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Grim
02-21-2013, 18:28
Gentleman,

I have been given the unique opportunity to sit down and interview two Colonels and former Special Forces Soldiers in the United States Army. I will be meeting with them tomorrow (02/22/2013.)

Now I have already compiled a list of key questions I will be asking. My request for anyone with a Special Forces background is this:

If you were a young man interested in an Special Operations future with the Army, what are MAJOR questions/talking points you would be sure to ask?

I realize that this is a plea for help; I have done my own research, I am just curious to see what men who have been there and done this have to say in regards to the matter!

I appreciate any comments I may get. Thanks for the assistance.

EDIT: I will be posting the Q&A between me and these two Warriors later tonight when I arrive back at home. I hope new members such as myself will use the information to answer their own questions regarding SF careers and their future with SF.

blue02hd
02-22-2013, 03:55
Ask them if they are members of this board.

Trapper John
02-22-2013, 05:55
I am assuming that as a young "military brat" one of your parents has arranged this "interview" for you and that you have in fact "done your "homework". Also, I am assuming that you are considering a career in SF. If these assumptions are correct then a {salute} to you for using your head and gaining some ground truth SA before making a choice. BTW I have often said that if I were 20 years younger I would have had made SF my career choice.

So to answer your question: I would recommend that you ask two very broad types of questions: (1) From their perspective, what do they see as the future role for SF given the nature of the changing geopolitical climate and the assumption that asymmetric warfare will be the nature of future conflicts? (2) What do they consider to be the most important personal attributes for a prospective SF candidate? (3) Since SF now has branch status in the Army, compare the officer and NCO career paths. What could you expect as an SF Officer or an SF NCO throughout your career?

Take good notes during your "interview" and I would suggest that you post the Q&A here to get some additional feedback and advice.

Good luck :lifter

Grim
02-23-2013, 08:28
Here are the questions and answers from both gentlemen.

*For the sake of anonymity, #1 will refer to soldier one, and #2 will refer to soldier 2.*

What can I do to best prepare myself for the physical aspects of SF?

#1: Play to your strengths. When I went to Selection I was 5' 11' and 145 soaking wet. I knew I wasn't the strongest guy there, but I knew I was one of the better runners. So before Selection, I upped my long distance running training and got 15-30 seconds FASTER than the recommended time. That way, if the distances exceeded what I was prepared for, I would still be able to keep an above average pace. You're not racing other guys, you're racing a standard.

#2: It really is a matter of endurance. You don't have to be the fastest sprinter, but you need to be able to finish early no matter what the distance is. Training for that is hard since you don't know the distances or the required pace. My training method was this; every week, increase your ruck weight by 10%. Do this for six weeks. On the seventh week, decrease your ruck weight by 50%. Then on the eight week, decrease by 75%. Ninth week, be back at the ruck weight that you began at, and start the whole nine week process over again. This is simply because your overuse injuries generally begin at the six to eight week mark. Your bones need time to become tighter and more compact, so decreasing the weight gives them this period of "rest" and avoids injury.

Most Important PERSONAL attribute for a prospective SF candidate?

#1: You need to be someone who is a team-player with ANYONE. You're going to meet some guys who you may never want to be friends with at Selection. But if they are on your team, then it is your job to work with them. Sometimes you need to be a cheerleader, and other times you need to be a leader. Just remain focused and always make the time limits set by the cadre; you're being judged to a standard for every event. During Team Week, you'll be in a group of twelve guys. Four of them may never be SF material. However, it's still your job to work with them and finish in the best possible time and manner. Let the cadre assess them.

#2: The number one attribute that I think makes a SF soldier is personal courage and honesty. It's what you do when no ones watching that defines who you are. It takes a man to accept responsibility for his actions, but that's the qualities that are needed in positions of leadership like SF. The way you represent yourself on your team and around your teammates will say a lot about the type of person you are.

What do you think the future role of SF is given the nature of the changing geopolitical climate and the assumption that asymmetric warfare will be the nature of future conflicts?

#1: SF will always be necessary. There are always little wars going on in little countries. The job of SF is training other soldiers, and building relationships with other nations. In my personal opinion, in the future we will see a shift to less direct action, and more building relationships with nations.

#2: Less direct action. During my SF career, many of our deployments would have been considered a failure if the situation had dissolved into one that required guns and firefights. It was our job to take care of the little situations so that the big situation never even happens.

