Army MOS 18X

Army MOS 18X

Army MOS 18X is the Special Forces designation for the military branch.

The Army uses a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) to define your job, or military role, while you serve your country.

Army MOS 18X is a broad term for several individual Military Occupational Specialities under the Special Forces grouping.

Learn more about the various military careers under MOS 18X and the steps you can take to join Army Special Forces.

Related Article:  20 Reasons to Join the Military (and 7 reasons not to)

What is MOS 18X?

army 18x
Army MOS 18X is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience and pursue a military career in Special Forces. Image:

Army MOS 18X is the broad term used to describe the Special Forces branch.

The Army Special Forces represent an important segment of the military with the most highly skilled combat soldiers.

MOS 18X soldiers are extraordinarily well-trained, with both excellent physical fitness and mental fortitude.

There are several military specialties under MOS 18X, including Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, Special Forces Assistant Operations, and Intelligence Sergeant.

What is an 18X contract?

Those that choose to pursue a career in Army Special Forces have the enlistment option of code MOS 18X.

It essentially gives you an opportunity to attend assessment and selection (SFAS) for Special Forces.

However, it does not guarantee that you will become Army Special Forces, only the opportunity.

Recruits that select option MOS 18X during the Delayed Entry Program status get to attend Army Infantry One Station Unit Training (OSUT).

One Station Unit Training combines boot camp (Basic Combat Training) with Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

Together, the two training programs last 14 weeks where you remain with the same unit to build camaraderie.

Recruits also have the opportunity to progress to Army Airborne School and Army Jump School in Georgia.

Then, recruits advance to Army Special Forces training which consists of six phases.

The second to last stage of Special Forces training involves learning the language, culture, and customs of the regions assigned.

Related ArticleUS Army Grooming Standards

What jobs fall under the 18X designation?

special forces mos
There are four entry-level Army Special Forces Military Occupational Specialties (MO) available for MOS 18X recruits. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The enlistment code MOS 18X applies to your Delayed Entry Program status.

It allows you the opportunity to explore the Military Occupational Specialities (MOS) of special forces.

The status enables you to depart for One Station Unit Training (OSUT) along with other specialty schools.

OSUT training for MOS 18X gets divided between new recruits and existing active-duty soldiers.

Active-duty personnel may request a transfer to attend Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS).

Meanwhile, new recruits select MOS 18X pre-enlistment to help speed up the SF pipeline.

The Army established MOS 18X to provide eager candidates with the means to join special forces without having to serve in the Army for a few years prior to qualification.

There are four entry-level Army Special Forces MOS:

  • Special Forces Weapons Sergeants (MOS 18B): Personnel use light and heavy infantry weapons and tactics.
  • Special Forces Engineer Sergeants (MOS 18C): Produces personnel in a wide range of specialties including demolition and logistics.
  • Army SF Medical Sergeants (MOS 18D): The military specialty focuses on elite first-response and trauma.
  • Special Forces Communications Sergeants (MOS 18E): The military specialty is elite in handling every type of communications system imaginable.

The U.S. Army determines Special Forces Military Occupational Specialties based on a few factors.

It does take into account your background, physical and mental aptitude, as well as the current needs of the military branch.


18x pipeline
It takes years of training to advance through the MOS 18X pipeline yet is well worth it for many recruits. Image:

The most frequently asked questions regarding MOS 18X:

Can you enlist straight into Special Forces?

Some recruits are selected to go through the 18X Direct Pipeline to Special Forces after qualifying with a 100 in Combat and 110 on the General Technical portion of the ASVAB. Recruits that fail to complete Special Forces training are transferred to the infantry MOS.

Related ArticleDelta Force (SFOD-D): Selection, Training, Motto, and More

What ASVAB score do you need for 18X?

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a series of tests that every new recruit of the U.S. Armed Forces must complete.

It determines your specialties based on test performance.

Those that seek to enlist as MOX 18X must score a minimum of Combat (CO): 100 on the ASVAB.

You also need to score a minimum of General Technical (GT): 110.

How long is the Army 18X pipeline contract?

The Army MOS 18X contract is a long-term agreement.

For most recruits, it takes at least two-and-a-half to three years to complete.

The timeframe accounts for everything from One Station Unit Training (OSUT) to Airborne School, Q School, and language training.

One Station Unit Training lasts 14 weeks when AIT training is combined with boot camp.

Secondly, Airborne School (or “Jump School”) lasts three weeks along with several more months of AIT training.

