Navy SEAL Training Program
Technically referred to as Basic Underwater Demolition School/SEAL or BUD/S, U.S. Navy special forces soldiers go through a multi-layer of training to develop and enhance their ability to be effective in the field and under fire on operations. Since the beginning of the special unit program, SEAL training has been extreme and known for knocking out candidates left and right, with only a minority of each trainee class passing the first round.
Hundreds of navy personnel and sailors have gone through a grueling 25-week process of training, testing and elimination. The 25 weeks are broken up into three parts with every task performed graded and evaluated by experienced SEALS and instructors. The three categories are intentionally crafted to push the candidates to their physical and mental limits, potentially breaking them as they might experience on a real operation.
The first phase involves physical development and setting conditioning standards. A significant emphasis is placed on personal conditioning and endurance in swimming, running, and getting through physical obstacles. There are also fundamental water skills and first aid or life-saving routines to master. Candidates are run through the grilling to take them as far as they can go as individuals. Within this phase candidates will be challenged to function for 120 hours of work with only four hours of sleep and rest. If candidates make it through this Hell Week, there’s a high probability of making it through the rest of the program. However, the challenges of drown-proofing and tying a knot while under water still have to be met. Often, direct physical risk is involved but medical paramedics and technicians are on hand to treat injury immediate.
The second phase puts a primary focus on diving and combat swimming training. It’s not enough to know how to swim; the SEAL has to be able to function with equipment, gear and in extreme conditions under or in water. This includes cold temperature conditioning as well as breath-holding and simulated drowning to experience the limits of the body underwater. The training category has been beefed up on the frequency of diving exercises involved and complexity. This requires candidates to not only deal with diving during the day and night, but also to handle direction changes while in the water. Ideally, a successful candidate can still perform and accomplish goals even when facing extreme water challenges.
The third phase is the final testing of the SEAL’s basic training and passage. This category repeats all the grueling conditioning and exposure. However, now the candidate has to do more than just endure; he has to think and function mentally even when suffering under conditions and stress. A significant boost in training with equipment, operating as unit, weapons, and working with explosives are involved. By the time he’s done, a SEAL will be a certified marksman with an M4 military issue rifle. In practice almost two-thirds excel even more and get rated as Expert. However, the SEAL still has to pass more conditioning tests, however, the metrics are far more challenging in the third phase. This includes swimming, running and obstacle challenge mastering.
When the basic training is almost at an end, each candidate is then rated by the instructors and program administrators. Those that pass get to wear the SEAL pin and engage in further specialized training, eventually migrating to operations. Those that fail go back to regular Navy operations and can try again at a later time. Some return for a second try, some don’t. Those that succeed go on to be unknown, unnamed heroes of special operations.
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