My first (and only) combat deployment was one with a unique mission. I was an Army infantry officer, and at the time a platoon leader of about 40 men, and our battalion had just got tagged with the Village Stability Operations SOF uplift mission.

For one year, we would all be farmed out to ODAs and SEAL platoons to lend an extra hand, or operate independently with SOF guidance, or something. It wasn’t quite clear exactly what we’d all be doing. For me and my platoon, we would be cut in half, with two squads coming with me and my platoon sergeant to one Village Stability Platform (VSP) and the other two squads to another, to work with an entirely separate ODA. For all intents and purposes, I was no longer their platoon leader, despite still being administratively responsible for them (more on that unique situation in a later article).

Naturally, I had all the nervous and excited feelings one would expect from their first deployment. I was an infantryman, so I wanted to go execute the operations I had been trained to do (kill stuff). And to add to that, I was going to go conduct operations with Green Berets. My company commander would be 100 miles away; it was just going to be me and my guys, an ODA, and coolguy shit. I was undeniably stoked.

But on top of that, I didn’t want to fuck up in the presence of what I saw as bearded superhumans. So, I got serious, went into the experience with an open mind and a willingness to work, and came out the other side being (reasonably) successful. I thought I would share my thoughts with anyone else who may find themselves in a similar situation one day: deploying with Green Berets when you aren’t one.

Be good at your job

I couldn’t necessarily think of the number one most important thing, so I’m not going to number them. I’ll start with the basics.

Green Berets operate with extreme levels of autonomy. Guys on the teams each have their own tasks and their own projects. They are expected to take whatever mission they have, and run with it, with little to no guidance.

If you are unable to even perform the basics of your Military Occupational Specialty, you are a liability right off the bat.