Probably one of the longest and most difficult qualification courses the U.S. offers, the “Q” Course consists of several phases. The individual skill phase focuses on land navigation, small unit tactics and live-fire training. During the MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) training phase, the applicant will be taught specialty skills, which will be based on background, aptitude and desires. The collective training phase consists of SF doctrine, organization and mission training. It culminates in the Uwharrie National Forest for a full-blown Unconventional Warfare exercise. Once there, the applicant will perform as a member of an ODA. The aspiring operator’s specialty and common skills are evaluated, as is leadership, teamwork, logistics skills and thinking outside the box to solve problems and accomplish a mission.
Completion of the SFQC enables an operator to continue with language training where he will become proficient in at least one foreign language and attend the grueling SERE (Search Evasion Resistance and Escape) training at Fort Bragg.
Once completed, only then does an operator qualify as a basic operator capable of filling a position on an A team. He will be sent to advanced schooling, dependent upon their ODA’s mission specialties. Each ODA has a specialty and training can involve Combat Diver Qualification Course, Military Free-Fall, Special Operations Target Interdiction Course, Advanced Special Operation Techniques Course and others.
It is expected that a U.S. Special Forces Operations career will entail an operator continuing to train in new and advanced military and unconventional warfare training courses and exercises.
Special Forces have five basic missions. Counter-terrorism involving operations to try and thwart terrorists, destroy their safe havens and undermine their support around the world. Direct Action entails classic quick strikes to seize, capture, recover or destroy enemy weapons, information or designated personnel or materiel. Foreign Internal Defense teaches locals to organize and train the national defense forces to protect their citizens from aggressors. Special Recon operators are covertly sent behind enemy lines to fact-find and uncover information about the enemy. Unconventional Warfare, otherwise known as guerilla warfare, trains forces in enemy-held or controlled territory to fight back against that enemy in situations that can last for months or even years.
GREEN BERETS GEAR
All SF units have the most advanced equipment available to members of the military. Through USSOCOM, Army Green Berets have a specific procurement process for mission-specific equipment outside of their respective branch of service. This process allows them to obtain the best equipment for specific mission requirements, both from within the DOD inventory and from outside of it.
For example, Nett Warrior is a smart-type gadget that serves as an integrated system allowing for situational awareness during combat operations—coupled with advanced long-range communications allowing for calls, texts and email give the SF operators optimal tools for battle.
Additionally and despite all the advanced technology, the weapons used fall back to basics including the standard M4 Carbine with a rail system, customized with a variety of scopes, lights and sights for any type of mission. They also carry the Beretta M9 semi-automatic double-action pistol with a rail system. It is equipped with an Integrated Laser White Light Pointer (ILWLP) that provides a tactical advantage in close CQB operations.
An inventory of other weapons and systems are also available dependent upon mission requirements.
As Kabul fell and the Northern Alliance rolled across the Taliban, the Green Beret’s departed the operations area with little fanfare—living up to the reputation of being the Quiet Professionals that they are.
In 2010, across the street from Ground Zero in the entranceway of One World Financial Center, a 13-foot bronze statue was unveiled and now greets those entering. It depicts a solider on a Lokai (mountain horse bred in Tajikistan), holding field glasses in one hand and an M4 with a grenade launcher under the other looking for the fight. That Green Beret and horse depicted are from ODA 555 and the piece of steel situated at the statue’s base is from the ruins of the World Trade Center, which should remind America’s enemies that the U.S. Army Special Forces will adapt and always find them.