Thirdly, recruits spend months advancing through six phases of advanced specialized training for Army Special Forces.

This starts with Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS). It culminates in the Military Free Fall Parachutist Course at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

Consequently, plan on about three years for the MOS 18X contract before receiving a permanent assignment and new Special Forces MOS.

What’s the success rate for the Army 18X program?

It is important not to give your hopes up about joining the Army Special Forces as a new recruit.

While the MOS 18X program is designed to fast-track recruits to Special Forces without having to serve a first or second tour with the regular Army, it is not always the case.

In fact, the success rate is not extremely high for MOS 18X recruits.

Very few new recruits without any previous military experience make it through the 18X program without dropping out.

Most recruits drop out at Airborne School or SFAS training.

The success rate is also not that high for current active-duty soldiers seeking a transfer to MOS 18X (about 70%).

However, your best bet is to consider a MOS associated with special forces, such as Army Infantryman (MOS 11B) or Combat Engineer (MOS 12B).

It is not to suggest that surviving MOS 18X is impossible, but very few new recruits make it all the way through.

The 18X recruitment option is a fantastic opportunity and the quickest means of becoming SF (Special Forces), but it also has the baggage of representing the highest failure rate.

You’ll need to remain disciplined and extremely committed while maintaining peak physical condition.

What’s the minimum and maximum age to join 18X?

The Army requires that recruits interested in joining MOS 18X be at least 19.

However, you also need to have turned 20 by the conclusion of One Station Unit Training.

Therefore, the most appropriate option is to wait until you’re at least 20 before enlistment.

On the other hand, the Army cuts off the eligible age for new recruits at 32 for Special Forces.

You also need to meet other requirements to qualify for the 18X enlistment option.

One of the big requirements is scoring a minimum of 260 on the Army Physical Fitness Test in the 17-21 age group (even if you are older than 21).

One recommendation is to consider postponing MOS 18X enlistment for a few years. For active duty soldiers, the cut-off age is 36.

Most recruits that enter MOS 18X as soon as possible lack some life experience and therefore may get burnt out easier in such a challenging and demanding training environment.

Staying physically active, taking college courses, learning a second language, and cultivating other attributes can help improve your odds greatly.

Are there any enlistment bonuses for 18X?

The MOS 18X option is enticing for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The financial incentives may also happen only once in a lifetime. 

Army signing bonuses come and go, and as of May 2023, an 18X MOS is eligible for a bonus of up to $40,000. 

The best person to speak with about an enlistment bonus is a local Army recruiter.

You can also reach out to an Army Reserve Career Counselor (ARCC), as they are also knowledgeable on the subject.

What’s the contract length for 18X?

The 18X contract is a long-term plan.

It could potentially vary based on your personal discussions with an Army recruiter.

However, most Army MOS 18X contracts are around 5 or 6 years. 

This allows plenty of time to complete training (plan on three years) along with a first permanent duty assignment.

You can voluntarily request to leave the contract before the termination date if you seek to leave SFAS for regular service.

Is Navy SEAL training harder than Green Beret training?

Navy SEAL training is much more rigorous and has a higher attrition rate. Green Berets, or Special Forces is the second hardest U.S. military training program.

Which is harder training, Army Ranger or Special Forces?

Training for the Green Berets requires more specialized training than Army Rangers. Special Forces (Green Berets) specialize in “unconventional warfare,” while Rangers are light infantry focusing on special reconnaissance with a shorter training program.

Can women join Army Special Forces?

Although the Special Forces have been open to women since 2016, only one has been selected and passed Special Forces training, becoming the first female to become a Green Beret as of February 2020.

She wasn’t the first woman to finish the course, however. Now retired Lt Col Kathleen Wilder passed the course in 1980 but was not permitted to graduate or serve as a Green Beret. 


Army MOS 18X is a designation for recruits interested in joining Special Forces.

Active-duty personnel, as well as new recruits, may opt for the specialty training program.

While it does not guarantee you a position in Army Special Forces, it does grant you a chance.

You’ll need to complete OSUT training along with Airborne School and SFAS assessment and then training.

Training under the designation MOS 18X can help you land a prestigious and rewarding career in Army Special Forces.

Rob V.
Latest posts by Rob V. (see all)


4.5 out of 5 (77 Ratings)

Learn more about Army 18X MOS, including jobs that fall under the 18x designation, necessary ASVAB scores, how long the contract is, and more.

Originally posted on February 7, 2020 @ 4:25 pm

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally vetted. Learn more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *