Politics

10 things you may not know about U.S. Special Operations forces

Published 5:50 PM ET, Mon October 5, 2015
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1. Operators aren't straight-out-of-high-school recruits -- on average, they are married and have two kids

In this photo, a U.S. Marine Special Operations Team member maintains security during a patrol with Afghan National Army Special Forces to escort a district governor to a school in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 15, 2013.
Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Digital/SOTF-W
2. They generally have eight years of experience in the conventional military

In this photo, an East Coast-based U.S. Navy SEAL practices shooting drills at the Naval Special Warfare Eagle Haven Indoor Shooting Range on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in 2013.
Communication Specialist 2nd Class William S. Parker/Released
3. They can carry up to 100 pounds of gear in their rucksacks

In this photo, members of the 8th Commando Kandak and coalition Special Operations forces discuss troop movement during a firefight near in Daykundi province, Afghanistan, in 2012.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Di/Digital/U.S. Department of Defense
4. They have their own university -- and are likely to have a college degree

In this photo, a member of the Special Operations forces team from the Bahamas practices firing a pistol during weapons familiarization for Fuerzas Comando at the Colombian National Training Center, June 4, 2012.
Sgt. Christopher Vann/Digital/U.S. Army
5. They know how to speak another language beside English

Pictured are Special Operations forces from the United States working their way across monkey bars on June 10, 2012, during the obstacle course portion of Fuerzas Comando 2012.
Sgt. Karen Kozub/Digital/U.S. Army
6. They were created by Congress

In this photo, a U.S. Army military information support operations sergeant with Special Operations Task Force-South provides security overwatch during the early morning hours of an operation to hinder insurgent activity in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in 2011.
Spc. Daniel P. Shook/Digital/U.S. Department of Defense
7. Everyone has a certain level of medical training

In this photo, a U.S. Air Force Special Operations medical element team member, 1st Special Operations Support Squadron, and a U.S. Army Special Operations Resuscitation Team member, 528th Sustainment Brigade, examine a patient at Crestview Airfield, Florida, in April 2015.
Senior Airman Cory D. Payne/U.S. Air Force
8. They provide aid in humanitarian crises when other forces are not available

In the photo, U.S. Special Forces members cross a wide river during a clearance operation in Zabul province, Afghanistan, in December 2013.
Pfc. David Devich/Digital
9. They often participate in team sports such as water polo, wrestling or football

Pictured is a U.S. Air Force Combat Control airman from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, Kadena Air Base, preparing to submerge during an amphibious operations exercise in September 2015 off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.
Senior Airman John Linzmeier/U.S. Air Force
10. They can grow beards

In this photo, a Marine Special Operations team member provides overwatch for Afghan National Army Special Forces to help Afghan Local Police build a checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in April 2013.
Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Digital/SOTF-W