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Ex-Special Forces Trainers: Marketing Ploy or Legit  

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In the world of tactical training, there appears to be an uncommon density of traininers who are  (or at least, claiming to be) of Special Forces background.  Of the courses I've taken, I've had one with verified former LEO cadre, and another that claimed ex-SOF.  I was content with the former's instruction; I was disappointed with the later.  Has anyone else found reason to question those with ex-SOF credentials as a ploy, or has your vetting of instructors found that to be more fact than fiction?

Internet reputations may be one thing, but cold hard data is another.

4 Answers
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The way I see it your problem is in two parts; whether the instructor is some clown lying about a SOF background and if he is SOF what does that mean to you as a student?

The first one can be easily remedied by joining a forum called SOCNET. They have threads specifically devoted to busting posers. This is the one for Special Forces removed link

Also, anyone claiming that should have no problem providing proof of service like a DD 214 but then you would have to know how to interpret it. the one to avoid is the guy giving the whole nudge, nudge, wink, wink "the CIA says they never heard of me" jazz or the similar "Well, I was attached to the 9th Special Forces Group" and that's why he doesn't have any records.

You don't have to be ex-SOF to join but if you're a civilian you just have to watch what you say to vetted members (like yours truly). I'd suggest registering and then (this is important) post an introduction in the appropriate thread before asking about an instructor's bona fides.

Second I wouldn't be too impressed with someone just because they were SOF and I say that as a retired Special Forces Weapons guy. In fact I tell my cop friends if all some instructor has to recommend him is he was a SOF or military sniper give him a pass. Even at SF sniper schools I worked beside too many incompetent instructors to be able to just recommend someone over the kind of hat that he wore.

I'd also ask you to look closely at one of your own statements. "These guys have the benefit of nearly unlimited training dollars for ammunition and equipment". OK, so if we stipulate to that seeing as how you probably don't have access to the amounts of ammo and apparatus and training time he had to learn his skill set, what exactly is he going to be able to pass on to you in a 2, 3 or even 5 day course?

Regardless of his personal skill set, at the end of the day it's not so much what he's able to demonstrate but rather it's all about what he can get you to do by the end of the training.

Those are good points, and I don't dispute them. I guess you could say that my sole experience with someone claiming that background, while able to give me good info, led me to doubt his credentials because the course appeared to creep off target.

I try to evaluate courses by the conduct and content. Perhaps I'm somewhat too influenced by the perception that a majority of trainers claim this particular background, implying a force density which I didn't think existed based on my .mil experience. I can accept if I'm wrong as I'm not a member of that community.

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To be honest, I'm not one to care so much about how "elite" the background of someone is before I learn from them. As long as I think they have the relevant experience and they are a capable instructor, I'm happy to hum along and learn what I can.

I think the SOF community has gotten so much reverence and fanboy-ism in the last twenty years that it just seems like everyone is cashing in on whatever experience they have. But I would argue you can still learn a lot from a career infantry dude from other backgrounds, so long as they have the instructional techniques down. I'll use small unit tactics as an example of that. Not many instructors out there will teach fire and maneuver to non-Mil/LE. I'm not going to argue why that may or may not be the case, but what I find interesting is taking some of that stuff I've learned and then watching videos out there.

In reality, a lot of these SOF units are doing the exact same thing that regular infantry units learn but to an extremely high standard. These guys have the benefit of nearly unlimited training dollars for ammunition and equipment and just have immense skill. But I would argue that they don't actually know anything significantly different from anyone else.

I could always be wrong, though. I'm not a SOF guy and don't even cosplay one on the weekends.

"Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery

I should've added to my post that my main gripe between cadres was the professionalism while presenting the material. Yes, the material is ultimately what I'm after, but if an instructor can't stay on topic or has a different learning objective from what the course was advertised as, that's when I take issue. I agree about the "fanboy-ism," but I also know that there are plenty of regular .mil I wouldn't want to learn from because they either can't teach or would be unsafe doing so.

