You Will Be Tested Like Never Before

Earning the prestigious Green Beret of the US Army Special Forces is a grueling test of stamina, psychological strength, and sheer willpower. A quick review of the figures reveals the journey has considerable dropout rates, especially during the crucial stages of Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) and the ensuing Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), otherwise known simply as the “Q Course.”

This elaborate vetting process is designed to sieve through candidates, identifying only those with the highest resiliency and skill levels to join the distinguished ranks of US Army Special Forces.

The initial hurdle, SFAS (informally often referred to as “selection”), spans three weeks and marks the beginning of the journey for hopeful Special Forces members. Between 2012 and 2017, Army figures show a significant dropout rate of 64% for enlisted men, with a somewhat lower rate of 51% for officers.

Further studies in 2019 point to an increased dropout rate of 69%. By November 2021, there appeared to be a marginal improvement, with a 56% selection rate observed during an SFAS cycle, showing the variable nature of this challenging journey. 

The Q Course

However, passing SFAS is just the start. Candidates are then subjected to over a year of SFQC training, a rigorous program designed to mold them into fully operational Green Berets. During the 2012-2017 timeframe, SFQC saw a dropout rate of 35% for enlisted personnel and 27% for officers, signaling the course’s stringent criteria and intense demands.

The Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) is the formal training program for candidates aspiring to become Green Berets in the U.S. Army Special Forces. The duration of the Q Course varies depending on the specific MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) qualification and additional specialized training a candidate goes through. However, the entire process generally spans approximately 53 to 94 weeks (about 1 to 2 years), including:

  1. Orientation and Introduction (4 weeks): An introduction to the course, Special Forces mission, and operational detachment teams.
  2. Individual Skills Phase (13 weeks): This phase covers Special Forces operational tactics, survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) training, and language and cultural training.
  3. MOS Qualification Phase (14-50 weeks, depending on MOS): Candidates receive training specific to their chosen Special Forces MOS. The length varies significantly based on the specialty:
    • 18B – Weapons Sergeant
    • 18C – Engineer Sergeant
    • 18D – Medical Sergeant
    • 18E – Communications Sergeant
    • 18F – Intelligence Sergeant (available to those already qualified in another MOS)
  4. Collective Training Phase (Robin Sage Exercise, 4 weeks): This is a culminating exercise that tests candidates in a realistic, unconventional warfare environment.
  5. Language Training (18-24 weeks): Extensive language training is part of the SFQC, with the duration depending on the candidate’s proficiency and the language’s difficulty.

When the dropout rates for both SFAS and SFQC are combined, the figures jump to an average of 77% for enlisted personnel and 64% for officers. These figures don’t even include those who leave during initial training phases such as Infantry OSUT, Airborne School, or before the start of SFAS.