Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior Paperback – Mar 25 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Among America's Special Forces, the Green Berets stand out because they can "do it all," according to this enthusiastic account of their training. Ex-SEAL Couch (Down Range) explains that Green Berets not only fight, they teach: living in the world's hot spots, they speak the language, win the trust of the locals, and train and fight alongside them to defeat a common enemy. They are the "Peace Corps with guns" and the key to winning the war on terror, he asserts. Only the most fit, smart, stable and multilingual need apply, but training is so rigorous that recruits first undergo 25 days of pretraining, from which only one-third proceed to Green Beret school, where attrition continues. Military buffs will enjoy the descriptions of exhausting marches, realistic combat simulations, high-tech weapons and dramatic instructor/student interactions. Though Thomas Ricks showed in Making the Corps that one can write an admiring account of an elite military unit without neglecting its warts and missteps, Couch loves the Green Berets too much to look beneath the surface; still. he tells an entertaining story. 16-page full-color insert. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Couch could have applied the opening chapter's title, "Special Forces 101," to the whole book, for it is a portrait of the men who arrive at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, and the minority who make it though the training and join A Teams. Few of them are Rambos, for they need to be able both to function alone and to be closer than brothers to their teammates and the frequently foreign soldiers they train in combat and nation building. Whatever the future role of special forces in particular may be, the book adds substantially to the serious layman's knowledge of the men now playing vital roles in the war on terror, and who may number in their ranks more of the army's future leaders than the general media anticipates. A book worthy of the quality of the soldiers it profiles. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The main strength of the book is that it's more than an anecdotal telling of what these candidates had to go through. Couch also explores what the SF cadre instructors and trainers bring to the process as well. For instance, I was surprised to learn that there was little of the shouting and hazing that I suppose I'd expect to read about. Instead, Couch shows that throughout all four Phases, the cadre sergeants and officers are extremely considerate AND dedicated military professionals.
Although this kind of experience is no longer for me, I believe this is an excellent book for those contemplating a military career in Special Forces. Couch spends a lot of time on each Phase, as well as each Special Forces specialty (communications, engineering, weapons, medical, etc.).
There's also a section devoted to the preparation officers undergo to become ODA leaders, although I felt this was where Couch was at his most dryly procedural, whereas I wanted to read more about their field exercises. Finally, the book concludes with a satisfying overview of Robin Sage, the final Phase IV unconventional wargame exercise.
Couch takes the reader through all the phases of the Q-Course, and he brings the Special Forces Warrior's challenges and experiences as true to life as one can get from a book.
"Chosen Soldier" is a MUST READ for anyone interested in the Green Berets and what is required to become one (and, sew on that patch!). I especially recommend this book to anyone in or anticipating joining Special Operations Forces.
I closed this book in total awe of and respect for every man who makes it through this grueling training. They truly are the elite of the elite.