Selection is fun. It is miserable at times, but it’s manageable. By the end, it’s manageable fun and over too soon. You don’t need to be a bodybuilding marathon star to pass selection. You don’t have to eat snakes. No one is asking to ask you to punch or kill anyone. However, it’s not easy. It is very hard work and only those deserving stay and pass.

You can go it to the end and not make it. Many have and more will fail even when they finish the course. Now, the course has changed since I went through. I don’t know whether it’s harder or easier. But I do know that if it’s level of difficulty changes it will be a result of the candidates, not just policy. At the end of every year, the regiment still needs new Green Berets to backfill spots left vacant.

It’s important to remember that – you’re still a cog in the wheel. It’s easy to become lost in your sense of entitlement because someone has deemed you worthy of selection, before others. But, to get through you have to go all the way, which is further than most. What does that take? Emotional and physical strength.

The emotional component is probably similar to what it takes to start your own business or see an idea come to life. There will be naysayers, just ignore them. In fact, most of the people around you might quit, and their attitudes are toxic. Ignore them too. Find the folks who are doing well, smiling, and enjoying their experience. You’re stuck with the selection, and the only escape is quitting, so you really ought to just have a ball. There’s probably a pretty good outcome when you just experience it and do your best. As long as you came physically prepared and keep that attitude and try to keep your problem-solving simple, you’ll probably pass.

It’s not random who makes it and who doesn’t. In the documentary – “Two Weeks in Hell“, when the candidates that are doing well are interviewed they seem to be high spirits and enjoying themselves. Meanwhile, when you catch up with the candidates who on their way home or barely making it – they’re miserable. In this instance, being happy or unhappy is a choice. You aren’t being forced to attempt to join the Special Forces, you volunteered. That’s also the only way to quit, voluntarily.

As for the physical aspect, max the PT test. Be able to max that PT Test any day of the week. By the time you arrive at the selection, you’ll be tired, stressed, and out of sorts. You’ll take the PT Test early in the morning, and it’ll happen sooner than you like, no matter what. That stupid test can’t be something that taxes you. Even if it means taking one every day, do it. You’ll thank yourself later on. Anything past two miles, you’ll need to maintain an 8:00 minutes pace up to 5 miles. If there’s a movement past that distance, I’d say you’re probably safe at an 8:30 pace. Be able to do these in training and your willpower will help you post your best times for the real thing. There’s no reason you can’t knock out at least a hundred push ups and sit ups a day whether you’re at home or work. There are more running improvement programs out there than I can count, but here’s a good one that I like.

You’re going to need to be comfortable “rucking”. If you have enough time to prepare, compete in the Bataan Memorial Death March and the Mountain Man Memorial March. I enjoyed training for both events and, in doing so, I learned a lot. Both races are incredibly fun and meaningful. More importantly, I knew that if I returned to selection then, I would have passed with ease. The same can be true for you. Part of a working in SOF is solving problems. If you can prepare yourself to finish a race such as the Bataan Memorial Death March or the Mountain Man Memorial March at just a 14:00 minutes pace – I bet you’ll be 100% physically prepared for what selection, and the Q course will throw at you.

Bataan memorial death march image courtesy of

There’s no one event to qualify for, and there are no curve balls, either. No one is going to ask you to split open the atom, or even work out complex mathematical problems. If they do, they’re messing with you and gauging your reaction to the stress. Relax, be yourself, and have fun because if you don’t the rest of your time in Special Forces is going to be as miserable as you choose it to be. Selection is just the very beginning, and an introduction. Also, when and if you pass – try to remember that selection also represents a standard for every Special Forces soldier and when you’re in the regiment – you still represent that. There’s no excuse to get out of shape. So, if you’re going – go there and get after it.