This is a little bit about my experiences in Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS).

This is also a story about what not to do!

Coming back from a deployment in Northern Iraq in 2005 with 3rd Ranger Battalion, I dropped my Special Forces packet and began to prepare for SFAS. We had several Rangers laid up in the Walter-Reed military hospital in Washington, DC, who had been hurt when we got fragged in Mosul. When my Platoon Sergeant asked me if I’d be willing to travel to DC and act as a liaison, I was more than happy to do what I could. When I came back after a couple weeks, I was supposed to have some time to prepare and train for SFAS.

What train up? My Platoon Sergeant insisted that I would be taking part in the airfield seizure training mission we had planned for the next two weeks. And so I did an additional two weeks of training with my unit, ran home, threw a bunch of military gear into a duffle bag, and flew to Ft. Bragg that night to start SFAS the following day. I’m not complaining here, such is life in Ranger Battalion, but try to plan things a little smarter than I did!

I showed up with brand new jungle boots (didn’t know we could wear desert boots) which would turn my feet into ground meat during the 19-day selection course. I ended up losing a few toe nails in the process.

During the first week, we were stepping off on one of what were to be many long ruck marches through the North Carolina pine forests in, and around Camp Mackall, when I heard someone call from behind me.

“Hey,” the Special Forces candidate said in his southern drawl. “Don’t I know you?”

I’ll call him Johnathan. Johnathan and I had been waiting to start the Ranger Indoctrination Program together at Ft. Benning years prior. It’s the fear of the unknown that weeds most soldiers out of these selection courses. The instructors at SFAS call this “self assessing” and once these thoughts creep into a candidate’s head, the constant second guessing of yourself, it is almost assured that they will quit.