Special Operations: January 25, 2005
The U.S. Army Special Forces has been meeting its recruiting goals, bringing in 1,628 new men last year. The Special Forces recruits from troops already in the army, and has found that the growing number of combat experienced soldiers has made recruiting easier. Since the 1980s, most potential recruits did not have any combat experience. While many troops were exposed to combat during the 1991 Gulf War, that one lasted only four days. Iraq and Afghanistan are giving many more troops a lot more time under fire, and convinced a lot of them that they really do want to take it up a notch, and join the Special Forces. This provides better prepared, both in terms of skills and expectations, recruits for the 2-3 years of intense training required to become a Special Forces operator. The Special Forces are highly selective, and members are highly trained. Having seen this in action themselves, many combat soldiers are inspired to see if they can reach that level of professionalism. The troops also realize that the Special Forces have a lower casualty rate than regular combat units. This has been a hallmark of elite combat units for centuries. Serving in the Special Forces also means faster promotions, and more money.
Special Forces recruiters have taken advantage of this trend by visiting units that have just returned from duty in a combat zone. With the experience of combat fresh in their minds, the troops can more realistically consider the Special Forces recruiters pitch. Many troops have encountered, or even worked with Special Forces in combat zones, and that has proved to be a major help for the recruiters. For the Special Forces, getting combat veterans is a big plus. These recruits are more easily trained, and get up to speed, with veteran Special Forces operators, more quickly.