Special Forces soldiers are grouped into 12-man Operational Detachment Alpha teams or ODA’s. In this manner they are organized for unconventional warfare, the only unit in the military specifically designed to fight the type of counter-insurgency operations that America finds itself in today. Because of their task organization and inherent decentralization, each ODA has it’s own attitude, it’s own culture, and it’s own way of getting things done. While each team has it’s own SOP’s in place, don’t expect a high level of standardization here. ODA’s have to remain flexible and versatile, shifting gears from one deployment to the next, one mission to the next, and adapting to each new situation as it presents itself.

Because of this, ODA’s can vary wildly in what day to day life is like. If you are on a Dive Team you will be spending a lot of time in the pool. If you are on a HALO Team you might be spending a lot of time in Dunkin’ Donuts eating “body stabilization pills.” Okay, that last part is a joke…sort of. You might end up on an ODA full of Crossfit cult members, or a team that likes to roll out on their Harleys during the weekend. Some teams like to go out and get blasted at the bar during downtime. Other teams have family get togethers and barbecues. Still, others will have some combination of the above. Like I said, each team has it’s own personality. As a member of a small 12-man team, you will experience a unique type of camaraderie.

Training is also decentralized. When I was the senior 18B (Weapons Sergeant) on my team, I was responsible for training my team in all manners of weapons and tactics. The Team Sergeant gets the final say of course, but as a team we decide what we need to train on and when. This training can be conducted on your base or off site at any number of vendor schools that Special Forces soldiers get to attend. From shooting, to off-road driving, to HALO train-ups, there is a wide range of tasks to stay current on. One of the over looked but more useful training events is working with and training conventional units, especially new, inexperienced soldiers. First and foremost, Green Beret’s are trainers, and training soldiers is a skill like any other, it needs to be honed and refined.