The Army's Special Forces MOS 18—are a mix of jobs within the special forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) that make a small unit tactics (12 man) team of unrivaled skill in special warfare. The 18Z is the Senior Sergeant of the ODA and easily one of the most highly trained soldiers in the Army. The Senior Sergeant of the ODA takes years of training and gathering of knowledge and experience in combat operations. The Army Special Forces ODA deploy around the world often in rapid-response situations performing missions with friendly forces while assisting with a special ops mission called Foreign Internal Defense (FID).
The 18Z Special Forces Operations Sergeants' responsibilities may include:
- Supervising and instructing all members of the Army's Special Forces
- Overseeing the training and preparation for Special Forces operations
- Performing joint, interagency, multi-national, combined and coalition planning
- Employing conventional and unconventional warfare tactics during peacetime, crisis, or war,
- Supervising operations for higher headquarters, major commands and joint commands
Becoming Special Forces
The road to becoming a Green Beret or Army Special Forces member is nearly two years long, full of training from a challenging selection course with a high attrition rate, patrolling, land navigation, parachuting, weapons and explosives training, foreign languages skills and depending upon the MOS:
- ODA Officer (18A)
- Weapons Sergeant (18B)
- Combat Engineer Sergeant (18C)
- Combat medical training (18D)
- Communications Sergeant (18E)
- Intelligence Sergeant (18F)
All of the above specialties require separate specializes training and together these soldiers make up the ODA. From basic training to the ODA, the process is explained here.
After Basic Combat Training (BCT) the Special Forces Candidate must have completed Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and U.S. Army Airborne School to be eligible for Special Forces training. They start their training in Fort Benning GA. Then the real challenge takes them to Fort Bragg, NC – home of Army Special Forces Training. The enlistment program 18X (18 xray) offers recruits a direct training pipeline to SOPC and below as long as they complete the above initial Army training.
Special Operations Preparation Course (SOPC)
This two-week course focuses on advanced level physical fitness (running, rucking, load bearing activities), but candidates are also expected to demonstrate a proficiency in land navigation, one of the most important skills of a Special Forces Soldier. If you fail land navigation or unable to meet the standard, you will go back to a regular Army position.
Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS)
Special Forces Assessment and Selection is the first step into joining the Special Forces ODA and it is designed to test your survival skills, physical and mental training.
Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC)
Qualification consists of five phases (II-VI), lasting approximately 61 weeks. Each phase is designed to foster an expertise in the following areas: small unit tactics, advanced Special Forces tactics, survival skills, language and cultural training, unconventional warfare, survival, escape, resistance and evasion and advanced combat survival tactics.
Small Unit Tactics
The tactics phase lasts 9 weeks and will test candidates in advanced marksmanship, counterinsurgency, urban operations, live fire maneuvers sensitive site exploitation and other Special Forces skills. Soldiers will also take part in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training exercises, as well.
18—Specific Training (18B, 18C, 18D, 18E, 18F)
During the MOS Qualification Phase (III), you will receive training for your newly assigned Special Forces Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Training for this phase lasts about 16 weeks, and covers additional language training, Special Forces common tasks, Advanced Special Operations Techniques (ASOT) and interagency operations.
Final Training (Robin Sage)
Robin Sage is the field training exercise (FTX) and is Phase IV of the pipeline. This training phase IS the test for Soldiers hoping to earn the Green Beret.
Language and Culture Training
During this 25-week phase (Phase V), candidates will fine-tune their skills in the language to which they have been assigned and spend this time in an immersion language program to master languages needed to be effective in overseas environments.
Requirements for Becoming 18Z
Typically, the senior sergeant of an ODA has been operational within the Special Forces community for 10-15 years on average. They have also attended standard Army Noncommissioned officer training programs such as the Completion of the Basic and the Advanced Noncommissioned officer courses.
What the 18Z Does In the ODA
The Senior Operations Sergeant is responsible for the overall organization, functionality and training of the ODA / Special Forces Team. He is first and foremost an operational leader that requires experience, intelligence, training, communication skills, self-discipline as he is the example of the younger SF soldiers of how to work within the unit. The 18Z leads from the front and is the quick decision maker when stress levels are high fully supporting the 18A and the ODA mission. The lives of the 12 man unit are largely in the capable hands of the 18Z.
Basic Job Description
This is not an entry-level job.
ASVAB Score Required: N/A
Security Clearance: Secret
Strength Requirement: N/A
Physical Profile Requirement: 111221
In addition to the requirements listed above, one must:
- Complete Special Forces Qualification Course formal training course
- Be a graduate of Advanced NCO course
- Be a U.S. Citizen
Related Civilian Jobs for 18Z
Within the military contracting community, the 18Z can name his price and continue to be effective in crisis situations if he so chooses. However, within the civilian world, there are no directly related jobs for the Special Forces Operator / Leader, but the leadership skills, calm under stress, and ability to adapt to changes within the work space make the special forces operation / leader a vital member of a management team in any career field. Typically, the skills of his career (medical, communication, explosives, languages, etc) can also play a huge part is finding work outside the military.
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