Updated 12-13-08

  1. Myth: U.S. Special Forces will be around forever.
  2. Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces have a long connected history dating back hundreds of years.
  3. Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces win wars by themselves.
  4. Myth: All U.S. Special Operation Forces are highly trained killers.
  5. Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel are maladjusted psycho killers with Hollywood "Rambo" like personalities.
  6. Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel get a lot of attention and recognition for services they perform.
  7. Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel get paid very well for their service to our country.
  8. Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces receive special pay, special bonuses or higher pay for their jobs compared to non-SOF soldiers.
  9. Myth: When U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel get killed while on duty, their families are highly compensated for their loss.
  10. Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces throughout history have been popular with conventional military commanders.
  11. Myth: There is a Female Special Forces Qualification Course.
  12. Myth: Women are allowed into all areas of U.S. Special Operation Forces.
  13. Myth: If you have a Ranger Tab, you served in a Ranger Battalion.
  14. Myth: You can be a U.S. Army Special Forces SEAL, Marine Ranger, or a U.S. Army Ranger Special Forces.
  15. Myth: Anyone who says they have prior military service, states they were awarded distinguished medals, or wears military insignia would never lie or falsely portray themselves.
  16. Myth: Hollywood military movies and T.V. shows based on "true" stories from real people and real events are always accurate.
  17. Myth: Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers were both members of SOF.
  1. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Forces will be around forever.
    Fact: There is a movement underway within USSOCOM and the Pentagon to dissolve U.S. Special Forces, called the Capstone Concept. In an article titled The Long Farewell by Maj. Gen (R) James A. Guest in the SFA Drop (Fall 2007), states that on July 25, 2008, the United States Representatives will form a commission to examine the roles and missions of the U.S. Armed Services. You can read the the article online at Military.com Demise of the Green Berets by Maj Gen (R) James A. Guest. Learn about U.S. Special Forces, what it is, and why it's important.
    We urge retirees and Active Duty Military Personnel from U.S. Army Special Forces, and/or those that have served with U.S. Army Special Forces, as well as any and all concerned U.S. citizens to contact your local elected U.S. Representatives by fax, letter, phone, or in person. To find your local U.S. Representative . The article in the SFA Drop recommends following actions for U.S. citizens:
    • Express concern that the United States is in danger of loosing a military capability that the U.S. Army Special Forces has been developing for more than fifty years.
    • Explain that the proved capability of U.S. Army Special Forces will not be replaced be the new concepts of USSOCOM, and that other Army units or other Services, such as the Marines, do not have the necesarry training and experience to conduct sustained FID, Counterinsurgency, and Unconventional Warfare missions in the world-wide war on terrorism.
    • If you are Retired or Active Duty U.S. Armed Services and have personal experiences with U.S. Army Special Forces, tell your elected Representatives of personal experiences in working with host nation forces, and of personal experiences with hostile interference (past and present) on the part of conventional commanders who resent U.S. Army Special Forces.
    • Ask if U.S. Congress will particularly examine USSOCOM in order to determine which units are receiving funding, and how much, compared to which units are doing the work
    • Ask if U.S. Congress will determine whether or not the senior leadership of the U.S. Army and of USSOCOM are actually qualified to conduct Unconventional Warfare, FID, and Counterinsurgency Operations, or are they actually only qualified and experienced in conducting Direct Action Operations?
    • Ask each member of Congress that you contact if he/she will personally serve as Champion for the U.S. Army Special Forces, and fight to preserve this one of a kind national capability.
  2. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces have a long connected history dating back hundreds of years.
    Fact: Special Operation Forces have a long disconnected history. It was years after World War II that SOF began to associate themselves with units of the past. In fact, SOF has an ignominious history, rife with jealousy and lack of inter-service cooperation. SOF has continually had to reinvent the wheel.
  3. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces win wars by themselves.
    Fact: Conventional Forces win wars by sheer numbers, air power, other firepower and superior training. SOF contributes to victories by achieving objectives that are conducive to their special weapons, tactics, training, and skills.
  4. (Back to Top) Myth: All U.S. Special Operation Forces are highly trained killers.
    Fact: All SOF are highly trained in specific areas needed to support the unit and its mission. This training includes non-combat areas such as communications, electronics, signal and photo intelligence collection, planning, interrogation, psychological warfare, guerilla warfare, medical, and more.
  5. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel are maladjusted psycho killers with Hollywood "Rambo" like personalities.
