Old 10-06-2010, 06:56   #16
1stindoor
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You will take it during SFAS. Don't worry about trying to get it done prior, worry about being physically fit for Basic, AIT, Airborne, SFAS, etc.

The TABE test will measure your education level.
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Old 10-06-2010, 14:02   #17
amatlis
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A lot of good points here, so I'll just focus on where I saw people getting dropped.
  1. Day 1: PT Test. Don't come to SFAS if you're just barely passing the PT test. The cadre use a very tough standard and you will have wasted everyone's time. Fast, jerky pushups won't cut it. You need to drop your chest to the ground, keep your eyes looking up, move your whole body up together, and try to extend your arms almost to the point of going up on your fingertips - and it has to be slow enough to easily count. That's the only way to guarantee your pushups are counted. A lot of people got dropped on the PT test.
  2. Gate Week: The standards for gate week are not that hard by themselves. The fact that you have to do it all running through sand, up hills, and crossing small rivers, makes it more challenging. I would like to post the time hacks since all the active duty guys had that information before showing up, but I don't want to be accused of G2ing the course. Needless to say, you should be comfortable running up to 6 miles and rucking up 10 miles. I was amazed at how many "pt studs" didn't make one or more of the gates. I can only conclude that some guys were only training for one kind of event. Some guys just couldn't run 6 miles. For SOPC, we never ran distance but we did a lot of interval training and that seemed to help.
  3. TABE: Don't fail the TABE test. If you're like me and haven't done basic math problems in >15 years, do yourself a favor and get a TABE study book. The problems are not hard, but if you're out of practice you'll be giving yourself minor aneurysms trying to remember how to do them.
  4. Psyche Test: As others have said, just answer the questions truthfully. However, I have one caveat to add - don't overthink the questions like I did. This is not a civilian psyche test to discover all the nuances of your unique personality. This is a test to determine if you fit with SF. If they ask a question like "Do you sometimes feel like violently attacking someone?", they mean "are you really thinking about doing that?" They don't mean it the way I took it like "Yeah, I have imaginary thoughts of beating people up all the time when people piss me off." That earned me an interview with the psychologist where I had to explain they were just wishful thinking thoughts, not real intentions. So, just use common sense. Also, there's a ton of repetitive questions, so try not to accidentally mark the wrong bubble about things such as "Do you see imaginary people or animals?"
  5. Nasty Nick: I don't know if anyone got dropped for performing poorly on Nasty Nick, but it reflects badly on you if you fail obstacles. Make sure you are good at climbing ropes before you show up.
  6. Land Nav: The only advanced land nav I ever did was at SOPC before showing up to selection, and I got all 4 points on the first day, so you don't necessarily have to be an expert before showing up. Just be a good learner. The biggest (and saddest) reasons people failed were (a) losing their map, or (b) losing their weapon. I saw some really good candidates dropped from the course because they lost their map. Please, buy a good map case and tie it securely to your body!!! Tie your weapon to your body if necessary. The draw monsters are nasty and they will rip everything out of your pockets. When you realize your map is gone (in the dark), it will be too late. Speaking of the dark, they tell you you need to discover at least 2 points before daylight if you wish to succeed. But that wasn't the case for me. My first point was 12 kilometers. It was ridiculously dark, like walking through a closet with no lights on. Your progress will be very slow, but don't despair, your land nav techniques will get you there. I didn't get to my first point until 7:50 am. I ran for an hour and a half to get my last point on time, but I still got all my points. PACE COUNT!! Most of the guys who had trouble, did not use their pace count. You should NEVER depend on the roads and trails on the map being accurate. You should not count firebreaks. If you use your pace count and azimuth, you will know exactly when you hit your next check point. You won't be wondering if it's the correct road or not. Also, use your compass A LOT at night. I walk straight during the day, but at night it was amazing how I could completely steer off in the wrong direction. I was so sure I was walking straight that I thought my compasses were wrong when I checked them. Trust and use your compasses. Or, if you can see the stars, memorize a few so you can approximately gauge your direction. Use the clearings on the map (such as the bowling alleys). They are accurate and great for verifying your position and handrailing at night. I wouldn't trust the draws much at night, but don't be afraid to bust draws during the day if you can see through them. They can save a lot of time, and you can usually find old paths through them during the day. At night is a different story...
  7. Team Week: It was sad how many guys made it through to team week, performed well on events, but then fell out of transition rucks. The transition rucks were faster than gate week, so... you just need to be good at rucking fast and through sand. There's no secret method. You can't really prepare for the events except to be good at lashing and tying ropes. Most of the time, you won't be in charge of the apparatus design, so you just have to make do with whatever F'd up design your PL comes up with. It's not about coming in first anyway, it's about how you adjust and work as a team. Be a team player. Don't be like one guy on my team who complained constantly about how stupid the design was or how weak people were. Yeah, he was a physical stud, but he got peered out of Selection.

