7 Things You Don’t Know About US Army Special Forces



Special Forces soldiers are the snake-eaters, known for slipping into enemy territory, living off the land, and then killing all the enemies of America they find. They trace their unit lineage back to the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, served with distinction as both warriors and spies in the Cold War, and snuck into Afghanistan to hunt the Taliban before anyone else.

But for all most people think they know about Special Forces, there’s a lot they don’t. Here are 7 things that might surprise you.

1. They have a reputation for “creature comforts.”



Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith

While Green Berets are known to rough it on missions, they’re also known for bringing blankets and cots to training exercises. Operators have a grueling deployment schedule and are required to prove their skills to their teammates every day. So when they show up to a training event, they’re likely to cut loose and enjoy some barbecue and football in their off-time.

2. Green Berets are as much teachers as fighters.



Photo: Us Army Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile-Nelson

While SF soldiers are very capable fighters, it’s just as important to their mission that they are good instructors. Green Berets are called on to deploy all over the world, build lasting relationships with local groups friendly towards the United States, and then teach those groups how to kill effectively. The SF soldiers then begin going on missions with the locals and fight side-by-side.

3. They are required to learn new languages.



Photo: Spc. Daniel Love

Of course, training the locals to kill their enemies is a lot easier when everyone speaks the same language. Special Forces soldiers attend 18-24 weeks of foreign language and cultural training at the Special Operations Academic Facility at Fort Bragg.

The language these soldiers learn usually depends on what Special Forces Group they are later assigned to, since each group has a certain region of the world it needs to be oriented toward.

4. They’re in about 90 nations everyday.



Photo: US Army Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston

Operators need access to so may bi- and trilingual service members because they are in about 90 nations every day. In 2015, they’ve already visited at least 135 according to media reports. This represents a significant increase in operational tempo. Eight years ago SF visited only 60 countries.

5. They’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. DeNoris Mickle

Two of the countries people might not be surprised to find Special Forces is in Iraq and Afghanistan. While most military units have been pulled out of these countries, the Green Berets never left Afghanistan and may have never fully leave Iraq. Currently, Special Forces soldiers are advising troops in both countries. In Afghanistan they are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against insurgents with commandoes they have trained. In Iraq, they are advising Iraqi Army and militia units who are trying to roll back ISIS.

6. Recruits can enlist straight into Special Forces.

Photo: US Army Sgt. Justin P. Morelli

Believe it or not, a recent high school graduate could walk into a recruiting office and enlist for 18X, Special Forces Candidate. These recruits go through basic training and then immediately enter the Special Forces training pipeline. If they fail or are simply aren’t selected during the Special Forces assessment, they are re-assigned to infantry.

It wasn’t always this way. In the past, Special Forces typically wanted soldiers to be older and more seasoned in the regular Army before making the jump. The older SF soldier even have a name for the younger generation making it through the Q-course: “SF Babies.”

7. “Weekend warriors” can be Green Berets.


Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann

The National Guard has SF companies across the south. Green Beret and UFC fighter Tim Kennedy continued serving by switching to a National Guard unit in Texas.

These soldiers drill like other National Guard soldiers, but are still required to maintain the same certifications as Active Duty SF.

classedit2 David Nye – Staff Writer at We Are The Mighty

David is a former Fort Bragg paratrooper who deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.


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  • Leon Suchorski

    He says that they came from WWIIs OSS. Well in WWII, an actor by the name od Sterling Hayden, Better known as Col Jack Ripper from the movie Dr. Strangelove, was in the OSS. He started out by enlisting in the Marines, but the OSS recruited him for his special talents. If you remember the movie, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, he was one of two Marines on that mission, which was a true life portrayal of the WWII exploits of Anthony Quayle, the star of that movie. Just a little more background information.

    • Thomas Greywolf

      Really?! Movies?!