Importance of Land Navigation/Ways to learn?

#1: Land navigation is ESSENTIAL! You should 100% get a early start if you are seriously considering a SF future. I learned all my Land Nav when I joined the military; however, one of the best ways to learn is to get a map and compass and just go out and start walking areas you know. Get familiar with terrain association and knowing the direction you are going. If you feel like you're shifting right, check your compass to see if you are correct. Also, local college ROTC groups hold Land Navigation classes that are open to the public. You do not have to be a member of ROTC to learn from them.

#2: Land Navigation is huge. You WILL be tested on this in Selection, and it WILL play a huge factor in your SF career if you do happen to be selected. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who took me under his wing and showed me the correct way to navigate. I relied too much on my compass and pace counts and this would cause me to miss the little things that were indicators that I was near my points. I made a shift from only doing pace counts to doing both pace counts and terrain association, and this saved me from walking extra kilometers. It's not a race either; I was usually the last to leave the starting area. Some guys would just look at their map, do a quick azimuth and move out. They usually ended up getting lost more then the guys who took their time to associate themselves with their grids and maps.

Opinion on college education/ Bachelors or MBA?

#1: When you're in college and you want to serve, it can be very tough. Half of your mind is telling you to drop out and go. Like you think you're going to miss out on the action. Looking back now, I am so glad I stayed in college. There are always going to be wars. Action is always going to be there. Your education is of the utmost importance. Don't risk losing a future career and additional education. Get your bachelors first, and then go from there.

What is your opinion on the 18X (X-Ray program)?

#2: I think it's a very good thing. We need more SF soldiers, and this is a way for people who are truly dedicated and interested to work their way into the SF world. However, with every dedicated person comes one who just wants to be lazy and doesn't know what they truly want. The 18X program has a high failure rate because it serves as a wake up call to those people who weren't ready for Selection, and I'm glad it does that. We need soldiers who aren't going to waste the Cadre's time and the government's resources.

Best MOS in relation to after Army work?

#1: I'm obviously a bit partial, but I have never regretted for one second becoming a medic. I did 30+ years with the Army. I was able to transition straight out, and into a position working with local hospitals as their Operations Officer. I always loved medicine and without my 18D training, the doors that opened for me may have remained shut.

#2: I was an 18D with the 7th SFG, and it was the best decision I made. I wasn't a door-kicker; I liked working with soldiers and helping them get better. When I finished my time with SF, I worked with the Warrior Transition Battalion, and that time spent with wounded soldiers helped me and my skills both grow. 27 years later and I'm still doing what I love here at Bragg.

Opinions on training schools (Scuba, HALO, Ranger)?

#2: I did my career backwards. I earned my Ranger tab when I was a 33 year old Lieutenant. This helped me. I was used to being hungry, I was used to being tired. My prior service is what made it possible for me to finish Ranger school as strong as I did. In regards to other training schools, I only did the schools that I needed to do in order to complete my missions. I went to Scuba school because I needed that school. I did HALO training because it was required of me. The downside is that once you have all these talents, people may request you for their missions simply because you possess the skills that others don't. So if that's your goal, then additional training schools open up a lot of doors.

That's all I really have. #2 gave me three reading materials that I will post links to below. I hope that people can gain insight from this and maybe use the information to answer any of their own questions. Both #1 and #2 were gentlemen, and I am extremely thankful and humbled by their dedication to helping young men like myself, and their service to their country.

A Message to Garcia: http://www.birdsnest.com/garcia.htm

The Art of War: http://classics.mit.edu/Tzu/artwar.html

Monkey Management: http://www.lce.com/pdfs/SPL_LP_Monkey_Management.pdf

If you have any questions, please PM me!

-G

blue02hd
02-23-2013, 08:32
Good questions Grim. It appears to be a productive engagement. In your opinion, what was the most valuable nugget of information you walked away with?

What follow up questions would you now have?

MR2
02-23-2013, 08:35
Thank you Grim.

Grim
02-23-2013, 08:39
Good questions Grim. It appears to be a productive engagement. In your opinion, what was the most valuable nugget of information you walked away with?

What follow up questions would you now have?

Sir,

Going into the interviews I had minimal land navigation experience. I took a couple orienteering classes during high school. I'm glad I learned so much about land navigation and beginner ways to learn more.

I also enjoyed the quote that you need to sometimes be "a cheerleader and on others days a leader."

