Vetting an SF background

I was reading a story about private military contractors in Iraq and many of them have or claim to have a background in the SAS or Delta Force or whatever. If a company wants to hire one of these guys as a bodyguard, how does the company vet their credentials? I was under the impression that membership in such organizations was a secret.

Thanks for your help,

One doesn’t go from “Joe Six-Pack” to Special Forces overnight. there would be a DD-214 with normal military schools which one would need to even get close to the door of the SF community. If the dude was a C-130 Loadmaster and claims all his advanced combat skills schools were stricken from his record because he is such a highly trained assassin, he ain’t making the cut. If the guys has Jump, Scuba, Pathfinder, etc…training documented, and has been in one of the “elite” units, there may be something worth pursuing there.

We’ll have someone who could tell, you but would kill you, along soon to clear up any errors I have.

Working in SF organizations (at least in the United States Armed Forces) is not a secret, although specific assignments may be. As UncleBill notes, the training up through entry tests and induction training into a SpecFor unit are a matter of the soldier/sailor/airman/marines service record. The British Army and Royal Navy apparently require a limited release of information about service without official consent, but it is hardly an official secret.


Well I know that membership in the 75th Ranger Regiment is not a secret, but I was under the impression that membership in Delta Force was insofar as the Delta Force doesn’t officially exist. Similarly, I didn’t think that the British military would confirm someone’s membership in the SAS or SBS. I guess anyone who could plausibly lie about such a thing would probably be a pretty bang-up bodyguard anyway.

Thanks for your help,

The fact that someone has served in a special forces branch in the U.S. military is not classified information, nor is the record of their training.

Generally speaking, assignment to a particular unit is also not classified; however, mission-specific information is generally classified.

My sister is dating someone who has told her that he is an ex-Navy SEAL. If I ever meet him, it will be interesting to see if he maintains that story to me. I’ll be curious to see his response to a simple question like, “so when did you go through Coronado*?” Any response such as “that’s classified” will instantly demonstrate him to be full of crap.

(*Coronado is the location of BUD/S.)

Well I could ask him the color of the boathouse at Hereford, or whatever, but if he gave me a line, how would I know? Presumably, if I were hiring a bodyguard, I would ask him for documentation on his military service, although I don’t know how to tell if such things are genuine or not. My wife has a DD214 and I looked at it once but I don’t remember if it listed the schools that she went to or anything (which I believe consisted of getting a license to drive a forklift).

Thanks for your help,

That would come as a surprise to the Joint Special Operations Command (which maintains a Publicity Office) and Col. Charles Beckwith, who was the founder of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. It is true that the Pentagon generally doesn’t comment on operations performed by SpecOps units like 1SFOD-D and DEVGRU, and isn’t going to hand out a roster of members to anyone who asks, but that doesn’t mean that the organization is a secret. A former member can probably request a limited release of information (i.e. enlistment and training record and other nonclassified details) to a potential employer, especially one providing services back to the United States government.

“What’s the color of the boathouse at Hereford?”


Doesn’t officially exist?“sfod-d+”

Well, according to the afterword in Beckwith’s book it doesn’t. That was written after his death, I believe.


Well, according to the afterword in Beckwith’s book it doesn’t. That was written after his death, I believe.


Well, according to the Army, it does.

Most of the enlistment records, as well as some of the specific training schools are public records. Their assignments might be classified, but enlistment in one of the special operations branches is not.

I’ve got a few friends who did military time, including one who went through EOD and BUDs, but who elected not to go for SEAL team training afterwards. He’ll share lots of little anecdotes about weird and scary stuff that happened to him, but strip out anything specific, to the point where he sometimes doesn’t even use nicknames for the guys who were with him. He’s flatly said a couple of times when asked questions about the story, “I’m not allowed to talk about that.”

Other than specifics about operations, there aren’t all that many secrets, though. Anyone who is cagy about his enlistment record is probably full of shit. Most military guys are quite proud of their accomplishments, and would readily provide enlistment and discharge papers to an employer. Heck, most of them have their discharge papers on their person since they’re so important.

Andy McNab, author of Bravo Two Zero, an account of an SAS operation he commanded during the Gulf War, is well-known in Britain.

What most people don’t realize is that Andy McNab is a nom de plume. According to the Wiki list of SAS personnel nearly all of them use pseudonyms.

Something like license to drive a forklift will not be on a DD214. That would be on your driving record (in the Army its a 349). But any service schools will be. Including Special Forces MOS school (18 series I think off the top of my head).

In a normal background investigation it would not be too hard to find out if someone was full of shit.

It’s just like any other hiring process for any other job in the world. The level of proof demanded is up to the person hiring.
When you stated you had a college degree on your last job application, what proof did you show?
When you stated you had 5 years experience as a web developer, what proof did you show?

A copy of the soldier’s ERB is the equivalent of unofficial transcripts from a college.
An original copy of the soldier’s DD214 is the equivalent of official college transcripts.
The original or copy of a training certificate is the equivalent of an original or copy of a degree.

Certificates (suitable for framing) are handed out upon the completion of each phase of the Special Forces Qualification Course, to include initial selection–SFAS.

While I can’t tell you how they go about verifying claims, I can tell you that there are a lot of guys working security in Iraq who lie abot SF claims. I base this on my experience working in Iraq where I met many of these guys, many of them working for low rent security firms who lacked the means to properly vet their staff.

The U.K specialforces community both current and ex is composed of a comparitively small number of people,virtually all of whom who even if they do not actually know the person will almost certainly know someone who does.

B.G. companies and security companies operating in Iraq are usually run(though not always)by an ex and even if it isn’t will almost certainly have one or more members who are.

Being an ex is not an official secret though disclosing details of equipment,tactics,names of ex/colleagues or your “work history” is .

Most people try not to disclose it generally because it can make you and your family vulnerable to terrorists plus it can be a pain in normal life with wannabe hardmen wanting to fight you after they’ve imbibed some dutch courage,arse creeps sucking up to you and people operating under the impression that they somehow have the right to ask you intrusive questions about your present and past life or dictate how you behave.

ie.Well I always thought that you people should swim in the sea all year round/beat up my brother in law who I’ve had a row with/eat your steak raw. etc.
Fakes are ALWAYS found out, quite often within seconds of opening their mouths.