John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School

Paratroopers from the JFK Special Warfare Center and School prepare to jump.
U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, The Army’s Special Operations Center of Excellence (SOCoE), approach the drop zone in a UH-60 Black Hawk at St. Mere Eglise Drop Zone, Fort Bragg, N.C., March 7, 2016. (Pfc. Matthew J. DeVirgilio/U.S. Army)


The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School invests in the development of human capital to produce civil affairs, military information support operations and Special Forces soldiers from recruitment to retirement in order to provide our regiments with a professionally trained and well-educated force.


The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) at Fort Bragg, N.C., is one of the Army's premier education institutions, managing and resourcing professional growth for soldiers in the Army's three distinct special-operations branches: Special Forces, civil affairs and military information Support. The soldiers educated through SWCS programs are using cultural expertise and unconventional techniques to serve their country in far-flung areas across the globe. More than anything, these soldiers bring integrity, adaptability and regional expertise to their assignments.

On any given day, approximately 3,100 students are enrolled in SWCS training programs. Courses range from entry-level training to advanced warfighter skills for seasoned officers and NCOs. The 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) qualifies soldiers to enter the special-operations community and teaches them advanced tactical skills as they progress through their careers. The Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center, operating under the auspices of the Special Warfare Medical Group, is the central training facility for Defense Department special-operations combat medics.

Furthermore, SWCS leads efforts to professionalize the Army's entire special-operations force through the Special Forces Warrant Officer Institute and the David K. Thuma Noncommissioned Officer Academy. While most courses are conducted at Fort Bragg, SWCS enhances its training by maintaining facilities and relationships with outside institutions nationwide.

In all, SWCS offers 41 unique courses that give Soldiers the skills they need to survive and succeed on the battlefield.

The Army's special operations force is only as good as its education system. Likewise, that education system is only as good as its instructors. By employing the most experienced soldiers within its units and directorates, SWCS ensures the U.S. Army of tomorrow is equipped with the very best special operations force.

SWCS classes and field exercises are led by more than 400 military instructors, each of whom has operated in the same environments -- and for the same units -- as their students will. Their real-world experience not only enhances the courses' instruction; it fosters camaraderie built on students' and instructors' shared sense of duty and commitment. Annually, one third of the uniformed instructors rotate back to the operational force from which they came so that they can maintain operational relevancy in both SWCS and the Army's special-operations units. As military personnel rotate between assignments, more than 200 expert civilian instructors and staff members support training, doctrine development and publishing initiatives by providing unique skill-sets.

Special operations soldiers cannot be mass-produced and are elite because only the best are selected. As the gateway to the special operations community, SWCS selects only soldiers who demonstrate character, commitment, courage and intelligence in their daily lives and professional careers.

The Army's special operations unit commanders rely on the SWCS directorates to select the strongest candidates and give them the tools to succeed on the battlefield. Using lessons learned from these battlefields, curriculum and doctrine can be amended in a matter of weeks when gaps in training are identified. Together, these directorates oversee administration and policy throughout the community, serving the operational units while allowing them to focus on their missions with full confidence in their soldiers' preparedness.

Army special operations soldiers have a tremendous impact on today's world. At each stage of their careers, the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is with them to guide and develop their skills.


The John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School dates to 1950, when the U.S. Army developed the psychological warfare division of the Army General School at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Center and School, a unique organization with operational tactical units and a school under the same umbrella, moved to Fort Bragg from Fort Riley in April 1952. In 1956, the PSYWAR Center and School was renamed the U.S. Army Center for Special Warfare/U.S. Army Special Warfare School. The school was given the responsibility to develop the doctrine, techniques, training and education of Special Forces and psychological operations personnel.

In 1960, the school's responsibilities expanded to counterinsurgency operations. In 1962, the Special Warfare Center established an SF Training Group to train enlisted volunteers for operational assignments within the SF groups. The advanced training committee was formed to explore and develop sophisticated methods of infiltration and exfiltration.

On May 16, 1969, the school was renamed the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance. The curriculum was expanded to provide training in high-altitude, low-opening (HALO) parachuting and SCUBA operations. The institute comprised the SF School, psychological operations, Military Assistance Training Advisors School, Counter-Insurgency School, Unconventional Warfare School and Department of Non-Resident Training.

On April 1, 1972, the U.S. Army Civil Affairs School was transferred from Fort Gordon, Georgia, to Fort Bragg, operating under the center's umbrella. In 1973, the center was assigned to the new U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC.

On June 1, 1982, the chief of staff of the Army approved the separation of the center as an independent TRADOC activity under the name U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center. The SWC integrated special operations into the Army systems, training and operations, becoming the proponent school for Army Special Operations Forces.

In 1985, SWCS was recognized as the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. The major change at this time was the establishment of six training departments: special forces; special operations advanced skills; survival, evasion, resistance and escape; foreign area officer; civil affairs; and psychological operations. A few years later, the Noncommissioned Officer Academy was instituted. In 1989, SWCS was restructured after the establishment of a training-group and three training battalions with one support battalion.

On June 20, 1990, SWCS was reassigned from TRADOC to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. This designation gave USASOC control of all components of SOF, with the exception of forward-deployed units. Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, the primary SWCS mission has been to fill the force with quality special operations soldiers.

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