Like all soldiers, SF candidates begin their career with nine weeks of Boot Camp. Upon completion of Basic Combat Training you will attend Advanced Individual Training. For Special Forces, you 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. All take place at Fort Benning, Georgia.
After graduating AIT your training will continue with the following schools:
- Army Airborne School – 3 weeks in Ft Benning GA
- Special Operations Preparation Course (SOPC) – 19 continuous days in Ft Bragg NC
- Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) – 19 continuous days in Ft Bragg NC
- Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) – 62 weeks depending upon MOS Specialty, 18D also attends the 37 week Special Operations Combat Medic course before the "Q" Course.
- Live Environment Training (LET) (After assignment to Operational Group) – Immersion Training in foreign countries – varies in time.
Depending upon your MOS within Special Forces Training, the process of completing these schools can take 14-18 months. Details about each phase of training are listed below:
Army Airborne School
Your next step will be 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 you the techniques involved in parachuting from airplanes and landing safely.
Airborne school is broken down into 3 weeks. The following explains the training you must complete for each week.
You start with an intensive program of instruction to build individual airborne skills. These skills prepare you to make a parachute jump and land safely. You will train on the mock door, the 34-foot tower and the lateral drift apparatus.
Tower Week completes your individual skill training and builds your team effort skills. To go forward to Jump Week, you 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, you must successfully complete five jumps at 1,250 feet from a C-130 or C-17 aircraft. If you successfully meet the course requirements you will be granted an additional skill identifier and will be authorized to wear the coveted "Silver Wing" on your uniform.
Special Forces Preparation Course (18X only):
When you graduate from Airborne School you will be sent to the 19-day Special Operations Preparation Course taught at Fort Bragg. This course will help you prepare for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course. It focuses on physical training and one of the most important skills a SF soldier can have-land navigation; however, this course does not guarantee you will pass the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS).
Special Forces Assessment and Selection
SFAS is 19 days of training like you've never experienced. And it's all about survival. Your intelligence, agility and resourcefulness will all be tested. If you make it, you can continue on to the SF Qualification Course.
Special Forces Qualification Course
The SFQC consists of five phases (I-V). If you complete this training, you will be awarded the Special Forces Tab and the "Green Beret" and become one of the Army's experts in Unconventional Warfare.
Ph. I- SF Orientation & 6 wks - Intro to Special Forces & Unconventional Warfare. Provides an initial orientation of the SFQC and establishes an foundational understanding of Unconventional Warfare through participation in Robin Sage as member of a Guerrilla Force. Includes SF History, Organization, SF Principal Task/Core Activities, Capabilities, Methods of Instruction, Patrol Orders and Troop Leading Procedures.
Ph. II- Individual Skills - This phase is roughly 10 weeks and includes training in Small Unit Tactics at the Squad and Platoon level, SF Tactics, and includes Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training.)
Ph. III- MOS Qualification - You will receive MOS training for your Special Forces MOS. This phase is 16 weeks long and includes SF critical tasks required for award of a Career Management Field 18 Military Occupational Specaility, and Interagency Operations.
The Special Forces Qualification Course trains and educates Soldiers in one of four enlisted Military Occupational Specialties (MOS's):18B - SF Weapons Sergeant; 18C - SF Engineer Sergeant; 18D - SF Medical Sergeant; 18E - SF Communications Sergeant .
Ph. IV- Collective Training - You will hone your SF skills in a realistic Unconventional Warfare (UW) practical exercise, learn Advanced Special Operations techniques, Air Operations, Military Decision Making Process, and infiltration and exfiltration techniques. This phase takes about 5 weeks.
Ph. V- Language Training - Based your language skills, you will advance through language and culture 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 24 weeks.
SERE Course - In the extremely realistic Survival, Escape, Resistance, and Evasion (SERE) course, you will learn combat survival tactics.
After Graduation- Live Environment Training
As an SF Soldier, you might receive training that completely immerses you in another culture. You'll learn to be fluent in that country's language, customs and traditions, becoming a virtual citizen of that country.