All of you have heard about Tiers in US Special Operations Forces. We have already focused on Tier 1, meaning the teams included, but what about Tier 2?
Tier 2 Units
Tier 2 Special Missions Units* are open to any male in the U.S. Military of adequate physical health. Most wash out (like 80-90%). These teams are, but are possibly not limited to:
- Navy SEALs – US Navy
- Marine Raiders – US Marine Corps
- Marine Force Recon – US Marine Corps
- Combat Controllers – US Air Force
- Rangers – US Army
- Special Forces – US Army
- Asymmetric Warfare Group – US Army
Tier 2 units are still highly elite. However, there is no question whether joining Tier 2 units is more straightforward or not. For example, the regular Navy SEALs (Tier 2) have a dropout/washout rate of 80–85% during training, whereas the British Special Air Service (SAS) has a dropout rate of 90–95%. More importantly, only people with three years of military service are allowed to apply. Thus the caliber of applicants is already more elite.
In terms of a US example, Delta Force (who was trained by the SAS initially) has a dropout rate similar to the SAS, and as I said, all Delta members are already Tier 2 spec ops members.
So, Tier 2 units require you to be the epitome of fitness and strength, etc. At the same time, Tier 1 units require the things mentioned above to a greater extent and prior military service, which means an already developed military skill set. The skills set that Tier 1 applicants would have due to initial service in Tier 2 units would be impeccable marksmanship skills, explosives skills and knowledge of military strategy tactics, etc.
Once fully trained as a Tier 1 spec ops member, the soldier would have been trained in psychological training to resist torture/interrogation and in evasion tactics such as Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training.
What does Tier 2 represent?
Some people claim Tier status depends on funding, but this isn’t true. Tier ranking is to do with eliteness; this is why the CIA’s Special Activities Center (SAC) and the paramilitary Special Operations Group (SOG) recruit from Tier 1 units. The SAD/SOG/SAC recruit from DEVGRU and Delta, not from Army Rangers. Even when the CIA uses special forces units for operations and not SAD/SOG, they still choose Tier 1 units, not Tier 2 ones. When the CIA launched the operation to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, they didn’t use a regular SEAL Team; they used the Development Group (DEVGRU).
Some would even argue that Rangers (75th Ranger Regiment) is currently Tier 1 due to the extremely high demand for its direct-action skillset.
* The term Special Mission Unit or Special Missions Unit (SMU) itself is an official term sometimes used, particularly in the United States, to describe some military Special Operations Forces. Special mission units have been involved in high-profile military operations, such as the killing of Osama Bin Laden.