A Few More Good Men
In one scenario, a young girl has been run over by a humvee and killed. A veiled woman named Hannah wails and screams at the four soldiers who come to pay a death benefit. When one of them speaks to her without asking her husband's permission, the male of the house rebukes him. In another room, soldiers witness the torture of a prisoner in a police station. Next, they must deal with the same "foreigners" in a village setting where ethnic tensions are exploding. Lt. Col. Ed Mundell, the chief trainer, noted that in one case, a suicide-bomber scenario proved too intense (he was attacked by a trainee) and was subsequently toned down.
Seasoning. Many technological innovations help turn out more elite units faster. But it is inevitable that expansion, in the short run, will produce a force that is younger and less experienced in special ops. Time will season them, assuming they re-enlist. For now, the average age in Special Forces has declined from 34.8 to 31.2. Experience and maturity are particularly vital to Special Forces and other units that operate without higher commands nearby. Their structure reflects the degree of responsibility entrusted to them: While only eight members of a conventional infantry company are senior sergeants or above, by contrast 83 members of an sf company are senior sergeants or higher.
Today's youthful force does have one compensating benefit: Most already know what a battlefield looks like. When U.S. News asked a classroom of officer trainees how many had served a combat tour, every man raised his hand.
The deputy commander of all Army SOF training at Fort Bragg, Lt. Col. Paul Burton, served tours in Djibouti, Afghanistan, and Latin America and is ready to put the new guys up against the old-timers. "Honestly, I believe the training is far better than when I went through," says the 22-year veteran. Of the most recent class, only 27 percent of those who entered made it through. To those who believe it's easier now than before, he invites them to come try.