About three years into my career as a Ranger, I was assigned a team and therefore a fellow team leader. We had crossed paths several times in the past, but he was coming from another platoon so I had never gotten to know him all that well. He was a relatively normal guy, a good Ranger who knew his job and was respected by those that worked for us. Like me, he wasn’t built with 220 lbs of raw muscle, but anyone who knew him might have expected him to grow up playing sports like soccer or cross-country. He spoke with authority when necessary and knew when to relax and have a beer.

Oh, and he had also read every Star Wars book that had been written. If you’ve ever been to a Barnes & Noble, you know that is no small feat.

As it turns out, he was no exception to the rule. Sure, not everyone in SOF is some kind of nerd, and certainly not all nerds are relegated to Star Wars, but if I were to compare the number of people interested in say, “Lord of the Rings” or the “Gunslinger” series, I would have found a lot more of those in my passing RASP class than I would have in my basic training class. This is an interesting thought, since SOF certainly doesn’t make any sort of effort to attract this type of personality — but it occurred to me that, above many other things, SOF members generally have a very strong sense of self. They like the things they like, and insecurities about anyone finding out about their “guilty pleasures” are non-existent — they would rather flaunt those guilty pleasures than anything. And it’s that same strength of self that carries them through their respective selection processes.

One of my roommates and I on our second deployment

This isn’t just why you have a lot of nerds in SOF — this is why you have a large variety of personalities in SOF overall, nerds included. Their personalities can both survive military indoctrination and yet still adopt the SOF lifestyle.