The Army’s Elite Forces: What to Expect If You Join Army Special Operations Rangers, Green Berets or the SOAR Night Stalkers
Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own elite forces in addition to their regular enlisted units. The Army’s Special Operations units include the Rangers, the Green Berets and the Night Stalkers. Here’s what Army soldiers can expect from a career as a member of one of these special forces units.
The Army Rangers: Duties, qualifications and training
Do you have what it takes to join the Army Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment? This light infantry unit has its roots in the 1700s under the command of frontiersman Robert Rogers. His unit was known for unconventional yet effective battle tactics, outlined by his "28 Rules of Ranging," which modern Rangers keep today.
Today’s Army Rangers specialize in raids and missions deep inside enemy territory. They receive some of the best training and opportunities the Army can provide, making the Rangers a great long-term military career choice.
To be considered for the 75th Ranger Regiment, enlisted soldiers must:
- Be physically fit
- Be able to get a secret clearance
- Have a General Technical Score of at least 106 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB
For a complete list of basic qualifications for both enlisted members and officers – as well as the current Ranger-supported military occupational specialties, or MOS, see the Army Ranger’s official website.
Qualified enlisted soldiers must also pass the Ranger Assessment and Selection. The RASP involves physical fitness and first responder tests. It also teaches new skills like combat driving and explosives. Finally, all future Rangers attend the Army Ranger School.
The Army’s Green Berets: Duties, qualifications and training
The Army’s Special Forces Soldiers known as "Green Berets" are military legends for service members and civilians alike. They take on terrorists through quiet, guerilla war-style missions in foreign countries. Green Beret teams operate in any environment, from city fighting to jungle warfare to desert scouting.
You can qualify for assignment to the Green Berets straight from basic training. If you’re an enlisted soldier who’d like to become a Green Beret, though, you must:
- Have a pay grade of at least E-3
- Be able to get a secret clearance
- Be airborne qualified – or volunteer for the training
- Have an ASVAB General Technical score of at least 110
- Serve for at least 36 months after graduating from training
You’ll complete that training in six stages over 63 weeks. The first trial is a two-week Special Operations Preparation Course, or SOPC. This course prepares possible candidates for the actual Special Forces Assessment and Selection – the first official phase of Green Beret training.
Selected candidates will participate in the Special Forces Qualification Course for another 61 weeks. These courses teach languages, new MOS and other skills needed to pass the "Robin Sage" training test. This simulation tests candidates’ ability to complete missions through "Pineland," a huge training ground in North Carolina that mimics a hostile foreign country.
The Night Stalkers of SOAR: Duties, qualifications and training
Have you heard of the SOAR Night Stalkers? Elite soldiers in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment run international nighttime operations from helicopters. If you’re scared of the dark or of heights, this is not the unit for you. However, if you want to operate some of the most specialized helicopters flying – like the MH-60K/L Black Hawk or the A/MH-6 Little Bird – consider this special ops career.
Enlisted soldiers and officers are eligible for SOAR if they:
- Can get a secret clearance
- Are financially stable
- Are physically fit
- Have an ASVAB General Technical score of at least 100
- Have an authorized MOS that SOAR needs
If you’re selected for SOAR, you’ll need to finish the Basic Mission Qualification course, better known as the Green Platoon. This six-week test and training program will beef up candidates’ physical condition and new skills needed by Night Stalkers. If you’re a flight-trained warrant officer, you might go to the Warrant Officer Flight School to learn advanced helicopter combat maneuvers.
Talented and dedicated enlisted soldiers are welcome in any of the Army’s special operations teams. If you’d like to pursue a career as a special ops unit member of the Army Rangers, Green Berets or Night Stalkers, talk to your commanding officer about what it’ll take to transfer. Or learn more about other branches’ elite units as well as other military careers. Discover all the ways Military OneSource is your connection to information, answers and support to help you overcome challenges, reach your goals and thrive in your military life.