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How to Go Navy Spec Warfare / Ops

Do you think you have what is takes to become a member of Naval Special Warfare or Special Operations? You have several choices now! As of October 2006, the Navy changed the way SEAL Teams, SEAL recruits, and all the branches of Naval Special Warfare/Operations do business. Now, SEAL enlisted personnel no longer have to select Source ratings (i.e. BM, RM, GM etc) and learn a job that they will not practice as SEAL operators. Now, the Special Warfare and Special Operations communities have their own rating source codes. To be a member of Naval Special Warfare/Operations community, you have four choices:

1) Navy Special Warfare (see this link for more details)
sealpin.jpg - 3244 Bytes2) SEAL – Sea Air Land  (Phone - 888–USN-SEAL – for SEAL Recruiter)


1swcc.jpg - 3028 Bytes3) SWCC – Special Warfare Combatant Crewman
4) Naval Special Operations: 

EOD – (Navy Diving and Explosives Ordnance Disposal)
Navy Diver – Deep Sea Diving and Salvage Operations



This change in structure not only affects the way SEALs operate but also Navy Divers, EOD, and SWCC as well. In fact, many times if a member gets injured at SEAL Training or decides SEALs is not for him, he can be transferred into one of the other special warfare or special operations professions. If the student has the desire and meets the standards of the other communities in SpecWar/SpecOps, he can attend one of those schools. All the SpecWar/Spec Ops communities are seeking to expand their size by up to 20% by 2010. A student can also choose another career path within the Navy. Below are the four steps required to becoming a member of the Navy Special Warfare/Operations communities:

Step 1: Choose A Spec Ops/Spec War Source Rating

Now competition for rank advancement occurs within the Special Warfare community as opposed to competing Navy-wide for advancement to the next pay grade. All Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations careers have individual source ratings. A recruit will attend boot camp with one of these designations, and as long as he can pass the Physical Screening Test at boot camp, he can attend the next phase of training.

  • SEAL: (SO)

  • SWCC: (SB)

  • EOD: (EOD)

  • Diver: (ND)

Step 2: Training (for SEAL Candidates only as an example)

No longer do boot camp graduates have to go to a variety of A-schools. Now, all of the above members of the Special Warfare / Operations Communities use their own training as their A-school. For instance, a SEAL recruit will NOW be enrolled in what is called BUDS Prep in Great Lakes BEFORE going to the advanced training.  The reason behind this is that TOO many students got out of shape at boot camp.  So they created BUDS Prep which is basically run, swim and PT / Lift everyday.  Here is a typical daily plan:

First of all, they don't fail you.  Its purpose is strictly to find a foundation on which to build.  They're not interested in weeding anyone out at this point.  There are three fitness levels: Red (ready for BUDS), Gray (okay shape, but room for improvement), and Blue (get your butt in gear).  This how the assessment goes:

800 yard swim:  Red under 14:30, Gray 14:30--16:30, Blue slower than 16:30

push ups 2 minutes: Red 80+, Gray 65--79, Blue under 64 or less

sit ups 2 minutes: same as pushups

pull ups: Red 14+, Gray 9--13, Blue 8 or less

3 mile run: Red under 20:00, Gray 20:00--23:00, Blue slower than 23:00

(the rest between exercises are the same as the normal PST)

Basically, at BUDS Prep, you will swim for 2 hours a day (while being instructed on proper technique), run/pt for 2 hours, then sit through a 2 hour class on anything from proper nutrition to stretching and injury prevention.  Practicing knot tying and introduction to dive physics are also part of the curriculum.  This is to create more graduates without making the training at BUDS easier.  You still have to show up to boot camp in killer shape and I would recommend being able to hit all of the above RED scores prior to boot camp.

Before going to BUDS you will have to pass the following NSW PREP Test:

1000-meter swim - with fins (22 minutes or under)
 Push-ups: at least 70 (Two-minute time limit)
 Pull-ups: at least 10 (Two-minute time limit)
 Curl-ups: at least 60 (Two-minute time limit)
 Four-mile run - with shoes + pants (31 minutes or under)

After BUDS Prep, the BUDS candidate will go straight to BUDS – Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training and a SWCC recruit will go to SWCC training  to learn their job / rating.

