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Special Forces 18X Program

by: Kimberly Davis

The decision to become a Green Beret is a large one and should be well thought out.  Green Beret’s are an elite and highly trained group of individuals who have worked hard to be where they are.  Many different qualities are required of a person in order to make it through the arduous tasks put before them.  Special Forces training requires maturity, motivation, self-discipline, and most importantly dedication in order to succeed.

Special Forces Recruit (18X) Initial Training

The road to becoming a Green Beret begins with basic training.  The Special Forces Recruit (18X) will be sent to Ft. Benning, GA where he will go through specialized infantry training.  After the first nine weeks of initial infantry training, he will then begin his Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for infantry as well.  After successful complete of both basic training and AIT, a soldier will graduate and get a spot for Airborne school.  Airborne school lasts three weeks and is also done at Ft. Benning, GA.

Basic Training (Infantry Training Brigade): 9 weeks- Ft. Benning, GA

Advanced Individual Training (Infantry Training- AIT): 4 weeks- Ft. Benning, GA

Airborne School: 3 weeks- Ft. Benning GA

Special Operations Preparation Course (SOPC):

4 weeks- Ft. Bragg, NC

  • This preparation course is designed to get 18X’s ready for Special Forces Assessment & Selection (SFAS).  It is not part of the qualification course and only one week of SOPC is required for an 18X to go into SFAS.  While most 18X’s receive the full four weeks of SOPC, the number of weeks they end up training can be less depending on when the soldier arrives at Ft. Bragg, NC to begin training.

Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC)

The Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) consists of a number of training exercises that are vital for a future Special Forces soldier to have.  There are five phases to complete before a soldier graduates and is awarded the Green Beret and the Special Forces tab.  The approximate length of training for the SFQC varies depending on what the soldier’s language and MOS assignment are.  MOS training will take place during Phase III and language training comes next during Phase IV.  All training for the SFQC will be at Ft. Bragg, NC.

Phase I- approx. 3 weeks

Special Forces Assessment & Selection (SFAS): 3 weeks

  • After successful completion of SFAS, soldiers are given their language and their military occupational specialty (MOS) assignments.  The different MOS assignments are discussed during Phase III and the languages are discussed during Phase IV.
  • If a soldier is not selected to continue onto the next phase of the SFQC, he is either sent to another duty station to serve in either an infantry or Airborne unit (18X) or he is sent back to his original duty station (prior service).  Regardless of whether or not the soldier is prior service or an 18X, most men receive an invitation to try out for Special Forces again at a later date.

Phase II- approx. 13 weeks

  • Common Leader Training (CLT): 2 weeks
  • Special Operations Preparation Course II (SOPC II): 3 weeks
  • Small Unit Tactics (SUT): 5 weeks
  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape (SERE): 3 weeks

Phase III- approx. 9 to 48 weeks (depending on MOS assignment), 2 weeks of assigned language training

The MOS assignments are given out after a soldier successfully completes the SFAS course.  Although some men are given “wish lists” where they are able to verbalize which MOS they prefer, the actual assignment is given according to how well certain tasks associated with certain MOS’s were performed during SFAS.  Prior test scores are also taken into consideration.  The Special Forces MOS’s and length of training for each are as follows:

  • Weapons Sergeant Course (18B): approx. 9 weeks
  • Engineer Sergeant Course (18C): approx. 15 weeks
  • Medical Sergeant Course (18D): approx. 46 weeks
  • Communications Sergeant Course (18E): approx. 15 weeks
  • Language Block I: 2 weeks

Phase IV- approx. 8 to 12 weeks (depending on language assignment)

A soldier’s language assignment is given out after successful completion of the SFAS course.  Like the MOS assignments, test scores are taken into consideration when an assignment is made.  The languages and length of training for each are as follows:

  • Category 1- Spanish and French: 8 weeks
  • Category 2- German and Indonesian: 8 weeks
  • Category 3- Persian-Farsi, Russian, and Tagalog: 12 weeks
  • Category 4- Arabic, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese: 12 weeks

Phase V- 4 weeks

Unconventional Warfare Culmination Exercise/Robin Sage Course

  • The Robin Sage exercise allows a soldier to utilize all of the skills acquired from the qualification course, the MOS training, and the language training.

