Originally Posted by Nonk
We have no 'conscripts' here, we are an all volunteer Armed Forces, but taking your point to mean new recruits, no we recruit from seasoned troops, not directly from civilian life. (Hence the age profile of our Special Forces tends to be older than in the US for example)
Applicants for Special Forces selection (well, SAS and SBS anyway, but I presume the new SRR is the same) have to have served a few years first; 3 I think.
There are exceptions of course (this is the UK, nothing is that simple!). Members of the Special Forces Reserves, which in the case of the Army are mainly 21(Artist's Rifles) SAS and 23 SAS can apply to go on Regular Special Forces selection, despite notionally at least being 'civilians' and part-timers (the boundaries are very blurred, most Territorial Army Special Forces soldiers will devote an enormous amount of time to it) (Bear Grylls fans will know he was a member of 21 SAS, as was Sir Ranulph Fiennes)
This means that if they pass, they have to be allocated a 'parent unit'. All our Special Forces retain a parent unit to which they return if they are no longer required. Soldiers generally serve in Special Forces until they retire or are kicked out, unless they desire other specialist employment such as pilot (we recruit most Army pilots from within the Army and most are NCO's not Officers) whereas Officers tend to do a tour or two, return to the wider Army and then return later to command a Squadron etc). Incidentally, the parent unit will be named as the soldiers unit if he is killed in combat, not the Special Forces unit, although it is in many cases obvious.
Because of this we have soldiers with parent units in which they have never actually served. The Parachute Regiment seems to be a common one, as they are closest in ethos to the SAS and already provide around 60% of members.
As far as I know, members of the Commonwealth SAS Regiments are able to go straight on our selection without serving in the British Army first (Australia and New Zealand)
I know that New Zealand has had direct entry to its SAS from civilian life at one time or another, but to my knowledge, we have never had such a scheme.
Just to confuse matters further, we now have Tri-Service selection,(Yes, even the RAF are allowed to try out!) meaning that it is the same for Navy and Army Special Forces, and candidates can elect to serve in either. There are as far as I know now some Army guys serving in the SBS, but these tend to be existing Army Commandos who have already had extensive experience in our Commando Brigade, which is a Royal Marines and therefore Royal Navy formation.
I am not an expert, nor have I ever tried out for, or served in Special Forces, and I am long out of the Army, but this is the situation as far as I can remember and from the quite a few SAS guys I have met over the years and the ones I still know.
in the IDF we essentially have no profetional riflemen, career soldiers are comanders (either NCO's or officers) with very few exeptions - the main one being the naval camandos, their long training requires them to sign for 5 years. other than that, if you want to be a career grunt, you have to transfer to a special unit of the police.
the special forces feed from new recuits (yes, that is the term I was looking for). there are companies assosiated with the airforce, the general staff, navy (the naval comandos) and then there are companies assosiated with each of the infantry brigades. you inlist in the infantry brigades - in some cases this requires candicy "tests" - I am not really sure how to discribe them but basically a serious of very difficult tasks that most people drop out of. and when enough people have dropped out they stop and if you are still left you are in.
then, after you are in the infantry unit, you do another set of tests to be in the special companies of the infantry unit. that can go on for 5 days until enough people have dropped out.
but, effectivly, that means that almost all of the members start training at 18.