Why You Won’t Survive NAVY Seal Training

In a remote corner of the world twelve dark
figures plummet through the night time sky, opening their parachutes just two thousand
feet above the ground so as not to give themselves away to the terrorist grouped below. Thousands of miles away a cruel dictator sends
his forces to crush rebels fighting to create a democratic government. A single laser beam, invisible to the naked
eye, paints the lead tank and moments later a barrage of hellfire missiles devastate the
entire formation. In the South China Sea one nation’s bullying
has alarmed its smaller neighbors, and a hundred feet beneath the waves a diver delicately
cuts into a communications cable and inserts a remote tap, giving US forces access to classified
intelligence. These men are all members of one of the most
elite group of special forces in the world, and today you’re going to find out if you’ve
got what it takes to join their ranks. Could you survive Navy SEAL training? Special operations forces have existed in
virtually every military. While not formally recognized as an actual
military unit until after World War II, special operations forces have historically been tasked
with missions too risky or delicate for normal troops to conduct. An operator is a cut above a normal soldier,
typically more intelligent, better trained, and far better equipped. In modern times special forces are asked to
take on a variety of missions, and some are sent on operations so risky yet so vital for
national security, that they are forbidden from wearing any rank or insignia, or from
carrying any personal identification. If caught they will not be rescued by their
government, who use their shadowy status to gain plausible deniability and avoid international
repercussions. Special ops forces come in a variety of types,
each typically specialized or renowned for certain types of operations. Some, like the US Army’s Rangers, are well
known for operating behind enemy lines and recruiting and training partisan forces. Others such as Germany’s GSG 9 are world famous
for counter-terrorism operations, and if you’re an evil terrorist there’s nobody you want
knocking on your front door less than Germany’s most elite cops. Yet out of all the formidable special operations
units throughout the world, few have the reputation, or are as feared, as the US Navy’s SEALs. These elite warriors have a specialization
that few others can match, as they are trained to operate from the sea, air, or land- hence
the name SEAL- and sometimes operate in all three realms simultaneously with a drop from
an aircraft over water then requiring a swim to shore and a trek to the enemy. Specializing in everything from reconnaissance
to direct action missions- or in special forces parlance, killing the enemy and breaking his
shit- Navy SEALs have seen action around the world, and few soldiers present or past are
as skilled as these elite operators. But what is their training like, and do you
really have what it takes to join the ranks of the SEALs? SEALs operate in the most dangerous and remote
parts of the world, and thus their training program is meant to produce sailors who can
handle any sort of situation without panicking. Unique amongst the other special operations
units of the US military, SEALs on average lose more personnel in training than they
do in actual combat, although the classified nature of some of their engagements might
be keeping accurate combat casualties out of the public eye. Blacking out under water or suffering heat
strokes are common, and drowning leads the way in SEAL training fatalities- hardly surprising
given the fact that SEALs must be expert swimmers. Injuries in SEAL training are common place,
and expected by the instructors who always have medical personnel on standby. SEAL training is widely regarded as the most
difficult in the world, and it takes over thirty months for a candidate to complete
his training and be ready for his first real deployment. During that time they will go through various
evolutions, or events in the training schedule, with each one designed to push candidates
past their physical and mental limits. Of all who enter training to become a SEAL,
only 1% will ever complete their training- the rest either quitting or being forced out
due to injury. In fact instructors constantly encourage trainees
to quit, known as ‘ringing the bell’ for the iconic silver bell that can be rung in some
events to indicate that you finally quit. Becoming a SEAL is a completely voluntary
process, and anyone can volunteer as long as they qualify. In order to qualify you must be an active-duty
member of the US Navy, be male, be 28 or younger, have at least 40/20 vision in one eye and
70/20 in the other- although corrective surgery is possible. You must also be a US citizen, pass the Armed
Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and pass an initial physical examination that
includes swimming 500 yards in 12.5 minutes or less, rest for ten minutes, then do 42
push-ups in under two minutes, rest for two minutes, do 50 sit-ups in under two minutes,
rest again for two minutes, do six pull-ups, rest for ten minutes, and then run 1.5 miles
in boots and long pants in less than 11.5 minutes. If you qualify then you’re accepted into SEAL
training, which starts with Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, or BUDS, training, which
is itself divided up into four phases: Indoctrination, Basic Conditioning, SCUBA training, and Land-warfare
