Anonymous Letter Discussion and General Kurt Sonntags rebuttal (MERGED)

DZ

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I just have a few questions to some SF guys, or people who understand what is going on. How does removing language school from the Q course make it more linear? I know they are still supposed to go to LS after graduation but isn’t the ability to learn languages part of what makes a Special Forces soldier? So what happens if a newly minted Special Forces soldier goes on to language school and fails? Does he recycle or does he go to a team without language training? Also, with the optempo as it is for SF is there a danger that guys will end up having to push language school off to deploy? I have read an article by a Marine Raider that said they are supposed to go to language training after ITC, but that because of the optempo many of them aren’t able to. I’m just curious if the same thing might happen to SF.

Language is still part of the Q course. After Robin Sage, there is the Regimental First Formation, where you don your beret, and get your tab.. but no paper work to back it up. Your paperwork is held hostage until after you finish Language. If you fail language you won't get your paperwork/ grad certs, and it will be like you never graduated.
 

Devildoc

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Language is still part of the Q course. After Robin Sage, there is the Regimental First Formation, where you don your beret, and get your tab.. but no paper work to back it up. Your paperwork is held hostage until after you finish Language. If you fail language you won't get your paperwork/ grad certs, and it will be like you never graduated.

For educational purposes, if one does this--fails language after the Q and Robin Sage and all--what happens to him?
 

Devildoc

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You will likely get 1 or 2 recycles, and if you still can't pass you'll be dropped from the course and go back to your previous MOS.

Would you necessarily go back to the same language, or go to perhaps an easier language to try to recoup the financial investment of the soldier?

I'm just thinking about the investment of time and money just to turn someone back to a previous MOS.

Do you know a percentage of men with whom this happens? Can't imagine it's a big number.
 

DZ

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Would you necessarily go back to the same language, or go to perhaps an easier language to try to recoup the financial investment of the soldier?

I'm just thinking about the investment of time and money just to turn someone back to a previous MOS.

Do you know a percentage of men with whom this happens? Can't imagine it's a big number.
It doesn't happen to a large number of guys. More guys end up recycling or being dropped due to failing PT tests during language. I know that now, especially with Sonntag in charge there is a lot more hand holding.
As far as language changes, I'm not too sure.
 

Ooh-Rah

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For educational purposes, if one does this--fails language after the Q and Robin Sage and all--what happens to him?
This is something I have always wondered about, but never asked. Knowing the additional part about 'required language' makes earning a Green Beret that much more elusive; not only do you need to be a physical stud and mentally sharp, a person can go through everything and still not be able to play with the big kids if they can’t learn a language!
 

Devildoc

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It doesn't happen to a large number of guys. More guys end up recycling or being dropped due to failing PT tests during language. I know that now, especially with Sonntag in charge there is a lot more hand holding.
As far as language changes, I'm not too sure.

Thanks. This has been educational. Always interesting to see how other units and services do business.
 

EqualReaction

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Language is still part of the Q course. After Robin Sage, there is the Regimental First Formation, where you don your beret, and get your tab.. but no paper work to back it up. Your paperwork is held hostage until after you finish Language. If you fail language you won't get your paperwork/ grad certs, and it will be like you never graduated.
Thanks for the information!
 

moobob

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Language training for SOF has never been a serious priority, some SMU's excepted. On paper, everyone is on board with the need, and language is part of the marketing of SOF being special. In reality, it is the first thing to get pushed to the right because it isn't cool and language proficiency is damn hard to acquire and sustain, especially for alpha males who would much rather do kinetic things.
It's not a major priority for the one SOF element (SF) where it should be a huge deal. They have raised the standard, to 1/1, and talk about raising it more, but they either don't know the real solutions to the problem, or are unwilling to actually solve the problem. Probably the former.

There used to be an SF detachment at DLI. SF also used to have a lot of Lodge Act soldiers who were native speakers of foreign languages.

Unpopular opinion: The only Group with major success in a UW/FID/COIN type mission that can't be majorly attributed to JTACs and air power is the only Group that still has a ton of native foreign language speakers. SF has a lot of great soldiers, but I don't think they have the right ones.

