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Old 26 January 2016, 10:49
PapaTango PapaTango is offline
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Question for SFQC Instructors

I have a lot of contact with students going through the SFQC and there seems to be a common complaint of instructors applying their own set of qualification standards for students advancing through the course vice what are the stated standards. Yes, I know students bitch all the time about anything and everything but this issue seems to be a fairly consistent gripe among Solders that seem fairly squared away and motivated to succeed. So, how exactly does Training Group/SWCS maintain above-board quality control standards? What is the current process when a student is recommended for recycle or drop from the course? Students say that winning an appeal or going to the IG gets you a target painted on your back.
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Old 26 January 2016, 10:56
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I have a friend going through the Q right now. I take everything he says with a grain of salt, but I've also been there so I am well aware of the fuckery that takes place. Needless to say I'm glad I'm not there now.

Why are you asking? I see that you're retired, are you working as a civilian there?
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Old 26 January 2016, 11:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaTango View Post
how exactly does Training Group/SWCS maintain above-board quality control standards? What is the current process when a student is recommended for recycle or drop from the course? Students say that winning an appeal or going to the IG gets you a target painted on your back.
I served as an SFQC instructor during my last SWC tour, and I am a course NCOIC for an advanced skill course now.

Each course has Critical Tasks/Subtasks, Terminal/Enabling Learning Objectives, etc. Some of those are purely objective, some are more subjective.

Objective standards are easy, the student either meets the standard or does not.

For standards that are more subjective, we have identified the components of the standard, and developed reconciled definitions of what meeting the standard looks like, vice not meeting the standard.

We follow the TRADOC model. If a standard must be met to graduate, the students are given the task/conditions/standard, and then evaluated. If the student does not meet the standard, the student is counseled and afforded re-training, then re-evaluated.

If an instructor determines a student has not met the standard, the instructor makes a recommendation for relief/recycle.

The committee leadership will determine if they will sustain the instructor recommendation. The student can appeal up the chain of command.

As you write, students complain a lot. If you hung out with instructors, you'd hear the exact opposite complaint, i.e. the standards are not enforced, the chain of command wants quantity over quality, etc, etc.

Soldiers like to complain. No system is perfect, but a lot of time and money goes into trying to make it perfect.
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Old 26 January 2016, 11:28
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Adding to what gavin has said. There is also the Individual Student Assessment Plan (ISAP), the old Student Evaluation Plan (SEP) that is used to outline all standards and grading criteria during their particular course.

Now having said that, most of the courses I deal with (SF Pipeline) each committee sort of takes on the personality of the committee chief...think Team Sergeant.

Some, most are good, some also come in with their own "agenda" That's what makes my (our) job harder making sure they follow the appropriate 350-70 standards.

When a packet is brought forth to the CoC, they will scrutinize it to make sure it holds water, however as we all know, command climate can also drive that train.

I think, speaking of the pipeline courses, I don't deal with the advanced course stuff, we have a pretty good crew in the MOS courses now. I deal with the Echoes and we have done some good things over the last coupla yrs to improve tng...
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Old 26 January 2016, 11:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaTango View Post
I have a lot of contact with students going through the SFQC and there seems to be a common complaint of instructors applying their own set of qualification standards for students advancing through the course vice what are the stated standards. Yes, I know students bitch all the time about anything and everything but this issue seems to be a fairly consistent gripe among Solders that seem fairly squared away and motivated to succeed. So, how exactly does Training Group/SWCS maintain above-board quality control standards? What is the current process when a student is recommended for recycle or drop from the course? Students say that winning an appeal or going to the IG gets you a target painted on your back.
That's always been the case. I saw half of my Robin Sage team no-goed because our cadre thought they were weak and unsure of themselves, even though a couple of them should have passed their patrols. At the time I thought it was fucked up, but now looking back on those guys, probably a good thing.
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Old 26 January 2016, 11:45
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Very good explanations from Gavin and Glebo.

I was an SFQC instructor almost 24 years ago. The OP could have easily been written for back then as well. Soldiers are soldiers, always will be. I thought the system back when I was involved was pretty fair and objective. I would have given it a B+. Perfect, no. But what system anywhere actually is? The human effect, no matter the system, is going to always the have element of subjectivity, egos, personalities, etc.

