The Special Forces Group training program
Qualification as a Special Forces Group operator consists of three parts: The Preselection, The Selction Phase and the Complementary Phase. The total duration of these qualifications is about 19 months.
Consists of a selection week, where candidates are tested on their physical condition, map reading ability, general military knowledge, and shooting techniques. A psychological evaluation is also performed. This is followed by a one-week specialized training program, which focuses on reaching the basic level necessary for beginning the actual stage. While many topics are covered, map reading and shooting techniques are emphasized. Finally, there is a one-week ‘Identification of Military material’ (IM) course.
The Selection phase
An extensive physical and mentally challenging training program lasting approximately 6 months. Aside from technical skills and military knowledge, candidates must meet high standards regarding initiative and motivation. During this phase, candidates are taught basic skills necessary for surviving hostile environments. The basic training consists of 3 phases: An Orientation, Technical, and Tactical phase, each about 2 months in duration. After successful completion of the basic training, candidates may be called an operator, although certification is not given until the end of the evaluation phase.
The Orientation phase
Physically intense, and mainly individual period. The emphasis during this phase is map reading and the ability to work independently and alone. The orientation phase is concluded with the ‘Tenderfeet’. An individual map reading exercise of more than 100 km within 48 hours. Some of the areas covered during this phase are:
- Navigation and orientation
- Recognition and identification of military materials
- Specific Special Forces Tactics
- Shooting skills
- Survival skills
- Physical training with the emphasis on endurance and resistance
- Medical techniques
- Close combat
The Technical phase
When the basic skills of an SF operator are taught. Some of the skills covered are:
- Radio equipment and procedures
- Amphibious insertion techniques
- Advanced shooting techniques
- Advanced combat medical techniques and procedures
- Military theory and tactics
The tactical phase
Consists of realistic exercises in which all aspects of possible missions are confronted. During this phase, candidates are exposed to severe mental and physical stress. This period is considered the actual stage or Q course. The future operator learns to work behind enemy lines while being pursued by an opposing force (OPFOR). This phase emphasizes team dynamics, therefore all candidate are evaluated in each function within the team.
All candidates must achieve 80% proficiency in all tests in order to complete each phase. Failure to meet these standards will result in sanctions or elimination. Honesty and loyalty are important to us. Therefore, any candidate that is caught cheating will be returned to unit and is barred from ever enrolling for candidacy. A candidate that must stop due to medical reasons may enroll the following year, but the stage at which he may re-enter is determined by a committee within the SFG.
The complementary phase
This phase lasts for a period of 12 months. During this phase operators are given advanced training courses in areas such as High Altitude free fall (HA), Aidman, SOFAFR (Special Operation Forces Advanced First Responder), Détachement d’Agents de Sécurité (DAS), Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat (SFAUC), TSE/TEO (Tactical site Exploitation/, TACP (Tatical Air Controller Party), Landing Point Commander etc. Candidates that have not completed the Commando A and Para A qualification must do so in order to function as an Special Forces operator.
The Commando A Qualification
Takes place in the commando-training center (CE Cdo) in Marche Les Dames in the province of Namur. During the 4-week program, candidates are trained in rock, amphibious and commando techniques in order to cope with difficult terrains and circumstances, by day and night.
The Para A Qualification
Is given in the Para training center (CE Para) located in Schaffen near Diest. The four-week program consists of one week ground training and three weeks of static line jumping from both balloons and airplanes (automatic opening).
Free fall High Altitude (HA)
This 5-week program takes place in Schaffen at the Para training center (CE Para). Basic free fall skills are learned during the first two weeks. During the last three weeks, candidates learn to jump during the night with equipment used during tactical deployment. These jumps are executed from a maximal height of 12,000 ft.
After successful completion of this training program, the candidates receive their Special Forces Operator certification. From that moment on, they are integrated into an existing operational team and may be deployed on missions. This is the beginning of the functional training. Depending on insertion specialty, operators are given advanced training and courses. New operators are given specialized tasks within the teams (sniper, communication specialist, medic or breacher).