February 20, 2004

High school senior takes advantage of new Special Forces recruiting program

By Lt. Col. Chester Carter, III
Public Affairs Officer

Andrew Jenkins is the newest soldier in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group.  Jenkins is the first soldier to take advantage of the Special Forces' new recruiting program.  (Contributed photo)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Andrew Jenkins is accustomed to being in a leadership position.  As a sophomore student he played varsity lacrosse at Thomas A. Edison High School in Alexandria.  This year as a senior at Thomas A. Edison he is the captain of the lacrosse team.  Jenkins is also proving to be a leader in the Virginia Army National Guard.

Jenkins enlisted in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group on December 23, 2003.  He is the first "non-prior service" enlistment in that elite unit.  Prior to his enlistment, soldiers assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard Special Forces unit came from the ranks of other units.  A program for soldiers to enlist directly in that unit simply did not exist.  Jenkins is the first soldier to take advantage of a new program that allows non-prior service soldiers to enlist directly in this Special Forces unit. 

The soldiers who wear the coveted Green Beret of the US Army Special Forces are very selective about who joins their ranks.  Criteria for assignment are extremely demanding.  Jenkins not only had to meet exceptionally high mental and physical standards to enter the Special Forces program, but he also had to successfully complete a pre-enlistment interview with a Special Forces officer.

Jenkins must meet many more challenges before he can wear the Green Beret.  First he must complete initial entry training just as any soldier entering the Virginia Army National Guard must do.  Following initial entry training he must complete airborne training at Ft. Benning, Ga. where he must become qualified as a military parachutist.  Once he is airborne qualified he will attend the Special Forces Pre-Qualification course at Ft. Bragg, N. C.  There a cadre of Special Forces soldiers will put Jenkins through an extremely arduous program to determine if he and other Special Forces candidates have the mental and physical toughness and stamina it takes to be in this elite unit. 

Once Jenkins has successfully completed the Pre-Qualification course he will enter the Special Forces Qualification Course.  There he will learn the skills and developed the attributes necessary to be a Special Forces soldier.  The road ahead of him is long and demanding but there is no doubt he will succeed.  After all, his father served with the US Army's 11th Special Forces Group (Airborne).  It appears Andrew intends to make it a family tradition.

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