Army Special Forces Q Course: 15 Cool Facts

I must first say that the United States has the best soldiers and military in the world. But, when we consider the elite, we look at those soldiers who wear the coveted Green Beret of Army Special Forces.

In today’s post, we are going to take a look at the Army Special Forces Q course. Q stands for qualification, and the soldiers who have the drive to wear the Green Beret have a long road ahead of them to pass the Army Special Forces Q Course.

Army Special Forces became a reality in 1952 when Colonel Aaron Bank formed the 10th Special Forces Group. Army Special Forces has grown from there into the hardened steel core it is today.

Here are 15 cool facts about the Army Special Forces Q Course:


To get soldiers accustomed to what they are about to get entangled with, the Army has just over 2 weeks of Special Forces Preparation & Conditioning (SFPC). Soldiers will work on physical training, map reading and land navigation, and common task training exercises just to prepare them for what is ahead.

2: Who Formed The Selection Method

So how exactly does the Army choose between the many soldiers who should wear a Green Beret? It wasn’t an easy system to develop, but in the 1980s, Brigadier General James Guest introduced a selection method that is still used today.

3: How To Volunteer

The Army does not force any soldier to become Special Forces. It is completely voluntary. There are 2 ways to volunteer. They are:

  1. As an enlisted soldier with the rank of E3 or higher, or as an officer with the rank of O2 and promotable to O3 or higher.

  2. Enlisting through the 18X program which will have that soldier perform OSUT (One Station Unit Training). This is a combination of basic combat training and advanced individual training all in one.


This is when the rubber meets the road for selection. SFAS stands for Special Forces Assessment and Selection. Soldiers will be evaluated as they perform:

  • long distance land navigation

  • obstacle courses

  • swimming

  • DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery) test

  • team events

  • IQ tests

  • APFT

  • and other psychological tests

For 24 days at Camp Mackall in North Carolina, these soldiers will be tested above and beyond.

5: Non-selection

Not every soldier will make it through SFAS. There are generally 3 outcomes if a soldier doesn’t “make the cut”. They are:

  1. If they quit or are voluntarily withdrawn, the soldier gets a not to return status. They can never try out again. 18X soldiers will be designated 11B and transferred to an infantry unit, and previously enlisted soldiers will be returned to their original units.

  2. Medically dropped soldiers often are medically discharged from the Army, but if not, they can attempt the course again when they are physically able to.

  3. Those who are not selected can try again in 12-24 months.

6: Before Special Forces Q Course

Before a soldier can enter the Special Forces Q Course, they will have to complete Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training and Airborne School.

Phases of Army Special Forces Q Course

Following are the phases of the Q Course.

7: Orientation Phase 1

For 7 weeks the focus will be on orientating the soldier with the course and history behind Army Special Forces.

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Army 18F MOS: Special Forces Operations & Intelligence Sergeant
  2. How to Become a Green Beret
  3. Army 18E MOS: Special Forces Communications Sergeant

8: Languages & Culture Phase 2

This phase will take the soldier 18-24 weeks in which they will learn basics about a variety of languages and using interpreters. Languages will include:

  • French

  • Indonesian

  • Spanish

  • Arabic

  • Chinese

  • Korean

  • Russian

  • and many others

9: Special Force Combat Skills Phase 3

Just as it says, the soldier will spend 12 weeks learning the tactical combat skills that make our Special Forces the best.

10: MOS Phase 4

There are various military occupational specialties in Army Special Forces. During this phase, the soldier will spend from 14-50 weeks on the MOS they were assigned. I will tell you the MOS designations further on in this article.

11: Robin Sage (UW Culex) Phase 5

For 1 month, soldiers will be training in real situations in the North Carolina areas. It is real world simulation. In 2002, a local police officer shot a soldier to death during Robin Sage. Because this is done in civilian atmospheres, local authorities are better informed now.

12: Graduation Phase 6

This is the week these soldiers have been working hard for. They will be given their Green Berets and Special Forces Tabs, and given designation as Special Forces Officer or Special Forces NCO.

13: Special Forces Groups

Army Special Forces Command is located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There are 7 Special Forces Groups under that command. They are:

  1. 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis/McChord, Washington

  2. 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg

  3. 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Kentucky

  4. 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

  5. 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado

  6. 19th National Guard Special Forces Group at Draper, Utah

  7. 20th National Guard Special Forces Group at Birmingham, Alabama

14: Special Forces Military Occupational Specialties

I mentioned the MOS designations earlier for Special Forces. They are:

  • 18A – Special Forces Officer
  • 18B – Special Forces Weapons Sergeant
  • 18C – Special Forces Engineer Sergeant
  • 18D – Special Forces Medical Sergeant
  • 18E – Special Forces Communications Sergeant
  • 18F – Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant
  • 18Z – Special Forces Operations Sergeant

15: Further Training

Special Forces soldiers never stop training. There is further training for these Green Berets in: Free Fall Parachuting, Combat Diving, Sniper Course, and many more.

Final Thoughts

Those soldiers who successfully complete the rigors of Army Special Forces Q Course have all the right in the world to be proud. Do you know one? Are you a Green Beret?

If you have questions or comments, feel free to post them below.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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