IN combating terror, America can no longer depend on its conventional military superiority and the use of sophisticated technology. We are fighting guerrilla wars, against insurgents hidden in remote regions, often deep among the local population. In battles such as these, squadrons of billion-dollar bombers and naval fleets mean much less than on-the-ground intelligence and the ability to organize local forces. That’s why, more than ever before, we need men like those of the Army Special Forces—the legendary Green Berets.
In Chosen Soldier, Dick Couch—a former Navy SEAL widely admired for his books about SEAL training and operations—offers an unprecedented view of the training of the Army Special Forces warrior. Each year, several thousand enlisted men and several hundred officers volunteer for Special Forces training; less than a quarter of those who apply will complete the course. Chosen Soldier spells out in fascinating detail the arduous regimen these men undergo—the demanding selection process and grueling field exercises, the high-level technical training and intensive language courses, and the simulated battle problems that test everything from how well they gather operational intelligence to their skills at negotiating with volatile, often hostile, local leaders.
Green Berets are expected to be deadly in combat, yes, but their responsibilities go far beyond those of other Special Operations fighters; they’re taught to operate in foreign cultures, often behind enemy lines; to recruit, train, and lead local forces; to gather intelligence in hostile territory; to forge bonds across languages and cultures. They must not only be experts in such fields as explosives, communications, engineering, and field medicine, but also be able to teach those skills to others. Each and every Green Beret must function as tactical combat leader, negotiator, teacher, drill sergeant, and diplomat.
These tasks require more than just physical prowess; they require a unique mix of character, intelligence, language skills, and—most of all—adaptability. It’s no wonder that the Green Berets’ training regimen is known as the hardest in the world. Drawing on his unprecedented access to the closed world of Army Special Forces training, Dick Couch paints a vivid, intimate portrait of these extraordinary men and the process that forges America’s smartest, most versatile, and most valuable fighting force.
Among America's Special Forces, the Green Berets stand out because they can "do it all," according to this enthusiastic account of their training. Ex-SEAL Couch (Down Range) explains that Green Berets not only fight, they teach: living in the world's hot spots, they speak the language, win the trust of the locals, and train and fight alongside them to defeat a common enemy. They are the "Peace Corps with guns" and the key to winning the war on terror, he asserts. Only the most fit, smart, stable and multilingual need apply, but training is so rigorous that recruits first undergo 25 days of pretraining, from which only one-third proceed to Green Beret school, where attrition continues. Military buffs will enjoy the descriptions of exhausting marches, realistic combat simulations, high-tech weapons and dramatic instructor/student interactions. Though Thomas Ricks showed in Making the Corps that one can write an admiring account of an elite military unit without neglecting its warts and missteps, Couch loves the Green Berets too much to look beneath the surface; still. he tells an entertaining story. 16-page full-color insert.