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U.S. Military Special Operations Forces


SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) teams go through what is considered by some to be the toughest military training in the world. Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEAL (BUD/S) training is conducted at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado. Students encounter obstacles that develop and test their stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team.

The most important trait that distinguishes Navy SEALs from other Special Operations Groups is that SEALs are maritime special forces, as they strike from and return to the sea. SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) take their name from the elements in and from which they operate. Their stealth and clandestine methods of operation allow them to conduct multiple missions against targets that larger forces cannot approach undetected.

Like the Army Special Forces Enlistment Program, the Navy has a program called SEAL Challenge, which provides an opportunity for applicants to enlist with a guarantee to TRY OUT to become a Navy SEAL.

Just to qualify to attend SEAL training, applicants must pass a Physical Fitness Screening which includes the following:

  • 500-yard swim using breast and/or sidestroke in under 12 minutes and 30 seconds (10 minute rest)
  • Perform a minimum of 42 push-ups in 2 minutes (2 minute rest)
  • Perform a minimum of 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes (2 minute rest)
  • Perform a minimum of 6 pull-ups (no time limit) (10 minute rest)
  • Run 1 ½ miles wearing boots and long pants in under 11 minutes and 30 seconds.
The Screening is just a warm-up for BUD/S. BUD/S is about six months long, and divided into three phases: First Phase (Basic Conditioning) - 8 weeks - First Phase trains, develops, and assesses SEAL candidates in physical conditioning, water competency, teamwork, and mental tenacity. This phase is eight weeks long. Physical conditioning with running, swimming, and calisthenics grows harder and harder as the weeks progress. Trainees participate in weekly four mile timed runs in boots, timed obstacle courses, swim distances up to two miles wearing fins in the ocean, and learn small boat seamanship.

The first three weeks of First Phase prepares candidates for the fourth week, better known as "Hell Week." During this week, applicants participate in five and one-half days of continuous training, with a maximum of four hours sleep total. This week is designed as the ultimate test of one's physical and mental motivation while in First Phase.

Second Phase (Diving) - 8 weeks - Diving Phase trains, develops, and qualifies SEAL candidates as competent basic combat swimmers. This phase is eight weeks long. During this period, physical training continues and becomes even more intensive. Second Phase concentrates on combat SCUBA. This is a skill that separates SEALs from all other Special Operations forces.

Third Phase (Land Warfare) - 9 weeks - Third Phase trains, develops, and qualifies SEAL candidates in basic weapons, demolition, and small unit tactics. This phase of training is nine weeks in length. Physical training continues to become more strenuous as the run distance increases and the minimum passing times are lowered for the runs, swims, and obstacle course. Third Phase concentrates on teaching land navigation, small-unit tactics, patrolling techniques, rappelling, marksmanship, and military explosives. The final three and a half weeks of Third Phase are spent on San Clemente Island, where students apply all the techniques they have acquired during training.

Following Phase III, SEALS attend Army Jump School, and then are assigned to a SEAL Team for an additional 6 to 12 months of On-the-Job Training.

SEAL West Coast Teams are based in San Diego, California, while the East Coast Teams make their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Continued in Part II

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