Do some students get returned to the regular Army when they should have made it - sure, it happens. But my experiences back when were that was more the exception than the rule. It can also be said that guys who had no business ever stepping foot into a team room did make it through. Again, the exception rather than the rule. So you had "error" on both ends of the equation.

Bottom line - despite imperfections our Special Forces is, perhaps arguably, the best Special Operations force in the world when it comes to the guys on the ground doing the job.
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Old 26 January 2016, 13:22
PapaTango PapaTango is offline
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Originally Posted by Hot Mess View Post
I have a friend going through the Q right now. I take everything he says with a grain of salt, but I've also been there so I am well aware of the fuckery that takes place. Needless to say I'm glad I'm not there now.

Why are you asking? I see that you're retired, are you working as a civilian there?
I am a GS employee in USASOC, but not in SWCS.
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Old 26 January 2016, 16:05
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Broad questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaTango View Post
I have a lot of contact with students going through the SFQC and there seems to be a common complaint of instructors applying their own set of qualification standards for students advancing through the course vice what are the stated standards. Yes, I know students bitch all the time about anything and everything but this issue seems to be a fairly consistent gripe among Solders that seem fairly squared away and motivated to succeed. So, how exactly does Training Group/SWCS maintain above-board quality control standards? What is the current process when a student is recommended for recycle or drop from the course? Students say that winning an appeal or going to the IG gets you a target painted on your back.
Were the complaints coming from the field portion (more subjective, by and large, than objective) of the course or the academic/classroom portion (more objective, by and large than subjective).
It makes a difference.
I used to run the field portion of the "Q" course.
Students complained then, as apparently, as they do currently.
You aren't going to get away from students complaining about the "fairness" of the instructors. Never.
I had to RBE to my BC on every complaint back then.
In my portion(s) of the training if an instructor recommended a student recycle or be DNTR then the entire student packet was sent to a board held on the day the students returned to McKall from Robin Sage. The board consisted of SF Group Commanders, Group DCO, Group XOs, battalion commanders, BN XOs, S3s, CSMs and SGMs that were invited and volunteered to be a member of the board. The board reviewed the student folders (containing the entire body of records of performance during every aspect of the field training portion, back then each student had to receivea minimum of six (6) observations from different instructors/cadre for each major block/event), interviewed the instructors and the students. They then made a decision. I had no say so (mainly because Dangerous Dave McCr... hated my guts and wouldn't trust anything I said). I was only there to explain the process and ensure that the records were kept and presented to His Highness Lord McCr. Lord McCr had a hard time overturning the recommendation of the board (the end users, so to speak) but he sometimes tried. And I would always ask the SWTG Group Commander to review his decision. Only once did it have to to the SWCS CG for final arbitration.
Don't know if that is the system being used today, but it worked for me back then. And I would recommend it today.
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Old 26 January 2016, 16:34
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PACE, I believe it's very similar to that.

We (SWC/SWTG) also have the "whole man concept" on how students are evaluated, as you stated, whether they could perform/function as an Operational member.

If a student passes according to the ISAP, he could also still be recycled/relieved based on his "whole man" attributes. Which, are brought before the board as you stated.

There's a lot that goes into the decisions, a lot more than the "good 'ol days".

Some good, some bad...as previously stated in others posts...
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Old 26 January 2016, 16:45
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Guys, these are great explanations, thanks. I would appreciate seeing additional input from current and former SFQC cadre or from recent graduates. I went through the Q Course during a time (Early '70s) when you really didn't know how good or bad you were doing other than you were still in the course and not on the truck going back to Ft. Bragg.
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Old 26 January 2016, 18:28
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Originally Posted by PapaTango View Post
I would appreciate seeing additional input from current and former SFQC cadre or from recent graduates.
I was a SFQC instructor from 2009-2012, so my comments from above are still relevant as to the process. As a current NCOIC for an advanced skill course at SWC, I can tell you we use the same methodology now across SWC, as the standards are SWC standards, mirroring TRADOC standards, and are applied to all courses in SWC, for the basic QCs (18, 37, 38 series) or the advanced skills courses.
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Old 26 January 2016, 18:39
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Gavin and Glebo nailed it. I was an instructor 35 years ago and we had the same checks, balances and personality challenges then.
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Old 26 January 2016, 18:42
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I was an instructor at SWC 26yrs ago and my thoughts reflect those above (both for my own committee and from what I saw on the other committees when I would wander over to fuck with someone)....
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Old 26 January 2016, 19:28
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I work at the 18A MOS (Branch) Phase. We just restructured the company, ostensibly to help eliminate human bias, increase the amount of personnel "looking" at a student, and increase his chance of meeting the standards, under the mindset that a student has demonstrated his "trainability" and "aptitude for serving" in SF by being selected, our job is to train them to be successful on an ODA.

