Special forces

In today’s swift and intense warfare of 21st century, the Special Forces have already earned a special position for themselves by the way of showing the world that they can handle very high risk missions without much problems and take them to a logical conclusion with greater precision and lightening speed.

The US Navy SEALs have gone far too ahead of all other Special Forces after they seized Osama Bin Laden in his hide out with a precision which has never been seen in the history of military-intelligence parlance anywhere in the world.

It had not only demonstrated a high degree of precision but an operation many could not even fathom that how it was managed with so much risk involved in the entire operation which was being live monitored by US President with a bunch of his secretaries sitting almost 7000 km away from the place of happening.

Special Forces, or Special Operations Forces, are military units strictly selected and intensely trained for the execution of special missions for a nation’s political, economic or military purposes.

With their flexible formation, these elite troops are generally led by the highest commanding military authorities and are usually well-equipped, possessing strong combat capabilities.

The origin of Special Forces dates back to the early 20th century, with fighting models set up by German Brandenburg Commandos during the Second World War (1940-1945).

Arguably, Special Forces (SF) soldiers are the experts in unconventional warfare. They deploy on a variety of missions all over the world. They are the specialized minutemen of today’s military - highly trained and ready to go anywhere at a moment’s notice.

No doubt, Special Forces missions are sensitive in nature and sometimes classified. Because Special Forces teams can be the first point of contact in negotiations with foreign or guerrilla parties, they must keep the highest level of professionalism at all times.

It is the training that makes them different from the rest. The truth is that there is too much to learn at basic training to fully prepare a Special Forces recruit for both Special Forces assessment and selection.

While in Basic Training, recruits will be pushed to near breaking point physically; however, given the high level of competition and the physical, mental and emotional stresses of Special Forces Selection, many recruits will find that additional preparation before entering the military would have been beneficial to their overall initiative.

Unlike Basic Combat Training where recruits will always have one another, the drop out rate in Selection prevents early bonds with other recruits. While candidates will always have one another to rely on, many may find the isolation imposed by instructors and training exercises to be overwhelming.

Recruits should always remember that although the Special Forces are about teamwork above all else, when it comes to physical qualifications, leadership challenges and personal abilities, it is called selection for a reason and surviving will not be enough.

Tough mission

Such courses will push many students to quit on its own. For many recruits, it will be the first overnight exercise where they are on their own, and personal responsibility and integrity will be in full demand.

Recruits should learn ahead of time how to feel comfortable on their own, and how to fend for themselves when necessary. Potential candidates would also do well to learn how to navigate long before they head off to Basic Training. While the military does an excellent job of teaching land navigation, every bit of experience in navigation before hand would prove a solid foundation for recruits.

Special Forces Selection is one of the toughest training routes a civilian can look at. The 18x program of US military was designed by the US Army to pump highly qualified candidates into the pipeline and into Selection with the knowledge that the majority would fail out of, or voluntarily withdraw from, the program and provide highly motivated 11Bravos.

Being in excellent physical shape is mandatory for an 18x, and Basic Combat Training may not give a candidate enough time to get into shape for the Special Forces Pipeline. Recruits should always remember, it is the job of the Drill Sergeant to create highly motivated and physically fit Infantry Soldiers, not to prepare a Private for the rigors of Special Forces Selection.

Among others, the US Green Berets stand differently. Joining the US Army Special Forces involves more than elite combat training. The Green Berets specialize in unconventional warfare-working with guerrillas to overthrow governments-as well as counter-terrorism, foreign internal defence, and special reconnaissance.

Typically, the Green Berets are trained to administer “unconventional warfare,” which entails infiltrating a hostile area in anticipation of a large-scale military engagement, and training the local resistance populations to fight back against the enemy. This was done in South Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, among others.

In the event that there is no local resistance to the enemy, the Green Berets infiltrate and soften up the enemy by “neutralizing” as many of its officers as possible. This usually involved sniping and throat cutting.

Training is very extensive and begins with the US Army’s assessment of the recruit’s possession of 12 attributes: intelligence, physical fitness, motivation, trustworthiness, accountability, maturity, stability, judgment, decisiveness, teamwork, influence, and communications.

With experience planning and executing complex operations, these veterans can also be a powerful force to do some special jobs for them.

Creation of Green Beret Foundation by former US military personnel is an attempt to give Special Forces soldiers an exit plan for when they retire and leave the service.

