Special Forces Expansion Stalled



Special Forces Expansion Stalled


June 13, 2007: For the last six years, the U.S. Army Special Forces has been trying to increase its strength by a third, to 14,137. This included an effort, to recruit new operators direct from civilian life, that has not worked out as well as expected. In the last five years, nearly 6,000 civilians were recruited directly into Special Forces. But the washout rate was much higher than that for trainees who were already in the military. The plan is not being dropped, but the recruiting standards for civilians are being tightened up. Less than a thousand civilian recruits will be accepted each year, and standards in general will be increased. Also, the civilian applicants must be at least twenty years old. Meanwhile, the number of candidates sought from active duty military personnel has been increased to nearly 2,000.
The Special Forces training course has been shortened (by eliminating downtime and leave time), from 75 to 49 weeks. Again, based on past experience, new criteria for washing out inadequate candidates has been introduced, that will weed these guys out earlier in the training. Language training is being beefed up (more time, better methods). So far, Special Forces has managed to maintain its strength, but not increase it by much. The desire to maintain quality has been adhered to, thus preventing in increase of strength by simply lowering standards. Currently, only about 30 percent of those who enter Special Forces training, complete it.
...Language training is being beefed up (more time, better methods).

That should read, "less time, worse methods."

Instead of a 4 month block for Cat 1,2 languages and 6 months for Cat 3,4 languages it has been broken down into 3 phases of training and interspersed in PH-II and Phase III as well as being shortened to 3 months for Cat 1,2 and 4-1/2 months for Cat 3,4.

Language block I (2 weeks) comes after PH-II
Language Block II (2 weeks) falls at week 8 of the A,B,C,E courses and at week 40 for the Medics.
Language Block III (8 weeks for Cat 1,2 and 15 weeks for Cat 3,4) falls at the end of MOS training.

Trust me, this sucks monkey balls. I have 5 weeks left of LB-III and I have no clue whats going on...

JESUS! I would forget how to speak English with that schedule.

SurgicalCric, hang in there. I miss snooping around your 'questions of the day' in the med section.
I was in the last legacy class and witnessed the huge failure rate(language) of guys in this new routine. We all had 1+, 2's and the new pipeline were barely getting 0+'s
...I miss snooping around your 'questions of the day' in the med section.

SHUSH!!!!! Someone might here you and decide I need more work to do...lol

Seriously though, this crap is for the birds. I have a Cat-II language (phrench) and the pass rate on the DLPT is 50%, and noone has scored a 2 in listening in 6 months...

There just isnt enough time to get up to speed. We have class from 0700-1400 Mon-Sat and the SWTG Commander thinks we should be putting in 4-5 hours a day studying on our own...got news for him, that aint happening even with the most studious.

Anyway, I will stop bitching and get back to my studies...

Yea just imagine the scores when they switch over to DLPT5 :eek:. Alot of my buddies ended up doing the 150 hour retrain for French. They were telling me having French, they were statistically going to have to do the 150 hour retrain after failing the DLPT.

By Sean D. Naylor
Army Times staff writer

U.S. Special Operations Command must not allow a focus on direct action missions to kill or capture enemies to overwhelm its responsibility for the more indirect methods associated with unconventional warfare, a panel of experts warned Congress on June 29.

This struggle is more than the global manhunt, it?s more than the direct action piece, it?s more than combat, retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing, a former SOCom chief, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities.

These are necessary activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they are not enough, Downing said.

Downing was speaking at a hearing on SOComs missions and responsibilities. In their opening statements, Reps. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., the subcommittee chairman, and Marty Meehan, D-Mass., the panel?s ranking Democrat, both raised the issue of whether the command is focused too much on direct action at the expense of unconventional capabilities that could prove more decisive in achieving strategic success in the war on terrorism.

In the U.S. special operations community, direct action has been the preserve of Joint Special Operations Command, a SOCom subordinate element based at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.

JSOC comprises the militarys most secretive special mission units, such as the Armys 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, the Navys SEAL Team 6, the Armys 75th Ranger Regiment and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the Air Forces 24th Special Tactics Squadron. Other Navy SEAL units also specialize in direct action.

But unconventional warfare, which includes working with foreign guerrilla forces, is often used to describe a wider range of nonkinetic missions, such as training foreign militaries, that traditionally have belonged to Special Forces. There have long been rumblings of discontent in the Special Forces community that their skills are not as highly prized within SOCom as those of units specializing in direct action.

We ve got to get after developing friends and allies and proxies, because when you fight an insurgency, the best people to do this are the host countries, not American forces, said Downing, a former Ranger.

Max Boot, a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was more critical, saying SOCom falls far short of what we need by being overly focused on direct action rappelling out of helicopters, kicking down doors, and capturing or killing bad guys.?

While such strategy sometimes pays off with the elimination of individual enemy leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ?making real progress, whether in Iraq or other locales, will require accomplishing much more difficult, less glamorous tasks such as establishing security, furthering economic and political development, and spreading the right information to win over the populace, he said.

Bias toward direct action

Boot quoted two unnamed Special Forces officers one a colonel, the other a general officer who wrote him complaining of what they saw as SOComs bias toward direct action.

That bias is so heavy, Boot said, that it is doubtful any amount of outside pressure, even from this committee, will change the dominant mind-set very much, especially when the Office of the Secretary of Defense remains so fixated on such missions.

As a result, he said, there is growing interest in the Special Forces community in possibly creating a Joint Unconventional Warfare Command within SOCom, which would gather Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations units in an unconventional warfare equivalent to the existing Joint Special Operations Command.

This strikes me as a good idea, Boot said. But I would also urge the committee to consider going further and removing the unconventional warfare mission from SOCom altogether.

Former Special Forces officer and CIA operative Michael Vickers, now director of strategic studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank, said he thinks an unconventional warfare command within SOCom is a good idea.

However, he warned, this could tie up scarce [special operations forces] human capital in additional headquarters and duplicate functions of SOComs newly established Center for Special Operations, which has the mission to plan, support and execute special operations.