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Subject: Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?
olive greens    2/27/2006 10:44:28 AM
I am thinking of various airborne units traditionally feeding into Army Special Forces (ex Paras into SAS, 82nd AA into Rangers and SF, Airborne Guards into Spetnaz etc). Some things I can rattle off... Advantages: a) Prepared to operate behind enemy lines b) Para qualified c) Uniform background improves unit cohesion Disadvantages: a) Too aggressive doctrine b) Conventional infantry "bad habits" inappropriate for SF work c) Invariably bring regimented life into SF Your thoughts?
 
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mough    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/27/2006 11:44:56 AM
well in the Brit's case in particular, it's not been a great success having 65%+ of the Regiment being Para's, they push out other guy's....who may be slightly less...Paraish, in outlook, especially the trades, sig's, enginneers ect, that are badly needed, there use to be a time when a SAS patrol could include, ex tank drivers, former REME guy's, even former RMP's, now your lucky if theres one guy on a patrol who's not a para, and that's a diminished skills base
 
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Horsesoldier    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/27/2006 3:58:57 PM
>>82nd AA into Rangers and SF<< The relationship between the 75th Rangers and the 82nd is usually the reverse, with guys from the Rangers finding their way into the 82nd if they have disciplinary problems . . . I'd say the optimal situation is one where you have a solid backbone of guys from good combat arms units but where you also get fresh blood from elsewhere in the service (combat support/service support and such) as well as guys off the street, which helps keep things from getting too stratified and ensures you get some guys whose thinking will at least approach issues from new directions. Of the more homogenous approaches (sole source from an elite conventional unit(s) or sole source from nothing remotely elite) I would venture to guess that both can work, but the latter may actually be preferable. Guys going into the SEALs, Pararescue, and Combat Control start their lives 99% of the time as either a new recruit off the street going straight into a SOF pipeline or in some career field about as far removed from combat arms as you can possibly get while still wearing a uniform (though both NAVSPECWAR and AFSOC get the occasional prior service combat arms guy from the USMC or Army, but not in especially significant numbers). The end results tend to be work out, generally, however. (Likewise, the average entry level Ranger is a guy off the street and then fresh out of initial training and jump school . . . again with good results).
 
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EW3    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/27/2006 10:37:37 PM
HS is right, I know SEALs are taken right off the street. But there is a process to reduce their numbers in Boot Camp - Pre Buds. 5 mile swims in Lake Michigan will keep the weaker members from geting beyond bootcamp. Interestingly, in the last 3 years the Army started doing the same thing for their SOF. The Army used to have it on their website, and it gave a complete plan for their training, if I recall it was almost 18 months straight out with a few breaks. It was not for the feint hearted. My guess is GOP knows all about these programs.
 
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Horsesoldier    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/28/2006 12:32:57 AM
>>Interestingly, in the last 3 years the Army started doing the same thing for their SOF. The Army used to have it on their website, and it gave a complete plan for their training, if I recall it was almost 18 months straight out with a few breaks.<< Army SF has gone back and forth on the idea of "SF babies" coming straight into the training pipeline. They started it back up in the last few years after a long enough break that most assume you always had to be an experienced guy to get into SFAS, but up until the mid-1980s you could go directly into the SF pipeline as a new recruit. The switch to experience-required was part of the Reagan era build up in special operations units. Both approaches have their positives and negatives, but it seems like getting a portion of guys straight off the street without the Big Army "contaminating" them has worked pretty well since it's been reinstated. The trick to making it work is, like EW3 noted with the SEALs, weeding out the guys who don't belong, but then also putting the guys who make it on teams with very solid team sergeants to make sure a newly minted Staff Sergeant (who'd otherwise be an E-3 or E-4 in a conventional unit) doesn't have the sort of witty misadventures soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen in the 18-22 bracket are prone to . . .
 
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longrifle    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/28/2006 12:38:18 AM
I can't really comment on anything but exept the U.S. Army. For years most SF came from the ranks of the airborne units. I'd be willing to bet that most probably still do, although attending jump school before starting the Q-course was the stated prerequisite, not having served in an airborne unit. There's pros and cons to that of course. It shoud give you a firm grounding in basic infantry skills and most people feel that you need to be conventional before you can be unconventional. You need to know what the rules are before you break them the theory goes, others disagree. Concerning the 75th Ranger Regiment. When I was active the regiment had a culture that was unique even among airborne infantry units. That culture didn't always mesh well with the rest of the army either, especially SF. The original idea was that a troop whould spend about two years in one of the ranger battalions and then move on to another unit, hopefully to spread the ranger standards and spirit in his next unit. That's been a mixed success. Can you imagine a Para becoming a Green Jacket (I know the British regimental system doesn't work that way) and then talking about the way things were done in the Paras? If the Ranger is not an exeptionally professional and tactful person it's less than well received. I've seen that first hand. That's in conventional airborne and infantry units. A Ranger in SF, depending upon the makeup of his team, might need to drop that "hooah, hooah" right fast if he's going to fit in. I haven't seen that first hand but that information comes from someone who was in 5th SFG (A).
 
