United States Army Special Forces selection and training
The Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) or, informally, the Q Course is the initial formal training program for entry into the United States Army Special Forces. Phase I of the Q Course is Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS). Getting "Selected" at SFAS will enable a candidate to continue to the next of the four phases. If a candidate successfully completes all phases he or she will graduate as a Special Forces qualified soldier and then, generally, be assigned to a 12-man Operational Detachment "A" (ODA), commonly known as an "A team." The length of the Q Course changes depending on the applicant's primary job field within Special Forces and their assigned foreign language capability but will usually last between 56 and 95 weeks.
- 1 Special Forces Qualification Course
- 1.1 Special Forces Preparation and Conditioning (SFPC) 2 Weeks 4 Days
- 1.2 Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS)
- 1.3 Course Orientation and History: Phase I (7 weeks)
- 1.4 Language and Culture: Phase II (18–25 weeks)
- 1.5 Small Unit Tactics & SERE: Phase III (13 weeks)
- 1.6 MOS Training Phase IV (14–50 weeks)
- 1.7 UW CULEX (Robin Sage): Phase V (4 weeks)
- 1.8 Phase VI (1 Week): Graduation
- 2 Further training
- 3 Notes
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Special Forces Qualification Course
Special Forces Preparation and Conditioning (SFPC) 2 Weeks 4 Days
This 19-day performance-oriented course includes physical conditioning, map reading and land navigation instruction; land-navigation practical exercises and common-task training. The goal is to prepare and condition 18X and REP-63 (National Guard) soldiers to attend Special Forces Assessment and Selection course and the follow-on Special Forces Qualification Course.
Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS)
A version of SFAS was first introduced as a selection mechanism in the mid-1980s by the Commanding General of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at the time, Brigadier General James Guest.
There are now two ways for soldiers to volunteer to attend SFAS:
- As an existing soldier in the US Army with the Enlisted rank of E-3 (Private First Class) or higher, and for Officers the rank of O-2 (1st Lieutenant) promotable to O-3 (Captain), or existing O-3s.
- Initial Accession or IA, where an individual who has no prior military service or who has previously separated from military service first attends Infantry One Station Unit Training (OSUT, the combination of Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training), Airborne School, and a preparation course to help prepare them for SFAS. This program is commonly referred to as the "X-Ray Program", derived from "18X". The candidates in this program are known as "X-Rays". Both the Active Duty and National Guard components offer Special Forces Initial Accession programs. The Active Duty program is referred to as the "18X Program" because of the Initial Entry Code that appears on the assignment orders.
Training at SFAS
Events in SFAS include numerous long distance land navigation courses. All land navigation courses are conducted day and night under heavy loads of equipment, in varied weather conditions, and in rough, hilly terrain. Land navigation work is done individually with no assistance from instructors or fellow students and is always done on a time limit. Each land navigation course has its maximum time limit reduced as course moves along[clarification needed] and are upwards of 12 miles (19 km) each. Instructors evaluate candidates by using obstacle course runs, team events including moving heavy loads such as telephone poles and old jeep trucks through sand as a 12-man team, the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), a swim assessment, and numerous psychological exams such as IQ tests and the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) test. The final event, which was discontinued in early 2009 and reintroduced sometime before December 2013, is a road march of up to 32 miles (51 km) known as "the Trek" or Long Range Individual Movement (LRIM).
- Those who quit are Voluntarily Withdrawn (VW) by the course cadre and are generally designated NTR or Not-to-Return. This generally ends any opportunity a candidate may have to become a Special Forces soldier. Active Duty military candidates will be returned to their previous units, and IA 18X candidates will be retrained into a new MOS based upon the needs of the Army.
- Candidates who are "medically dropped," and who are not then medically discharged from the military due to serious injury, are often permitted to "recycle," and to attempt the course again as soon as they are physically able to do so.
- Candidates who successfully complete the course but who are "Boarded" and not selected ("Non-Select") are generally given the opportunity to attend selection again in 12 or 24 months.