Special Forces Regimental First Formation & Graduation

Once a soldier completes all five phases of the SFQC, he along with his family is invited to attend a graduation event in which the history of the Regiment will be explained.  In addition to this, he will be a part of the formal issuing of the Green Beret.  The coveted Special Forces tab will also be awarded and the soldier will receive an assignment to a unit.

About the author: This article was contributed by a visitor to the site. If you would like to contribute to the site as well, please email me.

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • Chelle February 7, 2011, 10:48 pm

    What can I expect with my boyfriend going into SOPC this week? I know they are holding it in Camp Mackall, but will he get any time off or phone privileges?

  • Johnna Phillips December 11, 2011, 6:44 am

    If/When/After my husband passes SFAS, would my children and I be allowed to live on base in Fort Bragg, NC while he finishes SFQC? He went in to BC as a E3, I’m hearing only E5 and greater can live in military houseing, is this true? Concidering SFQC is possiblely 2 years long I want our family to be where he is training.

  • Born at Mackall January 30, 2012, 11:48 am

    Two answers:


    No there will be no phone contact during Mackall training phases. The training enviroment if focused and controlled. On the plus side there are many phases where the candidate will have regular hours and be regularly available such as MOS and Language.

    Johnna Phillips,

    If your husband gets selected he is allowed to move dependents to his duty station. You are correct the Q course can be very long. 18D have the longest track, but waiting on classes and/or injuries can greatly extend any candidates time in the Q course.

    Altough you may be able to move on post, I would not recommend it. Most of the Fort Bragg post housing is sub par, poorly managed, and have long wait lists. There are many good apartments around Fayetteville, however use caution. Fayetteville is not a good place. Many SWCS guys and family cluster in complexes. If he is close with some people this is a good idea. Or, with interest rates what they are, you might consider owning a home or renting a home. Many graduated candidates (Green Berets) have homes in and around Fort Bragg. Many of my friends and myself owned homes around Raeford during the course. The area is much quiter and safer than Fayetteville. It is also located between Mackall and Bragg. Why not use that BHA money to build your assets?

    That might be more than what your looking for, but you can an E-3 can move his family out with him. Plus he will get a “conditional” promotion to E5 upon completion of MOS phase. If he earns his Green Beret he will officially have the rank and grade, plus back pay from the date of MOS completion. Also, hope for 10th Group.

  • Ivan February 28, 2012, 10:38 pm

    Can I as prior service enlist for the 18X option or do I have to Enlist and then do a 4187?

    • Rachel P August 6, 2013, 3:17 pm

      Hi there! My SO is currently in the 18x program as prior service. He was in the National Guard through college then decided to go active duty once he graduated. He was hoping to switch straight over from the National Guard but due to paperwork complications (I’m quickly learning recruiters lose everything) he kept getting postponed until they wouldn’t let him switch because he didn’t have enough time left on his contract. His contract then officially ran out in January and he began the enlisting process immediately. The recruiters kept telling him he would go to a “refresher course” AKA redo part of Basic/AIT but that never happened. (One guy even mentioned a 18 week refresher course…. basic isn’t even that long!) Now he is about to graduate airborne next week. Baiscally my understanding is that if you are prior service, meaning you got all the way out then got back in, you can still use the 18x pipeline, you just start at airborne instead.

  • Crystal H March 25, 2012, 3:36 pm

    Hello, I am would love to be able to connect with other sf wifes whos husbands are in the Q course if you could link me with a few would be great. My husband was just selected and I dont know any other women who are going to share this journey with me..I live in NJ. He is at Ft Bragg. Thanks!!

  • Jonathon May 1, 2012, 3:09 pm

    If I move my family near base after selected. Will I be able to see or talk to them while in q course?

  • Lindsay May 3, 2012, 10:13 am

    Hi Crystal,

    My husband is in Ft Bragg in phase II of the Q course. I am moving down to NC this week. We have rented a home in Sanford NC. If you are looking for someone to talk to my email is LMoschella@gmail.com

  • Megan September 20, 2012, 10:16 pm

    Hi there! My husband is currently in SOPC hold. We have no idea whether he will go into the October 16th SOPC or the one in November. There are quite a few guys that have been in hold since May that are going to get first priority for the October class. What is the average hold time for these guys? The people running SOPC hold aren’t telling the guys anything right now. What has been your experience with SOPC and SFAS?