From about 2005 to 2010, Special Forces veterans could easily find $1,000-a-day jobs with private security firms. Since the Iraq War ended, however, those jobs have been drying up. Yet, the key is translating those special skills into the business world.
In fact, they call themselves the quiet professionals, but we know them as Green Berets. Their official title is US Army Special Forces (SF), and they are one of the most elite fighting groups in the world.

Their mission is unconventional warfare-taking small SF teams to train and lead guerrilla forces.

SF soldiers work together in a 12-man “A-Team,” with each man holding a specific job: The ranking officer is the team leader, the weapons sergeant knows just about every weapon in the world, the communications sergeant tees up ordnance or extract, and the medics can take lives as quickly as saving them.

It may seem crazy to send only 12 guys into a hostile country, but it’s not crazy when they are Special Forces.

Like all soldiers, SF candidates begin their career with nine weeks of Boot Camp. Upon completion of Basic Combat Training one will attend Advanced Individual Training.

For Special Forces, one will go to Infantry School to learn to use small arms, anti-armor, and weapons like howitzers and heavy mortars. Basic Combat Training lasts 9 weeks, AIT lasts four weeks, and Airborne last 3 weeks.

It is important to complete airborne training. Airborne School is a unique experience requiring special dedication and a desire to be challenged mentally and physically.

This three-week course, also known as Basic Airborne Training, teaches the techniques involved in parachuting from airplanes and landing safely. The final test includes a non-assisted jump.

Airborne skills

Airborne school is broken down into 3 weeks. The following explains the training one must complete for each week.

One can start with an intensive program of instruction to build individual airborne skills. These skills prepares one to make a parachute jump and land safely. One will train on the mock door, the 34-foot tower and the lateral drift apparatus.

However, Tower Week completes individual skill training and builds team effort skills. To go forward to Jump Week, one must qualify on the Swing Lander Trainer (SLT), master the mass exit procedures from the 34-foot tower, and pass all physical training requirements.

During Jump Week, one must successfully complete five jumps at 1,250 feet from a C-130 or C-141 aircraft. If one successfully meets the course requirements he will be granted an additional skill identifier and will be authorized to wear the coveted “Silver Wing” on his uniform.

When one graduates from Airborne School he will be sent to the 30-day Special Operations Preparation Course. This course will help him to prepare for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course.

It focuses on physical training and one of the most important skills an SF soldier can have-land navigation. This course does not guarantee that one will pass the Special Forces Assessment/Assignment and Selection (SFAS).

Then comes SFAS which is 24 days of training. It is all about survival. Intelligence, agility and resourcefulness will all be tested. If one makes it, he can continue on to the SF Qualification Course.

The SFQC consists of five phases (II-VI). If one can complete this training, he will be a Special Forces Soldier, one of the US Army’s experts in Unconventional Warfare.

Also, one needs individual skills. This phase is roughly 13 weeks and includes training in Small Unit Tactics, SF Tactics, Survival Skills and Language and Cultural Training.

One will receive MOS training. This phase is about 15 weeks long and includes additional language training, SF Common tasks, Advanced Special Operations Techniques (ASOT), and Interagency Operations.

The Special Forces has six enlisted Military Occupational Specialties (MOS’s):18B - SF Weapons Sergeant; 18C - SF Engineer Sergeant; 18D - SF Medical Sergeant; 18E-SF Communications Sergeant; 18F-SF Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant; and 18Z Special Forces Operations Sergeant.

Based upon one’s language skills, he will advance through language training to get ready to serve in the SF. Additionally, while receiving language training you will be trained in warrior skills, such as Combatives. This phase may take up to 14 weeks.

In the extremely realistic Survival, Escape, Resistance, and Evasion (SERE) course, one will learn combat survival tactics.

As an SF Soldier, one might receive training that completely immerses one in another culture. one will learn to be fluent in that country’s language, customs and traditions, becoming a virtual citizen of that country.

On the other hand, Navy SEAL training is extremely demanding. One must be in excellent physical condition and pass the PST before he can be considered a SEAL candidate.

To qualify for a contract, a prospective candidate must meet the minimum requirements.

The minimum standards will allows one to start training with his SEAL/SWCC mentor during Delayed Entry Program phase. Once one reaches the optimum levels, he can go to Boot Camp.

The Navy SEAL training program will stress one beyond his limits to make sure he is worthy to serve with the world’s best fighting force. One has to be prepared, stay focused, make mature choices, and understand what he is volunteering for.

SEAL training prepares one for the extreme physical and mental challenges of SEAL missions. If one is up to the challenge, he will be in incredible physical shape and possess the confidence, determination and skills needed to succeed in today’s combat environment.

