U.S. ARMY SPECIAL FORCES TAB
Awarded to Soldiers who were chosen through a rigorous selection process and sifted through a training regimen that tests the limits of physical and metal endurance, the Special Forces Tab is one of the few insignias the Army allows authorized Soldiers to wear throughout their entire service career regardless of their current billet or assignment.
All Special Forces candidates must meet certain eligibility requirements—possess U.S. citizenship, be between the ages of 20 and 30, qualify for security clearance, pass physical fitness standards, and so forth—before they can even be considered for entry into the training pipeline. Candidates must also have completion of Basic Combat Training / Advanced Individual Training, as well as the Basic Airborne Course held at Fort Benning, in order to be considered for Special Forces.
The first step to earning the Special Forces Tab is the Special Operations Preparation Course, a two-week program held at Fort Bragg with a heavy emphasis on physical fitness and land-navigation skills. Although the challenges candidates face here will give them a small taste of what lies ahead, it’s during the three-week Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course that comes next that they begin to be evaluated in terms of their potential to successfully complete the next five phases of training.
During the thirteen weeks of Small Unit Tactics training, SF students begin to learn the nuts and bolts of Special Forces tactics—counterinsurgency techniques, urban operations, insertion and infiltration, and so on—as taking part in SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) exercises. Training becomes more specialized during the MOS phase, with SF candidates being taught the intricacies of their particular jobs within the Special Forces community. Their learning is put to the test during “Robin Sage,” a four-week-long training exercise in which students are assigned to squads and given mission objectives as part of a fictional country beset by political upheaval and armed conflict.
Soldiers who perform successfully during Robin Sage will next spend over five months immersed in the study of the language and culture to which they were assigned early on in the Special Forces selection process. Completion of this phase is followed by a week of preparation for the final step in their amazingly long journey: the donning of the legendary Green Berets.
Because many of the types of missions performed by today’s Special Forces units were carried out by Soldiers in World War II in units such as Office of Strategic Service Detachments or Special Reconnaissance Units, the Army has made it possible for the Special Forces Tab—first introduced in 1983—to be rewarded retroactively. Complete guidelines for the awarding of this highly prized insignia are found in Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards.