The real point of distinction for Green Berets versus their door-kicking brethren is the ability to work by, with, and through foreign fighters. Candidates are selected (or, more often, not selected) based in part on their ability to build rapport both with their foreign partners and with their team members.

Many an SF candidate has made it through the physical and mental rigors only to learn that their ‘social’ skills – playing as a member of a team and acting mindfully towards partner forces – aren’t good enough to make the cut. It sounds a little harsh to non-select a guy because he’s a bit of a prick, but one wrong word spoken to the wrong guy at the wrong time can get you – or your team – killed. What better security than a widespread network of loyal friends, with their ears to the ground?

You can’t really teach it, it can’t easily be learned: there’s a specific type of man who wants it to suck, who likes going to war with no real support-chain behind them, jumped-in with nothing but a solid knife, some well-worn boots, and his own charm, that trust-before-you-test relationship building. It is one of the key skills used by SF, and their ability to do so in austere and complex environments allows them greater freedom of movement than other SOF units. Building rapport is a matter of checking one’s own ego and operating nimbly on instinct. Being able to flex, bend, and adapt to cultures other than one’s own is a key mark of a mature and competent man. Built upon a moral framework and a desire to accomplish the mission no matter what, Green Berets learn to work by, with, and through their counterparts.

There’s a few specific rapport-building techniques that I’ve learned, mostly from men wiser than me, and I’d like to pass them on to you as everyday TTPs that you may want to try on your own battlefield.