Basic Underwater DemolitionSEAL Training is a seven-month training challenge that develops mental and physical stamina and leadership skills. Each BUD/S phase includes timed physical condition tests, with the time requirements becoming more demanding each week.

First Phase (Basic Conditioning): Includes continuous physical conditioning. Students also study small boat seamanship and hydrographic surveys and charts.

Second Phase (Diving): Covers SCUBA skills. Students learn open and closed circuit combat diving and how to complete long-distance underwater transit dives.

Third Phase (Land Warfare): Includes land navigation, small-unit tactics, rappelling, military land and underwater explosives, and weapons training.

Special training

Training, physical conditioning and drills are part of the SEAL lifestyle. Once the recruit has completed the initial SEAL training, he can go even further with advanced training, which includes foreign language training, SEAL tactical communications training, Sniper, Military Free-fall Parachuting, Jump Master, Explosive Breacher, and much more.

Unlike US Special Forces, Russians have their own way. Whereas most of the training regimens of militaries around the world are designed to teach, Russia’s Special Purpose Regiments, equivalent to the US Green Berets, endure punishment daily throughout their training.

They may quit anytime they want. The Spetsnaz want only the best, pain-hardened, battle-loving killers.

They spar with the express goal of injuring each other, breaking ribs, fingers, vertebrae, healing only long enough to get back on their feet and complete the training.

They are typically deployed for reconnaissance or house-to-house close quarters combat, but are also employed as extremely formidable bodyguards for high-ranking politicians.

They claim that they are not taught to ignore pain, since that is impossible. They are instead taught to enjoy it.

Then UK is an old master in SF training. The closest thing to James Bond can be found in the personnel of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, or Security Service, section 6.

It works in close partnership with section 5 (MI-5), the latter which is more of a pure spy agency, dedicated to counter-intelligence and counter-espionage.

MI-6, however, is the unit which deploys its agents all over the world to detect international intelligence threats and “neutralize” them before they become truly dangerous.

They do, however, have an agent very similar to “Q,” who is in charge of all equipment and weaponry deployed for each operation. They also have indoor firing ranges, dojos, and a gym.

Then comes the battle hardened Israelis who have created Shayetet. The name means “Flotilla 13,” and their official motto is the same as the Israeli military: “Never Again,” in reference to the Holocaust. Their unofficial motto, as they like to joke, is “When the going gets tough, the Jews get pissed.”

They are 1 of the 3 most elite Israeli special forces units, but Shayetet 13 is the unit most similar to the Delta Force.

They specialize in hostage rescue and counter-terrorism, and because they live so close to a host of nations that seem bent on eradicating them, they are at all times ready in an instant to travel abroad and kill.

They are very secretive, but of their missions publicized, the most notable include Operation Spring of Youth, in which they hunted down members of Black September in Beirut Lebanon and killed them, in revenge for the 1972 Munich massacre.

Apart from their firearms and heavy weapons training, they train extensively in KravMaga, the national martial art of Israel, to which they endearingly refer as “Jew-jitsu.” Its philosophy is based on the principle that in a real street fight no quarter will be asked or given. Fight to kill. Groin strikes are quite prevalent.

The British SFs have also quite a big name. The Special Air Service is trained to perform equally well in all the fields listed for the SEALs, but is also trained by MI-5 and MI-6 for in-depth counter-espionage, more so than the SEALs.

Physical competency must be of equal stature to the SEALs, to the degree that both special forces work closely together when necessary (Iraq and Afghanistan) and have good camaraderie.

They wear a tan beret, just as the US Army Rangers, and both the SAS and SEALs are trained in knife fighting by experts in Apache Indian knife techniques, as well as Sayoc Kali, KravMaga, JeetKune Do, and for the last 3 years or so, the Keysi Fighting Method, made famous by the Chris Nolan “Batman” films.

Chinese military is also preparing for lot of change. Major transformations in China’s elite special forces began taking place in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, has concentrated on selecting the highest quality individuals within the military, providing them with the most advanced equipment available, and training them in a wide range of military disciplines.

The PLA has placed a high degree of emphasis on the physical and mental abilities of the candidates: The training can be gruelling, and those who are found to be unsuited are cut from the program immediately. The dropout rate during initial training is said to average between 50 and 90 percent.

Within the military forces of the People’s Republic of China, or PRC, there are many units that could be classified as “special forces.” They include rapid-reaction forces, airborne divisions, amphibious landing units and marines.