    Fact: SOF personnel are "Quiet Professionals" who endure long periods of training, hardship, personal sacrifices (that include but are not limited to long periods away from their families and loved ones), physical injuries from the minor to the major (permanent damage to their body can force them to be Medically Discharged from the military), and sometimes give their lives to accomplish missions that others cannot or will not do.
  6. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel get a lot of attention and recognition for services they perform.
    Fact: Though their jobs are instrumental to the missions or overall objective, it is more often than not that they cannot (due to the sensitivity of their missions) and will not (because of their true "Quiet Professionalism") divulge their accomplishments. Generally, it is the Commanders who give the orders or the Hollywood stars who play the real life heroes in movies who get the attention from the media, NOT the U.S. Armed Service personnel who actually carried out the orders.
  7. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel get paid very well for their service to our country.
    Fact: Let's just say the U.S. Armed Service Members aren't making millions of dollars for their service to our country, some even trying to survive on Food Stamps. In stark comparison to the movie stars who are sometimes paid millions to play a role in a movie about the military. We suggest you go look at the U.S. Defense Finance and Accounting Service U.S. Military Pay Charts.
  8. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces receive special pay, special bonuses or higher pay for their jobs compared to non-SOF soldiers.
    Fact: Wrong. Special Operation Forces, which include Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, Army Civil Affairs, Army Psyops, Navy SEALs, Navy SWCC, Air Force SOF, Marine Special Operations, etc., do not receive special pay. 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. However it should be noted that any other solider in a non-SOF unit would be eligible for that same extra pay if that non-SOF soldier had jumps, combat, etc. It should also be noted that extra pay, is not a lot of money, especially considering the risks involved. Since SOF soldiers are so high in demand, the 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.
  9. (Back to Top) Myth: When U.S. Special Operation Forces personnel get killed while on duty, their families are highly compensated for their loss.What is U.S. Special Operations Forces?
    Fact: A lot of the compensation is determined by the rank of the service member killed, how many years in service, and whether they signed up for life insurance through the military. Though the military does provide life insurance for U.S. service members, service members have to sign up for it and it has a maximum payout. You can look at Veteran's Benefits for more information.
  10. (Back to Top) Myth: U.S. Special Operation Forces throughout history have been popular with conventional military commanders.
    Fact: Even today there are many conventional commanders who view SOF as a drain on personnel,as a high cost low return investment, and as high profile entities that do not deserve special consideration.
  11. (Back to Top) Myth: There is a Female Special Forces Qualification Course.
    Fact: Wrong. There are no women who have gone through the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course (aka Q Course). There are no women who wear the Special Forces Tab, therefore no women in Special Forces (aka Green Berets, SF) who are members of a Special Forces Group, and/or Special Forces Team. So there is no such thing as a female Special Forces Qualification Course. It should be noted that women (both civilian and military) serve in support areas of Special Forces Groups (and other Special Operations Forces), and while they may work with/at the Special Forces Groups, they still are not considered a member of Special Forces (i.e. wear the tab). Why? Because there are currently specific laws in place that do not allow women admittance into specific areas of the U.S. Armed Services that directly relate to combat situations, under the 'Direct Combat and Assignment Definition Rule'. Due to the nature of SOF units in relation to combat, that rule obviously applies. Which also means there is also no Female Ranger School, Female Army Ranger, Female SEAL School, Female Navy SEAL, or any other derivative. According to several articles, female soldiers who are currently serving in Iraq are faced with more combat situations than ever before, causing the hot topic issue of female soldiers being allowed into combat and combat units to be raised once again. It may be an issue forced upon the next U.S. President, as he enters office in 2009. For more information and a list of articles, see our Facts Page.
  12. (Back to Top) Myth: Women are allowed into all areas of U.S. Special Operation Forces.
    Fact: The movie G.I. Jane that portrayed a female entering the training for and becoming a U.S. Navy SEALs, is a fictional story. There are currently no women U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Rangers, or U.S. Army Special Forces (aka Green Beret). However, women serve throughout the SOF Community in a variety of important positions that include the various Support Battalions and the command levels. For instance, women serve in the support levels with the U.S. Navy SEALs, and the group levels in U.S. Army Special Forces. However, there are no women in the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment because all individuals in the 75th go forward (i.e. to the front lines).
    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.
  13. (Back to Top) Myth: If you have a Ranger Tab, you served in a Ranger Battalion.
    Fact: Just because you wear a tab or patch on your uniform does not mean that you served in that particular 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. Many soldiers from one service of the U.S. Armed Services have gone through the schooling of another service, obtained a tab or patch, and then returned to their own unit, in their respective service.
