Army Special Operations looks to expand its ranks
August 7, 2013
While the military as a whole is in the midst of implementing drawdown measures, Army Special Operations is adding to its numbers. Recruiters are actively seeking personnel from within the ranks, and they wish to let Soldiers know that there are many different career options available to them.
The Special Operations Recruiting Battalion recruits Soldiers for Army Special Operations Forces, including Special Forces (Green Berets), Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations, and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. They also recruit Soldiers for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and U.S. Army warrant officers.
With a global area of operations, Army Special Operations are involved in a variety of missions ranging from waging unconventional warfare to assisting in humanitarian efforts worldwide.
Options are available to Soldiers from any military occupational specialty who wish to make the switch, said Staff Sgt. Logan Wheat, a Special Operations Aviation Regiment recruiter at Fort Drum.
"Some organizations, Special Forces for example, accept transferred Soldiers from all MOSs," Wheat said. "Other organizations, such as the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, only accept applicants from specific (specialties) that feed into the mission's needs."
The first step for any Soldier who is interested in learning more about transitioning into Special Operations is to visit the recruiting office, at Bldg. 1003, Nash Boulevard, and discuss their options. There, the recruiting staff can provide information on basic requirements, which include physical assessments, and test score verification.
"Each (MOS) has a lot of the same (general) requirements, but each of them has specific criteria that they are looking for," Wheat said. "They all have either a packet process or a selection process tailored to their specific needs."
Although some missions within Special Operations require only that Soldiers meet Army standards for physical training, it is advised that they strive for a higher level of fitness.
"We advise that they hold themselves to a higher standard, so that they are setting themselves up for a much better chance of being able to complete their selection (cycle)," Wheat said.
The next requirement is that Soldiers achieve the required minimum General Technical score, as measured by the Army scoring of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
"For the majority of Special Operations, the (required) GT score is 100 to 107 or higher," Wheat said. "If their GT score is one or two points lower, we recommend that they go to the education center to receive help to improve their GT score."
In addition to achieving the required test scores, Soldiers must meet age and grade requirements and have a high school diploma (for privates first class). They also must pass a physical examination conducted at Conner Troop Medical Clinic.
Applicants also must fill out a packet, which is submitted for careful consideration.
"The people who do the approvals are actually qualified Special Operations personnel," Wheat said. "These people have actually experienced what it's like, so (in choosing the right individuals) they are trying to ensure the success of their future environment."
Once a candidate has been chosen, the path they follow largely depends upon the organization to which they have applied. In some cases, as with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, candidates will complete a permanent-change-of-station move after their packet is accepted, and they will conduct their training at their new duty station.
For candidates applying to enter Special Forces, acceptance of their packet is only the beginning. The next obstacle for these Soldiers is a rigorous three-week Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course, or SFAS, which is conducted at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"You're not necessarily going to Special Forces just because you go to selection," Wheat said. "It's a way of proving yourself initially worthy of (being trained as a Special Forces Soldier). You are constantly being assessed throughout the entire process."
Individuals return from the selection course with a status of selected or nonselected. Of those who return without having been chosen, Wheat said that about half opt to return for another selection cycle in the hopes of being picked up on their second attempt.
After being selected for Special Forces, Soldiers are given a few months to get their affairs in order and prepare to attend their qualification course at Fort Bragg, N.C.
During this transitional time, selected members receive on-the-job training to better prepare them for their Q-course and for a successful career in Special Operations.
"Once you are selected, they give you a wish list as far as which (of the groups) you will go to and which MOS you will be performing," said Sgt. 1st Class Chris Lucero.
The length of the qualification course differs depending upon a Soldier's MOS, but the course can be up to two years long. Once Soldiers have completed their Q-course, they will be assigned to one of five operational Special Forces groups.
One of the most unique aspects of a Special Forces group is that it is a cohesive unit that operates together, often until members retire from the military.
"That's one thing that's very different than the conventional Army," Wheat said. "When you're in the Special Operations community and you get to your group location, you typically stay with that group throughout your career, only PCSing for broadening assignments or schools, and then returning to the group."
This allows Family Members a unique opportunity to put down roots. Spouses have the ability to invest deeply in their careers without the worry of relocation, and children can get used to one school system.
"Their (family readiness groups) are outstanding." Wheat said. "Since they don't have to move around as much, they know the area and the best way to get things done."
When something happens to a Family Member, the FRG members recognize the importance of helping the Family so that the Soldier can continue to focus on the mission at hand, rather than becoming dangerously distracted, Wheat said.
This fosters development of a close-knit community that Special Operations Soldiers rely greatly upon.
Another unique aspect of Special Operations organizations is that they seldom experience drawdowns.
"Most of these mission groups do not allow themselves to get into an over-strength position," Wheat said.
This gives Special Operations Soldiers an added sense of security, and it allows the Army to offer unique incentives for Soldiers serving in this field.
Soldiers who are interested in learning more about careers available to them within Special Operations are encouraged to attend a weekly briefing at the Special Operations Recruiting Center, Bldg. 1003, on Nash Boulevard.
Briefings for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are presented at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Special Forces briefings are given at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursdays. Family Members are encouraged to attend.
Interested parties also may call 774-7327 or visit U.S. Army Special Operations Recruiting Team Fort Drum on Facebook.