I'm a support guy, how do I land a job in SOF?

Marauder06

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Q: I’m a support guy, how do I land a job in a SOF organization?

A: First do your homework, then contact your branch and the recruiter for the specific organization and ask for an application.

Do your homework. Find out which SOF organizations have support positions that are a fit for your MOS and skill level, your experience, your physical fitness level, and in some cases, your gender. You can do most of this through open-source, online search engines like Google. SOF websites like this one are also great sources of information as you can seek advice from personnel who have actually been in those units. Keep in mind though that the person with the most up-to-date information on openings in the unit is probably the current recruiter; SOF organizations are constantly changing so unit-specific information quickly becomes outdated.

After you do your research, contact your branch and the recruiter for the specific unit and ask for an application. Some SOF organizations, such as Special Forces, have no recruiting process for support troops, so assignment to SF Groups is made by respective branches “needs-of-the-Army” just like an assignment to 2ID, 1st Cav, or any other conventional assignment. So an assignment to an SF Group for a support guy could be as easy as a call to his or her branch (btw, SF should REALLY think about changing this). I include “her” in there because there are many SOF support assignments that are non-gender-specific.

Some other SOF organizations have unique application processes or “assessments” that gauge an individual’s potential to succeed in that particular unit. Many SOF units keep the specifics of their assessments deliberately vague, others are completely forthcoming about what to expect. Your recruiter will fill you in on those details when/if you make it that far in the application process. Whatever the organization, it always pays to make sure you are in top physical shape and are fully read up on current doctrine for your field before applying for a SOF assignment.

It also pays to be persistent. If you can’t get into the unit you want “right now,” keep trying. Many times SOF units may not have a position for you at this time, but with more experience (or when they have an opening) they could tap you. Good luck! Remember, don’t be afraid to ask.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
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Okay, fine, you get....5 million points. :D

(Short story is at the bottom and I'm open for questions).

For the National Guard it is rather simple: New enlistees contact a recruiter who will then contact the unit and see what slots are available. Say you want to be a Parachute Rigger and a slot is available but the rigger school doesn't start for another 7 months. You won't leave for Basic for another 4 months (Basic + jumps school before AIT).

Say the slot isn't available. You can look at another slot/ MOS, wait for your preferred slot to open up (may take awhile), or go elsewhere.

Prior service? Contact a recruiter or the unit directly. They may or may not have a slot for your MOS and pay grade. You MAY have to take a bust to get into the unit. You may have to crosstrain to be MOS qualified (which can take years depending upon your new MOS, especially Intel).

So, see a recruiter or contact the unit. Don't be surprised to wait for a school or to be asked to take a bust to get into the unit. DO work your ass off and remember that your customer is a "cool guy". Want to do "cool guy shit"? Go to the cool guy school and get your long tab.
 

Marauder06

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SOF logistics support

A rather lengthy open-source article on SOF support, written by a major in 7th Group, here.


On 11 April 2005, Lieutenant General Philip R. Kensinger, Jr., Commanding General of the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, approved the Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) Logistics Transformation Concept. The concept calls for the creation of five regionally aligned Special Forces group support battalions, three Ranger battalion support companies, and a Special Operations sustainment brigade to replace the 528th Special Operations Support Battalion (Airborne). As the planning for implementing this transformation began, an important requirement became clear: the need to share the lessons learned and the training programs and unique capabilities developed by the 528th Special Operations Support Battalion (SOSB) over its 18 years of providing unparalleled combat service support (CSS) and combat health support (CHS) to Army and joint SOF throughout the world.

I left 5th Group just before they moved from the Group Support Company concept to the Group Support Battalion. For those of you in Group or in the Rnager Regiment, how are these new support formations working out for you?
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
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Support Jobs in SF

Support jobs in a Special Forces Battalion.

Many jobs exist within a SF Battalion but not all are 18 series guys. Without getting into the organization, here are some of the jobs in an SF BN. I left off the MOS codes.

Supply – It is what it is and you'll get Pathfinder along the way.

Parachute rigger – Pack chutes and door bundles, rig helos for sling loads. Some slots exist for MFF.

Vehicle mechanics – It is what it is.

NBC NCO: Maintain the Pro masks and conduct training.

Various commo jobs: You can do radio, telecomm, computers, and satellite/ phone work in SF.

Electronic maintenance: several MOS' are found here. You'll fix and repair radios and computers.

Intel analysts, signals intercept, counter intelligence, all are found in an SF BN. here's one job: http://www.vmi.edu/archives/Adams_Center/CookRJ/CookRJ_T001.asp

PA – One Physician’s assistant per BN.

Flight Doc – One flight surgeon per BN.

Cook – It is what it is.

Other jobs exist at the Group Support level. AD and NG will have the same MTOE (or should in theory). Remember that if truly want to do "cool guy shit" then you need to go to a "cool guy school" and pick up a long tab. The jobs listed above are earning CABs in Iraq and Afghanistan though.
 

Marauder06

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It's great to give support types the basics of weapons, combat med, etc., but they should have those basic skills coming in. A far better use of time is to screen and train them before they get to the unit, **in the unique ways they will apply their MOS skills in support of the SOF mission**. "This is how you do a lov-vis LOGPAC." "This is how you'll do IPB in support of an ODB." "I know how you were taught to set up retrans, but due to our mission set this is what you need to learn now."

I'd rather the support guys train and maintain proficiency on support guy stuff and the operators do operator stuff.
 

Devildoc

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It's great to give support types the basics of weapons, combat med, etc., but they should have those basic skills coming in. A far better use of time is to screen and train them before they get to the unit, **in the unique ways they will apply their MOS skills in support of the SOF mission**. "This is how you do a lov-vis LOGPAC." "This is how you'll do IPB in support of an ODB." "I know how you were taught to set up retrans, but due to our mission set this is what you need to learn now."