  • Michelle November 11, 2012, 5:54 pm

    Can anyone tell me about the WLC graduation… typically… where it is, when it is, what time it is??? For some reason my husband missed these details, and now I’m left trying to figure it all out :/


  • John Fredericson December 24, 2012, 3:37 pm

    What is the pass rate of the selection phase of the training?

  • Cristina February 25, 2013, 11:27 am

    Hello. I was just wondering if I could get a second opinion or answer to whether or not my fiancee will have leave after SOPC and Selection. He claims that he is supposedly getting a week after each course but he also told me that he would have 10 days of leave after he graduates from airborne. We just recently found out that because he is 18X this does not apply to him so I am trying to find out if he truly may have a week of leave ot any leave at all coming up. Thank you

    • Megan Mumford April 10, 2013, 3:25 pm

      Cristina, I am wondering the same question about leave after Airborne. He will be on hold for SOPC for over 2 months because of summer break. Did your fiance find that out yet?

      • Courtney Hamrick April 30, 2013, 1:19 pm

        My husband graduated in January. He is an 18X and had to leave immediately after graduation to go to Fort Bragg.

  • Olivia C July 30, 2013, 12:27 pm

    hi , i wanted to know what is the communicaiton like throughout the phases of Training. my fiance will be off to training while i am deployed

  • Rachel P August 6, 2013, 3:23 pm

    Hi, everyone! I was wondering if you had any input for me. Do a lot of families move down to Bragg after selection for the Q-course? or do most stay put until they get their first team assignment? I have heard talk of people going both ways, I’ve even heard families aren’t allowed to go down. I’ve read all the books, resources on the process I can find, but most are pretty old and policies are forever changing!

    Any help is appreciated!


  • Laura Z. August 15, 2013, 11:35 am

    Hi All – My husband is enlisting on an 18x, and assuming that he makes it through and we are moved to Fort Bragg, I’m wondering which off-post housing is closest/best to where the special forces guys train/work. My understanding is that Fort Bragg is huge, so if we aren’t going to live on base, we’ll need to know where exactly he will be working in order to pick the nearest city to live. Thanks for the info and help!

  • Fallon August 15, 2013, 5:27 pm

    I am in AIT and graduate on Nov 22. My husband goes to Basic for the 18X in early Nov. If possible, when can I put in for the Married Army Couples Program. Will I get orders to Ft. Bragg?

    • Stacey August 21, 2013, 3:56 pm

      They try to station married soldiers together but ultimately it’s based on the needs of the Army.

  • Steve August 21, 2013, 8:28 am

    All these questions about 10 days of leave and yet no one has an answer. So here it is: just stay where ever it is that you are.
    Upon arrival to Bragg, they won’t get any permissive tdy (10 days) until after selection. This is clearly stated. Once selected you will get tdy and the assignment to Bragg will be official. As for contact. It’s better off for the spouse or dependents to stay at the home of record. This is what I did. Selfish as it may be, this allowed me to focus on the entire course. After you get past WLC communication will be easier. For the person asking about WLC graduation… Really? It’s not a graduation so to speak. It happens at camp mackall anyway.
    The course has been restructured. Language is now at the end. So with that being said, there will be no normal days until the MOS phase. And even then it’s pretty unpredictable. Keeping my spouse and child at our home of record with out a doubt contributed to my successes throughout the entire course. It is what it is.

  • Brandi August 27, 2013, 8:31 pm

    When my husband goes into BCT does enter as a E-3? His recruiter is telling him that he is E-1 but I’ve searched on websites and it says he should be E-3. Why would the recruiter keep him from E-3?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Stacey August 29, 2013, 7:56 pm

      Does he have any college education?

  • Stephanie C February 7, 2014, 11:38 pm

    This is great! My husband always has to remind me what is next in his training… He is currently at CLT! And will return on the 20th!

  • christian March 8, 2014, 6:23 pm

    When will my husband get breaks?

    When will he be able to contact me via phone? If ever?

    Can I visit him ever?