Upon selection at SFAS, all Active Duty enlisted and IA 18X candidates will be briefed on:
- The five Special Forces Active Duty Groups
- The four Special Forces Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) initially open to them
- The languages spoken in each Special Forces Group
Candidates will then complete what is often referred to as a '"wish list." Enlisted candidates rank the available MOS (18B, 18C, 18D, 18E) in order of preference. Officer candidates will attend the 18A course. Both enlisted and officer candidates will list in order of preference the SF Groups in which they prefer to serve (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th) and the languages in which they prefer to be trained. Language selection is dependent on the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) test scores of the candidate, as well as the SF Group to which they are assigned. Different SF Groups focus on different areas of responsibility (AOR), which require different languages. A board assigns each enlisted and officer candidate their MOS, Group placement, and language. The MOS, Group, and language that a selected candidate is assigned is not guaranteed, and is contingent upon the needs of the Special Forces community. Generally 80% of selected candidates are awarded their primary choices.
Successful Active Duty candidates usually return to their previous units to await a slot in the Special Forces Qualification Course. Because an Initial Accession (IA) 18X candidate lacks a previous unit, they will normally enter the Q Course immediately.
All SF trainees must have completed the United States Army Airborne School before beginning Phase 2 of the Q-Course.
Course Orientation and History: Phase I (7 weeks)
Course Description: Phase 1 of the SFQC is the SF Orientation Course, a seven-week introduction to SF. Dubbed the Orientation and History module, the course falls under the auspices of the 4th Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne). The course is separated into six modules:
Module A – Introduction to Unconventional Warfare
This module exposes the students to the overall learning objectives and outcomes of the SFQC, trains them in tactical guerrilla warfare, and provides them the operational and strategic context under which they will train for the remainder of the SFQC. Under the supervision of the cadre in Robin Sage and mentorship of the "G" chiefs, the students are expected to complete this phase with a firm understanding of what will be expected of them throughout the remainder of the SFQC and the importance of unconventional warfare in the Special Forces mission.
Module B – Introduction to Special Forces
This module is intended to provide the soldiers an understanding of Special Forces, its history, organization, attributes and the core tasks that relate to their mission. Lessons include SFOD-A and SFOD-B numbering convention, command and control architecture, joint special-operations area, duties and responsibilities of each MOS, SF planning and organization, core mission and tasks, SOF physical fitness and nutrition. The training is to prepare potential Special Forces soldiers for what is expected of them and the standards that they must acquire to graduate the SFQC and be members of the Army Special Forces.
Module C – Airborne Operations and Refresher
This module allows soldiers to maintain their jump proficiency and prepare for the training they will encounter throughout the SFQC.
Module D – Special Forces Planning
This module provides the soldiers an understanding of the Special Forces Mission Planning process. The soldiers are given classes on the Military Decision Making Process followed by a practical exercise that reinforces the training.
Module E – Operational Culture and Regional Analysis
The purpose of this instructional module is to give students a foundational understanding of the battlespace including: operational culture and a systems’ analysis of an area. The lessons include a view of one’s own cultural lenses, leading to an understanding of the perspective of others as well as the use of PMESII-PT system of regional analysis to deduce the capabilities, people and environment of a given area. The Pineland Area Study will be used as the basis for analysis allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of the training environment. The acronym PMESII-PT refers to a form of environmental analysis which looks at the aspects of political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure, physical environment and time aspects of the military theater.
Language and Culture: Phase II (18–25 weeks)
Phase 2 of the SFQC focuses on language and culture. During Phase 2, soldiers receive basic special-operations language training in the language assigned to them at the completion of Special Forces Assessment and Selection. Languages are broken into four categories based on their degree of difficulty to native speakers of English. Soldiers who are assigned a Category I or II language will be enrolled in an 18-week language program, while soldiers who are assigned a Category III or IV language will attend 24 weeks of language training.
Students receive instruction in three basic language skills: speaking, participatory listening and reading (limited). An overview of physical[clarification needed] and social systems, economics, politics and security, infrastructure, technology, culture and regional studies forms the cultural component. Language instruction focuses on functional application geared toward mission-related tasks, enhanced rapport building techniques, cultural mitigation strategies, interpreting and control of interpreter methods. Also during Phase 2, a progressive physical training program is started in order to prepare for Phase 3.
