That Time When a Feral Dog Attacked Me During Special Forces Training

We have a lot of posts geared toward the younger troops heading to the Selection courses and later the Qualification courses. I was having a conversation online with a former Delta Force operator, George Hand. If any of you know Geo on social media, he’s a great dude and a talented one. He’s always posting stuff that will make you think, laugh, or both. But he said something that jogged my memory. And while I made a joke of it in responding to him, it was a teaching point. Especially for me, so thanks, Geo.

So, this little story is one of the oldest and a time-honored mantra in the military, “Never do the Rucksack Flop.” Breaking that rule in a combat situation will get you dead in a hurry. Doing it during a training activity, especially in a school environment, will get your ass chewed out and/or written up.

Never in a million years in a non-tactical situation would you think that the rucksack flop could cost yourself a serious and possibly fatal injury. Yet it nearly did. And the last thing you’d think about was being attacked by an animal. And yet it happened. But I digress, first a little background.

After several years as an NCO in the 7th SFG, I had applied for the SF Warrant Program. So several of us from the different groups went to Ft. Rucker for the wonderful fun and games that passed for the Warrant Officer Candidate Course. After leaving Rucker, we caught up to our Officer Class in SERE Training.

Back then in the late 1980s, we didn’t have a true SF Warrant Course. We were thrown in with the SF Captains in the Detachment Officer’s Course. Some of the instructors and instructions were outstanding, others not so much. We had an eclectic group of American officers and Allies including Arabs and Israelis. It doesn’t get any better than that. One of the Israeli dudes was a Special Ops guy who was a physical animal. We did a timed 12-miler and he took it running like it was a two-mile PT Test. He finished long before any of us pulled in.

At the end of the Officer’s Course, before Robin Sage, was a final test called Officer’s Stakes. I don’t know if they do it any longer but it was a challenge. It was a long-distance land navigation cross-country smoker. The points were ridiculously easy to find as they were at major road intersections or churches in the Uwharrie National Forest. But they were all a minimum of 12 km apart. Each officer was issued several map sheets.

Special Forces NCOs manned the points and the instructors manned the exercise HQs and patrolled the roads in vehicles looking for officers either traveling on the roads or too close to them. If they saw a student, even a couple of hundred meters off the road, they’d lay on the horn and the student would be taken back to their last point. It was MFer to get within a click of a point and have an instructor scoop you up and take you back 10-12 clicks. (The guys detailed to man the points were guys from the SF groups and other SWC (Special Warfare Center) instructors who were off-cycle for classes.)

I had worked the stakes twice in manning a point: the first time I was detailed from 7th SFG and the other while I was a cadre member at SWC. So I was very familiar with how the operation ran, which was an advantage I would use for my benefit.