  • Marie March 24, 2014, 10:35 pm

    Does anyone know when the current SUT course is ending? They started on March 3rd I believe and it’s 6 weeks long. I live 8 hours away from fort Bragg and wanted to surprise my boyfriend for the weekend he gets back before SERE. We were so busy beforehand that we didn’t even talk about when I should expect to hear from him 🙁

    • Stacie May 13, 2014, 2:17 pm

      Hey Marie,

      I’m just bored and was searching various sites and found this one. Obviously you posted this a while ago, but it sounds like your boyfriend is in the same class as my husband. Do you still have questions? =0)

    • Amanda June 28, 2014, 4:40 pm

      I just found this blog, so hopefully my reply will still get to you. My boyfriend is also in SUT training right now. I received an MRE postcard from him the other day, he says they will be back probably on July 6th, which is a sunday. I don’t know about you, but not being able to talk to him has been incredibly difficult for me. I don’t know any other girls who are dealing with a relationship like this, perhaps we should link up, and support each other while our guys are away?? I’d love to be able to talk with someone who understands what I’m going through. ^_^

      • Christina July 20, 2014, 4:45 pm

        Hello all! My husband is about to start the entire 18x program. He leaves very soon for OSUT…I would love to chat with some of the other girlfriends/wives that have been through this and could maybe answer some questions that I have! If anyone else is about to start this journey, I wish you the best and hopefully we can talk. My email is clidberg01@gmail.com

        Any help is greatly appreciated 🙂

        Take care!


  • Brittnai May 27, 2014, 12:10 pm

    Hello everyone 🙂 My boyfriend is going to Selection summer and I am just as curious about the whole process as everyone else. Would anyone like to email and chat about what happens if he is selected? He fills me in the best he can but I would love to hear about it from the spouse’s end.

    Thank you!

    • Amy June 4, 2014, 5:03 pm

      Hi, Brittnai!
      My hubs is about half way through the course right now…would love to chat with you & help in any way I can. I know how much I’ve appreciated those ahead of us that have prepped me with info! Plus (in my opinion) making connections with other wives/so’s is key in getting support & encouragement for yourself in the road ahead! 🙂

    • Saydes March 10, 2015, 12:15 am

      Hi my husband is at SFAS and i have a couple questions..
      He left Feb. 27th and checked in that night and today is March 10th! i haven’t heard from him at all, which i kind of expected not to since he had to turn in his cell phone, but i was wondering WHEN i will hear from him?? This is tough! i miss my Soldier but i am glad i haven’t heard from him yet it means he’s still hanging in there!

      • Mae April 19, 2015, 6:08 pm

        Hopefully this got worked out by now; sorry there wasn’t a reply sooner. Maybe this will help others with the same question at some point.

        SFAS is supposedly 3 weeks long. My husband was out of contact for 19 days – in other words, the entirety of the selection time. At the end of that, those that made it through knew whether they had been selected or not. There really isn’t time for candidates to communicate with home during SFAS – they’re lucky to be able to sleep sometimes.

        The important thing to remember about SFAS and Q Course is that it is constantly changing. There are a million sources out there that state different things, and even if you piece together a general schedule or timeline, it is likely that your personal experience of it (the timelines, the phase names, the order of phases, etc) will not match up with anything that anyone on the internet had to say.

  • Ashley June 9, 2014, 12:08 am

    I don’t know if anyone will see this because this particular article was written years ago,but my husband is seriously considering the 18x program. Being a typical wife, I’m concerned about the danger of him being sf. Googling,i haven’t found any specific statistics. I’ve found some say it’s extremely dangerous and some say that the men who make it through are so well trained that they have a lower death rate than other soldiers. I’d like to hear from the wives of men who are already through the course and have already deployed. Do you worry and what are your feelings about the job? Do you feel that you have enough family time? I’d appreciate any feedback! Thanks!

    • Chelsi Boswell July 27, 2014, 7:19 pm

      Hi Ashley I am in a similar boat. My husband is going blue to green (Air Force to Army) here soon and is wanting the 18x pipeline. I have found limited info about the mortality rates but what I have found supports what others have told you. Those who make SF are the best so you know they are supported by the best. I have noticed that Airborne and Infantry are the highest in the ratings, this scares me because if they don’t make it through SFAS they go back to a 11B (infantry). http://icasualties.org/

      I’d love to connect with some fellow wives who have experienced this or are about to, so feel free to find me on FB.

  • Vanessa August 25, 2014, 5:26 pm

    My husband just recieved his orders to attend the Q-course for this winter. We plan to move to Bragg w/ him (myself and our almost-1 year-old) …my question is, during his Q-course training, how often will he be home? I’m just wondering if living on-post or near Fayatteville (which I’ve read about and haven’t read much that is good), is worth it if he will be gone longer periods of time, and instead potentially in an area that has better job opportunities for me and closer to friends and family (Wilmington, NC). Would he my husband be able to have alternative housing if we don’t end up living in Fayetteville? I’m just wondering if I should place myself in an area where I would have more familiar support system if his training will keep him from being home more often than not (i’m assuming it will).