To successfully complete Phase 2, soldiers must achieve a minimum of 1/1 Listening and Speaking as measured by the two-skill Oral Proficiency Interview.
Small Unit Tactics & SERE: Phase III (13 weeks)
Small Unit Tactics is the third phase in the qualification course. The 13-week program provides soldiers in the SFQC the apprentice-level tactical combat skills required to successfully operate on an SF OD-A.
Students will master the following tactical skills: advanced marksmanship; small-unit tactics; SF common tasks; urban operations; mission analysis; advanced special operations level 1; sensitive-site exploitation; military-decision making process.
At the end of Phase 3, soldiers will enroll in SERE Level C, where they will receive intensive training in support of the Code of Conduct. Training includes survival field craft skills, techniques of evasion, resistance to exploitation and resolution skills in all types of environments. Students will participate in a survival and evasion field-training exercise and in a resistance-training laboratory. The course spans three weeks with three phases of instruction. The first phase lasts approximately 10 days of academic instruction on the Code of Conduct and in SERE techniques that incorporate both classroom training and hands-on field craft.
The second phase is a five-day field training exercise in which the students practice their survival and evasion skills by procuring food and water, constructing evasion fires and shelters and evading tracker dogs and aggressor forces over long distances. The final phase takes place in the resistance-training laboratory (RTL), where students are tested on their individual and collective abilities to resist interrogation and exploitation and to properly apply the six articles of the Code of Conduct in a realistic captivity scenario.
MOS Training Phase IV (14–50 weeks)
The purpose of this phase is to train selected soldiers in the critical MOS and skill level tasks and competencies required to perform the duties of a member of an SF ODA. Candidates must have successfully passed the SF Orientation Course, Language, SUT, and SERE before entering Phase IV training. Any variation from these prerequisites requires a waiver from the Commanding General, SWCS.
18A – Special Forces Detachment Officer
This phase is intended to train selected officers in the critical branch tasks and competencies required to perform the duties of a detachment commander of a Special Forces ODA. The course focuses on the full operational spectrum of problem analysis and resolution design associated with SF core missions across the elements of national power spectrum. Duties and functional-area familiarization of the 18 series MOSs: communications, engineer, medical, weapons, intelligence; the military decision making process; special-operations mission planning; adaptive thinking and leadership; special reconnaissance; direct action; unconventional warfare; foreign internal defense; counterinsurgency operations; military operations in urban terrain; interagency operations; warrior skills; Advanced Special Operations skills; OPFUND management; elements of national power considerations; culture; in-depth core mission analysis; information operations, planning and conduct of ODA training; and three field-training exercises.
- Module A – Special Forces Mission Analysis and Planning: The module provides student officers with an introduction to SOF mission peculiar software; fire support; an introduction to IO; mission planning using the MDMP; target analysis; infiltration/exfiltration planning; non-conventional unassisted evasion and recovery planning.
- Module B – Adaptive Thinking and Interpersonal Skills: This module develops the officer’s ability to perform as an adaptive leader in an asymmetrical environment.
- Module C – SR/DA: This module teaches the doctrine associated with special reconnaissance and direct action missions and provides an introduction and overview of sensitive site exploitation operations and target site exploitation.
- Module D – Foreign Internal Defense/Counterinsurgency: This module develops the officer’s capacity to develop a strategy based approach to FID support planning, and training that employs a methodology of balanced, decentralized, intelligence driven lethal and nonlethal operations across the operational spectrum. It emphasizes the importance of combined, multinational and interagency integrated operations and the establishment and functionality of mission supportive informal command relationships to stimulate their capacity to act as force multipliers. This module includes a FID/JCET FTX where students work by, with, and through host nation partners.
