How to Become a Green Beret

“Out here, due process is a bullet!” is famously quoted by John Wayne in the movie Green Berets.  I remember watching that movie with my grandfather when I was younger and immediately having a bit of a fascination with the Green Berets and the US Army Special Forces.  I think every little kid playing with their GI Joe toys develops a sort of awe, inspiration and desire to be a bad ass from the Special Forces.

Now having served in the military for the past 8+ years, I have a new profound respect for the men who make up those units.  To be a Green Beret, or any Special Forces Soldier for that matter, takes a very high level of discipline, dedication, motivation and most importantly…intelligence.  These Soldiers are the best that our military has to offer our Nation and becoming one of the elite is a long, arduous process.  However, it is not impossible.  Here is How to Become a Green Beret for those who dare to accept the challenge…

Initially you must conform to the following minimum requirements:

  • Be a male, age 20-30 (Special Forces positions are not open to women)
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a high school diploma graduate
  • Achieve a General Technical score of 107 or higher and a combat operation score of 98 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  • Qualify for a secret security clearance
  • Qualify and volunteer for Airborne training
  • Must take and pass the Army Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA)
  • Must successfully complete the Pre-Basic Task list
  • Must have 20/20 or corrected to 20/20 in both near and distant vision in both eyes
  • One year of college is preferred, but it is not a mandatory for enlistment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS PREPARATION COURSE (SOPC): This is a 30-day course taught at Fort Bragg is designed to help Soldiers prepare for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course. It focuses on physical training and one of the most important skills a SF Soldier can have — land navigation. However, this course does not guarantee you will pass the Special Forces Assessment/Assignment and Selection (SFAS).

Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course (SFAS): The very first step to becoming a Green Beret is to pass the SFAS.  To begin, you have to be a PT stud.  A PT minimum score of 260 is required and is graded on the 17-21 year old scale.  The three-week SFAS course, which is run out of Fort Bragg, N.C., consists of two phases. During the first phase you will be expected to PT (running, swimming, sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups), run an obstacle course, and participate in rucksack marches and orienteering exercises. The second phase measures your leadership and teamwork abilities. This is 24 days of training like you’ve never experienced. And it’s all about survival. Your intelligence, agility and resourcefulness will all be tested. If you make it, you can continue on to the SF Qualification Course.

Special Forces Qualification Course (aka “Q” Course): After making it through the SFAS Selection Course, you will sent on to continue your training via the “Q” Course.  The SFQC consists of five phases (II-VI). If you complete this training, you will be a Special Forces Soldier, one of the Army’s experts in Unconventional Warfare.  Depending on your MOS specialty, this course will last from 6 months to a year; the medical and communications courses last longer.  Daily training at the “Q” Course takes its toll on your body since your day usually starts very early and ends late. While you are training for the Q Course, you should adopt the attitude of a marathon runner. Most people who quit the course lack the ability to focus through the fatigue and stress that accompanies such training.

Additional Schools: Once you have completed your basic entry requirements to become a Green Beret you may be required to attend one of many specialty schools.  These include, but are not limited to, the Military Free Fall Parachutist Course (MFF), the Combat Diver Qualification Course and the Special Forces Sniper Course (SFSC).

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the basics of what it takes to become a US Army Green Beret.  Easy, right?  While my post may be short, simple and to the point, do not underestimate the intensity and dedication such a goal takes to achieve.  But, now you at least have a good idea of the steps required to get you there!

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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3 thoughts on “How to Become a Green Beret”

  1. I’ve read up on Special Forces Selection. A supreme level of physical conditioning is naturally an absolute necessity, but one thing in particular stuck with me from my reading: Yes, you’ve got to have the heart to stand up to fatigue and stress. Yes, you’ve got to be tactically competent, especially in land navigation. But one of the key characteristics the SFAS cadre look for is the ability to work well with others. You can be the most awesome mix of Audie Murphy and Pat Tillman, but if you’re too arrogant (or whatever the case may be) to be a team player, you won’t make the cut.

  2. My ex-husband was a Green Beret when he was regular Army,and it’s not something I would recommend for the average soldier. Physically, the training is rigorous, but mentally and emotionally, it is grueling. You have to be a special person just to make it through the training, and the nature of the missions you may be called upon to do likely will change you forever. This is a decision that should be made very carefully, and for those who chose to follow this path, know that, particularly in this day and age, you are choosing the road less travelled, you will sacrifice heavily, and personally, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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