  • Cheyenne February 8, 2015, 2:26 pm

    Hey I’m not sure when these comments were written, they don’t have dates on them. I’m writing this I February 8th, 2015. My husband is in pre SOPC right now. I was just wondering how long of a gap is there usually between SOPC and selection? I know I can move down after that and we won’t be home much so I was holding to connect with some of you! my email is cheyenneeeeeee@aim.com if you want to contact me 🙂 I would love to make some friends so I’m not completely lonely when we move to Bragg!

  • Melissa April 24, 2015, 9:22 am

    Hey everyone, just wondering on the rules for when they’re in student company. He is going to be in hold over until August when he’ll go to SOPC , if were married is he allowed to live off base with me? Thanks!

  • Bo June 24, 2015, 6:50 am

    I had thought about going into army sf I have a wife and 2 children living at home. what advice would yall have for us? should I do it or not? will it be too difficult for my family to cope?

    • Stacey Abler June 27, 2015, 9:16 am

      As long as your wife is on board with your decision, do it. My husband was special ops (medically retired now) and we both miss it. I wouldn’t trade the time he had in the military for anything.

  • Nissa July 9, 2015, 11:06 pm

    My husband is in phase 2 and I just received a letter from him while his is at mccall. Are we able to write back ?

    • Stacey Abler July 19, 2015, 9:04 pm

      I’m not aware of any reason you can’t write to him provided he gave you the address.

  • Natalie Hinesly August 23, 2015, 11:29 pm

    I need some questions answered and no one has seemed to be able to give me a straight answer. My husband is prior service Marine Corps Infantry. He has decided to go into the 18X program. What is the time span on how long we will be apart until I’m able to move with him, given he is selected? I’ve heard ‘close to 2 years’ and I’ve heard ’13 weeks’. No one seems to know what they are talking about. Please help! I just want to prepare myself and set a realistic expectation for how long I will need to move back in with my parents.

    • Stacey Abler August 25, 2015, 8:20 pm

      Unless something has changed, you should be able to move with him once he gets to Q course.

  • Juliette December 10, 2015, 11:38 pm

    Hello everybody! So my boyfriend has decided to go into SF. We are most likely getting married soon, but do we need to be married in order for me to live on post with him? Also, can I visit him or get a phone call or anything when he is in q course? And approximately how long does the q course take? Sorry for all of these questions! I’m just trying to figure everything out. Any help would be much appreciated! 🙂

  • Alyssa February 22, 2016, 11:06 am

    Hi my husband is joining and is considering special forces. While he completes his SFQC
    phases will I be able to move to near Ft. Bragg and see him while he completes his training? And will they pay for the move or will I be responsible for that?

    • Stacey Abler February 27, 2016, 8:57 pm

      If you’re on his orders, the Army will pay for it. Otherwise, you will be responsible for moving expenses.

  • Kelly Barrett March 20, 2016, 8:13 am

    Hi Everyone!
    My boyfriend left for bootcamp/AIT yesterday. He does have an 18 xray contract. I was told that after 10 weeks of basic in between basic and AIT they get a family weekend at Fort Benning. Is that true?

    • Stacey Abler April 27, 2016, 8:57 pm

      Typically, there’s a family day the day before graduation.

  • JR April 12, 2016, 8:13 am

    Hi All — I realize this was written quite a long time ago and I’ve spent time reading through the comments. Looking for advice. I’m only about a 5.5 hour drive away from Ft. Bragg and he is currently going through selection – should he get selected, are there women out there that recommend staying put at the home of record during SFQC? Rr is it better to relocate to Ft. Bragg (and when? 1st Phase, 2nd Phase?). Any experiences, suggestions, comments would be helpful!

  • Browdie WIlliams May 2, 2016, 3:15 pm

    Hey, I am thinking about joing the 18X program and my fiance was wonderinf if she could still move to Fort Bragg with me? or will that not be allowed

  • Krystal July 4, 2017, 1:24 pm

    I am currently new to this whole army life. My fiancé right now is in basic training and wants to join 18x. This was very useful because it gave me an understanding of how long this process will be and the training he will be going through. Thank you so much for the info! This site has helped me out a lot.

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