By Will Ravenstein, Fort Riley Public AffairsDecember 28, 2018
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- First and 2nd Lieutenants from the 1st Infantry Division who aspire to enter the Army Special Forces were invited to Barlow Theater Nov. 29 to hear how the process of joining works from officers who have been through the selection process and the person at Human Resources Command who submits their final package.
The recruiting event was limited to officers from the 2016 and 2017 commissioning groups as the packet for consideration needs to be completed prior to Jan. 1.
"As of right now, year group 15 has been sitting on their packet submission for about a year," said Sgt. 1st Class Cory Bunch, assistant station commander for the special operations recruiting office for Fort Riley. "Their packet submission opened up in August 2017. Year group 16, their packet submissions don't start until Jan. 1. They need to have a packet built because everyone else in the Army has these packets built and they are just waiting to press that submit button on Jan. 1, not just starting the packet process."
From the time the candidate submits their packet to the time they are told they are going to the selection course, 90 to 120 days has elapsed.
Bunch warned though, that space is limited based on what each branch is willing to give up and it is a first-come, first-served process for eligible candidates.
"The 90 to 120 days is the process starting with me submitting the packet to you attending selection," Bunch said. "It has changed a lot from prior years where you are looking at upward of 13 months before you hear anything and go to selection. Now, from packet submission to attending the selection course, you are looking at about 120 days max."
Bunch felt the officers of the 1st Inf. Div., who are interested in joining the groups would be best served if they heard from other officers who had already made it through the process and are currently working with teams.
"It only means so much to come from the point of contact who submits the packet," he said. "For it to come from the person at HRC that looks at the packet and decides if you go or not -- or maybe someone who spent 10 years in the special forces group -- it means a lot more to ask those questions to someone who has lived the life then trying to get you through the initial hurdle."
That was what 1st Lt. Joshua Ryan, assistant S-3, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., was hoping to learn.
"Just to see what my options are throughout the military," the Burns, Wyoming, native said. "You get to work with host nation forces and just coming back from Europe a couple months ago, I liked working with those forces. To do that as a profession all the time would be awesome."
Ryan said most of his ROTC instructors at the University of Wyoming had a background in special forces and that interested him while learning.
"Those guys brought me up so I want to do what those guys did," he said.
Ryan is unsure if he will submit his packet by the open time in January as he is slated for a rotation to the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, and for attendance at Ranger School later in the year. He realizes that more qualifications he has at time of submittal will make him a more sought after candidate.
As for the goal of the day, Bunch said he hopes the officers present take with them more information about how the process and the opportunities available to those who look for them.
"I'm hoping that they actually take away that there are opportunities out there rather than, 'I'm stuck being in my branch,' or 'I'm stuck being branch transfer,' or 'the only chance at being happy is dropping a [return from active duty] packet and getting out,'" he said. "I'm hoping they take back a lot more information than I could give them on the career pipeline for an officer. I can only give them so much and the graphs and everything they gave out tonight -- I can read them and give my impression of them -- but to tell any commissioned officer the importance of any of them would be, that's not going to mean anything coming from Sgt. 1st Class Bunch. That will mean something coming from a major or a captain in the branch they are looking at going."
Officers interested in joining the special forces groups can stop by the recruiting office, 7450 Normandy Dr. or call the office at 785-240-1840.
Bunch said all packets go to him from the service member to HRC. There is no need for command approval to "bless off" on the packet.