U.S. Army Special Forces (SF) training is “so much longer” because even after a soldier has completed basic combat training/advanced individual training (BCT/AIT) or One Station Unit Training (OSUT), which combines BCT and AIT into one contiguous course vice two separate courses, and Army Airborne School, for a total of approximately 19 weeks of training, a soldier must complete from a minimum of 64 weeks to a maximum 107 weeks (depending upon specialty), of SF training to become SF qualified. This includes Special Forces Preparation and Conditioning (SFPC) and Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) as well as all phases of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SF “Q” Course).
Total training time from beginning BCT or OSUT can be for as long as 126 weeks (over 29 months, again, depending upon specialty) of total training to earn the Special Forces “Long Tab.” The reasons for the very long training time are two-fold: first, all SF soldiers are fluent in at least one language other than English, and second, all SF soldiers are qualified in a specific SF military occupational specialty (MOS) at the “expert-level” in their specialty.
Enlisted SF members (a.k.a. Green Berets) qualify as either weapon (18B), engineer (18C), medical (18D), or communications (18E) sergeant, and are all qualified to recruit, organize, train and advise or command, indigenous combat forces up to company size. Soldiers do not need to “wait five years” to apply for entry into SF (no one “enlists” directly into the “Green Berets”). However, enlisted soldiers must be at least a PFC (E-3) or enlist with an “18X Program” contract to be a candidate for the SF Initial Accession (IA) program. These potential SF candidates must still complete OSUT, Army Airborne School, and SFPC before eligibility for SFAS. Entry into SF is by no means guaranteed.
While the missions and training of Army SF and Navy SEALs (as well as Marine Raiders), do have some similarities and overlap, each one (as well as Air Force Special Tactics) provide unique skills and capabilities that complement each other and provide unparalleled special operations capability to the United States.
There is the primary mission of U.S. Army Special Forces. They are not “shock” troops, like SEALs. Their primary mission is to interact with foreign allies, training them and when necessary, lead them in combat. Often they do this behind enemy lines, without regular contact and supply from command. So, they have to be EXPERT in their specialty as there won’t be another person to handle it or resupply if something gets broke. And quite often their equipment will be whatever the locals can supply.
A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier is among the best-trained soldier that the US produces, bar none!
The reason they wanted experienced soldiers is again a reflection of their primary mission. They need more mature people who are aware of what is involved. And have a commitment to the Army. My understanding now is that you can qualify for SF Q school right out of AIT if you pass some additional tests.
The Murph Challenge Workout
Special operations operators are well beyond professional athletes. SFO’s are in extreme physical conditions. they are prepared to react instantly, in defense of our county. One SFO stands out to me. Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Navy Seal. No, I never had the supreme honor of meeting the man, but I have read and followed every piece of information I could find on him. “Lt Murphy” became a Navy Seal in July 2002. After several if not numerous mission combating terrorism, Lt. Micheal P. Murphy was surrounded by Taliban soldiers, along with his three other Navy Seals.
“Murphy was killed on 28 June 2005 after he left his cover position and went to a clearing away from the mountains, exposing himself to a hail of gunfire in order to get a clear signal to contact headquarters for relaying the dire situation and requesting immediate support for his team. He dropped the satellite phone after being shot multiple times but picked the phone back up and finished the call. While being shot, he signed off saying- “Thank You”, then continued fighting from his exposed position until he died from his wounds.” Michael P. Murphy – Wikipedia
Lt. Murphy left behind a legacy of honor and fitness and preparedness that many strive to archive. Lt. Murphy called this workout Body Armour, after his death, the workout was renamed The Murph Challenge.
- A 1-mile run.
- Then 100 pull-ups.
- Then 200 pushups.
- Then 300 squats.
- And ANOTHER 1-mile run.
I’m not saying professional athletes couldn’t do it, but Lt Murphy did this for fun.
