Infantry: July 6, 2003


The U.S. Army invests a lot of time (two years for the basics) and money (over a million dollars each) to turn an eager volunteer into a qualified Special Forces trooper. But this is a young man's game, and most Special Forces soldiers get out after twenty years service. But once you've been in the Special Forces, nothing else quite matches the experience. The army has capitalized on that by forming two Special Forces groups in the reserves (in addition to the five on active duty.) Many retiring Special Forces troops join up with the reserve units, so their valuable experience is not lost. But in wartime, the army also goes directly to individual retired Special Forces men with needed skills and hires them for temporary assignments. This happened in the recent Iraq campaign. In early 2003, it was clear that there was going to be a war and the army needed more Special Forces men with experience in that part of the world. So they checked the records of Special Forces troops who had served in northern Iraqi, with the Kurds, since 1991, and convinced nearly a hundred to come back and operate with the Kurds against the Iraqi Arabs in the coming war. The old hands were immensely valuable, many having learned one or more dialects of Kurdish and established personal relationships with Kurdish leaders. The fact that there were no problems in the north had a lot to do with a few hundred Special Forces troops who knew what they were doing and did it well. 


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