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Old 03-17-2011, 18:20   #1
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Why 'SF Readiness Assessments?'

Seems there is some confusion or misinformation that revolves around ‘tryouts’ that SF National Guard units run usually at the company level. It deserves clarification since there is a notion out there that we (NG SF units) are running them like SFAS. This is true to an extent, there are gates we make the candidates go through; APFT, pull up test, road march of unknown distance (reasonable), team event and written exams on SUT, land nav, etc. At the end candidates are boarded on their performance and told whether they made the training team or not. Those not selected are asked to come back 6 months later as well as told what weaknesses they need to work on. We do NOT bar candidates from coming back. This is how we have been running our program for over 20 years. The last 6 have been under a new program that expedites the process to SFAS and the Q course by running a SFRA every 6 months and running a streamlined administrative process.

There are those in the SF community that believe we should send every candidate straight to SFAS and that we cannot run such similar events. Here are reasons why we must:

Our company, as an example, every 6 months, gets a list of candidates that say they would like to attend and request the SFRA information. That list is historically between 50 to 75 PAX, of that list only 15 to 30 show up. If we were to process that many people, the AGR staff in this office would not have any time to do anything else but process candidate packets. One man processes approx 5-10 candidates every 6 months for SFAS and the Q and it is his full time job. This includes; SF physicals, orders, school reservations, travel, training, interviews, enlisting, and then adjusting snafus that inevitably happen with candidates. Moreover, those that come out of different states, the reserves and sister service make it considerably harder to manage administratively. There is absolutely no way to process that many candidates, with different backgrounds without seriously affecting the rest of the unit’s combat readiness and quality of training. We do not disregard readiness and numbers, on the contrary, we have SFRA in place for that very reason; to produce quality candidates that will succeed against the rigors of SF training.

Running SFRAs gives a successful reality check to the candidates that do make the training team. Furthermore, it lets SF cadre focus on a small group to teach and mentor. Our success rate since we have implemented the new program 6 years ago has been a steady 95% GO rate at SFAS. We set up our candidates for success.

Fiscally, this saves substantial amounts of money on travel and P&A on someone who is not ready. This is particularly important now that we are facing substantially smaller budgets.

During a NG SF leadership conference a few years back it was suggested to give additional funds for a trial run at local SF recruiters (at company level) in order to increase the number of NG candidates at SFAS. An SF qualified soldier would be placed on a 1 year ADSW tour to see if the idea would work. He would give CAG type recruiting drives at units across their perspective regions and manage recruiting, the SFRA and candidate training. This would raise considerable awareness of NG SF units, while allowing the units to focus on the combat/company mission. This idea never came to fruition.

Lastly, our company has 3 combat tours to Afghanistan. The 1st two tours were with a full company. The 3rd trip was short handed by an entire 2 ODAs. By adhering to quality; getting rid of bad apples over the 1st and 2nd tour, and focusing on assessing and training smaller manageable groups, we reaped the benefits of quality soldiers. This was also a time when we received our 1st batch of candidates out of the Q course since our revised program. The last trip was by far the most challenging, dangerous and successful tour; a lot of bad guys killed and a lot of great ‘SF work’ accomplished. It could not have been done without the 8 candidates that graduated the Q right before we left who were also the product of our program and obviously that of SWC.

Aren’t two of the mantras for SOF truths “Quality is better than quantity” and “SOF cannot be mass produced?” Our program's success in SFAS, and our last tour proved it even though we went down range considerably shorthanded.

Last edited by 18Ddave; 03-17-2011 at 21:30.
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Old 03-18-2011, 00:23   #2
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Nice summation Dave.

If not us, than who?
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:16   #3
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I will have to disagree.

SFAS is a scientifically designed and continuously evaluated program to assess the potential of an individual for Special Forces training....run by an organization whose purpose is to recruit, assess, select and train. Staffed by people who get evaluated to do just that.... with the whole thing being constantly monitored and re-evaluated.

Can't say the same thing for any program at the unit level, no matter how well intentioned.

School slots are not an issue.

Funding is not an issue. SFAS is a cheap course... TDY to FBNC for a couple weeks Meals/Lodging provided. Has your state told you to not send too many candidates to selection and has mandated an effort to conserve funds? PM me if that is the case.

Potential candidates that meet the minimum requirements fro SFAS that have completed packets (valid physical, PT test etc.)should be processed and sent .... as soon as possible.