Here is the SEAL recruit training pipeline after bootcamp / BUDS prep:

  • BUD/S Phase I: Physical conditioning (2 months — Coronado, CA)

  • BUD/S Phase II: Diving (2 months — Coronado, CA)

  • BUD/S Phase III: Weapons, demolitions and small unit tactics (2 months — Coronado, CA)

  • Parachute Jump School:

  • Advanced Sea, Air and Land Training: (5 months — Coronado, CA)

Step 3: Advanced Training/Placement (SEAL Community)

Upon graduation, the new SEAL will Receive Naval Special Warfare Classification and further opportunities for Advanced Training. The new recruit will report to a SEAL Team or SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team in Virginia Beach, VA, Pearl Harbor, HI or Coronado, CA.  For the first few months or more, the new SEAL will have an opportunity to continue Individual Specialty Training (up to 6 months) or join a SEAL platoon/SDV Task Unit and continue work-up training to prepare for future deployments.

Step 4: Deployment And Combat Operations

After an intense workup with your SEAL/SDV Platoons, you will be deployable for international operations. Typically, SEALs will deploy with their team to an area of operations around the world and then conduct a variety small unit missions.

How To Prepare For Naval Special Warfare/Operations Training:

Due to the Naval Special Warfare mission of increasing the size of the Naval Special Warfare / Operations up to 20% by 2010, the Navy has hired former Navy SEAL, Divers, and EOD members to help recruiters in every recruiting district screen, recruit, and prepare young recruits both mentally and physically for the various SpecWar/SpecOps schools.
Ask your local recruiter about the Navy Special Warfare / Special Operations Mentor in your area.  The mentor’s duties are to help you prepare for training by giving regularly scheduled PST – Physical Screening Tests and other workouts that consist of:

Swim – 500 yds using sidestroke, breaststroke, or combat swimmer stroke
Pushups – max reps in 2:00
Sit-ups – max reps in 2:00
Pull-ups – max reps in 2:00
1.5 mile timed run – PT gear / running shoes – SEALs wear Boots / Cammies

There are basic minimum scoring standards for this Physical “entrance exam” but if you strive for the minimums you have a six percent (6%) chance of graduating. Strive for above averages scores and be in top shape before reporting.  This will require months – maybe even a year or two to get into “SpecWar / SpecOps Shape.”  See related articles below for more details.

Naval Special Warfare Is Looking For The Mentally Tough

Some say that SEAL training is 10% physical and 90% mental. What does that actually mean?  It does not mean that you will be studying more than PT, running and swimming. It does mean that you will be pushed physically past your point of exhaustion, then you have to dig deep within yourself and let your body perform even though you have nothing left in you. This is where 90% mental comes into play. You have to mentally will yourself past this point of exhaustion so you finish the mission at hand. It truly is a test of mind over matter. As you know “if you don’t mind – it doesn’t matter.”

To properly prepare for BUDS, you do not need to lift heavy weights in the gym, do martial arts for hours a day, soak your body in freezing water, or sleep in the back yard in the winter. All you need to do to prepare for the rigors of high repetition PT, miles of running, swimming with fins, and obstacles courses is climb rope, run, swim, PT and take your showers or baths in water that is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. No need to soak in ice.  Water in Southern California ranges about 50-70 degrees year round. 

Becoming SCUBA qualified prior to BUDS/ EOD/DIVER is not a bad idea. Using a regulator for the first time during diving phase can be a bit intimidating. You will have to learn dive physics and dive medicine, so an understanding of math and the science of diving will be beneficial to any SPECWAR/SPECOPS recruit. See a PADI or NAUI Scuba School near you, though it is not a necessity.

If you think you have what it takes, see a local recruiter and they will link you up to a Specwar / SpecOps mentor to prepare you for a very challenging career.

Related Articles from my Sitemap

Combat Swimmer Stroke
Top Ten Things You Should Know Before BUDS
SWCC Article

ALL Navy SEAL Articles

If you need assistance with training plans, check out the Navy SEAL, SWCC and other branches training guide at the Fitness eBook Store.

Thanks for the e-mails. Keep them coming at


Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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Published Books / DVDs
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)

The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:

Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
The Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program

Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach

The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)
The Perfect Pushup Workout

The TRX Workout
- Circuit Training 101 ebook

NEW Obstacle Course Race Ebook

The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
 Combat Conditioning Workout

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-9
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT -  Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SWCC Workout

The Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout 

The Army Air Assault School Workout

The Army Airborne Workout

The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

New - Army PRT and CRT
Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard OCS Workout

The USMC IST and PFT Workout
USMC OCS / TBS Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout

The Army OCS and PFT Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts

The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout

The DEA Prep Workout

The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB

The State / Local Police Academy Workout

The Fire Fighter Workout


TRX Train Like the Pros


Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format