updated 4-07-09

  1. What is U.S. Special Operations Forces?
  2. What services comprise Special Operations?
  3. What countries are SOF units deployed to?
  4. How are Special Operations Forces units assigned?
  5. What schooling is offered for the Special Operations Community?
  6. What is the difference between Green Berets and SOF?
  7. What is the difference between U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. Army Special Forces?
  8. How does the training between Army Special Forces and Army Rangers differ?
  9. Why aren't there any female Army Rangers, female Army Special Forces, or female Navy SEALs?
  10. Are there any Army Personnel that are Navy SEAL qualified?
  11. What are creeds of the various SOF units?
  12. What's the rule of thumb for retired U.S. veterans wearing service patches or uniforms in public?
  13. Can other services wear the Ranger Tab?
  14. Can you wear a Special Forces Patch with a Ranger Patch?
  15. How much do U.S. Army Special Forces get paid?
  16. What's the difference between Green Berets and Special Forces?
  17. What is a Special Forces E4?
  18. What is the accuracy of the movie The Green Berets compared to the reality?
  19. What is the difference between the Army 10th Mountain and Army Rangers?
  20. Does Psyops wear the Army Special Forces tab?
  21. How many women have become U.S. Army Rangers or gone through the training?
  22. Can you wear a Ranger Tab in the Air Force?
  23. Are Psyops part of the Army Rangers?
  24. What's the difference between going through Army Ranger Training and being assigned to a Ranger Regiment?
  25. How many years of service are required if accepted for U.S. Special Forces
  26. What female support roles are there in Army Special Forces?
  27. What's the difference between Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces?
  1. (Back to Top) What is U.S. Special Operations Forces?
    U.S. Special Operations Forces, also known as SOF, are considered the 'Tip of the Spear' in military forces. They consist of specific units from the U.S. Armed Services that specialize in uniquely tailored missions. Some of those missions include Direct Action, Unconventional warfare, FID (Foreign Internal Defense), Hostage retrieval, Counterinsurgency, Pyschological Operations, and Civil Affairs.
  2. (Back to Top) What services comprise Special Operations?
    The U.S. Armed Services that make up SOF include, as follows:
    • U.S. Air Force - 1st Special Operations Wing, 27th Special Operations Wing, 720th Special Tactics Group, U.S. Special Operations School, 18th Flight Test Squadron, 352 Special Operations Group, 353 Special Operations Group, 919 Special Operations Wing (Reserve), 193rd Special Operations Wing (Air National Guard), 209th Civil Engineer Squadron (Air National Guard), 227th Special Operations Flight (Air National Guard), 280th Combat Communications Squadron (Air National Guard)
    • U.S. Army - Special Forces Command (1st Group, 3rd Group, 5th Group, 7th Group, 10th Group, 19th Group, 20th Group), United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, 75th Ranger Regiment, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Special Operations Support Command, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, 4th Psychological Operations Group
    • U.S. Marine (New) - Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Support Group, Marine Special Operations School
    • U.S. Navy - SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC)
  3. (Back to Top) What countries are SOF units deployed to?
    According to an article titled Where in the World Are We, published in the American Legion Magazine, February, 2008, there are about 490,000 U.S. Armed Service Personnel that are deployed to countries all over the world. And acording to the Congressional Service Reports the U.S. military has a presence in 144 of the world's nations.
  4. (Back to Top) How are Special Operations Forces units assigned?
    Some of the assignments relate to the U.S. Military's Unified Combatant Commands. There are six Unifed Combatant Commands with regional responsibility. The regional responsiblity breaks down different parts of the world into sections, those sections are called AOR (Areas of Responsibility). Some SOF units are assigned to specific Unified Commands, and based on that Commands AOR reflects the part of the world that the SOF unit specializes in. However, that does not preclude a unit from being assigned to a mission or tour of duty outsite their normal AOR (example: the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan). For the complete list of Unified Combatant Commands and their websites:
    • AFRICOM - Stands for African Command and is made up of fifty three countries in Africa. It was started in 2007.