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This has been all of my training, as a civilian, background. I spent an even 400 hours at Asymmetric Solutions in Farmington, MO. They have an entire roster ranging from MARSOC, Raiders, Recon, SEALS, Green Berets, Rangers, Delta, JSOC/Para Rescue, CIA, and a host of Police ranging from snipers and HRT and Demo and some other high risk undercover unit. Anyway, they're all very professional, very nice and no undue bravado.

I haven't personally vetted anyone because they have contracts to train Mil/LEO and I've been present when certain groups of people doing different things were on site. And after seeing facilities being blown up and the 68 mile off road course they have being used...well I just figured theyre above suspicion.

Anyway, I'm just a civilian who wanted some skills. I took to it fairly well, put in the time and paid attention. Showed up during rain and snow and skeeters...huffed and puffed on hot days with armor on and dropped dead after a sprint. I have no illusion about being Rambo, but the quality of the instruction was great. The cost is some of the best and I am in no way payed or a representative of them but for $127 a month, you get two classes - a course and application course for said class. I haven't found a better deal anywhere.

I will say this, about two years ago I quit due to financial obligations and the fact that a trend began that really bothered me...a lot of doctors and financial guys would show up with Gucci gear and not apply themselves. They were in higher level courses and were lowering the bar. After a few serious students complained and eventually quit, they put in to place qualification standards to keep a level 1 class guy from going to a level 2 course. In a weapons manipulation scenario, not a big deal. It is a much bigger deal with a 4 man team assaulting a shoot house and doing CQB and they don't have some weapon handling down that they should have learned in Carbine 2.

To the schools credit, there were enough instructors to cover such concerns and good students to keep everyone safe and accountable.

So that's been my experience. Professional and courteous, no need for bragging and happy to help. And the stories you hear when you just hang out and listen...Jesus. One fell in particular, we'll call him Gary, introduced me personally to the head of the St. Louis police acadamy school. I had put in an application and got some face time with the head of that organization. It was a very nice gesture of them both. It never went anywhere, probably for the better, but a kind act none-the-less.

And I would love to take a Pat Mac class...that guy is one brutal dude. I love his fitness program.

@Cutright Solid report and sounds like the training cadre made the proper adjustments to process in order to retain quality level training.

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Any of you all take any training from Pat McNamara? Either hand gun or rifle? I like him, he seems to have that "old school" professionalism vibe and does not have to tell his back ground and experience. As an aside we had the luxury of training secure tactical comms with SF group out of Bad Tolz Germany way back in 1985 and also got the good fortune to go down to Tolz for training course on secure comms for platoon/squad level use. I think that was 10th Special Forces group at the time (not sure as I don't know the SF teams much). To a man those guys were total pro's and just flat out humble guys who did not lord over you that they were above you in any way shape or form. They taught us a lot but even better these guys were great listeners and curious as to the how and what infantry grunts and comms guys experienced in field use communications in terrain and elements of Germany. Beware of posers and maybe the first red flag is the constant ranting of SF credentials.

That would have been 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group at Toelz. I was fortunate enough to transfer there in 1990 whene we were still at Flint Kaserne before that ill-advised move to Panzer Kaserne in Stuttgart after we got back from Desert Storm.

@John_Simpson decommissioning the Kaserne force the move up to Panzer for the 1/10th? Stuttgart seems quite an unlikely location to acquire partisans should things have gone hot. Terrain seems a disadvantage as well. If my perceptions are correct Stuttgart area was hotbed for communist radicals. "Winning the Cold War" brought many a Kaserne to an end post Desert Storm. Its a shame sir 1/10th is not still in operation in Bavaria from what I read of Germany things are not so good for natives with the influx of migrant occupation. Me thinks someone changed tactics on the chessboard.

Thank you for coming by The Everyday Marksman. This site and its community are a labor of love. I hope you stick around for a while, and maybe even join us.

-Matt

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