The increasing demands placed on U.S. special operations forces have created new challenges for training and retention that were described at a congressional hearing last year (pdf).
“Recruiting since 9/11 has not been a problem for Special Operations Forces,” said Gen. Bryan D. Brown, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. “Every seat in every school is full to start the course.”
But only “about 23 percent graduate from the course,” said Gen. Brown. “They fail the course for all kinds of reasons, one of them being their inability to pass the [foreign] language portion.”
“And so if you can hit a target at 600 meters, that is great, but unless you can speak a language that we ask you to learn, you are still not going to graduate and wear a Special Forces tab.”
Background on the status of Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps special operations forces was presented in the January 2007 hearing volume that was published last month along with detailed answers to questions for the record. See “Current Manning, Equipping and Readiness Challenges Facing Special Operations Forces,” hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, January 31, 2007.