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CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Recruiters from Fort Bragg toured South Korea this week to find soldiers for three occupational specialties, two of them little known and a third now relied on more than ever.

The Army wants to dramatically increase its ranks of soldiers in psychological operations, civil affairs and Special Forces, recruiters said at Camp Casey Education Center briefings Tuesday and Wednesday.

The recruiters also visited Camp Humphreys and Yongsan Garrison this week.

Soldiers who attended the briefings did so knowing that such specialties — and especially Special Forces — come with a much greater likelihood of combat-zone deployments.

But with many soldiers now looking at those deployment as inevitable, they said they’d rather be in a specialty in which they are trained as well as possible.

The survival training is the main draw, said Pfc. Mauricio Barajas.

“It makes you feel like you’d be ready for a deployment,” Barajas said.

Others said they remembered seeming less well-equipped than Special Forces soldiers.

“My unit supported SF while I was deployed,” said Sgt. Dustin Knight of Special Troops Battalion’s headquarters company. “I saw how they lived and I’d rather be on that side.”

Recruiters in psychological operations, or psyops, and Special Forces both dispelled one popular myth.

“We’re not looking for Rambo or Schwarzenegger,” said Special Forces soldier Sgt. 1st Class Dan White. “We’re looking for guys who can drive on when things get tough.

“Sometimes it’s the cook or the oboe player that gets selected,” White added. “You can look at a guy physically and say he’ll make it and you get fooled because it’s what’s in your heart.”

That said, physical fitness remains very important to earning a spot on a Special Forces 12-man team.

Soldiers must score a minimum 229 (out of 300 possible) on their physical training test but realistically, it should be a 250 or they’ll wash out of the 24-day Phase I “gut-check” course, White said.

That course is followed by a 12-week field phase, then 15 weeks of specialty-specific instruction that may cover weapons, communication or other fields. The medic specialty takes considerably longer to teach, White said.

Soldiers then receive a language course, followed by four weeks of simulated unconventional warfare.

Soldiers stationed in South Korea can be sent straight to qualification school, recruiters said. However, troops here who rotate to another duty station may be stuck there as long as a year before they can go to a qualification school, they said.

Psyops is a lesser known specialty that often gets confused with public affairs, said Staff Sgt. Phillip Spaugh.

While public affairs works with media outlets, psyops soldiers look for more unconventional ways to reach foreign audiences.

“Any way that we can effectively convey a message, we’ll use that,” Spaugh said.

It means spending a lot of time in the midst of local populations; for example, drinking a lot of green tea with village elders in Afghanistan.

Psyops is based out of Fort Bragg and has two components: tactical teams that jump into countries with Army Rangers and other units; and regional units, which primarily work out of embassies.

Civil affairs soldiers undertake humanitarian missions and also must work with local populations extensively.

For example, a four-soldier civil affairs team could be sent to a region where troops are taking small-arms fire.

“We send them in to find out what’s going on and it could be something as small as the people needing water,” Spaugh said.

Both psyops and civil affairs soldiers take courses in a region or country’s culture and language, as well as other classroom courses and a field exercise, before deploying to another country.

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