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olive greens    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/28/2006 9:39:10 AM
The original idea was that a troop whould spend about two years in one of the ranger battalions and then move on to another unit, hopefully to spread the ranger standards and spirit in his next unit. That's been a mixed success. Can you imagine a Para becoming a Green Jacket (I know the British regimental system doesn't work that way) and then talking about the way things were done in the Paras? If the Ranger is not an exeptionally professional and tactful person it's less than well received. I've seen that first hand. Brits do a similar thing by requiring SAS officers to go through the Beaconshire thing ever 2-3 years -- the hope is the officer would get sick enough to go back to his parent Regiment and spread the Word and the Experience. It can be quite disasterous: A senior SAS VicCross winner from Yemen or Oman died in his re-entry. Brits did a similar thing with drill instructors once upon a time. A choosen man would be sent to Foot Guards for a period of upto 10 years, then he could come back to his parent Regiment as a senior NCO and implement the exacting standards of the Guards. Paras is just another Regiment, but semi-Special. Soldiers can go straight into Paras just as if they wanted to join Royal Green Jackets; only troops who go in and out of Paras (mainly for airborne training) are the Gurkhas and the Guards. =========== Anyway thats the Brits, but you yourself are from 82nd arent you? Whats your opinion about the topic in general....
 
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mough    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/28/2006 9:48:17 AM
Brits do a similar thing by requiring SAS officers to go through the Beaconshire thing ever 2-3 years -- the hope is the officer would get sick enough to go back to his parent Regiment and spread the Word and the Experience. It can be quite disasterous: A senior SAS VicCross winner from Yemen or Oman died in his re-entry.<< that's wrong, Major Mike Kealy, was not a Victoria cross holder, also officer's do not have to keep doing selection every 2-3 years, officer's join the regiment for 3 year's as a Captain, , then out, then back again to command a squadron, then out again, then back for a staff posting, up to and including CO of the regiment, btw Mike Kealy did selection because he was taking over a squadron and wanted to see if he was up to it....sadly it was a fatal decision
 
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olive greens    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/28/2006 10:37:16 AM
>> that's wrong, Major Mike Kealy, was not a Victoria cross holder << Thanks. Checked online and came up with him being Distinguished Service Order, and another Fijian Sgt getting VicCross for Battle of Mirbat.
 
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longrifle    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   2/28/2006 11:48:05 AM
>>Anyway thats the Brits, but you yourself are from 82nd arent you?<< Yes, sort of. I belonged to 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. The 325th AIR has always been a subunit of the 82nd Airborne Division but when I was active, 1984-1988, they were experimenting with the concept of rotating battalions to other commands, something the U.S. Army hasn't traditionally done a lot of. The 325th AIR was going to roatate battalions to Vicenza, Italy, to be under the command of the Southern European Task Force. I was in 3/325 under the command of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg for about a year and a half. Then the entire battalion rotated to Italy in 1986 and I spent the remainder of my time there. Now that I've told you more about this than you really want to know..... >>Whats your opinion about the topic in general....<< I think it stands to reason that if someone comes from a solid infantry background they're capable of being a good SF operator sooner than someone who didn't, provided that their thinking is not too rigid. Inflexible people won't make it no matter what. Of course the reality is that some people recruited straight into SF have done great. That was even the case in WWII when the OSS recruited some people from basic training because they had language skills or something. I spent some time as a young PFC talking to SF NCO's while playing the role of aggressor for students in SERE and SF training. The SF NCO's generally had a positive opinion of the students they got from the 82nd and light infantry units. It seems that there was a type of student that, after being in the 82nd for several years, really appreciated SF! It may seen odd but SF and someone from the 75th Ranger Regiment doesn't always mix well. That's not to say that there aren't some outstanding Rangers in SF, but the 75th is strict on the culture of military courtesy and some of them can't make the cultural transition. For example. There was a funny account in "Inside Delta Force" where Ranger Eric Haney meets Command Sergeant Major Walter Shumate, an SF legend, on the selection course. During Haney's first day at selection Shumate tells the candidates something like "gather around, and I don't need a formation, a cluster f**k will do." Shumate goes on to tell the candidates to draw some equipment from supply but not to worry about getting it "too clean" before turning it in because "everybody knows my standards ain't very high!" Ranger Haney is a little shocked by this and when talking to Shumate he habitually stands at parade rest giving him the "yes, Sergeant Major, no, Sergeant Major" routine. Shumate says something to the effect of "dang Ranger, knock 'at off, fore you wear me out!" That type of outlook would be less than acceptable in the 75th, to put it mildly!
 
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Horsesoldier    RE:Traditional SF-feeder units: Advantages and Disadvantages?   3/1/2006 3:12:17 PM
>>Concerning the 75th Ranger Regiment. When I was active the regiment had a culture that was unique even among airborne infantry units. That culture didn't always mesh well with the rest of the army either, especially SF. << A friend of mine who did some time in the 75th told me somewhere along the way that aspiring to go SF from the Rangers was actually quite discouraged by the chain of command (at least in his opinion), though the regiment was pretty keen on guys going from the 75th to Delta. That said, positive or negative command environment at the 75th not withstanding, there are plenty of guys (no clue how it actually tracks in terms of hard statistics) who have time in a ranger batt prior to going SF. >>That's in conventional airborne and infantry units. A Ranger in SF, depending upon the makeup of his team, might need to drop that "hooah, hooah" right fast if he's going to fit in. I haven't seen that first hand but that information comes from someone who was in 5th SFG (A). << Saying "Hooah" in SF units is usually a punchline to any sort of joke concerning how the Big Army does things . . .
 
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