We have 18 critical tasks to "impart on them" during our phase. They all have to do with what I think the TL brings to the table, or (1) Leadership, (2) a Solid foundation in our doctrine, and (3) mastery of SF detailed mission planning. So, the tasks are along the lines of Plan a FID mission, Plan a DA mission, Plan to integrate ISR, apply Negotiation Techniques, demonstrate adaptability, etc. They must also pass a graded leadership position during one of several Field Training Exercises, which is evaluated against the ARSOF Attributes. They all get a look, those that fail typically get another.

Under the old model, a Student Detachment would be assigned one post Detachment Command, senior Captain, or recently promoted Major, and one post Detachment Team Sergeant, MSG, as Small Group Instructors. The SGI's were responsible for coaching, mentoring, training, teaching and evaluating their 12 to 16 Students over the 16 week phase. So one O and one NCO determined your fate.

Now we are "Modularized." The first module (Module I, or MOD I) is two weeks long, covers history, Adaptive/Critical Thinking, the SF MOS (180A, B, C, D, E) familiarization, an over-night adaptability/KLE FTX, and is basically the responsibility of the Company B Team (MAJ, SGM, CW3 and 3 x SFC.

MOD II is Mission Planning, SR/DA (currently a Mission Planning Exercise, soon to be a short FTX) and FID, including a FTX, which is a simulated JCET, complete with PDSS to Pineland well before the evil David Paton puts his plan into action. It should be two CPT/MAJ, two MSG's and two DACs. It is actually one, one and two.

MOD III is some "SF Stuff," UW, a UW Mission Planning Exercise, and includes a FMP Isolation and FTX. The third module is two CPT/MAJ, two MSG, two SFC and two DAC. I think right now is closer to one CPT, two MSG and two DAC.

MOD IV is back to the B Team and is for the most part Interagency orientation, including a week of briefings from the alphabet soup of Headquarters on Bragg to get them spun up on what's going on, and a trip to DC for briefings by State, Pentagon, etc. and UW Paper presentations and the board. The SWC Psych's are present for several events along the way to observe and provide input.

The Company Board includes input from each of the modules, so looks by the Company Commander, SGM and Warrant during weeks 1-2 and 14-16, looks by either a MAJ or a MSG (one or the other based on manning right now, the goal would be looks by BOTH a CPT and MSG) during weeks 3-7, and looks by a CPT and MSG during weeks 8-13, and the Company Commander, SGM and Warrant again during weeks 14-16. Company Commander retains 51% fo the vote . So if you have a personality "issue" with an Instructor, you are not doomed. From our phase they of course, successful students report to D Company for some more UW instruction and Robin Sage.

The biggest issue our students have are leadership shortcomings, or lack of interpersonal skills. Cant sit down with a HN/PN counterpart and get them to bend to their will, or just plain cant lead the hungry to food. I recently heard it put pretty well when someone observed that todays' Millennial may have never actually asked a woman out face to face. Give them a smart phone and facebook and they are in business, but the goat farmer G Leader downrange doesn't "do facebook." Additionally, they are not as tactically sound as you'd think given we've been at war so long. They are very good at a very narrow band of skills required to operate in the two theaters, but outside of that, are not necessarily that grounded in the Principles of Patrolling.

The reorg was due to low success rates at Sage by our students over time. I personally believe some of the underlying factors may have also included preparation for the arrival of the "Crack Troops," due to arrive sometime soon...but that is just me.
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Old 26 January 2016, 21:05
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I m chiming in more to reminisce than anything. I was the XO / Safety Officer at an advanced skill course in Key West.

We had established standards for shorebased things like written tests and PT as well as surface and subsurface tasks. While physically and emotionally demanding the standards were painfully simple. Swim this far within this margin of error, at least this fast. The numbers were extremely difficult to achieve, but relatively simple to measure.

One difference was that we had a universal guardian over our standard. The Sea; and she was relentless in her enforcement.
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