Lessons From David's JCOC Trip: What We Can Learn From Special Forces Training

The Joint Civilian Orientation Conference is a Department of Defense program designed to give a few dozen non-military members a deeperunderstanding of the U.S. Armed Forces. In this week'sRule Breaker Investingpodcast, David Gardner is ready to reflect on the lessons of his trip.Among the things that fascinated him are the methods by which the best of the best are chosen and trained -- methods that have barely changed in decades.

A transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Aug. 31, 2016.

David Gardner:

And I'm going to close it out with just a few insights that I saw from hearing and learning how Special Forces are trained in the United States of America.

The first thing I want to say about it is it's a very selective process. I think everybody knows that. A tiny percentage of people who actually apply to be a U.S. Army Ranger ever get to be. There is, as you'd expect, the physical requirements and demand. At a minimum, you have to be able to do things like 59 sit-ups, 49 push-ups. Then you have to run a few miles in a short time and then finish it all out with some pull-ups. So yes, there are those physical requirements.

But what was really evident to me is how those almost take a back seat, even in the U.S. Special Forces, to intellect and character -- almost moral characteristics, which they're constantly looking for. In fact, they said their selection process has only slightly changed since 1989. Think about how many other things in the world have changed, including all the technology and equipment that the military uses since 1989, and yet the actual process for selection is still mostly the same.

Here are a few of the things that they'll do. They'll have you start running, and they won't tell you for how long you're running. You just have to run. They say run, and you run. So there's ambiguity in terms of what's going to be asked of you, and you should probably expect they'll stress you out. They'll frequently have you do a lot more than you ever thought you would have had to do when they first told you just start running.

So not telling you what you're going to do. Not telling you how you're doing. Not giving you any feedback in terms of whether you're doing a good job or not. In fact, I found it fascinating. A part of the test for the Army Special Forces involves not telling you that you were right or that you were wrong as you go.

As you're collaborating, sometimes, with other recruits, and you're having to orienteer yourself in darkness, and figure out how to get from there to somewhere else, to somewhere else, starting at 2 a.m. in the morning and needing to be done by noon later that day, there is no right or wrong. They'll say there are only consequences for the decisions that you're going to make.

It's interesting they do an IQ test, and what they've consistently found are the people who end up in Special Forces have an IQ that is between 102, at the low end, and 130. I think most of us in the U.S. know that an IQ test normalizes at 100, so 100 is average intelligence. Below 102, you're probably not mentally fit enough to be a Special Forces guy or gal, but if you're over 130, you're probably also not well set up to be in U.S. Special Forces. They said too often among those people there's too exact a need to be right. It just doesn't quite work.

The final note from the Special Forces selection: 70% are introverts, maybe not what a lot of us would expect. So a fascinating process to weed out, physically and emotionally, who's going to be Special Forces, and I learned a lot and saw a lot from those people.

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