    • CENTCOM - Stands for Central Command and is made up of about twenty countries primarily in the Middle East.
    • EURCOM - Stands for European Command and is made up of fifty one countries and territories in Europe and parts of the Middle East.
    • NORTHCOM - Stands for Northern Command and is made up of primarily North America, Mexico, and parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
    • PACOM - Stands for Pacific Command and is made up of thirty six countries primarily in Asia.
    • SOUTHCOM - Stands for Southern Command and is made up of about thirty countries and territories primarily in Latin America.
  5. (Back to Top) What schooling is offered for the Special Operations Community?
    There are many military schools, each specializing in unique training. Most of the schools are open to all services attending (i.e. Ranger School allows Air Force and Navy). Here's a list of some of the schools:
    • Military Freefall School (aka HALO School) - 'a joint forces training school covering all aspects of military freefall parachuting in three courses -- basic, jumpmaster and advanced military freefall.'
    • Army Jump Master School
    • Army Pathfinder School - a school focused on the skills of navigation in foreign terrain and establishing landing zones. For more information please visit Ft. Benning's Pathfinder Course Website.
    • Army Ranger School - An intensive four week course designed to push soldier candidates both physically and mentally. The Ranger School has several prerequisites, including a 'Pre-Ranger Course' after Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training (to obtain an MOS), and Airborne School before attending Ranger School.
    • S.E.R.E. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) - is taught both by the U.S. Air Force's School, the U.S. Army's School, and the Navy/Marine School.
    • Sniper School
    • Army Special Forces Training - a five phase course, known as the Q Course, designed to test stamina, leadership, teamwork, etc. There are two other course prerequisites, before acceptance into the Q Course.
  6. (Back to Top) What is the difference between Green Berets and SOF?
    Well, Green Berets (aka U.S. Army Special Forces, SF) are one member of the SOF (Special Operation Forces) community. The entire SOF community is pretty big because it includes Navy SEALs, Navy SWCC, Army Rangers, Army Civil Affairs, Army Psyops, Air Force SOF units, Marine Special Operations (new since 2006), plus the various SOF unit schools to name a few. So, Green Berets are a member of SOF.
  7. (Back to Top) What is the difference between U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. Army Special Forces?
    There are many differences between the two, from their schooling, to their unit/team composition, to the very missions they perform. The largest difference is the missions of Rangers and Special Forces tend to be unique from one another. Generally speaking, Army Special Forces (aka Green Berets, SF) are trained and equipped to work more clandestine operations behind enemy lines. Special Forces missions include, amongst other things, training and equipping other forces so they therefore spend much of their time teaching. While both Rangers and Special Forces can both perform Direct Action missions, Special Forces uniqueness lean more toward long term missions where they remain with host nations for longer periods of time performing force multiplying (training and equipping a force where there was none). For more information on on Special Forces, please visit Army Special Forces overview Website, the Ft. Bragg Special Forces Website, or the U.S. Army Special Forces Command FAQ Sheet.
    The Rangers on the other hand, tend to be used more for a dynamic application where the need requires a tremendous amount of intensity and firepower (example taking a critical or fortified position like an airport). The Rangers are trained and equipped to move long distances over eratic terrain either from air or land in a way the enemy might never suspect their arrival. And lastly, Rangers generally end up sprinkled through out the Army's various branches, whereas Special Forces remains generally entact. It has been said before that Rangers that get transferred spend the rest of their careers working to get back to the 75th Ranger Regiment (i.e. home). For more information on Rangers please visit 75th Ranger Regiment Website and What is a Ranger.
  8. (Back to Top) How does the training between Army Special Forces and Army Rangers differ?
