Which special forces has the absolute toughest training in the world?

Which special forces has the absolute toughest training in the world?
Toughest military trainings in the world (Photo: XY)

All special operations forces training programs in the world are the toughest military training in the world. Period. Such programs are by definition designed to select rare individuals whose combination of physical endurance and mental qualities is largely above the average soldier/sailor.


To select and train these individuals into special forces operators requires a grueling and highly challenging program, i.e. among the ” absolute toughest training” available in the world of armed forces. Most of the special forces units across the globe have a grueling training program where only a few make the cut.

Training an elite unit isn’t just about breaking them down as harshly as possible. It also involves instilling a sense of pride and ownership. Training regimens around the world have gotten very good at that, dating all the way back to the Spartans, which I would argue was one of the toughest military training schools in the history of mankind.

Navy SEALs during the BUD/s with a wood
Navy SEALs during the BUD/s (Photo: XY)

Toughest training in the world

To anyone truly versed in the subject and objectively observant, these training programs are all around the world fairly similar in nature and bear many common traits and similarities in composition and design. Again, they are all designed to separate the elite from the elite. This can only be done one way: by breaking the strongest of the strongest, the ” absolute toughest” way.

Respective doctrine

This being mentioned, they all have particular traits and difficulties depending on the aim of the training. In other words, the emphasis is made on what the respective doctrine of these forces want their operators’ profile and capability to be.

A British SAS operator is not a Guatemalan Kaibil operator, a Marine Recon specialist is not a Swedish SOG operator who is not a Spetsnaz, who is not a French Commando Hubert frogman, who is not a SEAL, who is not a Mexican Gafe, who in turn is not a Delta Force operator, who is not a South African Special Forces Brigade operator and so on… The list goes on and on, the one thing they have in common being that they all hold very high standards in any of their selection criteria and training program.

United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance (FORECON)
United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance (FORECON) (Photo: XY)

Different doctrines and purposes

While special operations are their field, they are all different. They fight and train with different doctrines and different purposes. Any of these specialists might encounter great difficulty or even failure in some of the components of the training programs of the others, simply because they are all the toughest in the world in their own way… It is one of the reasons why they sometimes open their doors to joint training and exercises, in order to learn from each other and perfect different skills.

Your mind gives up long before your body does. Special forces training is about pushing you to your mental limits and seeing how you respond. If you give up, you’re finished. The idea of special forces being muscle-bound Rambo types is totally wrong; most are quite a normal size and very unassuming types.

Highly mediatized units

Mainstream media are mainly responsible for highlighting some training programs dedicated to the formation of highly mediatized units (Navy SEALs, 75th Rangers, Spetsnaz, SAS, etc.), while many other units around the world, just as equally proficient in their field and grueling in their training courses, are largely overlooked…

Which special forces has the absolute toughest training in the world?
Navy SEALs during BUD/s training (Photo: U.S. Navy)

This subjective and biased view of the special forces’ world contributes to feeding jejune debates, fanboy rankings, recurrent opinions, and questions about which unit is “the toughest in their training” or “the best in the world”.

  1. Militaries around the world make use of endurance challenges. In Israel, soldiers from the Golani Brigade must complete a 43-mile march to finish advanced training.

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