- Module E – Unconventional Warfare: This module teaches student officers how to implement the developmental processes of an insurgency and identify the components of an insurgency. Implement the role and functions in operations as it relates to the seven phases of US sponsored insurgency. Demonstrate the uses of UW as a strategic option during the initial phases of a Geographic Combatant Commander’s Campaign Plan. This module includes UW Case Studies and a Case Studies Brief and a UW Pilot Team FTX.
- Module F – Advanced Special Operations: This module familiarizes students with the basic fundamentals of advanced special operations.
- Module J – MOS Cross Training: This module provides officers with knowledge and education of the duties, responsibilities, and capabilities of the individual MOS members of the SFODA. It identifies what the 18B, 18C, 18D, 18E are trained on during the SFQC and provides a familiarization of the role of the SF Warrant Officers, Operations Sergeant, and Intelligence Sergeant to future detachment commanders. This module will also provide limited MOS specific cross-training to students in the 18A Phase IV SFQC.
The Special Forces operational detachment commander is a captain who has been awarded the 18A MOS. He or she commands the detachment and is responsible for everything that the detachment does or fails to do. The commander may command or advise an indigenous battalion combat force. The commander will regularly meet abroad with the country team to include ambassadors, foreign ministers of defense and foreign presidents. He or she ensures their detachment is trained for combat anytime, anywhere and in any environment. The commander ensures that they and all of their detachment members are cross-trained on all assigned equipment and duties in case of injury or death to a detachment member during a mission.
18B – Weapons Sergeant
Weapons sergeants have a working knowledge with weapons systems found throughout the world. They gain extensive knowledge about various types of small arms, submachine guns, machine guns, grenade launchers, forward-observer procedures, anti-tank missiles, and directing indirect-fire weapons (mortars and artillery). They learn the capabilities and characteristics of U.S. and foreign air defense and anti-tank weapons systems, tactical training and range fire as well as how to teach marksmanship and the employment of weapons to others. Weapons sergeants employ conventional and unconventional tactics and techniques as tactical mission leaders. They can recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size. Course instruction includes direct- and indirect-fire systems and procedures: mortars, light/heavy weapons, sniper systems, anti-armor systems, forward observer and fire direction center procedures, close air support; Warrior skills; combatives; plan and conduct training; field training exercise.
- Module A – Light Weapons: The purpose of this module is to produce a weapons sergeant capable of employing, maintaining and engaging targets with select U.S. and foreign pistols, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, machine guns and grenade launchers
- Module B – Heavy Weapons: The purpose of this module is to produce a weapons sergeant capable of employing, maintaining and engaging targets with select U.S. and foreign anti-armor weapons, crew-served weapons, mortars and in the use of observed fire procedures.
- Module C – Tactics: The purpose of this module is to produce a weapons sergeant proficient in Special Forces and light-infantry tactics through platoon level.
- Tactics FTX: This module develops the student’s knowledge, skills and understanding of the Special Forces weapons sergeant on tactics, techniques and procedures that affects mission planning as it pertains to SF operations. This will increase the student’s understanding of his or her operational environment.
18C – Engineer Sergeant
Engineer Sergeants are experts in employing offensive and defensive combat engineer capabilities, including demolitions, landmines, explosives and improvised munitions, construction, home-made explosives, reconnaissance, and target analysis. Special Forces engineers are taught advanced demolition skills for destroying targets with non-electric and electric firing systems, with U.S., foreign and civilian demolition components. Engineer sergeants plan, supervise, lead, perform and instruct all aspects of combat engineering, demolition operations and theater-of operations construction engineering in either English or their target language. They can recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size. The course covers: basic military construction techniques and procedures; basic and intermediate demolitions; Special Forces Tactical Facilities, UXO/IED; target analysis/interdiction and mission planning; Warrior skills; combatives; plan and conduct training; and field-training exercises.
- Module A – Demolitions: To provide students with baseline knowledge of explosives theory, their characteristics and common uses, formulas for calculating various types of charges and standard methods of priming and placing these charges. Lesson plans include explosive entry techniques, demolition material, demolition safety, firing systems, calculation and placement of charges, expedient charges and range operations.
