What is CST?
Cultural Support Teams are all-female Soldier teams who serve as enablers supporting Army Special Operations combat forces in, and around secured objective areas.
Their primary task is to engage female populations in objective areas when such contact may be deemed culturally inappropriate if performed by a male service member.
CSTs directly support activities ranging from medical civic action programs, searches and seizures, humanitarian assistance, and civil-military operations.
Primarily, CST training will focus on basic human behavior, Islamic and Afghan cultures, women and their role in Afghanistan, and tribalism. Training is conducted on Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.
As a CST member, the total commitment to the program is approximately one year.
Prerequisites and Requirements
*be female volunteers
*in grades of: E-4-E-8, 01-03 or WO1-CW3
*current, minimum GT score of 100 or better
*current Army Physical Fitness Test score of 210 with at least 70 points in each event
*meet height and weight requirements outlined in AR 600-9
*deployable in accordance with current unit status reporting procedures covered in AR 220-1
*pre-screened by their current unit of assignment, the donor unit
*carry 35 lbs for six miles in one hour and 39 minutes, or less
*MOS is immaterial, however preferred MOSs are: Nurse Practitioners (66P), Nurse Midwife (66G8D), Health Care Specialist (68W, Military Police (31B or Military Intelligence Specialists (35M, 35F, 35P) or service equivalent
*hold a current Secret security clearance as a minimum; interim Secret acceptable
*have no current flagged, under criminal investigation or pending adverse administrative/UCMJ action
*language proficiency in Pashtu, Urdu and Daru are desirable but not required.
*CST volunteers will hand carry the CST Volunteer Statement to Assessment and Selection and present it to the Assessment and Selection cadre during in-processing
VOLUNTEER UNIT OF ASSIGNMENT must:
*pre-screen volunteers. The volunteers' unit leadership, or equivalent, must provide written certification that their Soldiers meet the pre-screening criteria before volunteers report to Fort Bragg for assessment and selection. Soldiers who do not meet the pre-screening criteria will not be accepted into the CST program and will be returned to their unit of assignment.
*The first O-5 in the chain of command will certify volunteers meet all prescreening criteria by signing a CST Volunteer Statement: the Army Active and Reserve Component CST Volunteer Statement; or the AFSOC CST Volunteer Statement.
What to expect
PHASE 1: Assessment and Selection -- The challenge begins.
The Cultural Support Team Assessment and Selection program is five, hectic days of physical, mental, and intellectual evaluations designed to determine a candidate's ability to maintain her composure, apply logic, communicate clearly, and solve problems in demanding environments. Assessment is not a training course -- it is an observation of behaviors that suggest suitability for service as a CST member.
During Assessment and Selection, candidates are expected to skillfully manage multiple, simultaneous tasks, comprehend ambiguous instructions while working under varying degrees of uncertainty with little feedback.
Assessment and Selection is as much a mental test as it is a physical test. Volunteers should arrive mentally prepared, physically fit, and highly motivated. If candidates do not meet any of the prescreening criteria, they will be disqualified and returned to their units.
The desired outcome of Assessment and Selection is a candidate pool of female Soldiers who are eager to serve with an Army Special Operations Forces unit in the important role as Combat Support Team members, and who are willing to train and excel in advanced techniques.
PHASE 2: Welcome to CST Training.
When selected, candidates are invited back as CST students in Phase 2. The training period is between four and six weeks at Fort Bragg.
The average training day begins at 0630 hours with physical training and ends around 1700. A mix of classroom instruction with practical exercises in a field environment comprises a typical day. Classes are not normally conducted on weekends.
Training focuses on cross-cultural communication skills specifically Islamic and Afghan cultures. Students are also trained on negotiation and mediation skills, proper employment of an interpreter, and conducting key leader engagement techniques. Qualification training with an M4 assault rifle and an M9 pistol is required.
PHASE 3: Assignment and Deployment.
Following graduation from Phase 2, new Cultural Support Teams are attached to 3rd Special Forces Group and to the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Deployments will be physically and mentally demanding. CSTs live and work with Special Operations Forces in austere environments in Afghanistan. While supporting a Special Forces operational detachment alpha or a Ranger platoon, CSTs are constantly engaging the local populace.
Duties of CSTs include communicating and working with Afghan women and children, providing support to medical outreach programs, physical searches of Afghan women and children, and supporting civil-military operations.
CST members are armed with an M4 Assault Rifle and an M9 pistol for defense against enemy contact, if necessary. While deployed, CSTs move on foot, by vehicle and by aircraft. Some missions may require foot patrols of 10 kilometers; other missions may require fast-rope insertion from a helicopter. CSTs are not required to conduct airborne operations.
1. Volunteers who meet the prerequisites will undergo the CST Qualification Course conducted by the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, N.C. This qualification course is comprised of three phases: Phase I Assessment and Selection; Phase II Training; and Phase III Assignment and Deployment.
2. Volunteers' unit leadership, or equivalent, must provide written certification that their Soldiers meet the pre-screening criteria before volunteers report to Fort Bragg for Phase I.
3. The first O-5 in the chain of command will certify volunteers meet all prescreening criteria by signing a CST Volunteer Statement: the Army Active and Reserve Component CST Volunteer Statement; or the AFSOC CST Volunteer Statement.
4. Volunteers will personally deliver the Army Active and Reserve Component CST Volunteer Statement, or the AFSOC CST Volunteer Statement to the CST Qualification Course cadre during in-processing.
5. Soldiers who do not meet the pre-screening criteria will not be accepted into the CST Qualification Course and will be returned to their unit of assignment.
6. Volunteers should scan the signed volunteer statement - either the Army Active and Reserve Component CST Volunteer Statement or the AFSOC CST Volunteer Statement -- attach it to an email, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org along with the volunteers' full Social Security Number. The SSN is required to enter volunteers into ATRRS.
7. Volunteers will be on TCS orders with temporary duty enroute for CRC, CST training, pre-deployment training, and deployment.
8. Eligible volunteers will be placed on 10-day TDY return orders and report for Phase I Assessment and Selection on the date provided. Volunteers who do not meet the minimum standards as outlined in the Prerequisites tab will be released from the course and returned to home station. Phase I Assessment and Selection includes, but is not limited to: Basic Medical Screening, Physical Fitness, and Psychological Screening.
9. Volunteers who are selected will be returned to their unit immediately upon completing Phase I. The best candidates will be invited to return for Phase II Training and follow-on Phase III Assignment and Deployment.
10. Soldiers selected for CST training will attend CRC at Fort Benning, Ga., prior to reporting to USAJFKSWCS at Fort Bragg. Soldiers should not accept weapons, scopes, or night vision goggles at CRC. Those items will be issued at Fort Bragg upon completion of CST training.
11. Upon completion of CRC, selected candidates will report to USAJFKSWCS for Phase II CST training, which is approximately 4 to 6 weeks in duration.
12. Once Soldiers complete the Qualification Course, they will graduate and move to Phase III Assignment and Deployment. CST graduates will be attached to Army Special Operations Forces units and participate in unit pre-deployment training for approximately 15 to 20 days.
13. Volunteers who are airborne qualified and on jump status must ensure that their jump status is current and will remain current before reporting to CST training. CST students will not conduct proficiency pay jumps while assigned to CST training.
14. Questions may be emailed to email@example.com.