Your "go" rate should approximate that of the rest of the Army. If not, the question that it begs is who is your program weeding out that ultimately would be assessed as trainable?...or have dropped off the net for waiting.

Perhaps processing more than 20 packets a year and sending more people to selection at a lower success rate, would result in more SF Tabs coming out of the pipe; with the end result being a unit that doesn't go downrange shorthanded or requiring cross-leveling from other units.
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Old 03-18-2011, 13:46   #4
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At first I thought 18Ddave's program was a sound process for SFAS,however abc_123's rebuttal was enough to make me believe that in this case the "old way" is still the best way............

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I believe that SF is a 'calling' - not too different from the calling missionaries I know received. I knew instantly that it was for me, and that I would do all I could to achieve it. Most others I know in SF experienced something similar. If, as you say, you HAVE searched and read, and you do not KNOW if this is the path for you --- it is not....
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Old 03-18-2011, 17:03   #5
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Originally Posted by abc_123 View Post
...Perhaps processing more than 20 packets a year and sending more people to selection at a lower success rate, would result in more SF Tabs coming out of the pipe; with the end result being a unit that doesn't go downrange shorthanded or requiring cross-leveling from other units.
1/20th had this same argument with the Grp Commander a lil under two years ago. I disagreed with sending anyone who can pass the SFAS PT test then and still do.

Are we short MOSQ guys in 20th, yes. Would it be nice to have 6 12-man ODAs per company you damn right it would be, but I am not willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. The commands solution to having more guys on the teams is to flood SFAS/SFQC with bodies hoping they make it thru to being Tabbed. But at what cost are we doing this? Having more tabbed guys isnt the answer, having more SF guys is. SFAS does a good job but what if those same cadre got to see the candidates for 3 months worth of events, got to see their actions when they are "with the boys," or when work is being done around the armory (who hides and who doesnt; who cant control themselves in a public venue, etc...etc.) Once a guy makes it to the SFQC getting him pulled from training because the SFQC cadre see that certain guys arent what we need in the Regiment takes an act of God himself (until recently thanks to Gen Sakolic.)

I agree with Dave that we should pick and choose who we send, even if that means having 8 man ODAs. I will take 8 I can trust over a 10-11 man team that requires 2 or 3 being babysat...but thats just me.

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Last edited by Surgicalcric; 03-18-2011 at 17:23.
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Old 03-18-2011, 17:10   #6
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Originally Posted by Surgicalcric View Post
I will take 8 I can trust over a 12 man team that requires 2 or 3 being babysat...but thats just me.Crip
No, I have heard that somewhere else before....

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2025
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Old 03-18-2011, 18:10   #7
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All, I will open with a disclaimer, my intent here is dialogue, not a pissing match (especially since I know abc 123, and he greatly outranks me). I have been in the army 23 years and SF for 10 because I love it and a care greatly about my SF comrades, the common grunt and our SF Regiment. So without further ado…

We debrief every candidate that returns from SFAS and the SFQC. Their top comments are:
1. The company SFRA and training team weekends prepared us tremendously.
2. The SFRA cadre (our team guys) are very professional. (This is after their exposure to the SWC cadre for comparison in SFAS and the SFQC. Not saying SWC isn’t professional, just giving a comparison to gauge our SFRA).
3. This training (SFRA) was much better than any training I have conducted in my previous unit.

In rebuttal I would argue that:
NG candidates historically do better than AD candidates because the have SF guys giving them solid guidance for passing. I believe the last statistics I saw on AD ‘go’ rates at SFAS were 50-53%, whereas NG candidates are about 60-65%. If anything we are HELPING get more SF candidates into the pipeline because they are better prepared compared to AD soldiers who may at the most have a workout partner.

This close mentoring can be attributed to a higher pass rate, however, more importantly is the individual candidate’s will to become SF. Again, if we send them away for 6 months, it is with solid advice on strengthening their weaknesses and invite them to return. Many do return and when they do they smoke the SFRA which in turn means they are ready to attend the next SFAS class. After all, we only see them a weekend a month, the rest of their training is on them in which case they should be executing our guidance. Please take special note: this ‘guidance’ is the same guidance we give them in our SFRA information packet to prepare for SFRA. There are no surprises, they have a very good idea what they will get evaluated on. The distinction here is the word now becomes reality. The candidates have now experienced at least some of the rigors of SFAS and SFQC first hand. This is a far cry from reading about it. Hasn’t the SFAS handbook been in print for over 30 years? Hasn’t the previously closely guarded passing criteria for SFAS been released? Has this handbook and released information really changed the ‘go’ rate? This information may help but ultimately the onus is on the candidate to execute the best he can with the information given. Often times the candidate says they ‘had no idea it was this hard’ but now they do and they are better prepared to meet those rigors.

SFRA is not meant to replace SFAS, instead it augments it. It is 30 hours long at the most. We are realistic, we understand we are only getting a snapshot of the candidate comparatively to SFAS with instructors trained on assessment as well as the existence of peer evals . We weed out no one when we invite all candidates back. Again, all candidates not picked for the training team are told they can come back 6 months later. 6 months is not long when you are going through a pipeline that is over 2 years long.

Administratively, getting a candidate to school is a nightmare compared to 10 years ago. Before a set of orders, travel, SF physical and a packing list was all you needed to attend SFAS and SFQC. All other administrative tasks were done at SWC i.e. eQip (SF86), DLAB, records etc. Now there is a laundry list of admin requirements with a time line of NLT 45 days prior to the start date of SFAS in which if there is an oversight on anyone’s part i.e. missing lab on an SF physical, missing record etc. sends the candidate back home or pushes the SFAS date to the right another month. This is also taking into account the NG liaison at SWC who are great and who do their bests to police up admin short coming on packets but even they have their limitations as do we. The more SFAS packets we produce the greater the likelihood of a mistake of oversight. Furthermore, I can think of two candidates in which we sought the commander’s waiver to let soldiers straight in the unit. Both came with accolades (tabs and patches) from their previous AD unit (Ranger Regt) both processed into the unit to go to SFAS, both ultimately quit for personal reasons even though we sat face to face and spoke to them about their commitment. We took them on their word. This lack of commitment has bit us time and again before the SFRA. This, as the training NCO, is a great distracter from our company's combat readiness. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Lastly, I will say the NG must be ever vigilant in recruiting and retaining quality guys. Anyone who has been down range assigned under our AD counter-parts knows we are scrutinized and have to ‘prove’ ourselves all over again in theater. The NG SF have suffered numerous black eyes because of a few bad apples. I am proud to say that we have come a long way in cleaning up our ranks and getting well deserved respect from our AD brothers because of such pro-active measures we have emplaced. We have surpassed many expectations and have even received direct commendations from BG Reeder when he said “these guard guys really get it” when referring to the SF mission in Afghanistan and NG ODAs.

I will close with a quote from Colonel Charlie Beckwith which I feel was the glue for our unit this last insane rotation (insane as in high EKIA count) as well as the quote Crip is looking for; "I'd rather go down the river with seven studs than with a hundred shitheads."

Last edited by 18Ddave; 03-18-2011 at 19:31.
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Old 04-22-2011, 21:56   #8
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To add to 18dDave's last post, the intent of the Readiness Assessment is to look at each individual and insure he is best prepared for successfull performance in SFAS, the Q course, and ultimately for deployment. If a guy needs work on his roadmarching times, we help him with a training program. If a physical stud needs to learn more about land nav, because he came from a unit that did not do it, we work with him. Having the ability to look at a guy's strengths and weaknesses allows us to help him succeed.

As far as the numbers go, We saw other units that had "full" teams, only to implode during PMT, as they took anyone who showed up. As we stand now, our unit strength is at the highest level we have ever had, and continuing to build.

More to the point, several years ago, I believe in late 2006/early 2007, we were tasked by USASFC to develop, whether at the Bn or Co level, a plan on how we train and prepare soldiers for successful performance at SFAS. Our Readiness Assessment was the first component of our Training Team concept. So, our SFRA, while our own, was a tasking that was directed by USASFC, and once submitted, was also approved by USASFC.

Having particpated in every Readiness Assessment from late 2006 until we launched again in 2009, and then having served on the same mountainside with guys that came through our Training Team, I would have to say it works.
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Old 04-22-2011, 23:09   #9
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None of this is new....

Camp Williams, Utah, elevation (4,300' above sea level), 1/19th SFG, has always run pre - "Q" training courses that allowed commanders to view potential candidates for months before sending them to Bragg.

Land nav at Williams will kick your ass. A Star land nav pattern course with elevation differences measured in 1000's of feet of climbing, not just a 100' of up and down at CM. A weapons range - fully functionable, a demo range, several DZ's, a pool at the local state university campus, cold winter weather and hot summer desert sun will test the metal {mettle}* of any soldier thinking he wants a career in SF.