- Module B – Construction: To provide students with knowledge and training in the role of an SF engineer; blueprints (read/design); construction of a masonry wall; welding, concrete construction, types and sitings of obstacles, wire obstacles, fighting positions, bunkers and shelters, camp construction/fortification, heavy equipment operations (skid-steer loader, scraper, grader, scoop loader, utility tractor), electrical wiring, plumbing and logistical operations. The construction module requires soldiers to learn to read blueprints as well as design, and to construct a theater-of-operations building, as well as field fortifications to be used as fire bases while deployed on an SFODA.
- Module C – UXO/IED: To provide students with knowledge and skills in the construction, demolition and emplacement of special-purpose munitions and unexploded ordnance, including IEDs and homemade explosives.
- Module D – Reconnaissance: To provide students with knowledge and training in target analysis/interdiction and mission planning.
- Module E – Engineer Field Training Exercise: To complete the foreign internal defense scenario-based 18C SF engineer tasks.
18D – Medical Sergeant
Medical sergeants specialize in trauma management, infectious diseases, cardiac life support and surgical procedures, with a basic understanding of veterinary and dental medicine. Both general healthcare and emergency healthcare are stressed in training. Medical sergeants provide emergency, routine and long-term medical care for detachment members and associated allied members and host-nation personnel. They establish field medical facilities to support unconventional-warfare operations. They provide veterinary care. They prepare the medical portion of area studies, briefbacks and operation plans and orders. Soldiers selected for MOS 18D attend 250 days of advanced medical training. Additionally, they spend two months of the year on a trauma rotation in hospital emergency rooms. 18D trainees receive instruction involving lifelike human simulation models and Hollywood type makeup effects worn by fellow students to conduct training, within safe limits guided by cadre, to simulate potential casualties they may receive and treat while on the modern battlefield or in a potential clinical environment. The medical-training phase includes a nationally accredited emergency medical technician paramedic program. They can recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size.
18E – Communications Sergeant
The Special Forces communications sergeant has to learn U.S. communication systems as well as those systems found throughout the world. He or she must incorporate this information and technology into his or her communications planning, and teach it to the other members of his ODA. Communications sergeants have a thorough grounding in communication basics, communications procedures, computer technology; assembly and systems applications. They must understand communication theory – how to install, operate and maintain radio systems across all bands. They must be able to make communications in voice to data, and to read voice and data radio nets by using computer systems and networks. Communications sergeants are experts in sending and receiving messages to link the SFODA with its command and control elements. They are familiar with antenna theory, radio wave propagation and how to teach it to others. Communications sergeants prepare the communications portion of area studies, briefbacks and operation plans and orders. They can recruit, organize, train and advise or command indigenous combat forces up to company size. The course provides training in computer applications, satellite radios and satellite and antenna theory and radio wave propagation. Soldiers learn how to construct field-expedient antennas, employing communications procedures and techniques and communicate throughout the HF, VHF and UHF spectrums, all culminating with a field training exercise. The course goal is to develop a world-class SF Communicator capable of employing, accessing and familiar with SF, joint and interagency communications.
- Module A – Course Orientation: Provides the students with the information of what is covered in the 18E Course, the student evaluation plan and conduct while attending the course.
- Module B – Computer Applications: This module instructs Soldiers to become proficient in computer applications A+ training and NET+ training. The A+ training provides soldiers the training necessary to troubleshoot and repair basic computer components, hard drives, power supplies, motherboards, video cards and other internal components of a computer. The Net+ training provides soldiers the training necessary to network computers in a LAN and WAN and setting up servers and routers. Installing, operating and maintaining the SND-L and SOMPE-G. Students are postured at the end of this module for external certification in CompTIA+ network and security.
- Module C – Communications Procedures: The module instructs the soldiers on basic communications fundamentals such as basic radio theory, basic electricity, radio telephone procedures, signal-operating instructions, communication security, power applications and information operations/electronic warfare as they pertain to an SF communications sergeant.
- Module D – Radios Common to the Army: Students receive instruction on the operation of radios and radio-secure systems common to Army units such as the AN/PRC-148, AN/PRC119F, AN/PYQ-10 simple key loader and the AN/CYZ-10 electronic transfer device.