Know how to pack your MOLLE. I moved my pack high up on the frame and packed all the heavy stuff on top. I think that helped a lot *for me*. Everyone's different. However, there is no substitution for time under a ruck. You need to give your body time to adjust to the weight of carrying a ruck sack for long periods and distances. It will also help you with team weak. People talk so much about different work-out routines, but I think the simplest way to get in shape for SFAS is alternate running and rucking in the mornings and safe/moderate (i.e. don't hurt yourself) cross-fit style workouts in the afternoons (for overall muscle training - i.e. beach-body muscles are useless). Change up your running with intervals. Make sure you can ruck a 15 min/mile pace. That's all I would do. If you only lift weights in the gym, you may look sexy in the mirror, but my 36 y/o normal-looking-ass will be passing you on the runs or rucks.

My final point is about boots and blisters. Standard issue boots may be good for some people, but they're terrible for my feet and a lot of other people's feet as well. There's no reason why you should show up with boots that don't work well for your feet. I saw people who's feet were completely destroyed. That makes everything so unnecessarily miserable. There are many options available. I like the Blackhawks. They are built like a running shoe with no break in time, and they're very comfortable. Lots of people I know like them. However, you should get drainage holes installed as someone else mentioned. Otherwise they tend to get heavy when wet. I heard a lot of people like Garmand (sp?) boots. I was a dumbass, and just before Selection I got psyched out and bought OTB boots. I kept hearing about how great they were (so light and they dry so quickly). I was worried about my Blackhawks being so heavy with water. I wore my Blackhawks most of the time, but one day I tried the OTBs and, of course, I got blisters, and they bothered me the rest of Selection. Don't do that. Stick to what you know. As for popping blisters - at first I tried leaving them as the Medics recommended, but it was incredibly painful walking on them. So finally I popped them with an alcohol-sterilized needle, and most of the pain went away in a day.

Oh, one more point - hot weather. I forgot to mention how many people dropped due to heat casualties. Some people simply don't do well in heat, but there are many things you should be doing to avoid heat injury. I sweat more and get more overheated than most people I know. I obviously drank a lot of water as recommended. I drank two Salt Rehydration Packs per day and also added my own sugar-free rehydration flavoring to make it more palatable. Sip your water continuously and drink your rehydration mix gradually but steadily. Too much will make you throw up. I drank a whole pack during an event and the other throughout the day to recover. I could feel the difference it made in my muscle recovery/endurance. Also (this is optional), it was very hot during our team weak so I wore my ACU blouse without my t-shirt. The cadre gave me a weird look about it, but I wasn't penalized and I think it literally saved me from being a heat casualty.

Ok, one more point: Ice!! Ice is freely available. I iced my feet every day, and it made a tremendous difference. I know I'm a little older than other candidates, but my feet were aching every day, and with ice they almost good as new the next day.

Good luck everyone!
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:02   #18
version13
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One more piece of advice:

I swear that Camp Mackall was designed by M.C. Escher, you can walk in a 10 mile circle and the entire way will be uphill.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:35   #19
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One more piece of advice:

I swear that Camp Mackall was designed by M.C. Escher, you can walk in a 10 mile circle and the entire way will be uphill.
There is also a weather control device installed. The second you leave the gate it starts to rain.
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Old 10-09-2010, 18:45   #20
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I was in class 503-08 (May of '08), and I know a lot has changed since with respect to particulars. It blows my mind that the gates and the standards for them are actually briefed now, but that brings me to the one piece of advice I would like to add to that presented thus far:

Do not try to game SFAS. This goes along with assessing yourself out. You are always being evaluated. Trying to calculate how much of an effort you need to put forth to get a "GO"or a good eval for an event and then metering out your effort and expending the minimum you deem necessary is a good way to skyline yourself as unsuitable. There were plenty of folks in my class that I heard strategizing their way around the events and through SFAS that found themselves standing in the non-select formation with sad faces on the last day.

