Tower of Power

The Tower of Power is a term used to describe three arc-shaped tabs- Airborne, Ranger, and Special Forces, that are sewn onto the left shoulder of a United States soldier's BDU blouse after he has completed a series of schools. The tabs are primarily for members of the Army, but airmen and sailors may also wear the Ranger and Special Forces tabs on their uniforms. Marines may only wear the tabs sewn on the underside flap of their left breast pocket.

Airborne

To achieve the lowest level in the set, the Airborne tab, a soldier need not necessarily go through the United States Army Airborne School, but only be stationed with an Airborne unit. In fact many of the soldiers who wear the Airborne tab do not have jump wings since the school's drop-out rate is very high and only has so many training spaces available per cycle. The course is three weeks long during which the soldier learns how to exit an aircraft, gain and maintain canopy control and how to land.

Ranger

The second level in the tower, the Ranger tab, requires the soldier to have actually gone through Airborne training, the Ranger Indoctrination Program, and Ranger School. 68 days long, Ranger training is broken up into three phases. Benning, Mountain, and Florida.

The first phase consists of physical fitness testing, land navigation and obstacle courses, nightime parachute deployment and also hand to hand combat drills. Ranger Trainees conduct patrols night and day with little food and less sleep to test endurance and stress management.

The second phase is a variation of the first, this time conducted in steep terrain and brutal weather. The Trainees learn principles of mountaineering and knot tying.

The third and final phase is ten days long and conducted in deep swampy marshes and is designed to test the Trainee's ability to maintain his equipment and military bearing in an extremely hostile environment. Trainees lose on average 16.3 pounds of body weight, and many have had their fingernails turn black and fall off, as well as had sporadic hair loss for the first few weeks after completion of the course due to malnutrition and stress. On average, 45% of students do not pass Ranger School.

Special Forces

The final tab, Special Forces, requires the most time and training of the three. Open to enlisted personnel E-1 to E-7, and comissioned officers O-1 to O-3, all aplicants must have completed Airborne training and be eligible for a Secret security clearance.

Special Forces training can be broken down into four phases. Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS), Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), Special Forces Military Occupational Speciality Qualification (SFMOSQ), and finally, Robin Sage.

SFAS is 21 days long and is designed to assess the Candidate's land navigation skills as well as endurance of stress under severe sleep deprevation. Physical fitness tests and psycological evaluations, obstacle courses and ruck marches spanning distances of up to 120 kilometers, a swim test and team events such as carrying ammunition cans full of sand long distances and pushing disabled vehicles up and over sand dunes also take place. For SFAS alone there is a 70% voluntary withdrawal and of the remaining group usually 25% are not selected to continue.

SFQC is around 49 days long and reevaluates a Candidate's land navigation skills as well as leadership abilities during patrol scenarios. Before advancing to SFQC candidates must attain a Secret security clearance.

SFMOSQ is by far the longest phase, taking up to 59 weeks to complete. During this phase the Candidate receives specialized training for his MOS. There are five primary Military Occupational Specialties in the Special Forces:

18A - Detachment Commander - Open only to officers, the 18A course requires the officer candidate meet eligibility criteria for Top Secret security clearance. The course lasts 26 weeks and covers mission planning and leadership as well as cross training into the 18B and 18D MOSs.

18B - Weapons Sergeant - The 18B course lasts 26 weeks and consists of small unit tactics, anti-armor weapons, U.S. and foreign light weapons, indirect (mortar) fire operations, man portable air defense weapons, and weapons emplacement.

18C - Engineer Sergeant - 26 weeks long, the 18C course provides demolition, construction, and fortification training as well as familiarization with foreign, civilian, home-made and military explosives.

18D - Medical Sergeant - The longest of the Special Forces MOS courses, the 18D course last 59 weeks and is conducted at The Academy of Health Sciences at Ft. Bragg, NC. Severe trauma management and triage, surgical and dental procedures, sanitation and food preparation, and basic obstetrics and vetrinary skills are all covered in this course.

18E - Communications Sergeant - 18E training covers high frequency and burst communications equipment, antenna theory, radio wave propagation, and SF communication operations procedures and techniques.

Robin Sage, the final phase, usually lasting 14 days, assesses a team consisting solely of candidates on its ability to function in a guerilla warfare environment pitting it against enemies made up of usually retired Special Forces soldiers and difficult scenarios such as dealing with indigenous resistence forces reluctant to accept the team as a valuble asset. It is boasted that close to 90% of candidates fail to complete Special Forces training.



The Tower of Power is a symbol of a soldier's experience and skill, showing that he has not only survived training in which the attrition rates are exceedingly high, but has said: "Thank you, sir. May I have another?" and gone back for seconds.



Thank you isogolem for pointing out my inadequacies with such poise.


http://www.nationalreview.com/babbin/babbin200311200838.asp
http://www-benning.army.mil/rtb/rtbmain.htm
http://www.benning.army.mil/rtb/RANGER/RgrSchoolPreparation.htm
http://www.bragg.army.mil/specialforces/SFQC.htm
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~dheb/2300/NorthAmerica/US/USM/JRWUSSOf.htm