- Module E – Satellite Communications: Soldiers learn satellite theory, the use of satellite radios such as the AN/PSC-5C/D AN/PRC-117G and BGAN attenna and the radio’s modes of operation, demand assigned multiple access and point to point operations.
The soldiers are also trained in the use of multiple computer applications such as VIASAT, PDA-184, and MoVer to install, operate and maintain satellite communications links.
- Module F – Communications Planning: The Communications Planning Module instructs soldiers in the matters of communications planning such as transmission site selection, the duties and responsibilities of the SF communications sergeant, signal support in the Special Forces group, MDMP, mission planning and preparing a signal annex to an operations order as it pertains to their duties and responsibilities.
- Module G – High Frequency Communications: The module instructs soldiers in the use of the high frequency (HF) radio spectrum to communicate, such as training in antenna theory and radio wave propagation, the calculation of length to determine how to make HF antennas for short, medium and long-range communications. The operation and troubleshooting of the AN/PRC-137 special mission radio set (SMRS) and AN/PRC-150 are also taught.
- Module I – Field Performance: This module measures the soldier's proficiency in the use and techniques of the equipment and procedures taught throughout the SF Communications Sergeant Course. The soldiers must achieve a passing grade to become qualified.
UW CULEX (Robin Sage): Phase V (4 weeks)
Since 1974, Robin Sage, the culmination exercise for the SFQC, has been the litmus test for soldiers striving to earn the coveted Green Beret. (Prior to 1974, similar exercises were held under the name Devil's Arrow, Swift Strike, and Guerrilla USA.) It is during Robin Sage, held across 15 rural North Carolina counties, that soldiers must put all of the skills they have learned throughout the SFQC to the test in an unconventional-warfare training exercise. The exercise, broken into two phases, puts students on their first SFODA. The SFODA is trained, advised and mentored throughout the entire exercise from mission receipt through planning and infiltration. During the first week, the students are taught the necessary skills to survive and succeed in a UW environment using the small group instruction teaching methodology. The remaining three weeks focus on their planning and application during Robin Sage. The students are placed into an environment of political instability characterized by armed conflict that forces soldiers to exercise both individual and collective problem solving. A key to the success of the Robin Sage training is its real-world feel that is established by the use of guerrilla forces. The SFODA must assess the combat effectiveness of the G-forces, and then train them in basic individual tasks from each of the MOSs as well as collective tasks in basic small-unit tactics, while remaining responsive to asymmetrical challenges. Just as language plays a key role in all other phases of the pipeline, language skills will be put to the test during Robin Sage. During this training, the SFODA must demonstrate its knowledge of UW doctrine and operational techniques.
On the last day of isolation the detachment presents its plan to the battalion command and staff. This plan will explain how the commander intends to execute the mission. The next day, the students make an airborne infiltration into the fictitious country of "Pineland". They then make contact with the guerrilla forces and begin Robin Sage. Students will then begin their task of training, advising, and assisting the guerrillas. The training will educate the guerrillas in various specialties, including weapons, communications, medical, and demolitions. The training is designed to enable the guerrillas to begin liberating their country from oppression. It is the last portion of the Special Forces Qualification Course before they receive their "Green Berets".
ROBIN SAGE involves approximately 100 Special Forces students, 100 counter-insurgent personnel (OPFOR), 200 guerrilla personnel, 40 auxiliary personnel, and 50 cadre. The local communities of North Carolina also participate in the exercise by role playing as citizens of Pineland. The exercise is conducted in approximately 50,000 square miles (130,000 km2) of North Carolina. Many of the OPFOR and guerrilla personnel are made up of North Carolina residents who are financially compensated for their participation. The role of the guerrilla chief, "G-chief," is sometimes played by a retired Green Beret. During the summer Robin Sage exercises, Army ROTC cadets from The Citadel act as guerrilla fighters.
