Posted on Feb 26, 2015
SPC(P) Computer/Detection Systems Repairer
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I am currently in the USAR but will be attending a Special Forces Readiness Evaluation for 20th SFG in April. I am wondering if anyone has experience with the contrast/comparison to AD Special Forces? Or what difficulties one may face with employers while on a National Guard SF Team, being that you are often leaving for several weeks at a time. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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SPC (P) Gendron
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Edited 4 y ago
I've served both on active duty and National Guard Special Forces, and can give you some thoughts on comparing the two:

- First thing to understand is that both have the same baseline training. Both go to the same Selection course, same Q Course, and exact same MOS school.
- Both do deployments, to include traditional OIF/OEF/RSM type missions as well we JCETs. The mission sets are very similar, although it's true that active duty side will tend to get first choice of prime missions, which is understandable.
- Both get opportunities to go to specialty and advanced schools. While it feels like there are fewer school slots in the National Guard, there are also less people who are able to go, so if you have a job that allows you to leave a lot, you may actually get more formal training opportunities in the NG than on active duty.
- The National Guard experience overall feels like it has many more administrative headaches than active duty. This is because as a National Guardsman, you still have to complete all the administrative annual training requirements as your active duty brethren, but you get a couple of days a month to do everything you have to do as a Soldier. If you do everything that is required of you by the big Army and the National Guard, it can feel like 100% of your drill time is completing those admin tasks and getting real training can be a challenge. It's a challenge on the active duty side as well, but it's way worse in the National Guard.
- There are many other things that you are expected to complete in the National Guard that makes it very challenging. For example, language proficiency. I believe on the active duty side, you're supposed to get something like 30 days of language training per year, but that's more than your entire drill schedule in the National Guard. It's trying to put a 2 gallons of water in a 2 oz container. It just doesn't work, but that's what the regulations call for.

As far as relationship with employers, I've observed three types of folks in the National Guard:

1) "Guard Bums" -- Those who don't really have a sustained and progressive private sector career and tend to jump from military school to deployment to military school to a contract job to deployment to contract job, etc. This is particularly the case in the Special Forces where their skill sets are in high demand for contracting and the pay is quite good on a daily basis. The appeal of this is a lot of independence in their life (you really control your schedule), but the downside is that there is no real long term career trajectory. People get caught up in a treadmill of schools/deployments/contract jobs, and to switch over to a sustainable and scalable career requires a bigger and bigger pay cut as time goes on, so it becomes a cycle that is hard to break. The upside to the unit is that these are some of the best trained and tactically proficient Soldiers in the organization thanks to their training and depth of experience.

2) Law Enforcement / DoD / DA / State Employees - Those who generally work for employers with virtually unlimited flexibility to support their National Guard career. They don't leave home as often as the "Guard Bums", but they can more easily jump on a necessary deployment or schooling opportunity thanks to their flexibility with employers. This is a really common case. The upside to the unit is that these folks bring very relevant civilian experience to the fight, particularly law enforcement and others who work in support of intelligence organizations, etc.

3) Non-Government career professionals - Those who work in finance, consulting, engineering, medicine, technology, sales, manufacturing, etc. and have a civilian-friendly and competitive career. It can be very difficult for these folks to break away from work for extended periods of time, and they tend to do the minimum necessary to meet their SF NG requirements, and even that is difficult to do. These folks definitely sacrifice civilian career progress to continue to serve, and always have to deal with this conflict. These are really important members of the unit however, for although they have the least amount of actual National Guard time, they bring very valuable diverse skill sets to an ODA. For example, we have folks who are doctors, pilots, engineers, and financial professionals. This diversity of skill sets can be very helpful for an SF mission, and is one of advantages that National Guard Special Forces brings to the fight versus the active duty side of the house; the latter being arguably better trained on the core SF mission.

All three of the above contribute something different to the organization, which in combination builds a very powerful National Guard unit when brought together under the right leadership.

Also, many National Guard Special Forces guys are also former Active Duty, and so they bring experience from across the different Groups. Combined with folks like yourself who have other skill sets from the reserves, the diversity of experiences can produce a very strong unit.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. I can help with introductions if you still need it.
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Dav Fobby
Dav Fobby
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Hello Sir are you still open to questions ?
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CPT Research Manager
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MAJ Weiss,

I'm a deployed 1LT(P) Reserve engineer officer who is highly interested in putting in for SFAS when I'm back in the States. Can you provide an overview of the application process for a Reserve officer?
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LTC Board Member
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CPT (Join to see) - If you are looking for an SF slot in the National Guard, you should connect with the relevant Company directly. That company will evaluate you and determine whether to send you to SFAS based on the needs of the Company for more officers and your aptitude.

If you are looking for an active duty slot, you should contact the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion (SORB) at the nearest base they are active. They will process you as a general applicant for active duty (if they are taking Reservists).
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CSM Charles Hayden
CSM Charles Hayden
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LTC (Join to see) During the ‘early days’, Det 1, Co B, 17th Gp, lower Ft MacArthur, CA was comprised of many former 82nd Troops who enjoyed exiting an aircraft while in flight.

After several of my Troops from USAR’s 63rd ID to the group I had a cup of coffee with them.

I concluded the detachment was a military jump club and the my PUHLES disqualified from servoin there.

One of my losses, received a commission there and retired as: COL Ronald Helson, (87th in Korea). When he passed away in Feb. 2019, Helson had had 2 knees, 2 shoulders and one knee replaced. He was rated 100% service connected disabled by VA.
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SGT(P) Khalid Wise
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WSF Ops n we worked with 19th and 20th at Gardez PRT-FOB JUN 2003-MAR 2004, they were the consummate professionals you expect and admire... The MOST honorable men and women I ever served in combat with PERIOD!! MAJ Cornelius "Neil" Putnam can probably get you the feedback on any employer problems if any. After being our resident SFOD-A Cmdr in 2003-2004, he returned to NGB SFO.
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SPC Training Room Nco
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Every operator from 20th that I have spoken to have complained that they do not have the same lifestyle and comraderie as the Active Groups. Honestly, if you choose to go the SF route, I would transfer to Active. This is coming from being a SF kid for 16 years, and from talking with operators from every group excluding 19th.
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SGT Healthcare Specialist (Combat Medic)
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I was wondering about the same thing myself. I imagine active duty groups are closer since you work with the same people day in and out.
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