From the commandant
By Maj. Gen. Bennet S. Sacolick
Originally published in the March-April 2011 edition of Special Warfare
In this issue of Special Warfare, we are publishing our first-ever course catalog to highlight all of the exciting courses that we now provide members of our regiments at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School. Along with a brief description of the courses, we are also publishing articles that explain some of the changes that we are making to improve the quality of instruction.
For example, I encourage you to read the article describing our comprehensive training environment, or CTE: Rather than teaching the fundamentals of unconventional warfare exclusively during our culmination exercise (Robin Sage), we have begun to introduce UW earlier during the SFQC through a progression of scenario-driven exercises. That actually begins the week after our Special Forces' candidates in-process (Phase 1), where they are sent out to central North Carolina to serve as indigenous role players. In addition to the guerrilla role-playing during Phase I, students are introduced to a foreign-internal-defense/counterinsurgency environment throughout the remaining four phases of the qualification course, where they learn the fundamentals of training and leading an indigenous force. As the Pineland scenario builds throughout the course, student A-detachments will gain the contextual knowledge that will allow them to apply their skills in the simulated UW environment of Robin Sage.
We are also making significant improvements to other phases of the SFQC, most notably:
• Phase I — two-week orientation: We have revamped the orientation phase to better prepare students and their families for entry into ARSOF, to introduce them to our lineage and core missions, and to define our eight core attributes and expected standards. We will also begin employing P
• Phase II — language training: In addition to the excellent language, culture and regional orientation our students receive during this longest phase of their training, we have implemented more stringent physical standards that students must pass before they complete the phase. Events include the Army Physical Fitness Test, a 50-meter swim, a five-mile run, a 12-mile rucksack march, pull-ups, a 30-foot rope climb, rifle marksmanship and land navigation. These "hard" standards will ensure that we identify those Soldiers who lack the commitment and attributes necessary for success in the SFQC.
• Phase III — tactical combat skills, or TCS: This phase, formerly referred to as small-unit tactics, has been revamped into the more comprehensive TCS phase, which incorporates SF common tasks; small-unit tactics; advanced marksmanship; urban operations; call for fire; sensitive site exploitation; the military decision-making process; and survival, evasion, resistance and escape.
• SF medics: we are lengthening the Special Operations Combat Medic, or SOCM, Course to 36 weeks. SF medical-sergeant candidates will take the SOCM Course before beginning language training (Phase II) of the SFQC. They will thus begin the SFQC as fully trained combat medics (68WW1), qualified to provide field medical care for their student detachment during training and exercises. During Phase IV, the MOS phase of training, they will take an additional 14 weeks of training to qualify them as SF medical NCOs. This will ultimately provide them with more than 50 weeks of medical training and keep them on-track with the other members of the SFQC student detachments, who also take 14 weeks of MOS training.
One final note: in order to build a force that is well-educated as well as professionally trained, we have developed a program to allow enlisted students in our three qualification courses to concurrently earn an associate's degree. That means that upon graduation from the qualification courses, students will walk across the stage with an associate's degree, which continues the process of lifelong learning. That degree can then be applied toward a bachelor's from several other institutions such as Norwich University or North Carolina State University, that special-operations Soldiers can pursue (entirely online) while continuing to serve in their normal assignments. Last fall, SWCS, in collaboration with the National Defense University, also began offering a fully accredited program for a master's in strategic security studies that is open to ARSOF senior NCOs, warrant officers and officers who have a bachelor's from a regionally accredited institution.