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BUD/S lasts seven months. The initial indoctrination comprises five weeks of learning the expectations and ways of Navy SEALS. More important, it is a time to prepare physically and mentally for what’s ahead.
Once indoctrination is complete, the remaining time is broken down into eight weeks of basic conditioning, eight weeks of SCUBA training, and nine weeks of land-warfare training. The training takes place at the Naval Amphibious Base at Coronado, CA.
Basic Conditioning is when the going gets rough. This is the phase where most Drops on Request (DOR) happen. For eight weeks, trainees’ days are filled with running, swimming, calisthenics, and learning small-boat operations. One-to-2 mile ocean swims and running the mother of all obstacle courses are daily, and timed, events. A trainee’s time for these exercises must continuously improve.
Another important part of basic conditioning is drown-proofing. In this evolution, trainees must learn to swim with both their hands and their feet bound. To pass drown-proofing, trainees enter a 9-foot-deep pool and complete the following steps with their hands and feet tied.
The fourth week of Basic Conditioning is known as Hell Week. This is when students train for five days and five nights solid with a maximum total of four hours of sleep. Hell Week begins at sundown on Sunday and ends at the end of Friday. During this time, trainees face continuous training evolutions. During Hell Week, trainees get four meals a day — sometimes MREs, but usually hot meals of unlimited quantities. Eating hot food is a substitute for being warm and dry. It gives a needed psychological boost to tired trainees, many of whom are nearly sleeping while they eat.
Pretty much every evolution during Hell Week involves the team (or boat crew) carrying their boat — inflatable rubber Zodiacs — over their heads. Timed exercises, runs, and crawling through mud flats are interspersed throughout the five-and-a-half days. The largest number of trainees drops out during Hell Week. This extreme training is critical, though. SEALs on missions must be able to operate efficiently, oblivious to sub-zero temperatures and their own physical comfort. Their lives, as well as the lives of others, may depend on it.
During land-warfare training, SEALs train for nine weeks in intelligence-gathering and structure penetration, long-range reconnaissance and patrolling, and close-quarters battle. They are also trained to react to sniper attacks and to use “edged” weapons such as knives and other blades. SEALs must be able to drive any vehicle and be skilled in high-speed and evasive driving techniques. Hand-to-hand combat is also taught during this phase of training.
To be prepared for anything, they are taught the tactics small units must use, including handling explosives, infiltrating enemy lines, recovery (snatch-and-grab) techniques, and proper handling of prisoners. SEALs must also be able to survive in extreme environments and provide medical treatment (field medicine).
Come back tomorrow for Part #5