The US military has plenty of specialized units with varying missions and each has their own niche carved out thru years of intense training. Whether it be the Army, Navy, Air Force, or the Marines, each service has their own specialized units. For this piece, we’re going to deal with the US Army Special Forces, popularly known as the “Green Berets.”

If you’re reading this perhaps you’ve already decided that Special Forces is for you and you’re getting ready to prep for Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) and a chance to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course or “Q” course.

This article won’t deal with the ‘how-to’ tips that will help you get thru selection, although we’ll touch briefly on that subject. First, let us separate fact from fiction. We’ve all heard the wife’s tales and myths of the Special Forces soldier, right? “You have to be 10-feet tall and bulletproof.” “SF guys have to have the athletic ability of NFL players.” Yadda, yadda, these are total fabrications.

There isn’t any big secret about passing selection, in fact to those of us who worked out there the saying used to be, “the answer is so simple that it is hard.” It is all about you the individual. Selection is 70 percent mental and 30 percent physical. You don’t have to look like an NFL linebacker to pass the course. I certainly didn’t and the vast majority of guys I finished with didn’t either.

In fact, most of the guys who looked like that passed by the wayside, it becomes simply a matter of mind over matter. You will have to want it and won’t let anything stop you from reaching that ultimate goal. That may sound a little simplistic but that is it in a nutshell. There will be times when you are exhausted beyond belief, between either selection or the Q-course and that is when the SF guys get separated from the other guys who thought they wanted to be there.

Selection is a test of will, nothing more. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you and focus only on what you’re doing today. Get thru the day and don’t worry about what comes tomorrow. That doesn’t exist. You’ll get no feedback from the cadre other than the stock “do the best you can”, and I for one think that’s the best way. Special Forces doesn’t want guys who need constant reassurance. They want soldiers who will go the extra mile and keep going on their own.

The extra mile is a good place to go back to the being fit part. Don’t come to Selection fresh from being a couch potato. There are plenty of guides of how to properly prepare for the rigors of the course and they all will get you into the arena. You don’t have to be the fastest runner, but it certainly won’t hurt. But the biggest obstacle in your path is your rucksack. Soldiers who can strap the big pain pill on and continue to drive on are what the cadre are looking for.

Soldiers who came from a light infantry or a Ranger battalion will have already mastered the art of rucking for long distances. For soldiers coming from a different background, that is where they are sailing into uncharted waters. And that is where the will to continue comes in. Even the most hardened troops get worn out and tired, that is what the course is designed to do.