Attrition: Special Forces Expansion Stalled


June 13, 2007: 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 nearly 2,000.

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.


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