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Old 01-22-2004, 19:07   #3
The Reaper
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Part III

Foreign Language Training

Everyone who does not already hold a language rating prior to attending SFQC will attend language training upon graduation. For almost everyone, the language training location is Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Language training ranges from 17 to 23 weeks, depending on the difficulty of the language. The standards for graduation are 0+, 0+ on the Defense Language Proficiency Test (speaking and listening). About 95 percent of students are successful the first time through. Recycling is usually permitted. If a 0+, 0+ is not attained, your SF tab will be revoked.

The training emphasizes basic communication skills for soldiers who will be conducting military training. The focus is on speaking and listening skills, and military terminology is emphasized.

Students can expect about 6 to 7 hours of classroom instruction per day plus homework, part of which may be computer based instruction.

After completing language training, all soldiers are authorized 30 days to PCS to their new SF Group assignments. This 30-day PCS authorization applies even to soldiers stationed in 3d Group at Fort Bragg.

What You Can Expect After You’re Qualified

Each of the five SF Groups is composed of three battalions and a Group support company (which includes Group headquarters). Each of the SF battalions is composed of three line companies (A, B, and C), as well as a support company and a battalion headquarters detachment. Each of the three line companies is composed of six SFODAs and one company headquarters.

Training

Expect to participate in training events both in the continental United States and outside the continental United States. The following are characteristics of typical team training:
_ Time spent in close quarters with other team members.
_ Much preparation time involving study, research, and planning.
_ Harsh, uncomfortable living conditions, isolated from the world.
_ Fast-paced activities, with little opportunity for sleep or relaxation.

In terms of individual training, the typical SF soldier has considerable opportunities compared to soldiers in other branches. Advanced specialized training is available for specific mission profiles; for example, SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) and HALO (high-altitude low-opening) training.

In-Garrison Activities

Work in garrison varies in type and intensity, depending upon the previous and upcoming training assignments and missions.

Generally, SF soldiers are either planning or preparing for deployment or are deployed. Although they need to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice, they always have a long-range training plan that they follow. Garrison work often has the following characteristics:
_ Slower, more flexible pace than when deployed.
_ Emphasis on quality time with family and taking care of needed family or personal business.
_ Emphasis on training or preparing for the next deployment or training exercise, performing tasks such as—
- Maintaining equipment.
- Training fellow team members in MOS skills (cross training).
- Preparing and researching lesson plans for teaching missions.
- Physical training.
- Language training.
- Rehearsals to practice team combat skills in accordance with standing operating
procedures.

Amount of Time Away From Home

The time spent away from home varies greatly from soldier to soldier and from year to year. The amount of deployment time for a given soldier will depend on his—
_ SF Group, its AO, and national priorities regarding that part of the world.
_ A Team and its specialty, if it has one (for example, SCUBA).
_ MOS (shortage MOS may deploy more often).
_ Individual schooling requirements.
_ SF Group commander.

For the soldier assigned to an SFODA, time away from home in a given year can vary from about 1 week to 6 months, depending on the factors already noted.

Deployment is considered TDY, so any one deployment can potentially be 179 days (6 months), but no longer. The average length of deployment is closer to 1 or 2 months.

The Long-Term View of Your SF Career

As a rule, an SFQC graduate’s initial assignment will be to an SFODA. During this period he will enhance his professional development by working with seasoned professionals on a variety of missions in the Group’s targeted region of the world.

Promotion Rates

Typically, sergeants are promoted to SSGs as soon as they meet minimum time-ingrade standards and if they perform well. SSGs normally find themselves in a promotable status toward the end of their initial 4-year SF tour. Promotable SSGs will attend the Advanced NCO Course around their ninth year of Army service.

Promotions are consistent with the conventional Army, but on occasion there are accelerated promotions.

It is possible for some NCOs to go to the Defense Language Institute or to attend SF medical cross-training after serving 2 years in a Group. These soldiers will return to their Groups to employ their new skills on an SFODA after successfully completing training.

After a soldier has acquired about 4 years of experience to round out his SF training, he may be assigned away from an operational Group to serve as an instructor at the USAJFKSWCS or to serve in a specialized position that draws on his regional experience.

During this period, the soldier broadens his knowledge of how the Army works and gains an understanding of the work that goes into developing and sustaining a special operations force.

Soldiers who perform exceptionally well in both the operational and support environment will find themselves returning to an operational Group to assume responsibilities as the senior NCO of an SFODA. The next step is selection as team sergeant, a critical opportunity in an SF NCO’s career, since the team sergeant is instrumental in preparing his SFODA to execute missions and is charged with developing his young NCOs into outstanding SF soldiers. After 1 to 3 years of team sergeant time, an NCO may be selected to serve in key special operations positions throughout the world.

Master sergeants with outstanding files may be selected to attend the Sergeants Major Academy. Graduates from the Academy will be assigned to positions of significant responsibility throughout the world pending selection for promotion to sergeant major (SGM). Duty positions for SGMs are designed to shape policy for the future of SF or to enforce the high standards associated with a career in special operations.

Job Satisfaction

SF soldiers report that the camaraderie, professionalism, and overall job satisfaction are unmatched by any other job in the Army. On the other hand, some soldiers report that they expected to travel more, train more, and conduct more real-world missions than they have thus far.

PROMOTIONS

Promotion rates in SF are among the best in the Army for both officers and NCOs. Given the changes currently taking place in the Army, these promotion rates may also be changing. Moreover, the performance of SF soldiers tends to be relatively high. So, soldiers who get promoted in SF are consistently high performers.

Another career path that some SF soldiers choose is that leading to the drill sergeant, recruiting duty, and WO program. SF offers an excellent opportunity for an NCO to become a WO.

Families in SF

In SF as elsewhere, families and individuals are unique. However, SF families appear to share certain characteristics. Many families characterize themselves as independent and self-sufficient. Balanced with this is a strong sense of community with other SF families.

Wives of SF soldiers describe themselves as—
_ Independent
_ Self-sufficient
_ Flexible
_ Strong
_ A “jack of all trades”
_ Supportive of their husband’s work
_ Having outside interests
_ Outgoing
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