  • Manuel Sitay

    U.S. Army Special Forces.
    “Three bolts of lightning bisecting the dagger evoke the unconventional nature of Special Forces operations and represent their ability to strike or infiltrate rapidly by
    water or

  • Robert

    I was 10th SFGA active and in the 11th SFGA reserves. we jumped more in the reserves more than we did on active duty. if we did not jump so the aircraft crew could count is as training our ARCOM was charged as using the aircraft as a taxi…it came out of our budget. The 11th and 12th were Reserves and were shut down in 1995. it was a great bunch and really miss them all. I’ll be willing to bet with the current load across the globe they are wishing they had not shut us down. Great training….winter up north and down south for the swamps and jungle all on weekends.

    • Carl

      Yup, I was with “F” Co. 3rd Bn. 11th SFG in Miami during the 70’s & 80’s.

    • Leon Suchorski

      Wait until the next war, and people will be asking the question of where are all of you people. And then they will want new guys to replace you, in 39 days or less.

  • mike m

    I was 5th sfg 18 bravo, we where big in nam ,I mean real big not me but the group. the 5thg came from ist sf or oss! and 7thg, hence the old flash and crest black flash, white border,yellow diagonal left top to right bottom also three scarlet lines running down yellow diagonal . now in my gen ,after move from fort bragg to new home fort Cambell,ky. and adding a fourth bn. we were among the first in 2001 in oef, and preformed flawlessly in oif, and many other that are not named. wouldn’t change one bit of it, even though I lost eye, hearing ,and have a neck full of titan. thanks and all sof kick butt! I will defend this great country with my last breath thanks MM

  • indianmedicine

    Sometimes SF is confused with another Organization because of The Green Beret, so if you don’t see Packages of Cookies; don’t ask if they have Cookies For Sale. -De Oppresso Liber-

  • Carl

    Yup, and we had a few guys in our ODB that looked like they should be selling cookies door-to-door instead of operating.

  • wtpworrier

    I don’t think you should know anything about the Army Special Forces.

  • Tailgunner

    If you do not know who Aron Bank was you are not SF ! Weren’t no cookies or pussies in Nam and Cambodia either

    • Manuel Labor

      Don’t forget Richard Meadows.

  • WRT

    i have a lot of respect for SF, but i got to tell ya we FMF Recon were just as bad, just as capable and we did it on a budget a lot smaller than yours. We used to say SF and SEALS got everything and we got the handy-me-downs. But im not sayin you guys arent great and Air Force PR’s doin good work as well. Budgets change since Viet Nam but back in the day was a whole different story.

    • Guest

      different units, different missions.

    • Snidely

      SF requires every member be capable of learning language skills and testing at OCS levels. And, well, Force Recon are, well, Marines.

    • Manuel Labor

      As a former 11Bravo (Veteran), I have all the respect in the world for Force Recon Marines, as I do for LRRP, Rangers, Army SF & Marine Raiders. Each of the prior units mentioned are all very capable.

      Leadership is EVERYTHING. With strong Leadership, you have strong, intelligent & relevant training.
      As with any Unit, I have seen Great Leaders & (unfortunately) Poor Leaders. I had the honor of being trained by Vietnam Veterans on their Last enlistment. These NCOs shared their experience & trained us to a very high level. A great experience.

      Great books to read are Inside “Force Recon”, “Inside LRRP”, “Violence of Action”, “The Mission, The Men and Me,” “Victory Point” & “Level Zero Heroes.”

  • Ghiana_Untag

    :) the strategy is clear and the ways is been seen… unleashing the power of the land will be the cure of war…

  • Snidely

    SF guard units go back a long way, at least to the early 1960’s.. I served in the Mississippi SF guard units in Hattiesburg and Colunbus, and Florida NG Tampa unit in the middle 1970’s. Louisiana had an SF NG unit but converted it to an engineer unit after some hurricane showed that they needed the heavy equipment more.

  • MAJ Jeff Coulter

    US Army Special Forces are unique in the military special operations community because FID (Foreign Internal Defense) and UW (Unconventional Warfare) are core competencies. Anyone can do DA (Direct Action) but no one does FID and UW like Army SF! Let’s hear it for the Silent Professionals!