    Army Special Forces candidates have to have completed basic and infantry and have served in a unit and reached the rank of E4 to E7 before applying to become a Special Forces candidate. For Special Forces there is a minimum I.Q. requirement and language ablility that must be met as well. Upon being recommended for Special Forces soldier applicants must go through several prerequisites at Ft. Bragg, NC, USA, taught by the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School, also known as SWCS. The first being the Special Operations Preparation Course (SOPC) lasting thirty days. Then candidates go through a twenty four day Special Forces Assesment and Selection Course (SFAS) that tests intelligence, agility, and resourcefulness. If candidates make it through all that, they then enter the five phase Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) held at Ft. Bragg, also known as the Q Course. The Q Course tests physical stamina as well as leadership, and teamwork among other things. The Q Course includes MOS training, specific MOS training varies in length (the longest being the Medic). According to the article 'Under the Microscope' by MG James Parker in The Drop, language is now incorporated into Special Forces Training, prior to graduation. Whereas 2005 candidates received their beret before receiving language instruction. Then upon completion of the Primary Special Forces MOS (Communications, Light and Heavy Weapons, Engineering and Demolitions, Medic), trainees then go through Robin Sage before graduation. From Assesment through Graduation, the total time for the Special Forces Training is fourty eight to fifty four weeks. Once training is finished, new SF soldiers are then assigned to a Special Forces Group (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 19th, 20th) and Team. To become a Special Forces soldier, from the time of first entering the Army, to achieving the rank of an E4, generally takes two to three years of service, another year of school at Ft. Bragg for Special Forces Training, and then adding on an agreement to serve in Special Forces for a specified period of time (the Army doesn't want to invest all that extensive training in a soldier if that soldier isn't willing to invest additional service time). For more information on Special Forces course training, please visit the Ft. Bragg Special Forces Training Overview Website.
    Ranger School, taught by the Ranger Training Brigade at Ft. Benning, GA, USA, also requires a selection course, called the Pre-Ranger Course, after soliders complete Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training (to obtain an MOS), and Airborne School. The purpose of the Pre-Ranger Course, which lasts fourteen days and is held at Ft. Benning, is to 'prepare Soliders to succeed at the U.S. Army Ranger School'. Ranger candidates then enter their the official 'Ranger School' at the Ranger Training Brigade, for four weeks at Ft. Benning. Their training involves extensive small unit infantry tactics and is a very physically and mentally challenged course that includes jungle and mountain terrains with a lot of focus on leadership under strenuous and duress scenarios. Ranger candidates can enter Ranger School as an E1 to E4, and after completing Ranger Training, they serve with the 75h Ranger Regiment, which has three Battalions (1st, 2nd, 3rd). For information on Ranger School and the training involved, please visit the Go Army's Ranger Training.
    At this time, neither the Army Special Forces Training or Army Ranger School is open to female soldiers.
  9. (Back to Top) Why aren't there any female Army Rangers, female Army Special Forces, or female Navy SEALs?
    Because there are currently specific laws in place that do not allow female soldiers (i.e. women) admittance into specific areas of the U.S. Armed Services that directly relate to combat situations. In 1994, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin revised the policy on women in the service (and allow for women in certain combat areas like pilots). However, that policy did not extend to all units under the 'Direct Combat and Assignment Definition Rule', which included SOF units as well. The underlining reason why women aren't allowed in all areas of U.S. Armed Services? Well, if you ask twenty different people, you might get twenty different answers. Some might cite differing body structures (female muscle mass compared to male and such might potentially force current physical standard requirements for certain units to change in order to allow potential female applicants), others might cite social reasons (men might feel more compelled to protect/save a female soldier thus potentially putting their own lives/mission in more jeopordy or the public being unready to cope with the trauma of a mother/daughter/sister soldier in harm's way) and some feel that having a female in an all male unit would be distracting (the chances of sexual harrassment allegations rising, or having to deal with a female soldier who gets pregnant and is suddenly unable to deploy for missions because of a change in physical condition). Even though the 'Direct Combat Rule' prohibits women being allowed to try out for or enter certain SOF units, according to several recent news articles, women soldiers are exposed to more combat situations than ever before in Iraq.
    For information on historical women, from cultures and countries all over the world, fighting in battles we recommend the book Warrior Women by David E. Jones.
