Special Forces 18X Program

by: Kimberly Davis

The decision to become a Green Beret is large and should be well thought out.

Green Berets 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 to make it through the arduous tasks put before them.

Special Forces training requires maturity, motivation, self-discipline, and, most importantly, dedication 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 also begin his Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for infantry.  After completing basic training and AIT successfully, a soldier will graduate and get a spot for Airborne school.

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):

Four 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 finish 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 several vital training exercises for a future Special Forces soldier.

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 the soldier’s language and MOS assignment.

MOS training will occur during Phase III, and language training will occur during Phase IV.  All training for the SFQC will be at Ft. Bragg, NC.

Phase I – approx. three weeks

Special Forces Assessment & Selection (SFAS): 3 weeks

  • After successfully completing SFAS, soldiers are given their language and 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 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 later.

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) plus two 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 can verbalize which MOS they prefer, the actual assignment is given according to how well certain tasks associated with certain MOSs were performed during SFAS.

Prior test scores are also taken into consideration.  The Special Forces MOSs and length of training for each are as follows:

  • Weapons Sergeant Course (18B): approx. Nine 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 considered 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 and his family are 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.

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This article was written by a visitor to the site. All of our contributors served in the military, are married to someone who serves in the military, or have a child who serves in the military. These Army soldiers and/or family members enjoy helping others by sharing their experiences.

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  1. 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?

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Hi!
    My husband has been at selection for 21 days now. I was just curious if this is normal?? Can selection take longer than 19 days? Can the course be postponed and then end up taking longer? I know the sayings hurry up and wait and no news is good news I’m just curious if this is common? He started selection on October 6th so I figured I would have heard from him yesterday.

  6. I am just wondering if at any point after selection do the soldiers get time off? Do they get breaks in between each phase or is it just straight through until the finish line? Input would be greatly appreciated from anyone’s experience

  7. What is the time commitment (how many years is the contract) once you finish SF training? My fiancé is going through the process trying to get selected and I just want to know so I can have some knowledge of our future. Thank you so much!

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