Course Is to Be Shortened to 24 Weeks

We’ve been expecting change to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) for some time now. The course is and pretty much has always been a constantly evolving training vehicle to get the best trained Special Forces troops on the ground and to the operational groups. The missions evolve as the world around us and the threats our nation faces change. The outstanding SF troops from Vietnam were training for and fighting a much different war than the men are today in Syria or Afghanistan.

But with the breaking story from a year ago with several SF instructors being concerned with the standards of the course being compromised, we knew changes were bound to happen. Which is nothing new. Cadre at the SFQC in every generation are always worried about the standards and keeping them at a high level. In this case, those concerns from the cadre made into the social media platforms. And many civilians who don’t understand how things work in the military got the wrong impressions

Well, the changes weren’t long in coming. MG Sonntag had been meeting with the people at the JFKSWCS (Special Warfare Center School) and there are big changes coming down the pipeline for the SFQC, Civil Affairs, and PSYOPs Courses. They are attempting to streamline all of the courses to better improve their product.

NEWSREP’s Jack Murphy was given a copy of the email sent out by MG Sonntag to the command that stated the SFQC was going to be streamlined to a total of 24 weeks from the beginning of SFOC to RFF (Regimental First Formation). Below is a copy of that message:

From: Sonntag Kurt L MG (USAJFKSWCS) [mailto:[email protected]
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2018 6:02 PM
Subject: SFQC Optimization Update

SWCS Team,

In August, I met with all of you to discuss our way ahead. The question I asked was: How do we transform the enterprise and organization structure to ensure doctrine and training prepares Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations and Special Forces personnel through their careers to effectively operate in the current and future environments given operational requirements and institutional constraints?

The answer to that question resulted in five new lines of effort for the command. Today, I was briefed by the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (A) Command on their way forward on one part of LOE 2, the optimization of the Special Forces Qualification Course. The Training Group staff, in coordination with the SF Commandant efforts, took a hard look at the course from start to finish and has recommended a course of action that will:

– Leverage the best of the SFQC training modules to enhance the overall training environment.

– Reduce the total training time from the start of the SFQC to RFF to 24 weeks, thereby enhancing 1st SFC(A)’s readiness.

– Introduces students to resistance and ODA operations and reinforces their importance throughout the entirety of the SFQC.

– Sets the conditions for touch points throughout the course for interaction between SF, CA and PSYOP.

– Transitions the SFQC to a four-start production model that will maximize resources while still providing sufficient training capacity.

– Focuses on individual MOS skill development and collective training, while moving to a coach, teach, mentor environment where training the individual is a priority.

– Collective training is executed in an ODA construct within the Pineland Training Scenario. This construct enhances the learning environment while increasing the understanding and comprehension of SF missions.

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This is the first step in our optimization. Over the next several months many of you will be involved in this process, with a projected transition starting in June 2019. This is a big step forward, but it cannot stop here. As the SFQC cadre and staff work through this process, leaders throughout the command will look at all SWCS training in an effort to make comprehensive changes that will better prepare our Army Special Operations Forces’ ability to operate successfully in complex, dynamic environments throughout the world – now and into the future.



MG Kurt L. Sonntag

Commanding General


NIPR: [email protected]

SIPR: [email protected]

Office: 910-432-4404

BB: 910-568-9273

SFQC Optimization approved concept 18OCT18 (2)

Obviously, (above), we also had been given copies of the slides that the General had briefed off of and we had some questions about how the training would be conducted, what was being cut or shortened.

We reached out to the USASOC, SOCOM PAO Office for some clarification and they asked for the questions in writing so that they could answer them in a timely, complete manner which is completely understandable.

So in regard to the portions of the course that were being either shortened or cut entirely, the command answered that. Their response:

1st Special Forces Command outlined the individual tasks required for each MOS to meet their operational needs. Instead of adding collective tasks into MOS, this concept focuses solely on individual tasks and incorporates application through historical vignettes (lessons-learned). The practical application at a team level will come in tactical skills. Currently, the course orientation and history phase is six weeks. This concept incorporates the introductory individual tasks into MOS training and the collective tasks into tactical skills. History modules and other tasks now taught in course orientation will be taught throughout all phases of the course. This concept found efficiencies in training by reorganizing where we teach certain tasks, which provides opportunities to combine complimentary tasks in a logical manner.”

We asked about changes to cut out MFF and if any of these changes that were taking place in the SFQC would affect the SFAS course.

Military Free Fall is not being cut out. It is actually included on the far right of the first slide.  There has been no proposal to alter Special Forces Assessment and Selection at this time, but Cadre are constantly looking for efficiencies and best-practices to enhance training. The optimization of the Special Forces pipeline is only the first step in enhancing MOS qualification training across all three Regiments trained at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

The final questions we had were about what one of the SF Groups were conducting for newly graduated Green Berets entering into the 3rd Special Forces Group SFG(A). We had heard thru our sources there that 3rd SFG was running a Green Platoon training for new SFers called “Entry Level Operator Training Course.”

Given the flap that hit the schoolhouse last year around this time, our questions were blunt. Is the 3rd SFG conducting this training in response to what we heard about a year ago? And more importantly, is this action by the Group a sign that they aren’t happy with the level of training that the troops are receiving in the SFQC? USASOC responded to that as well.

Each installation has unique requirements for planning and executing training events. The Entry Level Operator’s Course is provided to new members of 3rd SFG(A) to equip them with the required certifications they will need to conduct training on Fort Bragg. During the course, an operator can expect to receive their military driver’s license, their ammunition handler’s card, and their range safety certifications, as well as information to make them successful as they facilitate training on the installation.

This makes total sense and is quite practical. Fort Bragg, like any big Army training base has a ton of rules that have to be followed and to conduct any training it is always advisable to have every SF troop as qualified as possible to conduct training on post.

However, we did hear back from our source(s) in 3rd SFG, and while those admin tasks that USASOC mentioned were indeed part of the initial training as part of the Entry Level Operator’s Course, but they also said there was a  tactical portion of the course that covered basic “includes how to shoot, move, communicate, and medicate. Other parts deal with combatives and mobility.”

This again doesn’t necessarily mean that the Group is unhappy with the training conducted by the “Q” Course. It could mean that the 3rd SFG(A) is simply wanting all of their personnel to conduct a standard of SOPs that will be uniform throughout the Group. That way, everyone regardless of A-Team, Company or Battalion will be operating virtually the same. With the Operational Tempo the Groups are currently dealing with, it would make sense to do this collectively before the new guys make their way down to the teams. We haven’t been able to confirm that yet.

If we learn anything new, we’ll be happy to update and share. Until then, the course is changing again. For the cadre. For the prospective SF candidate, he’ll be seeing it for the first time (hopefully) anyway and won’t notice the difference. The tempo may be increased a bit.

DOL, “Don’t be late, don’t be light, don’t be out of uniform.”

Photo: US Army

Originally published on Special