If I had another chance, I would ask more questions pertaining to language skills. I know they play a huge role in SF and it would have been nice to get a leadership perspective on the importance of being proficient in your group's language.

blue02hd
02-23-2013, 08:59
Keep pushing Grim! Your future ODA deserves it, and it will pay off in spades. Knowledge is a moving target in my opinion when your requirements constantly change, only wisdom will provide the answers you want, after the fact of course. Research, question, assess, and decide.

Our political environment directly effects our day to day under a Green Beret (example). Second and third order effects! When tactical, think operational. When operational, consider strategic! As you travel through your basic requirements always keep the bigger picture in mind. Plan for it, prepare for it, have an answer, even if its not the right one.

This advice I'd offer to anyone who pushes for more, as it is advice I never understood when I was younger. Lol, I learned it after the fact.

My apologies for throwing a silly response to your initial question (post #2). I made a poor initial assessment. Many younger members fail to research and put the work into prep, I assessed you as one of their ilk. Pleasantly I was mistaken.

bubba
02-23-2013, 09:03
Without a language capability, we (SF) are just Marines with better looking hats......

There are 4 things that you can't learn on a couple hour C-17 flight to some foreign AOR:

1) Physical Fitness
2) Marksmanship
3) Land Nav
4) Language

Pretty much any thing else of critical importance such as a new radio, weapon, bomb, etc can learned in a couple hours with a trainable person and the manual.

Trapper John
02-23-2013, 09:04
Good questions Grim. It appears to be a productive engagement. In your opinion, what was the most valuable nugget of information you walked away with?

What follow up questions would you now have?

Grim- I concur with my Brother, these were very good questions on your part and you received some good responses. I especially like the reading assignment you received:D Much to learn from these and you are gaining some good SA. Post some follow-up questions.

I would like to take the first point Tsun Tzu makes - know yourself and expand on that point a bit. Think of this as a different kind of SA (Self Awareness).

What is your character? Think of situations that you have experienced and your responses to those situations. For example, let's say you were in club or society at school like, say, the Honor Society. The rules of conduct are no cheating, no alcohol, etc. Now let's say that you and several Honor Society friends are at a party and everyone is drinking beer. The parents of the friend where you had the party later learn of the party while they were gone and report this to school Principal. The Principal calls all of you to his office and asks you to step forward if you were drinking. You know that you were and you also know that you will be kicked out of the Honor Society if you admit it. None of your peers who were drinking are stepping forward. Do you? Why?

Second hypothetical: You are in the school lunchroom and some friends of yours are picking on a nerdy kid. Nothing physical, nothing direct, just jokes loud enough so he can hear. The kid is obviously embarrassed. What do you do? Why?

SF selection will reveal your character through your actions and reactions under stress. No hiding it, it will come out! Think about it and post your responses here.

Grim
02-23-2013, 09:24
Gentlemen,

Thank you all for your replies and kind words.

@TrapperJohn,

I wrote down your hypothetical's and immediately began to respond to them.

In regards to the Honor Club situation, I came to this conclusion. While it would be easy to remain still and not admit to any wrongdoing, I would step forward. Accepting responsibility for your own actions is a huge part of building trust with your teammates and leaders. When I think about this scenario, my mind goes back to "Get Selected" by Warrior Mentor and how it made reference to the "Rocking Chair Test".

"If I did not confess to my wrong doings, could I look back and be proud of my actions?"

The answer is no. I would feel intense shame for lying to myself and others, and I would feel shame for being a coward.

As for the bullying scenario, I would immediately ask my friends to stop their "jokes". Popularity is a big part of modern day high school and college life, but there are plenty of ways to be popular and a good leader to your classmates without hurting other students emotionally or physically. If these other boys are really my "friends", then they would understand their wrongdoing and apologize to the other boy. If they fail to realize their mistakes, then I would separate myself from the group. I would not want to associate with people who enjoy abusing others for fun.

Trapper John
02-24-2013, 08:27
Good responses, Grim. If SF is a calling for you because De Oppresso Liber is in your character, then you have the right mindset. If you want SF to prove your manhood or because you think you are a tough guy - think again. All of the "tough guys" dropped the first night at Mackall in my Phase I class. If you choose to continue on this path you will come to understand what it really means to be a Warrior and the responsibility that comes with that role - it is not for everyone. SF will select you and not the other way around. Good luck and PM me any time if just to let me know how you are doing.

De Oppresso Liber