Author’s note: This is our third and final interview with CSM Mike Hall, and I hope our readers really appreciate the look into an often misunderstood tiny percentage of the U.S. military. If you have ever served in a special operations unit, you know how difficult and often frustrating it can be to try to explain to people what you did in the military; hopefully this sheds some light on that experience. Thank you, guys, and please continue to follow SOFREP for upcoming articles and interviews.

One of the strengths of special operations units is the ability to see what is needed and make a change, or react to a need quickly. One such change seemed to be the move to RASP from RIP; RASP seems to be not just a selection program, but a training program. What are your thoughts on the change, and how did it happen?

I think that was all internal to the Regiment and it was what they felt they needed to do. The selection processes for all the SOF units are getting small changes all the time, and those changes are based on what the units feel they need. USASOC is the approving authority within the SOF world, and the Department of the Army let us handle much of that. The specifics of it, though, are left up to the various internal commands. USASOC has to approve things like how the various SOF units get rid of soldiers, what the qualifications are to get into a SOF unit, and things like that.

Do you agree that as far as getting prepared for Regiment, RASP at least prepares a young Ranger to be more useful, sooner? The one thing that I really remember after graduating RIP was that, although I felt like I was capable of handling the physical side of the Regiment, being useful on missions other than just carrying stuff was something that took time. There were so many different missions that, until you cycled through all them, you often felt like you were drinking through a fire hose.

Absolutely. I think that all the special operations units realized this. As the War on Terror continued without end and units progressed into the wartime model of deploy and recover, the pre-deployment training cycle commanders realized the peacetime model was not sufficient for what was being asked of their units. There was no longer a grace period where you had a chance to get soldiers in special operations units up to speed.

I think everyone realized they had to change their model in order to get a more finished product sooner. This allowed commanders to have more trained assets at their disposal. Soldiers had to show up to their units knowing the basics and fundamentals. I am sure that a fair amount of training and leadership also fell on the first-line leaders as well, because at the end of the day, that squad leader and team leader had to be able to count on the new soldier to accomplish the mission.

What are some of the challenges senior leaders face when trying to implement change, especially in an organization like the Army that has so many layers of bureaucracy?

One thing I learned—actually learned it from now-retired General Yellen—if you want to change things, it is not so much the bureaucracy as it is about resources. If you can convince people or show them where the resources will come from, then you don’t get as much pushback. Resources are really one of the main things you get pushback on. Answering the question of where the resources will come from is really the key to success; even if everyone agrees the change or idea is positive, the resources still need to come from somewhere. So you can get everyone in a room to say, “Let’s do this,” but then you have to go and get other people to give up something. That is always much harder. Resources are what I think a bureaucracy is in a lot of ways.