  10. (Back to Top) Are there any Army Personnel that are Navy SEAL qualified?
    The Army has units that are like Navy SEALs but not SEAL qualified. Army Special Forces has military scuba teams, comprised of soldiers that have gone through Special Forces military scuba school (which was developed from the Navy SEAL model for training military scuba). The difference between the two is the Navy SEALs are used by the Navy to clear and secure harbors and other areas of interest that involve access to the land through water. Army Special Forces on the other hand use its military scuba teams for missions using water insertion.
  11. (Back to Top) What are the creeds of the various SOF units?
    Please use the list below:
  12. (Back to Top) What's the rule of thumb for retired U.S. veterans wearing service patches or uniforms in public?
    Many veterans of the U.S. Armed Services wear their uniforms in parades (example a 4th of July parade walking among a group of other veterans). You are not, under any circumstances allowed to portray yourself or imply in any way to be an Active Duty (Reserve or National Guard) member of the U.S. Armed Services (i.e. going out in public wearing a uniform as if you were on Active Duty). There are a lot of people, both veterans and civilan, who wear patches on their hats, jackets, shirts, etc. to show support, reflect on their training or service of either themselves or a loved one, or just because they want to. It should be noted, that wearing a patch, tab, or medal, of any kind, does not automatically make it a legitimate represenation of anyone's service, experience, or awards.
  13. (Back to Top) Can other services wear the Ranger Tab?
    As stated on the our Myths page, just because you wear a tab or patch on your uniform does not mean that you served in that particular unit. Many soldiers have gone through the schooling, obtained a tab or patch, and then returned to their own unit. Some active, as well as retired, consider it a big difference between having served with a unit and having just gone through the school. It should be noted, as stated above, that wearing a patch, tab, or medal, of any kind, does not automatically make it a legitimate represenation of anyone's service, experience, or awards.
  14. (Back to Top) Can you wear a Special Forces Patch with a Ranger Patch?
    Yes. Now let's clarify that answer. Traditionally U.S. Army soldiers wear both patches (i.e. the shoulder patches on their BDU Uniform and Class A's) if they started their service with the 75th Ranger Regiment (having gone through and completed Ranger School and then served with a Ranger Battalion for several years) and then entered Army Special Forces. However, some U.S. Army Special Forces Officers that did not serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment have gone through Ranger School (for the training) and then returned to their Army Special Forces assignment.
  15. (Back to Top) How much do U.S. Army Special Forces get paid?
    Their pay is reflected by years of service, and rank, just like everyone else in the military system. They do receive extra pay for combat, jumps, etc. but so does any other solider that qualifies. The U.S. Military does offer certain signing bonuses from time to time for renewing their contracts for several more years. Though these bonuses are offered to non-SOF personnel from time to time as well. Please visit the U.S. Military Pay Charts for more information on military pay.
  16. (Back to Top) What's the difference between Green Berets and Special Forces?
    Green Berets is a nickname for U.S. Army Special Forces, also nicknamed SF. However, a lot of people, both military and non-military, and depending on the nationality of the person using term, can use Special Forces to mean any and all unconventional units in a military system. The term the U.S. Military normally uses when referring to all the units from the different services is Special Operation Forces, but they also can be called Spec Ops, SOF, etc.
  17. (Back to Top) What is a Special Forces E4?
    An Army E4 is a Specialist. E4 is the lowest rank an Army soldier can enter the five Phase U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course (also called the Q Course). Since the Special Forces schooling lasts forty eight to fifty four weeks it's highly likey that assuming the Army soldier successfully completes the training, that they would be promoted to E5 (Sergeant) once transfered to a U.S. Army Special Forces Group. If an Army soldier candidate enters Army Special Forces Training, they cannot wear the Special Forces patch until they complete the training (meaning you don't get to wear a school's patch just because you got accepted to or entered the school, you have to successfully complete the training). Army Special Forces Training is not open to female soldiers.
  18. (Back to Top) What is the accurary of the movie The Green Berets compared to reality?
