To become a member of one of the world’s most elite special operations forces is not easy. Today, it is estimated that US Navy SEALs have around 2,500 operators divided into eight (8) SEAL teams, and it represents less than 1% of overall active duty personnel in the United States Navy.
As I already mentioned, to become a frogman isn’t an easy task, but truth is, it is everything except easy. Every candidate who fulfil basic requirements needs to spend over a year in a series of formal training environments before being awarded the Special Warfare Operator Naval Rating and the Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) 5326 Combatant Swimmer (SEAL) or, in the case of commissioned naval officers, the designation Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) Officer. Once upon the time, someone said that it is easier to climb Mount Everest than to finish Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S).
The journey starts with the assumption that you are a men aged between 18 and 29 already a member of the Navy because SEAL team members are exclusively male and recruited only from the US Navy. Sometimes, there are some exceptions for waivers which are available for 17-year-olds with parental permission and on a case-by-case basis for 29- and 30-year-olds.
I want to talk about BUD/S and the things happening there, to explain basic steps and requirements which will grant you a ticket to the BUD/S.
Academically, all candidates must have the equivalent of a high school education, have a composite score of at least 220 on the ASVAB and be proficient in all aspects of the English language. Medically, all potential applicants must have at least 20/75 vision, correctable to 20/20, be able to pass the SEAL Physical Screening Test and have no recent history of drug abuse. Lastly, applicants must have “good moral character” as determined by his history of criminal convictions and civil citations.
SEAL Physical Screening Test (PST)
To get into the BUD/S class, the candidate needs to beat PST. Prospective candidates are expected to exceed the minimums. The minimum requirements to successfully pass the PST are:
- 500 yd (460 m) swim using breast or combat sidestroke in under 12:30 with a competitive time of 9:00 or less;
- at least 50 push-ups in 2 minutes with a competitive count of 90 or more;
- at least 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes with a competitive count of 90 or more;
- at least 10 pull-ups from a dead hang (no time limit) with a competitive count of 18 or more;
- run 1.5 mi (2.4 km) in running shorts and boots in under 10:30 with a competitive time of 9:30 or less.
Once the candidate fulfill basic requirements and pass successfully PST, he is sent to a crash course in the physical standards required to even attempt to become a SEAL.
Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School
The so-called crash course is held at Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School in Great Lakes, Illinois where the candidates are subjected to the opening Physical Screening Test and ends with a more difficult Physical Screening Test, one that includes a timed four-mile run and a timed 1,000-meter swim.
The aim is to increase the SEAL candidates’ physical readiness between the two tests so that they are ready to move on to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training. Those candidates who are unable to pass the final test at Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School are removed from the SEAL training pipeline and reassigned into other units inside the Navy.
The Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School lasts for 8 weeks.