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Fascinating look at what it takes to earn the Green Beret
on October 23, 2007
I believe this is the first comprehensive look at the entire U.S. Army Special Forces selection, qualification and training process; certainly the most updated (as of around 2004-5). Couch, a former Navy SEAL, is full of praise for the abilities and character of those young sergeants and junior officers who earn their Green Beret. And while the prose at times lags with over emphasis on procedure, it is still a fascinating look at a world very few of us will ever experience.
The main strength of the book is that it's more than an anecdotal telling of what these candidates had to go through. Couch also explores what the SF cadre instructors and trainers bring to the process as well. For instance, I was surprised to learn that there was little of the shouting and hazing that I suppose I'd expect to read about. Instead, Couch shows that throughout all four Phases, the cadre sergeants and officers are extremely considerate AND dedicated military professionals.
Although this kind of experience is no longer for me, I believe this is an excellent book for those contemplating a military career in Special Forces. Couch spends a lot of time on each Phase, as well as each Special Forces specialty (communications, engineering, weapons, medical, etc.).
There's also a section devoted to the preparation officers undergo to become ODA leaders, although I felt this was where Couch was at his most dryly procedural, whereas I wanted to read more about their field exercises. Finally, the book concludes with a satisfying overview of Robin Sage, the final Phase IV unconventional wargame exercise.