    There are parts of the movie that are accurate, and there are parts of the movie that have been Hollywoodised. The movie The Green Berets was based on a book by author Robin Moore. In the 1960's Mr. Moore went through the Army Special Forces Qualification Course as research for the book. So there are definately parts of the movie based on reality (the structure of the teams, the scrounging, etc.). However, John Wayne's character, a Colonel going out on Team missions, was a Hollywood spin.
  19. (Back to Top) What is the difference between the Army 10th Mountain Division and Army Rangers?
    Well, the biggest difference is that the Army 10th Mountain Division is not part of U.S. Special Operations Command, meaning it is not part of the U.S. Special Operation Forces. The second biggest difference is the missions they perform and size of soldiers from the unit deployed on those missions, and subsequently the size of the support systems to sustain and/or assist them during their deployment. While the 10th Mountain is called in for long term battles to hold areas in mountainous regions, the Army 75th Ranger Regiment are used for smaller more intense situations where they get in and get out quickly.
  20. (Back to Top) Does Army Psyops wear the Army Special Forces tab?
    Yes, some do. A lot of Army Special Forces soldiers go into Army Psychological Operations (aka Psyops) units, and all Army Special Forces Warrant Officers go through Civil Affairs training, and Psyops basic courses. However Psyops soldiers do not go through the Army Special Forces Qualification Course.
  21. (Back to Top) How many women have become U.S. Army Rangers, or gone through the training?
    None. And that goes for Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, Navy SWCC.
  22. (Back to Top) Can you wear a Ranger Tab in the Air Force?
    As the Air Force uniforms were very unique (they did not wear unit emblems or unit patches on their shoulder in their previous uniforms) generally you didn't see them with a lot of patches on their shoulder. And those that have had them, which is only a select few, most of those were U.S. Army Special Forces tabs. So, we assume there could be Ranger tabs instead, though we don't know of anyone who has seen them in the U.S. Military. Though it should be said, a soldier could have gone through training, and not be wearing that patch or tab on their uniform (depending on the Armed Service they are in, the type of uniform they are wearing, and where they are stationed or deployed to).
  23. (Back to Top) Are Psyops part of the Army Rangers?
    No. Psyops, or U.S. Army Psychological Operations and the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment are each separate units in the U.S. Army, with their own respective training and missions.
  24. (Back to Top) What's the difference between going through Army Ranger Training and being assigned to a Ranger Regiment?
    The biggest difference between going through and graduating from the Ranger School and being assigned to the Ranger Regiment would be becoming a member of the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment or not. There's a big difference between serving with the Ranger Regiment, and wearing a patch on your uniform that says you completed Ranger School. Completing Ranger School does not make a soldier a 'Ranger', only serving with the Ranger Regiment does. To go through Ranger School to become part of the Ranger Regiment a, you'd first have to be in or go in to the Army, and secondly be male (females are not allowed in Ranger School nor in the 75th Ranger Regiment), then you'd have to eligible and be accepted to go through the Ranger Training. Ranger School, taught by the Ranger Training Brigade at Ft. Benning, GA, USA, requires a selection course, called the Pre-Ranger Course, after soliders complete Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training (to obtain an MOS), and Airborne School. The purpose of the Pre-Ranger Course, which lasts fourteen days and is held at Ft. Benning, is to 'prepare Soliders to succeed at the U.S. Army Ranger School'. Ranger candidates then enter their the official 'Ranger School' at the Ranger Training Brigade, for four weeks at Ft. Benning. Their training involves extensive small unit infantry tactics and is a very physically and mentally challenged course that includes jungle and mountain terrains with a lot of focus on leadership under strenuous and duress scenarios. Ranger candidates can enter Ranger School as an E1 to E4, and after completing Ranger Training, they serve with the 75h Ranger Regiment, which has three Battalions (1st, 2nd, 3rd). For information on Ranger School and the training involved, please visit the Go Army's Ranger Training.

More Facts coming soon!