By Sharon Aron Baron
Since the May 1st killing of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, there has been a great deal of curiosity about the Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land Forces – commonly known as SEALs kept their clandestine mission a secret from the world.
Our family was so overjoyed by the news that Sunday night and were pleased that our President gave the go-ahead for this incredible mission. The next day, we proudly placed our American Flags all over our yard. Watching the scores of people flood to Pennsylvania Avenue and Times Square brought tears to my eyes. Such an incredible job well done by our SEALs.
This really piqued my interest in what it takes to be a Navy SEAL: I found out to become a SEAL. It would help if you first went through what is considered the most physically and mentally demanding military training in existence.
Lee Ann Obringer writes that training is brutal. It takes over 30 months to train a Navy SEAL to the point at which he will be ready for deployment. The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task they could be called on to perform, including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit, both mentally and physically, to weed out those who may not be able to complete the demanding missions and operations with which SEALs are faced. The types of stresses they endure during BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) are the same stresses they will endure as SEALs. If they can’t withstand it when lives aren’t on the line, chances are good they won’t be able to withstand it when lives are at stake.
After this, are you ready to become a SEAL? If you meet the basic qualifications and are even considered, you must also meet the physical screening test requirements, which require long-distance swimming, push-ups, pull-ups, running, and passing the basic underwater demolition or BUD screening. If you are a woman, don’t even bother to apply. The Navy SEAL program only accepts men!
SEAL Prep School
Here, aspiring SEALs are given a crash course in the physical standards required even to attempt to become a SEAL. It starts with an initial Physical Screening Test and ends with a more demanding Physical Screening Test, one that includes a timed four-mile run and a timed 1,000-meter swim. The goal is to increase your physical readiness between the two tests so that you are ready to move on to BUD/S. Those unable to pass the final test are removed from the SEAL training pipeline and reclassified into other jobs in the Navy.
Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL BUD/S School
BUD/S is a 24-week training challenge that develops your mental and physical stamina and leadership skills. Each BUD/S phase includes timed physical condition tests, with the time requirements becoming more demanding each week.
BUD/S – Orientation (3 WEEKS)
This initial course introduces candidates to the BUD/S program, its instructors, and the lifestyle to expect here. You will get a sense of the training regimen that awaits and be prepared to start the first phase.
BUD/S – Physical Conditioning (7 WEEKS)
The first phase of BUD/S assesses SEAL candidates’ physical conditioning, water competency, teamwork, and mental tenacity. Physical conditioning utilizes running, swimming, and calisthenics and grows harder and harder as the weeks progress. You will participate in weekly four mile timed runs in boots and timed obstacle courses, swim distances up to two miles wearing fins in the ocean, and learn small boat seamanship.
BUD/S – Combat Diving (7 WEEKS)
The Diving Phase of BUD/S trains develops and qualifies SEAL candidates as competent basic combat swimmers. During this period, physical training continues and becomes even more intensive. This second phase concentrates on combat SCUBA. You will learn two types of SCUBA: open circuit (compressed air) and closed circuit (100% oxygen). Also, basic dive medicine and medical skills training is provided.
Emphasis is placed on long-distance underwater dives to train students to become basic combat divers, using swimming and diving techniques as a means of transportation from their launch point to their combat objective. This is what separates SEALs from all other Special Operations forces.
BUD/S – Land Warfare (7 WEEKS)
Land Warfare trains, develops and qualifies SEAL candidates in basic weapons, demolition, and small-unit tactics. Physical training continues and becomes even more strenuous as the run distance increases and the minimum passing times are lowered for the runs, swims, and obstacle course.
This third phase concentrates on teaching land navigation, small-unit tactics, patrolling techniques, rappelling, marksmanship, and military explosives. The final three and a half weeks are spent on San Clemente Island, where students apply all the acquired techniques during training.
Parachute Jump School
Upon completing BUD/S, SEAL candidates receive both static and free-fall training at Tactical Air Operations in San Diego, CA. The accelerated 3-week program is highly regimented, facilitated by world-class instructors, and designed to develop safe and competent free-fall jumpers in a short period of time.
To complete the course, you must pass through a series of jump progressions, from basic static line to accelerated free fall to combat equipment – ultimately completing night descents with combat equipment from a minimum altitude of 9,500 feet.
SEAL Qualification Training
Next comes the process of taking fit, versatile, and determined candidates, those who’ve already proven themselves exceptional, and transforming them into something even greater: warriors worthy of the SEAL designation. If you have what it takes to get this far, you’ll spend the next 26 weeks further honing your mental and physical prowess.
SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) teaches standardized Naval Special Warfare Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) – running candidates through a gauntlet of rigorous training courses. You’ll develop expertise in areas that include cold-weather survival, marine operations, advanced combat swimming, close-quarter combat, and land-warfare training. Here, you’ll learn the intricacies of operating not only as a competent individual but as an effective member of an operational platoon. Graduation from SQT culminates in the awarding of the coveted Navy SEAL Trident – after which you’ll immediately begin advanced training and be assigned to a SEAL team.
Advanced Training and Team Placement
Upon reporting to your First SEAL Team or Special Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team, you can expect 18 months of advanced training broken equally between Individual Specialty Training, Unit Level Training, and Task Group Level Training. Those Enlisted SEALs with a medical rating first attend Advanced Medical Training Course 18D for 6 months to become a SEAL medic. Those pursuing Officer positions first attend the Junior Officer Training Course to learn about operations planning and perform team briefings.
Training, physical conditioning, and drills are part of the SEAL lifestyle. Once you’ve completed SEAL initial training, you can go even further with advanced training that could include foreign language study, SEAL tactical communications training, Sniper, Military Free-Fall Parachuting, Jump Master (Static line and Military Free Fall), Explosive Breacher and much more.
Tired yet? After all this training comes the tougher part: the job of essentially taking on any situation or foe that the world has to offer, including missions such as those to kill Osama Bin Laden.
So thank you to all our military and our Navy SEALS. This Memorial Day, I hope everyone will remember the more than one million men and women who have died in defense of our nation.