Training. BUDS will last for seven of the most grueling
months of your life, though it starts out with the five week Indoctrination course where
you learn what is expected of you as a SEAL and their ways. It also gives you a chance to prepare for
the grueling challenges ahead of you. After the luxury that is Indoctrination is
over, eight weeks of Basic Conditioning begin, and this is where you will be pushed to your
physical limits and most drop-outs happen. Each day you will engage in running, swimming
for one to two miles in the open ocean, calisthenics, and learning how to operate small rafts. Each of these events are timed and your scores
must improve continuously or you will be discharged. One of the most important, and dangerous,
aspects of basic conditioning is known as drown-proofing, during which you will learn
how to swim with both your hands and your feet bound together. To pass this evolution you must complete a
course where you bob for five minutes, float for five minutes, swim 100 meters, bob for
two minutes, do some forward and backward flips, swim to the bottom of the pool and
retrieve an object with your teeth, and return to the surface and bob for five more minutes. Yet another evolution meant to condition you
mentally is known as surf torture, or cold water conditioning. Here you must do calisthenics in the surf,
which is a chilly 65 degrees (18 C), and run a mile and a half down the beach in wet clothes
and boots. Then you’re ordered to hop back down into
the surf and do it all over again. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations,
because before you leave this phase of training you’ll have to go through the infamous Hell
Week. This is an evolution where you’ll train non-stop
for five days and five nights, with a grand total of four hours of sleep. You’ll begin at sundown on Sunday and end
at sundown on the next Friday, and during that time you will train nonstop. You will spend Hell Week carrying your inflatable
rubber Zodiac raft over your head as you run from event to event, taking part in timed
exercises, crawling through mud flats that are freezing cold, and diving into the chilly
ocean for swims. You may not get much sleep, but you’ll at
least get four hot meals a day- a luxury when for most of your training you’ve been eating
cold MREs. The hot food is meant to be a psychological
boost and comfort, as you’ll be freezing solid the entire time. This may seem excessive, but the extreme training
is critical as on a mission you and your team’s lives may depend on ignoring sub-zero temperatures
and your discomfort. SEALs don’t just need tough candidates though,
they need intelligent ones. Throughout Hell Week you’ll be expected to
listen very closely to orders, as once more in combat hearing an order properly no matter
how mentally and physically exhausted you may be will be critical. For those trainees paying attention, it might
even lead to a reward- for instance an instructor may leave out part of an order to see who’s
actually listening. If conducting exercises with a 300 pound (136
kg) log, the instructor may purposefully leave out mention of the log from one of the orders,
and a sharp-eared trainee will catch this and be rewarded with his team doing the task
without the added burden. They may even be rewarded by being allowed
to stand by a fire and rest, or sit and sleep for a few precious minutes. While you’re catching a few quick Z’s, other
teams who weren’t paying attention will be lugging their heavy log around with them,
only to discover at the end, much to their dismay, that doing so was completely unnecessary. If you’ve made it past the conditioning phase,
now you’re going to enter your SCUBA training. For eight weeks you’ll train in a variety
of SCUBA devices- many of them classified- and train in operations such as deploying
from a submarine, or conducting an airborne insertion into the ocean. After the eight week SCUBA phase, you’ll enter
your final phase: Land Warfare. Here is where you’ll learn things such as
intelligence-gathering, reconnaissance, patrolling, and close-quarters battle. You’ll learn how to execute assaults into
enemy-held structures, and how to use edged weapons such as knives to defend yourself. You’ll also learn how to react to and neutralize
enemy snipers, and learn how to operate any vehicle while executing high-speed and evasive
driving techniques. You’ll be trained in small unit tactics and
how to handle explosives, how to infiltrate enemy lines, snatch-and-grab techniques, and
proper handling of prisoners and high-value friendly VIPs. You’ll also learn how to survive in any environment
and provide medical treatment if needed. If you’ve made it this far, then congratulations-
the hard part is mostly over. From here you’ll head over to Fort Benning,
Georgia, for Army Airborne School where you’ll learn how to parachute from an airplane. After three weeks of airborne school, you’ll
then head to Seal Qualification Training, your final phase of training. Here you’ll undergo fifteen weeks of additional
training which will improve basic skills and teach you new tactics and techniques required
for your assignment to an active SEAL platoon. At this point you can clap yourself on the
back, because you’ve done what 99% couldn’t do- you’ve received your SEAL Trident pin
and are officially a Navy SEAL, one of the most elite warriors the world has ever known.

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