One of the indirect benefits of being a Special Operations Forces (SOF) unit member is getting the chance to attend a series of interesting schools and undertake exciting courses. Such schools aim at improving the participants’ craft, whether he’s a shooter or an enabler (support guy).

Each component command has a number of schools tailored to the needs of its units. For example, Naval Special Warfare Command’s (NSWC) schools are mostly geared toward Navy SEALs. However, there’s a certain level of overlap, as both NSWC and the Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) have a sniper school. And it’s fairly common to see operators from a sister service while attending a course taught by a specific command — the Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) course is a paragon of this, as each class is certain to include SEALs, Rangers, Green Berets, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment flight medics, and sometimes even Pararescuemen.

Here’s a list of the top three interesting courses offered by USASOC.

ARSOF Military Deception Planner’s Course

Reconnaissance and surveillance
A rifleman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, burns the frayed end of a cord during Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise (AMX) off the coast of North Carolina. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara/U.S. Marine Corps)

Taking place in Fort Bragg, the course is exclusive to Active Duty personnel with the rank of:

  • Sergeant First Class or Master Sergeant for non-commissioned officers
  • Chief Warrant Officer 3rd Class or Chief Warrant officer 4th Class
  • Captain or Major for officers

Classes last three weeks with each course capped at 24 students. Participants must have top-secret clearance. There are three iterations of the course every year.

According to the course’s description, the scope of the class is to present students with the “knowledge to execute the deception cycle as the military deception officer of a special-operations force staff/conventional force staff during the conduct of an irregular warfare scenario in a problem-centered, active-learning environment.”

Upon graduation, students will be familiar with a range of concepts, such as the five-phase deception cycle, SOF targeting Psychological Warfare, psychological operations deception and denial, precision influence targeting, and social network analysis/dark networks. Graduates will also be able to plan, execute, and terminate joint military deception operations at the conventional and SOF level.

Special Forces Physical Surveillance Course (SFPSC)

The course takes place at both Fort Bragg and the National Capital Region. The SFPSC is open to Special Forces operators—who must be pre-selected — other U.S. SOF members, as well as selected allied forces. Class size is limited to 22 students, and there are four courses per year, each lasting eight weeks. American participants must have at a minimum secret clearance.