  14. (Back to Top) Myth: You can be a U.S. Army Special Forces SEAL, Marine Ranger, or a U.S. Army Ranger Special Forces.
    Fact: There is no such thing as an Army Special Forces SEAL, a Marine Ranger, or a Ranger Special Forces. Special Forces (aka Green Berets) and Rangers, both U.S. Army; and SEALs and Marines, both U.S. Navy. The Army and Navy are two separate U.S. Armed Services. Now, you can be a Ranger with a Special Forces Tab (or vice versa) but you would not be called a "Ranger Special Forces". However there are two possibilities that should be noted.
    • Gone from one service to another or stayed within the same service.
    • Example: Joined the U.S. Army, gone into Special Forces (aka Green Berets), and gotten out only to join the U.S. Navy and gone into the SEALs. Or joined the U.S. Army, into the Rangers, and then signed up for Special Forces.
    • Gone through the schooling and obtained a tab or patch.
    • Example: U.S. Army Rangers do allow other services (Air Force, SEALs, Marines, Special Forces) to go through their Ranger Training. The SEALs also allow certain other Armed Service personnel to go through their schooling. And Special Forces mostly has other countries going through their training programs.
  15. (Back to Top) Myth: Anyone who says they have prior military service, states they were awarded distinguished medals, or wears military insignia would never lie or falsely portray themselves.
    Fact: There have been several stories in the media about individuals who lied about having military service, where they served, or what medals they received. There continues to be examples of individuals portraying service or wearing insignias that were not earned. It's almost impossible to police this unhonorable expression by those that want to portray themselves as more than what they legitimately earned. It doesn't take much of a conversation with these frauds, by those that did serve, to draw them into the open and expose them. But unless you have a service background (and served in the particular era and war) or are extremely knowledgeable about the military, the general public would have no way of distinguishing between a falsehood or a truth. We know of one instance, where an individual claimed to be an injured Iraq War Veteran, in order to receive assistance from a Support Group for Veterans. And did, for a short period of time receive support (some of it financial) until the falsehood was discovered. The hard reality of the situation is that medals, patches, and uniforms can be bought; certificates and military papers can be forged. When in doubt, check it out. The general public can attempt to go through the U.S. Government to assertain verification or better yet to inquire with the various Veterans Organizations of the particular service being claimed (Special Forces Association, U.S. Army Ranger Association, Special Operations Association, Veterans of Forgien Wars, American Legion, etc.).
  16. (Back to Top) Myth: Hollywood military movies and T.V. shows based on "true" stories from real people and real events are always accurate.
    Fact: Don't always believe what you see just because it's on T.V. or in a movie. Even if it has Mr. or Ms. Famous Movie Star, it doesn't mean it's accurate. The bottom line is that the Hollywood machine is out to make money and to fill the seats. There are all kinds of ways and reasoning behind adjusting the "truth" and there have been times when the Hollywood machine simply doesn't care about being accurate. Also, very often in Hollywood movies or T.V. shows with military uniforms either have the wrong patches/rank/medals; they are placed improperly on the uniform; they are wearing the wrong color beret, and/or wearing it incorrectly. If you really want to have an entertaining movie experience, invite a U.S. Armed Service member or Veteran to a movie based on the military (especially in reference to their service experience) and see what they say about the accuracy.
    According to an article titled Movie Blunders, in Military Officer Magazine, May 2008, "[Motion pictures and television shows] are dramatic productions, so by definition there has to be come artistic license granted to them," explains Philip Strub, special assistant for Entertainment Media, U.S. Department of Defense, whose job is to work with filmmakers who would like to use military personnel and equipment. Mr. Strub also states, in the article, "that the amount of leeway the DoD grants a production in regards to accuracy depends on many factors."
  17. (Back to Top) Myth: Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers were members of SOF.
    Fact: Captain Kangaroo, was not a member of U.S. Special Forces nor was he a member of the any other service in the SOF community. Captain Kangaroo, whose real name was Robert James Keeshan, did serve in World War II, as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves but did not see combat, as he had enlisted too late. Mr. Rogers, was not a U.S. Navy SEAL who served in Vietnam and had twenty five confirmed kills. Mr. Rogers, whose real name is Fred McFeely Rogers, never served in the military. It's a disserve to the memory of both Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers to perpetuate these myths. Both stories serve as reminders that myths and hoaxes continue to be circulated and believed. If you get an email that contains a suspicious story, it's pretty simple to do a little checking before passing that suspicious story along. The SOF Community already has so many myths to battle already, let's help them reduce and eliminate any that we can.

Special thanks to author Lance Zedric for his help with some of the Myths on this page.