That being said, I once met an SFO, in Hampton, VA. He was in his late fifties and ran alongside our platoon one morning during pt. , We finished a five-mile run, and he turned to us, and said… that’s it? cmon let’s do it again. The Master Chief was about 6′1 looked like he weighed about 220. It wasn’t until afterward, When I asked him, what was his weight, and almost fell out learning he was 185.
How to train after you retire?
Our training for Force Recon in the ‘60’s involved the fitness tests and times listed below. These were not training exercises. These were tests. You were expected to meet these times before deployment.
Our First Sgt was 46. He often trained with us, matching us step for step. 20 years later, in my mid-40’s, my test times were nearly the same as they had been in my 20’s. My former First Sgt was now retired and lived nearby. We stayed in touch and often trained together. His test times at age 65 were just shy of the times listed below.
As impressive as this is, he wasn’t unique. A good friend of mine owned and operated a local gym. He was a former Special Forces officer (Green Beret), and a Vietnam Vet. A couple of retired SEALS and a Ranger on TDY with Force Recon trained at his gym along with myself and my former First Sgt.
Occasionally, all of us got together and did some trail running, and soft sand beach running. A really fun part of this is when we’d go to MCRD and run the obstacle courses. One of the SEALS’ Grandson was a distance runner at SDSU. He liked to run with us. He especially liked the obstacle courses.
When we began running together, our ages ranged from the early ’20s to mid-’60s. We continued running together for another 15 years.
Today, in my mid-70’s, I can still do the test runs. However, I can’t equal the times. As for the strength tests, I can do them, just not as many reps.
The following are the performance times for my Force Recon team just before Vietnam deployment. To reiterate, these were tests, not training exercises.
PERFORMANCE TIMES — FORCE RECON — Mid 1960s
- 10-mile trail run—Boots, Utes, Rifle, Ammo, and 50-pound pack—75 minutes.
- 10-mile trail run—Boots, shorts, and T-shirt—65 minutes
- 5-mile run—soft beach sand—Boots, shorts, and T-shirts—40 minutes. NOTE: We ran on the soft sand about 50 yards from the water, not the hard pack sand near the water.
- 5-mile run—soft beach sand—Boots, Utes, Rifle, Ammo, and 50-pound pack—50 minutes.
- 50 pull-ups, palms forward, full extension, slow and continuous, no bouncing—90 seconds.
- 100 bent knee sit-ups, feet secured—3 minutes.
- 100 push-ups, chest touching floor, no bouncing—3 1/2 minutes.
- 30-foot rope climb, hands, no feet, from a sitting position—10 seconds.
The four strength tests were performed with no rest between them, i.e., you finished one and moved immediately to the next one. Force Recon Operators averaged 5′8″ to 5′10″, 150–175 lbs. SEALS were 5′10″ to 6′2″, 170–210 lbs.
In general, we could outrun and out power-walk the SEALS, but they could swim circles around us. They were better at push-ups. We were better at pull-ups and rope climbing. We were about equal in sit-ups.
PERFORMANCE TIMES TODAY — Age 70+
- 10-mile trail run, Boots and Shorts—75 minutes.
- 5 mile run in the soft beach sand—45 minutes.
- 25 pull-ups, palms forward, full extension, no bouncing—60 seconds.
- 50 bent knee sit-ups, feet secured—2 minutes.
- 50 push-ups, chest touching floor, no bouncing—2 minutes.
HOW TO TRAIN AT AGE 70+
- Power Walk up hills. Come down slowly. DO NOT RUN DOWN! (You can injure your joints running down).
- Run up hills. Come down slowly. DO NOT RUN DOWN!
- Power Walk on the soft beach sand.
- Run on the soft beach sand.
- Power Climb the stairs in tall buildings. DO NOT WALK OR RUN DOWN! Take the elevator down (it’s too easy to trip coming down the stairs, especially when you get tired).
- Lift Weights and do Flexibility exercises.
- If you can afford it, hire a fitness trainer.
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