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. 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!

    1. 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! 🙂

    2. 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!

    3. 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.

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. Be sure to keep in mind that many groups and missions are not in violent combat. A Green Beret’s main job might be simply to connect with and train the locals. They might be involved with civil or political issues more than combative ones.
      Not sure about mortality rate statistics – could be that this info is purposely withheld – but it would probably be an inaccurate number considering they’d only be able to count known deaths.
      Green Berets are trained in surviving capture, prison camps, and alone in the wild with only their pack. After training, the number of SF soldiers captured by enemy is something like less than 1%.

  3. Hello!
    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).


  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

    1. 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.

  7. 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 ?

  8. Hi,
    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.

  9. 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! 🙂

  10. 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?

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