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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
for more details)
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.
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:
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.
Swim – 500 yds using sidestroke, breaststroke, or
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
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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author
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