Top 3 tips for SFAS from a Special Operator:
The first part of this entire process is making the commitment. Truly committing to becoming different. You are not just going to have that “Special Forces” and not truly be special, you will not be looked at as average so you need to commit to doing shit that the average won’t. That means no more boozing with the boys every single night, no more sleeping in and getting one workout a day. It is two a days, 6 days out of the week, strength in the morning with cardio at night or vice versa. You have zero time to fuck off. If you truly want it and you truly want to be the best of the best, this is the mindset you must have PRIOR to even going to SFAS. You must commit to being top of the class, you must commit to being in the best shape of your life when you step foot in the arena with the men who are looking to be the best as well. It is not a game of how many curls you can do in the gym, it is not a game of how fast you can run without being able to pick up your mate that is the same size as you; it is a combination of both strength and endurance so you must take the proper time to prepare to be the best at both of those.
When I was living in the barracks, getting ready to go to selection with my brother (current Green Beret), it was 4 hours of sleep at night. 4am strength workouts on our own, Platoon PT with our old infantry guys at 6am that we were getting ready to leave and then instead of doing 16 oz curls of coors light at night time, we were hitting the trails or hitting the pavement for a run or ruck under load. Were we alone doing this? You bet your ass we were, all alone. We had very few people around us that made this commitment to wanting to become the best. There was nobody telling us that we needed to do any of this but we knew what we wanted to be and who we wanted to be known as and it for damn sure was not going to be two guys that were out of shape.
We committed to crushing the physical tests we were going to be put through. At selection, you don't know how far you have to run or ruck, you just follow the chem lights or cones until they bring you back to the finish line. You don't have a watch to pace yourself or no how fast you are going or how long you have been doing it, you just go. You have to commit to being first.
The second part of the process is Land Navigation and it is NOT your typical practice land nav points. You will be walking under a “55 lb ruck” more like 70lbs, for 12 hours straight, through insane terrain, sometimes you can't even see 2 feet in front of you because the draws are so thick. You will be starting this in the middle of the night, half the time is at night and the other half will be with daylight which means you must execute at the same speed at night as you do during the day time. Practice, practice and then practice some more out in terrain that is uncomfortable without using the roads. If you think you are going to cheat and run the roads, I promise you, you will find yourself next to someone in a ghillie suit that you never even saw DQing you on the spot. You will get caught so dont think for a second you are going to pull one over on them, PLUS you have a dog collar on which means the instructors can go back and look at every single one of your footsteps that you take, if you cheat..you will get caught.
Have a camping weekend with the boys and learn how to associate terrain. This means you can look on a map and correlate what you see with what you see in real time, if you can depict a hilltop on a map then you should be able to get to that hilltop in real time and be able to connect what you see on the map and what you see with your eyes on the ground.
Learn what to do in case you get lost. There are a lot of techniques to this that you can practice but you are lying to yourself if you think you will always know where you are at. Especially at night, your eyes play tricks on you, so always know what to do in case you find yourself in a position where you have no idea if you are even on earth anymore. I remember being lost during this evaluation in the middle of the night but if I didn't practice getting lost then I never would have been able to get myself back on track and complete the course in record time. I remember getting done with both days (12 hours each) having 3 hours to spare and the cadre looking at me like “who the fuck is this kid” and at that moment, I knew all the preparation and practice before hand paid off.
Third part of SFAS is “Team Week”. Not much to this besides are you going to feel sorry for yourself or not. The mind and body work hand and hand, if you say you are tired then your body is going to react like you are tired. You are going to find yourself struggling like you never have before. You are going to hurt, your back is going to hurt, your legs are going to be numb and your spine is going to feel like it is going to crumble. You are going to think that other people aren't putting out as much as you can, are you going to be the one to explode on them or are you going to be the one that keeps themselves together and leads by example? That is what we are looking for, can you lead by example when times are tough? Can you push through the pain in order to lead or are you someone who can't control their emotions when times get worse than you have ever had before?
The final stage is the long walk. Nobody knows truly how far it is, you will hear something different every class. Again, you will have no watch, you will have no pace count or Garmin to know how far you have gone..you just fucking go until you cant go anymore. You decide when you can't go anymore, nobody is going to tell you when you are done. After 3 weeks of hell and the worst pain you can imagine, can you carry the load for 30+ miles after going through all of that?
I don't have very many “tips” for you but you won't find a better explanation of what you will go through in SFAS than this, so prepare yourself and train like your life and career depends on it because if you make it..your brother to your left and right will be depending on you to be “special” during “special” times.