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Feature

Hard slog pays big dividends

By Hugh McKenzie
Volume 11, No. 38, March 8, 2006

Running for their lives: Candidates begin the 2.4km run to be completed in 11.5min. Don’t be fooled by the red guns; they save wear and tear on the real thing and they weigh just as much.Photos by Bill Cunneen
Running for their lives: Candidates begin the 2.4km run to be completed in 11.5min. Don’t be fooled by the red guns; they save wear and tear on the real thing and they weigh just as much.Photos by Bill Cunneen.
 
Cooling off: Candidates take to the pool in DPCUs and runners. Treading water begins the pool tests.
Cooling off: Candidates take to the pool in DPCUs and runners. Treading water begins the pool tests.


IF YOU are a soldier who is mentally tough, quick thinking, innovative and can keep a cool head in difficult situations you could be suited to Special Forces.

Both SASR and Commandos are looking for soldiers capable of advanced infantry tactics; soldiers who can be trained and qualified in a range of advanced specialist weapons and equipment; who can deploy to their area of operations over long distances using a wide range of insertion methods; and who can operate in a variety of demanding operational situations conducted in complex terrain, such as Afghanistan.

But be prepared for some hard slog at the Special Forces Training Centre (SFTC).

SFTC OC Selection Group Capt Craig Moffat put the last set of candidates through their paces in January.
“The entry trial tests candidates so they can then go on and attempt the SAS Selection Course or the Commando Training Course,” Capt Moffat said.

“The test effectively shows us that the candidates are at a standard, at a level of fitness, where they can pass the physical activities that are part of the selection course and the training course.

“We begin with a paper board where a candidate’s records are thoroughly checked and we also check what part of the service they are trying for. Some soldiers prefer to go to the west and some prefer Commandos. It doesn’t necessarily follow that an unsuccessful SASR candidate will go to Commandos; we are looking for different attributes.”

SFTC was raised in December 1998 and traces its lineage back to 1996 when increases to the size of the Special Forces were mooted by Government. 4RAR (Cdo) was raised in 1997 and Training Command Army relinquished command and control of SFTC to Special Operations Command in July 2004.

Soldiers are tested in adverse conditions that mimic what they may expect if accepted by Commandos or SASR. These conditions include operating in an outdoors environment in all terrain, in extremes of climatic and weather conditions for prolonged periods of time, and in isolation from hygiene facilities, comforts or regular social contact.

“The entry test itself has the physical component, a navigational theory test for the soldiers and a TEWT for the officers. Prior to that test all candidates have to do a Special Forces Psych Test and a Special Forces Med Board,” Capt Moffat said.

“We start with the run/dodge/jump course to be completed in less than 50 seconds. We then move on to the strength test involving a minimum of 60 push-ups, a minimum of 100 sit-ups and a minimum of 10 heaves using any grasp.

“Then we do a 2.4km run, to be completed in 11½ minutes or less, with patrol order weighing 7kg, rifle, and runners. The Special Forces swim test follows the run. This consists of treading water for two minutes and swimming 400m in less than 18 minutes – these tests are done in DPCUs and runners.

“We then take a break where the TEWT and navigation tests are done and then we move on to the 15km endurance march, carrying 28kg, in marching order. The march must be completed in less than two hours and 20 minutes.

“We take the successful candidates and make a recommendation on which course they should do and we then panel them for those courses.”

SFTC took control of the Commando training course in January.

“SASR run their own selection course and the Special Forces Training Centre conducts the Commando Training Course,” Capt Moffat said.

He said the training would be principally focused on developing a soldier’s ability to participate in direct action operations, often conducted outside of Australia, using speed, surprise and shock action.

“We have a 64 per cent pass rate for entry to both courses; this is pretty good but all the candidates have trained and are very fit, we’re looking for highly motivated self-starters, that’s what we’re after,” he said.

 

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