What Is Special Ops

More than any other question about basic training, I get the following email exchange:

Recruit: “SGT Volkin how do I get into special ops?”

SGT Volkin: “Well, have you been to basic training?”

Recruit: “No”

SGT Volkin: “Well, it’s probably best to see how you do in basic training, first.”

I use the analogy of picturing a couple 6 year olds throwing a football around pretending that they are in the superbowl making the winning touchdown with seconds on the clock. They dream big and let their imaginations run wild. However, only a very small percentage of people actually get to play professional football, let alone a superbowl. Picture, in this scenario a special ops soldier being the equivalent of a professional football player playing in the superbowl. Special ops soldiers are the best of the best of the best.

Special ops soldiers are highly trained to carry out extremely risky missions. Sure, it sounds exciting, like being an international spy, but the amount of dedication and physical and mental toughness that goes into qualifying to be a special ops soldier is absolutely life consuming.

Special forces soldiers are capable of carrying out a number of missions including:

  • Offensive action toward enemy armies
  • counter-insurgencyand counter-terrorism missions
  • Sabotage
  • Demolition
  • Hostage rescue
  • and many others

So what does it take to qualify to be a special ops soldier? (aka Green Berets)

Other than extreme mental and physical toughness some of the basic qualifications are:

Like all soldiers, if you want to be in special ops you have to pass basic training and advanced individual training first. Then, you must go to Infantry School to learn how to fire and become proficient with various firearms. This Infantry School is four weeks long.

After this training, it’s off to Airborne training, which is 3 rigorous weeks and requires plenty of mental and physical toughness.

After all of the above, you then must attend yet another course called the Special Operations Preparation Course. This course is 30 days long and located at Fort Bragg. This course heavily focuses on physical training (PT), and I mean they will PT the livin’ hell out of you. Picture the worst most physically exhuasting day you have ever had, multiply it by 10, the extrapolate that by 30 days. You will also become an expert at land navigation. Land navigation comes naturally to many people, and sadly for me, it is something that just doesn’t register in my brain. If I don’t have a gps with me, I will get lost. Picture a mission where you are dropped in a foreign country with no equipment and you need to get to a particular location as fast as possible without anyone noticing you or asking for help. Could you do this? Now, passing this course does not guarantee you will pass the Special Forces Assessment/Assignment and Selection (SFAS).

So yes, another school now. Once you pass the Special Operations Preparation Course, you have to pass the SFAS. This 24 day survival course will test every aspect of your mental and physical toughness, in ways that you have never been tested before. The select few you pass this, get to go on to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). Their are 5 phases to the SFQC, each phase taking many weeks to complete. You will learn all of these skills (and more):

  • Small Unit Tactics
  • Advanced Special Forces Tactics
  • Survival Skills
  • Language and Cultural Training
  • Language training, SF Common
  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Survival, Escape, Resistance, and Evasion
  • Advanced combat survival tactics

At the end of all of this training, at the very least, you will be fluent in at least one other language if not two (other than your native language)

At this time, you will be considered a member of the Special Forces and you will be a specialist in one of 6 areas. You will be any of the below:

  • Weapons Sergeant
  • Engineer Sergeant;
  • Medical Sergeant
  • Communications Sergeant
  • Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant
  • Operations Sergeant

Still want to go into the Special Forces? I hope this page inspired you to pursue your dreams, but also educated you as to the very small percentage of people who say the want to be in special ops, and actually become a member.

If you complete this training, you will be a Special Forces Soldier, one of the Army’s experts in Unconventional Warfare.