What Makes ‘Special Operation Forces’ Special?
The Special Forces of the United States Military are an elite group composed of highly trained individuals with unique capabilities. They are “special” for a reason.
They are tasked with the most difficult and dangerous missions and they have a reputation for completing them successfully when others can’t.
But what makes them different from the rest of the military to make them special?
The United States Armed Forces contain several different types of Special Forces, including the Army Rangers, Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”), Navy SEALs, and Air Force Special Tactics Teams. The Marine Corps also has its own elite units such as the Force Reconnaissance Companies and Critical Skills Operators.
In addition to these forces, there are a variety of specialized units across the US Government, such as the US Marshals Special Operations Group and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Response Teams.
These Special Forces often go on missions that require a higher degree of skill and experience, such as counter-terrorism operations, high-profile hostage rescues, direct action raids, and long range reconnaissance. These missions typically involve complex tactics and advanced technology, so they require specialized training and equipment.
Special Forces also conduct unconventional warfare operations, such as training foreign troops or guerrilla fighters to carry out their missions. Other soldiers may not have the same level of expertise to carry out these types of operations.
Training and Selection Process
Before anyone can join the Special Forces, but they must go through an extensive selection and training process that is designed to test their physical, mental, and psychological abilities – of which the vast majority fail. This process is extremely rigorous and only those who pass it with flying colors will be selected to join this elite group.
During this process, potential members must demonstrate a high degree of physical fitness, as well as emotional intelligence, moral character, teamwork skills, leadership potential, and problem-solving aptitude.
Additionally, applicants must score high on tests that measure their knowledge in areas such as language proficiency, weapons handling, navigation skills, combat tactics, and foreign cultures.
Becoming a Special Forces soldier is a highly competitive and demanding process. The selection process typically involves several stages and can take several months to complete.
Here are the general steps involved in becoming a Special Forces soldier:
- Pre-screening: The first step is to meet the basic eligibility requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen, having a certain level of education, and passing a physical fitness test and medical examination.
- Initial Assessment: The next step is the Initial Assessment, which is a multi-day evaluation of a candidate’s physical and mental abilities. The assessment includes physical fitness tests, military skills evaluations, and various problem-solving exercises.
- Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS): The SFAS is the primary selection process for becoming a Special Forces soldier. It is a rigorous and intense three-week program that tests a candidate’s physical and mental endurance, leadership skills, and military abilities.
- Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Qualification: After passing the SFAS, candidates will be assigned to a specific Special Forces Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), such as communications, weapons, engineering, or medical. They will then complete additional training specific to their MOS.
- Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC): The SFQC is the final training program for Special Forces soldiers. It is a challenging and demanding program that lasts for several months and focuses on advanced military skills, unconventional warfare tactics, and leadership development.
The selection process for becoming a Special Forces soldier is extremely challenging, and only a small percentage of candidates who begin the process will ultimately be selected to be honored the be among the ranks.
Unique Warrior Qualities
The Special Forces possess many qualities that set them apart from other branches of the military. For one thing, they have a deep knowledge of foreign cultures due to their extensive training in language proficiency and cultural awareness.
Additionally, they are highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat tactics as well as navigating unfamiliar terrain using only maps or compasses for guidance.
Furthermore, because they often work in small teams or alone on complex missions behind enemy lines for extended periods of time without support or backup from other units – which requires immense mental strength and resilience. They often have access to advanced equipment not available to standard military personnel.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, all members of the Special Forces undergo some type of psychological screening before being accepted into this elite group; this ensures that all members have sound moral character and emotional intelligence necessary for success in the most complex and difficult situations.
Special (OPS) Missions
The Special Forces have conducted many famous missions throughout their history. One of the most well-known is include Operation Urgent Fury, a 1983 invasion of Grenada, and Operation Prime Chance, a 1987-1989 effort to protect oil tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq War.
Perhaps most notably, the US Army Special Forces played a role in the arrest of Manuel Noriega in 1989 and the “capture” of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
In recent years, they’ve been involved in many successful missions… that the public knows about.
In 2013, they were responsible for capturing suspected terrorist Abu Anas al Libi in Libya. In 2014, a team of special operations personnel successfully rescued American journalist Steven Sotloff from ISIS militants in Syria.
The same year, the US carried out airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq with guidance and intelligence provided by the Special Forces.
The US Army Special Forces have also played an important role in Operation Inherent Resolve, the international mission against Islamic State militants that began in 2014.
The CIA and SOF
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Army Special Forces often work together on various operations. For example, in 2011, CIA paramilitary teams embedded with US Army Special Forces conducted the mission that lead to the death of Osama bin Laden.
The CIA’s Directorate of Operations also provides intelligence and target development for missions conducted by the US Army Special Forces. Aside from military operations, CIA personnel often provide support to Special Forces during humanitarian missions or disaster relief efforts.
There’s a reason why the Special Forces is often the CIA’s go-to asset for some of the most difficult and important missions.
There are many things that make the Special Forces stand out from other branches of the military. From their rigorous selection process to their advanced training in language proficiency and cultural awareness to their access to specialized equipment not available to standard personnel.
The Special Forces truly are a special group among US service members. Their dedication to excellence is unparalleled and it’s no wonder why they have earned such a strong reputation for completing the toughest and most secret missions in history.