I'd rather the support guys train and maintain proficiency on support guy stuff and the operators do operator stuff.

They should (have those skills), but often don't because the units from which they come are M-F/9-5 (not really, but you get the point). And the different branches have different 'standards' and expectations for SOF support billets.

RE: Pat Mac, he's the shit. One of the many things I love about living where I do is access to him, John "Shrek" McPhee, Larry Vickers, VTac, etc.
 

Marauder06

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They should (have those skills), but often don't because the units from which they come are M-F/9-5 (not really, but you get the point). And the different branches have different 'standards' and expectations for SOF support billets.

RE: Pat Mac, he's the shit. One of the many things I love about living where I do is access to him, John "Shrek" McPhee, Larry Vickers, VTac, etc.
I don't know him, and I applaud his efforts to get his support guys spun up.

But this goes to the need to have a USASOC or even SOCOM-wide assessment, selection, and training program for enablers. That training isn't dependent upon individual units, or even individuals within units.

Maybe they have something now? I left the SOF world in 2009.
 

Devildoc

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I don't know him, and I applaud his efforts to get his support guys spun up.

But this goes to the need to have a USASOC or even SOCOM-wide assessment, selection, and training program for enablers. That training isn't dependent upon individual units, or even individuals within units.

Maybe they have something now? I left the SOF world in 2009.

Yes, this. Hard agree.

Regarding Pat McNamara, on a scale of 1-10, he's a 15. Imagine someone hopped up on caffeine, coke, and uppers, but on none of those. Super smart, great instructor.
 

LimaPanther

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An area I have always had was for a support guy tell the world they are Recon, SF, SEAL, etc. Even today, when I go to LeJeune for 2d Recon Association get together, and we are at BN for a ceremony we conduct with them, I look out at the 3 Companies and Force company. They are small in number. I then look over at HQs and they equal at least 2 of the companies. But listening to them outside the area, they are Recon Marines.

Remember the BN runs and HQs personnel couldn't keep up. Same when I left the Corps and went over to Army SF. Don't get me wrong, we couldn't get our missions done without support personnel but be physically and mentally fit when you report in. Also hit the ground running in knowing your job. But don't give the impression to outsiders that you are us.
 

Devildoc

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An area I have always had was for a support guy tell the world they are Recon, SF, SEAL, etc. Even today, when I go to LeJeune for 2d Recon Association get together, and we are at BN for a ceremony we conduct with them, I look out at the 3 Companies and Force company. They are small in number. I then look over at HQs and they equal at least 2 of the companies. But listening to them outside the area, they are Recon Marines.

Remember the BN runs and HQs personnel couldn't keep up. Same when I left the Corps and went over to Army SF. Don't get me wrong, we couldn't get our missions done without support personnel but be physically and mentally fit when you report in. Also hit the ground running in knowing your job. But don't give the impression to outsiders that you are us.

I was always very careful to this point. I was SOF support for NSW (NSWU-4); in the reserve, I was a corpsman attached to recon (4th recon batt), enough to earn the 'SOF support' tag here (never applied for it), but never claimed to be a SARC/SOIDC or SEAL. That didn't mean I did not have to earn my place with them, though.

But as a 'support guy' I never had the us/them feeling, it was always we/us. Maybe because I took the time and made the effort to be useful. They let me do some cool-guy training with them...on the range, fast roping, helo casting, etc. Those that did have the us/them thing, they were usually dicks regardless of the badges they wore.
 

LimaPanther

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Loved you "DOCs", you kept us in Terpin Hydrate (For those that don't know, that is GI gin). Ever unit I was with there was always the feeling of us/we because we had to work side by side to get the mission done. My complaint was not being happy with your place in the chain and when you got home you were not the armor but you wore our title. Those in support worked hard for their MOS and the opportunity to be in a unit so be proud of it. Those that went through the pipeline worked hard to be where they are.

Back in the day, I know I am old, all that were assigned to the Army SF wore the Green Beret but only those that had the "S" prefix to their MOS could wear the Flash on it. Problem was that no one outside a unit knew the difference between a cook and an operator. SF had to make the change so that no support wore the beret. Now all support either wear a Maroon beret showing they are airborne or a field cap.
 

LimaPanther

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DevilDoc - My understanding now is that all Corpsmen that are assigned to Recon have to go through the pipeline. Also have to take advanced medical training. Maybe that is why we felt you were a Marine and not Navy. Each MOS in an SF team also goes through the pipeline.
 

Devildoc

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DevilDoc - My understanding now is that all Corpsmen that are assigned to Recon have to go through the pipeline. Also have to take advanced medical training. Maybe that is why we felt you were a Marine and not Navy. Each MOS in an SF team also goes through the pipeline.

When I was in the pipeline was broken by school billets: now you go to dive; you might go to airborne in 6 months; your might go to XXX school in a year. In between, you were back at your unit. Now it is indeed a solid, uninterrupted pipeline.

To THAT point...in order to keep a toe dipped in the waters, I am in charge of getting a clinical training program with my institution for Navy SOIDCs and 18Ds, both those in the pipeline/schoolhouse at Bragg as well as the established providers at MARSOC and Group. I am talking with the Senior Enlisted Advisor (for the Navy personnel) with MARSOC tomorrow; and already well in the process for the guys at Bragg.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
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Now all support either wear a Maroon beret showing they are airborne or a field cap.

Unless something changed, Support wears a maroon beret regardless of airborne qualification status. That started in...99 I think. Again, I don't know if that changed or not.
 
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