If you look back at the origins of SF between WW2 and Vietnam, and what the organization has morphed into... It is a very different beast in terms of mindset and organizational focus. If you throw in pressure to meet quotas... you end up with a bunch of guys that want to get their gun on, but are organized in too small of an element to be the optimal force to do so.
 

Devildoc

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@moobob , my father died in 1977, when I was 8. My neighbor, a history teacher at the local high school, took me in as one of his own sons. Many years later he was also my history teacher and vice principal.

Anywho, he was retired army, retired in the early seventies, spent 20 out of 22 years in Special Forces. Do the math, he was around when it was in its infancy.

Through the years he introduced me to several of his friends who had retired around Ft Bragg. None of them native Americans (not "Native American", you know what I mean). They were all Germans, Eastern Europeans, a couple Russians.

Even when he was mentoring me in high school, he wanted me to go into Special Forces. This was mid/late 80s. My heart was drawn elsewhere, but even then he understood that the world in Special Forces was evolving and it was not what he knew it to be.

he died a few years ago. He understood that everything changes, nothing is the way it used to be, and he was largely fine with that. But he was bemoaning the changes in Special Forces training and the direction it was going. I think it's natural for everyone to look back and feel that way, I certainly do about the things in the Navy, but just two cents on another perspective.
 

Brill

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Language training for SOF has never been a serious priority, some SMU's excepted. On paper, everyone is on board with the need, and language is part of the marketing of SOF being special. In reality, it is the first thing to get pushed to the right because it isn't cool and language proficiency is damn hard to acquire and sustain, especially for alpha males who would much rather do kinetic things.

Which make language support guys sexier.
 

NikNifSik

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Language training for SOF has never been a serious priority, some SMU's excepted. On paper, everyone is on board with the need, and language is part of the marketing of SOF being special. In reality, it is the first thing to get pushed to the right because it isn't cool and language proficiency is damn hard to acquire and sustain, especially for alpha males who would much rather do kinetic things.


I respectfully disagree with your statement of language not being a priority for SOF. At 5th, it has been prioritized since 2009, and only gets supported more and more by the year. Of the 10 guys, Alpha Males, on my team, every single one understands the importance of language and the doors it opens for us. I also know even the non-18 series guys over the fence take it more serious these days as well. The only people not taking it serious are the guys not in harm's way.
 

NikNifSik

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I've heard from a guy who was once on the 5th Group staff (while Mitchell was an LTC and 5th Group XO that MAJ Mitchell's DSC was rather overblown, so I'm not surprised. He stated that working with Mitchell was not the best experience of his career, but declined to elaborate. I know that's RUMINT, but "where there's smoke there's fire" makes me think there's something to his comments.

I have heard the same, from credible sources. Mitchel is not thought of and remembered in a good light by those of us who served under him.
 

Marauder06

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I respectfully disagree with your statement of language not being a priority for SOF. At 5th, it has been prioritized since 2009, and only gets supported more and more by the year. Of the 10 guys, Alpha Males, on my team, every single one understands the importance of language and the doors it opens for us. I also know even the non-18 series guys over the fence take it more serious these days as well. The only people not taking it serious are the guys not in harm's way.

Glad to hear it. I ran the Group Support Company back in 2004 or so, and based on the language training stats, there definitely wasn't an emphasis back then.
 

Brill

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Glad to hear it. I ran the Group Support Company back in 2004 or so, and based on the language training stats, there definitely wasn't an emphasis back then.

We had a steady flow of their 35-series guys rotating through an office I know during the defeat ISIS campaign. I know E-4s that had full access like their civilian counterparts. They’d learn national stuff, train national folks how they operate, then take the experience AND contacts forward. GSB SI Chief made it all happen.

A lazy ass civilian works their ass off when colleagues are mixing it up out forward.
 

Centermass

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Curious as to what the current status is of SFC Robertson and Squires?

Were they chopped or on standby, waiting until a change of command before a decision is made?
 
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