For the last six years, the U.S.
Army Special Forces has been trying to increase its strength by a third, to
14,137. This included an effort, to recruit new operators direct from civilian
life, that has not worked out as well as expected. In the last five years,
nearly 6,000 civilians were recruited directly into Special Forces. But the
washout rate was much higher than that for trainees who were already in the
military. The plan is not being dropped, but the recruiting standards for
civilians are being tightened up. Less than a thousand civilian recruits will
be accepted each year, and standards in general will be increased. Also, the
civilian applicants must be at least twenty years old. Meanwhile, the number of
candidates sought from active duty military personnel has been increased to
The Special Forces training course has been
shortened (by eliminating downtime and leave time), from 75 to 49 weeks. Again,
based on past experience, new criteria for washing out inadequate candidates
has been introduced, that will weed these guys out earlier in the training.
Language training is being beefed up (more time, better methods). So far,
Special Forces has managed to maintain its strength, but not increase it by
much. The desire to maintain quality has been adhered to, thus preventing in
increase of strength by simply lowering standards. Currently, only about 30
percent of those who enter Special Forces training, complete it.