Our brothers from 11th, 12th, and 20th Groups also sent their newbee to Camp Williams. 1/10th Grp showed up with a bunch of Royal Marines, SAS and Aussies one winter/spring. Our federal agencies of the FBI, DEA, NSA train there. 1st Grp loves Williams, 5th Grp shot the hell out of the CAS area, (note: it was awesome!).

When units have facilities, they use them, who wouldn't?

When so many of our younger AD NCOs from the 82nd, 3rd ID, and Rangers make the decision to attempt SFAS, they are often left to their own to figure it out. The NG SF have been known to do their own recruiting, pulling guys in from the street, walking them down to the recruiters office, assisitng in training before BAT, AIT, BAC, etc., not spoon feeding, but doing so because they had invested interest to build the ODA they wanted.

We all strive for higher standards, to make our beloved Regiment better, stronger. Why would we want to limit our ability for assessment, selection, training, ultimately having our selectees ready for SFAS and "Q" and beyond.

You want to perform well at CDQC, Key West? Start swimming (tough PT), with dive guys at Ft Carson and Camp Williams.

Qualified soldiers also begin to develop early future NCO's, watching closely the behaviors of these young ones while they are working in the NG Armory, on orders or ADSW, (active duty special work), extra M-days, etc.

Unit commanders also see soldiers as "civilians", so when the Tab is awarded and orders at Bragg are cut making those soldiers SF qualified, he can operate down range acting and integrating with guess who?, "civilians" in another country.

* Richard
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Old 05-27-2011, 14:24   #10
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Has there ever been a civilian attend your SFRA ? Kind of a pre-pre- sfas?
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Old 05-27-2011, 15:55   #11
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IMHO "SF Readiness Assessments" Course is smart

I look at SF Readiness Assessments as being a good thing as pointed out here. I think if NG units are sending guys to Special Operations Preparation Course 1(SOPC-1) and Special Operations Preparation Course 2 (SOPC-2). I don't know, but pre-course helps get the weak and unperpared.

I would like to see more SFSUBCSC (SF Support Unit Basic Combat Skills Course) done at Groups. Anything like what is talked about he on this SF Readiness Assessments.
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:49   #12
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7th GP

As a former 7th GP guy, as well as 20th Gp, I would have loved to have seen a program in 7th GP that evaluated, prepared and sent individuals to SFAS in the hopes of reaping that man back to Group at the end of the Q. I went to SFAS in 1990 and saw a lot of guys make it through that should not have. Granted, SFAS does perform it's function well but it is a factory like mass production operation which implies "cracks" in the production line where problem guys will make it through, this I have witnessed (as I'm sure most of you have as well). The last active duty team I was on (this does not include the SFAUC team) had 5 new Q course grads, two of them were truly good dudes, the other three should have never made it through selection.
Additionally, I have had the privledge of working with National Guard ODA's in Iraq as well as Active duty (5th/3rd) and it is my opinion the Guard teams had a higher level of maturity as well as a much wider field of expertise related to UW operations (just don't expect them to build a pallet, tends to turn out looking like modern art). I'm not saying this inital selection process done by the Guard is the reason for that but I'm sure it helps. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure and solely relying on SWC to pick your folks for you may not be in your teams best interest.
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Old 05-28-2011, 05:56   #13
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I saw what went on at Marsailles IL (NG Training Camp) and it's a class act. Dave, you and the evaluation guys do a great job establishing a "Quiet Professional" atmosphere.
I'm trying really hard to encourage our quality guys to take a run at it.
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Old 06-17-2011, 14:01   #14
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I'd love to hear some more on this topic. The stuff coming from any of the QPs is invaluable. I have a special interest in A/2/20. Everything so far has helped out a lot. Thanks again.
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Old 06-17-2011, 16:05   #15
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Originally Posted by mattbuy View Post
Has there ever been a civilian attend your SFRA ? Kind of a pre-pre- sfas?
Wanted you to have an answered question. Many pre-enlisted applicants for SF NG have attended a Drill weekend with SF soldiers and a recruiter. Do you currently know anyone in SF NG? Are you working with a recruiter now?

If so, ask if you can attend a weekend drill, meet a few QPs, ask questions.

Seeing you are in the Ukraine, it might be tough. Why do pose the question, are you enlisting?

Good luck.
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