2002 death during ROBIN SAGE
During a ROBIN SAGE exercise on 23 February 2002, Moore County Deputy Sheriff Randall Butler shot and killed 1st Lieutenant Tallas Tomeny, 31, wounded Staff Sergeant Stephen Phelps, 25, and detained civilian volunteer Charles Leiber. While on patrol, Deputy Butler pulled over the three exercise participants when he determined that their behavior indicated they might be searching for robbery targets.
Once stopped, Leiber (the driver of the pick-up truck) was led by Butler to Butler's patrol cruiser for questioning. After leaving Leiber in his patrol car, Butler led Tomeny from the pick-up passenger seat to the truck bed where Phelps had been riding. Butler wished to inspect a bag that Tomeny was in possession of which contained Tomeny's M4 service rifle. Butler later admitted that he had no knowledge of the weapon at this point, as the compartment containing the gun remained unopened.
At this point, the soldiers, under the assumption that Butler was aware of the ongoing Robin Sage training, attempted to bribe him with "Don" (Pineland currency), which looks similar to Monopoly money. Butler then tussled with Tomeny for the bag, pushed Tomeny away, then threw the bag to the side. Tomeny then backed up and raised his hands, and, according to court documents, "Tomeny [...] did not bump Butler or reach for Butler’s service weapon." Butler then reholstered his service pistol and then "sprayed Tomeny in the eyes with pepper spray until the pepper spray appeared to run out," which caused Tomeny to scream and rub his eyes with his hands. Phelps then moved from his position in the pick-up truck's bed, grabbed the bag with Tomeny's M4 service rifle, and ran for cover in the direction of the woods.
Deputy Butler then shot Tomeny, turned, and shot the fleeing Phelps who had, after hearing the shots fired at Tomeny, turned suddenly, and due to the wet pavement slipped and fell to his hands and knees. Phelps at this point did not make any attempts to open the bag, and was shot by Butler twice. According to Butler's counsel he had warned Phelps to show his hands, but this was contested.
Prior to the accident, there was confidence within the military establishment that the law enforcement community of North Carolina was well familiarized with the exercise. Press releases are now issued before an exercise commences and law enforcement officers who participate in the training are now required to wear a distinctive uniform.
On 27 October 2009 a federal civil trial jury in Greensboro, North Carolina awarded $750,000 to Phelps after he sued Butler and the Moore County Sheriff's office. Tomeny's estate had previously settled out-of-court with the sheriff's office. Jurors said that they did not believe portions of Butler's testimony about what had occurred during the shooting incident.
Butler sued the US Government for $5,000,000.00 for "emotional distress" and "post-tramatic stress disorder" as a result of shooting Tomeny and Phelps, which was summarily dismissed.
Phase VI (1 Week): Graduation
Phase 6 is the final phase and consists of one week of out processing, the Regimental First Formation where students don their green berets for the first time, and the graduation ceremony.
After successfully completing the Special Forces Qualification Course, Special Forces soldiers are then eligible for many advanced skills courses. These include, but are not limited to, the Military Free Fall Parachutist Course (MFF) (this is now a requirement for all members of the Special Forces), the Combat Diver Qualification Course and the Special Forces Sniper Course (formerly known as the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course). All Special Forces soldiers conduct real world, non-combat operations in order to maintain their skills. Special Forces Medical Sergeants (18D) often work in both military and civilian Emergency Rooms in between deployments.
Additionally, because one of the Special Forces soldier's primary mission is the instruction of other forces, they participate extensively in special operations training courses offered by other services and allied nations throughout their careers.
A Special Forces Master Sergeant gives pointers to two other Special Forces soldiers at a NATO sniper course in Germany.
Entering the water during the pool phase of the Special Forces Underwater Operations School at Naval Air Station Key West.
Cold weather training in Gunnison National Forest.
Firing a Carl Gustav recoilless rifle during training in Basrah, Iraq.
Climbing out of the Worthington Glacier in Alaska at the Special Forces Master Mountaineer course.
Practicing IED detection and clearing at the Hawthorne Army Depot.
Chemical Recon Detachment training at Fort Carson.
Conducting training at Castle Rock near Leavenworth, Washington to maintain basic mountaineering skills.
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