On second thought, if any of that would have seemed like a good idea to you in the first place...go right ahead.
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Old 10-16-2010, 15:18   #21
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Socks - I took 16 pair, should have taken a few more. Not a necessity, but they just didn't feel right after hand washing and hanging dry.

Boots - I took three pair. I would recommend taking three. Your feet will get wet nearly every day. I would have one pair in my ruck (packing list), one on my feet, and one in the tent drying from the day before. It was a good rotation for me. Two issued pair and a pair of Danners.

Feet - I know its been hammered before, but its so important. Know what works for you before you go. I'm glad I got blisters a couple of times during my train up for selection, because by the time they showed up at SFAS, I knew how to take care of them and what worked for me. Take your boots and socks off and elevate your feet any time you have down time.

Sandals - Really wish I would have taken a pair of Crocs. Those that did took them to land nav and could let their feet air out while walking to the port-o-jons, etc.

Training for SFAS - A lot of personal preference here, but I'll give what I did. 1) Legs - I ran three times a week and rucked three times a week. I was working my legs hard six days in a row. I incorporated hills in nearly all my workouts. I hammered my legs so they were used to working hard every day. 2) Upper Body - I personally think upper body is important. You'll need strength for rope climbing, obstacles, team week, etc. We had some weak people when it came to team weak, and their lack of physical strength showed. It definitely can slow your team down. Forearm strength is also important 3) Rucking - There is a lot of advice on rucking on this site. My ruck training will look inadequate to most, but it worked for me. I rucked three times a week, twice for three miles, and once a week a six miler. This advice was given to me by a couple of QP's who believe if you go any further than six miles you risk the chance of injury, and you really aren't gaining anything. I stuck with that strategy and it worked for me. I never slowed down in the longer rucks, and never stopped walking during land nav other than at my points or to do a map check. A guy on my team from Ranger Bat trained the same way, and he was a stud. He was good to go on all ruck events as well. But, to each his own.

Stay positive and have fun.
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Old 10-17-2010, 21:34   #22
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A Reality Check

Hey, just a quick message for guys coming from the civilian world to military. I think it's important to be aware that joining the military and going to selection and the Q course is not one big glorious adventure. It's a huge shock going from the civilian world where time is money and you are treated in a civilized way. One of the hardest adjustments for me is the enormous amount of time spent doing nothing, waiting for something to happen. I am so used to working hard to be productive during my day. In addition, you are constantly treated either like an infant or a prisoner. I came from a program management position in DoD, running multi-million dollar programs, to an environment where most SF cadre hate the 18-xray program, don't want you there, and treat you like a complete idiot and don't mind showing you how insignificant you are by having you standing around all day doing nothing. You will typically have no idea what's going on until the day something happens. If you have a family or significant other, you will not be given opportunities to see them, even when there's time, because it's too much paperwork to give you leave. While in hold periods between classes, you will be with cadre who consider it their mission in life to weed you out for any possible reason. Being in hold is a shitty existence where your time and efforts will be constantly mismanaged and your training will make no sense. You will experience certain cadre who apparently are placed in charge of you as a punishment. They will constantly play fuck-fuck games with you to convince you and themselves of the power they have over you, and you will listen to endless long speeches about how great they are and how you should be humbled just to be in their presence. You will listen to long speeches about all the things you shouldn't do while learning that your cadre have and still do those things which they claim shows lack of integrity and professionalism.

I just want people to know the other side of what you're getting yourself into so your're not imagining some illusionary, romantic path of glory. You will spend a lot of time thinking about how much you could be accomplishing with your life outside the army while you stand around doing nothing or playing stupid games. The actual classes and cadre who run them are good, but you will spend a whole lot of time before sopc and in between classes hating life. That's reality. I thought someone should say it.

Good luck Gentlemen!
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Old 10-19-2010, 10:36   #23
moses25
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Any thoughts from others on the above post?
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Old 10-19-2010, 11:09   #24
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Any thoughts from others on the above post?
I think it is one person's perspective. An unfiltered opinion based on his personal experience. Just like his previous post on this thread was.

That attitude is probably one of the reasons that the 18X program is going away. People can serve in a regular unit and see what the Army experience is all about before coming to SF. I was an Infantryman before going SF, and once the SFQC was over, I was shocked at how much better it was in SF. And our cadre screwed with us mercilessly, much worse than they do now. In hindsight, the SFQC looked a lot better after it was over than when we were in it.

