Posted on May 3, 2015
SPC S1 Personnel Nco
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I am currently enlisted in the Reserves. As soon as I got back from AIT I knew I wanted more from my military career. I want to become special forces. I know how the process works as far as selection is concerned but that's as far as my knowledge of it goes. I would like to know what comes next if I were to be selected. For example would I be stationed stationed somewhere, will I be able to bring my family, etc. My main concern is my daughters. I wouldn't want to advance my career at the expense of my children being without their dad. Any advice is helpful. Thanks in advance.
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SFC Special Forces Assistant Operations & Intelligence Sergeant
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Ronnie,

I cannot speak to the family life of a National Guard SF unit, but I can give you insight into how it affects your family on the active duty side.

Your wife has to be all in as much as you do. You both have to understand that if you make it to an ODA, your life will be 100% different. As others have stated, Special Forces members are still in the Army, and are required to conduct all the regular Army required training for promotions and daily operations, i.e. SSD, NCOES, IA training, SHARPS training, Anti-terrorism training, regular jumps, etc. On the conventional side, the lowest element to have a METL is at the Company level. In Special Forces, each ODA (consisting of 12 individuals) has it's own METL. This means each ODA has to conduct training, some of it being away from home station, to meet these METL tasks. There are also individual tasks and roles required by USASOC each ODA must posses. This means individual training, certifications and re-certs, usually away from home station, depending on your SF Group assignment. Combine all this training with a normal rotation of deployments to your SF Group AOR for third-country training events, where we are working with another country's SF elements, and you can see active duty SF members spend a lot of time away from home, even when they aren't deployed. Then you add in world affairs.

Being married in SF, and having kids in SF, takes a total family commitment. Your wife has to understand you are a part of something that is bigger than our own little bubble. It's not about being a "cool-guy" traveling around the world, it's about being a tool used by our national leaders in international politics and relations. Your wife will have to prepare to be a single parent for months, then as soon as she is getting into a rhythm, have you come home and screw the rhythm up. It is stressful on the entire family. Service member and spouse, obviously, but especially on the kids. There is a reason there is an old saying, "Your not really SF until you have a Harley and a divorce."

However, the majority of my teammates have been married, and most of those married guys have children. While I have seen divorces, it has been the exception, not the rule. The wife of an SF guy has to have something to call her own, and her own support circle of friends in order for her to make it. Some wives find this in the unit FRGs; some find it in friends they make in the neighborhood or community where they live; some find it through work.

All that said, going to SF was the best decision I made in my career. I've had opportunities and been to places few others in the military get to experience. I've had direct impact on US foreign policy. I've met people I will stay in contact with for the rest of my life. The only thing I can compare life on an ODA with is a Major League Baseball locker room, and even then, it's not the same.

I'll finish this with one word of advice. The best NCOs I've served with in SF, from SGT - SGM, from WO1 - MAJ, all had one thing in common: they have never assumed they've made it. They earn their tab everyday. Getting to an ODA means you've only done the minimum learning required, now it's time to really learn what it means to be Special Forces, and it starts with learning how to be a member of an ODA. Good luck.
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MAJ Special Forces Officer
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SFC Myall - Great summary. I got into SF really too late, made CPT(P) during Q course, needed on Group staff (S-3), missed OF A tm ldr, had a B Tm, VII Corps G-3, SF experience expanded my professional development greatly, got almost immediate respect there after, but the privilege of working with superb NCOs, signing five MOS 180 Warrant Officer packets (of the first 30), and advising senior officers on integrating Unconventional Warfare, Psyops, and CMO into Airland Battle was a worthwhile experience. Terminal career assignment was great also.
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SFC Military Free Fall Instructor
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If you cross over to the Guard, get selected, make it through the Q-Course, and stay in the Guard from what I understand you decide how much you're gone. Now take that with a grain of salt because I've never been in the Guard. What I can tell you about is if you go Active Duty and do this full time you had better have a rock solid family life. I've been in SF for over 5 years now and I've missed every birthday of all 3 of my kids except for the day they were born. Last year alone I was gone 200 of 365 days. I love what I do and wouldn't trade it for anything, but the optempo of most groups does put a significant strain on the family. If you can find a way to make them both work then it's all the better. Good luck to you.
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CW2 Operations Officer
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Ronnie,

If you are selected you will be stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. for 12-24 months depending on which MOS you are assigned while you complete the SF qualification course. Individuals in the active Army with dependents conduct a PCS move to Bragg if they want. The National Guard SF Groups are 19th and 20th Group. I recommend you get in touch with them as soon as you can for reservists details. If you have any more questions after you speak with a 19th/20th Group rep--don't hesitate to reach out.
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