there, I gave 100%. There are a lot of books and programs out there. For me personally, I worked on rucking. I didn’t follow a program. I basically rucked everywhere. When I was bored on a weekend I put a ruck on and started walking. Get your body used to carrying the weight and your feet hardened. Work on grip strength. Most importantly, work on your focus and don’t over think every situation.
SGPT: What is the biggest stumbling block where candidates fail at SF training?
AS: I know from when I went through, it was probably being too cool for school. If you are in the course, you’re not a Green Beret yet. This will more than likely get you in trouble with the cadre. You’re a soldier in training, act the part. Never argue with a cadre member. They are right 100% of the time. Integrity violations are in instant show stopper. Just be honest, be on time and in the right uniform for training. Another would have to be the curriculum and retention of information. Some guys are just gifted, they can pick up things very quickly. For most of us normal folk, studying is a necessity. Don’t be that guy that would rather get drunk on the weekend than study. You’ll be fed from a fire hose in the course. Use your time wisely. Lastly, always be progressing in your physical fitness. It doesn’t get easier after the “Q” course.
SGPT: Can you tell us more about the training? Where does it take place? How long? How many graduate?
Question: Have you checked out the book The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Fought for a New Afghanistan (P.S.).
Yes; give this book a read as it is written by the same author that wrote the book Fearless about Navy SEAL Adam Brown.
US Army Special Forces in Afghanistan (Green Berets)
AS: I not really going to go into the specifics of the course, but, it’s pretty intense. There are multiple phases to the course. Phase one is basically getting oriented. In this phase candidates will be evaluated during “gates”. These will consist of timed events like running and rucking. Land navigation will also be tested and candidates will play OPFOR for different phases of training. Phase two will be the equivalent of Ranger school with SERE on the backside of this phase. Phase three will be the MOS portion. Candidates will learn their specific job, whether it’s weapons, commo, engineer or medic. Phase five is called Robin Sage and will be an introductory to Unconventional Warfare. Phase six will be language with this phase being the longest. Once all phases are complete, candidate will graduate. This is where they will conduct their Regimental First Formation and dawn the Green Beret.
Everything will be conducted at Ft Bragg NC and takes the average individual about one to one and a half years to complete. I’m not sure of the exact attrition numbers, but, I started with over four hundred and at the end about seventy five guys were left at graduation.
SGPT: How much swimming or water ops is in SF school?
AS: The only swimming a candidate will do, is a mandatory 100 meter swim in uniform. There is a chance a candidate may find himself swimming during the course, but that all depends on how well he can land navigate at night.
SGPT: What is a typical day like once a graduate goes to a SF Team?
AS: There really is no typical day. Every day is a little different. We train for combat without the interruptions normal units have. We plan what we want to do or accomplish and then do it. We shoot quite often and cross train. We are good at what we do because we know the basics very well and practice them often. We usually workout two times a day because in this job, physical fitness is a must. Everyone strives to make each other better.
SGPT: If someone wanted to train for Special Forces what would be the best way to get in touch with a recruiter and start?
AS: If someone is not already in the military, an SF recruiter won’t be too helpful as far as helping them start the process. SF recruiters only recruit from within the Army. The only way someone can get to Special Forces from outside the Army is to talk with a regular street recruiter. If they meet the qualifications, they’ll be good to go.
There aren’t too many SF qualified guys out there on the streets recruiting. But, if you want to talk to one you can go to sorbrecruiting.com and follow the prompts for Special Forces. The numbers will be listed there.
SGPT: Many thanks for the interview Alton.
AS: No worries, I hope this is beneficial to those guys that want to go above and beyond. In the end, it’s worth all the effort invested.
Question: i was wondering whats the best way to start training for SF should i focus on the mental or the physical aspect of it?
RASP training tips