Anyone who has ever been on a jump with the 82nd can tell you about the hassles there in the conventional Army. It takes all day and then some for them to finally exit an airplane.

There is pressure on the cadre to take everyone that can get through the pipeline. I do not think that is a good thing. There is probably some pushback from this.

Leave is not permitted during SFAS. That keeps people from dropping 4187s for a free plane trip back to NC and quitting the first day. Not sure what the policy is beyond that, but processing a DA31 Leave Request is an easy thing at any unit PAC.

If you saw the Discovery Channel special on SFAS, instructions there are taken from the board. We are looking for people who can take and follow instructions, but who are also flexible.

The IG is always available if people are violating standards or being abusive.

If amatlis has let some bitterness color his comments, well, take it with a grain of salt. He has completed SFAS and was selected. amatlis, take a look back at this after a few months and let us know if you still feel this way.

TR
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Old 10-19-2010, 11:28   #25
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Anyone who has ever been on a jump with the 82nd can tell you about the hassles there in the conventional Army. It takes all day and then some for them to finally exit an airplane.
Wake up for a 1500hrs jump was usually 0200...with several manifest calls, equipment and weapons issue, pre-jump training, etc, we'd be on the planes by noon...after takeoff, we'd fly around for a couple of hours before jumping...after several more manifest calls, chute shake out and all, it would be 2000hrs before we were back in the barracks to clean our weapons and get them turned in by 2200 hrs so we could shower and get to bed for PT at 0530...

A day in the field during SFQC was better than a day in garrison in the 82nd...appreciate the opportunity...
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Old 10-19-2010, 18:36   #26
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"I just want people to know the other side of what you're getting yourself into so your're not imagining some illusionary, romantic path of glory. You will spend a lot of time thinking about how much you could be accomplishing with your life outside the army while you stand around doing nothing or playing stupid games. The actual classes and cadre who run them are good, but you will spend a whole lot of time before sopc and in between classes hating life. That's reality. I thought someone should say it. "

SF is certainly not illusionary , nor is the training. Much of the needs of SF can't be gleaned from books. The "hands on" environment to include between training down time does test those who are impatient or smarter the everyone else. The ability to work successfully with third and fourth world indigenous military, will require great amounts of patience and understanding of the near understandable.
Much easier to understand the DOD office life.
Just my Zwei Centavos. Blitzzz
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Old 10-19-2010, 19:12   #27
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It is what it is - take it or leave it...but the choice to do so may or may not be yours alone.

Richard's $.02
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Old 10-19-2010, 21:06   #28
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Individuals with Amitlas's (it's not even worth my time to check for spelling) attitude are doomed to fail if they actually squeeze though the Q and make it to a deployed team. Nay-sayers and negative attitudes will always surface when the pressure is on and you are given a task that HAS to be accomplished.

My advice to anyone who read his post and agree, is to save yourself alot of time and ass pain now and look to another occupation immediately. You either want it or you dont. Problem is, many recruits straight from the street in the 18X program do not even realize what they want from the Army, let alone SF. Too many have yet to fail at anything signifcant in their young lives therefore have no clue what it will take to succeed. Amitlas appears to be one of those types.

Quit now. One less whiner to have to worry about.

No one ever said it would be easy.
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Old 10-20-2010, 06:46   #29
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Personally, I appreciate his candor and honesty, it's just important to remember where he is in his "career." His opinion will change over time.
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Old 10-20-2010, 06:55   #30
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Personally, I appreciate his candor and honesty, it's just important to remember where he is in his "career." His opinion will change over time.
I'm with 1st. This guy Amatlis went. We asked his opinion. He trusted us enough to give it. Calling the kettle "not so shiny" around here can be tough.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lksteve View Post
Wake up for a 1500hrs jump was usually 0200...with several manifest calls, equipment and weapons issue, pre-jump training, etc, we'd be on the planes by noon...after takeoff, we'd fly around for a couple of hours before jumping...A day in the field during SFQC was better than a day in garrison in the 82nd...appreciate the opportunity...
As for the comment about jumping with the 82nd. I did that . . . once. I think there was a long stretch heading toward the door where my feet were not even on the deck -- we were packed so tight. I counted "One Slip away, two slip away, three slip away." Then climbed a riser and ran as far from that mob as I could get (which put me right at the turn in point)

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