by Brigadier General Bennet Sacolick, Small Wars Journal Op-Ed
On a recent Friday I had the opportunity to address some of the finest Soldiers in the United States Army. These young men were graduating from the Special Forces Qualification Course -- not an easy feat. Having spent 27 years in the special operations arena, I understood their excitement and how proud they felt during the ceremony; I had sat in a similar chair myself. However, it was important to me that their families understand exactly what their loved ones signed on for. And, in further thinking, it's also important to me that the citizens of this country know the dedication and professionalism that is embodied in the men of Special Forces. It is to that end, that I share my graduation remarks with you.
Intuitively, I think we all know how hard our graduates work for the privilege of wearing a Green Beret. But did you know that some of these young men have been in training for more than two, maybe three years? This doesn't count the months they spent just physically preparing themselves before the course began or the countless hours spent with rucksacks on their back in total solitude, usually very early in the morning or very late at night but almost always on their own time because they had other obligations that filled their day. Appreciate the fact that 75 percent of the Soldiers, mostly airborne Soldiers and many with combat experience who began the course, are no longer here today. This is the Army's most physically demanding course. Scholastically, each Soldier must master more than 1,000 critical tasks, specific to his assigned specialty and hundreds of advanced war-fighting tasks, plus demonstrate a proficiency in a foreign language before they graduate. There is simply not a more demanding school in the entire U.S. Army.