Army Special Forces Enlistment to Green Beret Pipeline
18X - Special Forces Enlistment Option
18X (18 XRAY) isn't actually an MOS (Military Occupation Specialty). Instead, it's an enlistment option. Until recently, the only way to join the Army Special Forces was to apply after achieving the grade of E-4.
Under the 18X enlistment option, recruits are guaranteed the opportunity to "try out" for Special Forces. It does not guarantee that the recruit will be accepted into the Special Forces program. It only guarantees that the recruit will be given the opportunity to see if he "has the stuff."
A recruit who enlists in the 18X Special Forces enlistment program will attend Infantry OSUT (One Station Unit Training), which combines Army Basic Training and Infantry AIT (Advanced Individual Training), all in one 17-week course. Upon graduation, recruits attend Airborne Training at Fort Benning, GA. Jump School is a three week course where static line jumping is taught on a large scale.
After "jump school," soldiers will be shipped to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and attend a five phase program that will prepare them, teach them, and test and evaluate their capabilities to join the Special Forces Groups in the Army.
Special Forces Phase One
The Special Forces Qualification Course Phase 1A is four weeks long and will be a month of in-processing, intense PT, land navigation courses, and long and fast ruck marches. This phase was formerly called Special Operations Prep Course I (SOPC I).
The Special Forces Qualification Course Phase 1B is a four week assessment and selection program that is designed to expose weaknesses in body, mind, or spirit. Soldiers will be tested psychologically, physically on runs, rucks, swims, obstacle courses, and more land navigation. Successful graduation and selection of this four week course will allow the soldier to enter the Special Forces Qualification Course to become an Army Special Forces soldier. This phase was formerly called Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS).
Special Forces Prep Course (SFPC) - This is a two week instructional course to help bring soldiers up to speed on small unit tactics, conducting raids, ambushes, recon, and patrolling as a small squad sized element. (Formerly known as SOPC II). For soldiers who cannot swim or have difficulty, there is also a two week swim program that they will attend prior to Phase 2.
Common Core Training - This 19 day course will take newly selected Q Course soldiers and teach them the leadership methods of Special Forces with the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC), Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course (BNCOC), as well as squad and platoon tactics.
Special Forces Phase 2
Special Forces Qualification Course Phase 2 is a combined small unit tactics (SUT) and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) training program. Here they will learn more advanced patrolling techniques in the squad and platoon sizes, rifle and pistol marksmanship, as well as survival school where surviving in remote areas, avoiding capture by enemy forces, resistance and escape skills if captured. This is a combined 8 week course.
Special Forces Phase 3
After fully assessing each Soldier's capabilities by testing his physical, emotional, and mental stamina as well as tactical skills, the soldier now has the opportunity to make a meaningful and educated decision about SF and his career plan. Now, the soldier will start to learn the tools of the trade and his career will be focused in one of the Special Forces MOSs.
The SFQC teaches and develops the skills necessary for effective utilization of the SF Soldier. These include foreign internal defense and direct action missions as part of a small operations team or detachment. Duties at other levels involve command, control, and support functions. Frequently, duties require regional orientation, to include foreign language training and in-country experience. The SF places emphasis not only on unconventional tactics, but also knowledge of nations in waterborne, desert, jungle, mountain, or arctic operations.
Phases 3 is known as the MOS Qualification Phase. For the enlisted Soldier, the decision concerning the four specialties will be made based on your training background, aptitude, and desire and the needs of CMF 18. During this phase, Soldiers are trained in their different specialties:
(1) 18B - SF Weapons Sergeant. Training includes: Tactics, anti-armor weapons utilization, the functioning of all types of U.S. and foreign light weapons, indirect fire operations, man-portable air defense weapons, weapons emplacement, and integrated combined arms fire control planning. Training is conducted at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and is 13 weeks long.
(2) 18C - SF Engineer Sergeant. Training includes Construction skills, field fortifications, and use of explosive demolitions. Training is conducted at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and is 13 weeks long.
(3) 18D - SF Medical Sergeant. Training includes Advanced medical procedures to include trauma management and surgical procedures. Training is conducted at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and is approximately 46 weeks long.
(4) 18E - SF Communications Sergeant. Training includes: Installation and operation of SF high frequency and burst communications equipment, antenna theory, radio wave propagation, and SF communication operations procedures and techniques. Training culminates with an around-the-world communications field performance exercise. Training is conducted at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and is 13 weeks long.
Special Forces Phase 4
Language Training. All Soldiers will attend Special Forces Language school at the Special Operations Academic Facility, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Languages are assigned in relation to the score from the Defense Language Aptitude Battery, (DLAB), which is taken either prior to or at the beginning of SFQC. Each Soldier must score at least a 0+/0+ to be considered language qualified. The language course in which the Soldier is selected to attend will most likely reflect the SF Group in which he will be assigned.
Example language course lengths are Arabic; Korean; Polish; Russian; Czech; Tagalog; Persian; Thai; Serbo; Croat; (6 months training), and Spanish; Portuguese; French (4 months training).
Special Forces Phase 5
The culminating training exercise is known as Robin Sage. During this 5 week course, the students will form their own Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA), a 12 man team who will be tasked with simulated real world scenarios. Soldiers will be tested in a full array of Special Operations (SO) classes, Direct Action (DA) Isolation, Air Operations, Unconventional Warfare classes, Isolation training, counterinsurgency, and foreign internal defense (FID) that ends with ROBIN SAGE.
Individuals who fail any of the above training courses will have their enlistment contracts renegotiated to the 11B ( Infantryman) MOS and will be reassigned to an Infantry unit. However, under the current policy, they will be allowed to retain any 18X enlistment bonus, unless disqualification is due to misconduct.