Stage 1: NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE PREPARATORY SCHOOL
The first stage of the Navy SEAL selection process is the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, also known as BUD/S Prep. This two-month training period is held at Great Lakes, Illinois, and is designed to prepare candidates for the physical and mental demands of BUD/S training.
The course starts with a Physical Screening Test (PST) that assesses the candidate's physical fitness level and provides an opportunity for them to improve their readiness for selection at BUD/S.
BUD/S prep wraps up with a final PST that includes a 1000-meter swim, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and a four-mile run. Candidates must meet the minimum standards set for this test, which include
- completing the 1000-meter swim with fins in 20 minutes or less
- performing at least 70 push-ups in 2 minutes
- at least 10 pull-ups (no time limit)
- at least 60 sit-ups in 2 minutes
- run four miles in 31 minutes or less
Candidates who pass this test move on to BUD/S selection, and those who don't will be reclassed into other jobs at the discretion of the Navy.
Stage 2: Basic Orientation, also known as Intro to BUD/S
This three-week course is held in San Diego, California, and is designed to introduce candidates to the Coronado, the Naval Special Warfare Center, and the BUD/S expectations and lifestyle.
During Orientation, candidates will be introduced to physical training, the obstacle course, and other various aspects of BUD/S training. This part of the training is designed to prepare candidates for Day One of First Phase, which is considered the official start of the BUD/S training.
During this phase, they are also exposed to the BUD/S mindset, the instructors, and an idea of what to expect during the first phase, which is considered the most challenging and physically demanding of the entire training- the phase where most candidates quit. Basic Orientation is also to help the candidates adjust to the new environment as they get ready for the more intense training ahead.
Stage 3: First Phase- Basic Conditioning
Stage three of the Navy SEAL selection process is First Phase, also known as the Basic Conditioning phase. It is seven weeks long and held in San Diego, California.
Candidates are rigorously tested in First Phase, where their physical and mental strength is honed to meet the highest operational standards. Each week brings more difficult training that culminates with a timed four-mile run, a timed obstacle course, and a timed two-mile swim - all recorded for assessment purposes.
The level of commitment required during the first phase causes many participants to question if they have what it takes; those who decide otherwise opt out of training by deciding to Drop on Request (DOR). The Basic Conditioning phase of BUD/S is notorious for having the highest attrition rate of any other phase.
After three weeks of vigorous training, the recruits face week four- Hell Week. Hell Week is considered one of the most challenging and grueling parts of the BUD/S training process. It is a five-and-a-half day stretch that occurs during the fourth week of First Phase and is designed to test the candidates' strength of will and group cohesion.
During Hell Week, candidates are expected to sleep for only about four hours total and will be required to run more than 200 miles and participate in physical training for more than 20 hours per day. The lack of sleep, combined with the intense physical demands, makes Hell Week an incredibly challenging test of a candidate's endurance and determination.
Passing Hell Week is a significant accomplishment and is considered an important factor in determining whether a candidate has what it takes to become a Navy SEAL.
Stage 4: Second Phase- Combat Diving
Also known as the Combat Diving phase- It is seven weeks long and held in San Diego, California.
Second Phase is designed to introduce candidates to the unique underwater skills that are essential to the SEAL teams. During this phase, candidates become basic combat divers and learn open and closed-circuit diving. They will learn how to use diving equipment, including SCUBA gear, and will be trained on various diving techniques and procedures used by SEAL teams in the field.
This phase is essential for SEALs as they are required to operate in maritime environments and need the skills to navigate and operate underwater. The goal of this phase is to develop the candidates' proficiency in underwater operations and help them to become proficient combat divers.
Successful Second Phase candidates demonstrate a high level of comfort in the water and the ability to perform in stressful and often uncomfortable sub-surface environments.
The Stage 5: Third Phase - Land Warfare training
The third phase is focused on land warfare and takes place in San Diego, California. It is seven weeks long and covers a range of skills such as basic weapons handling, demolitions, land navigation, patrolling, rappelling, marksmanship, and small-unit tactics.
This phase is designed to prepare trainees for combat situations on land and to develop their ability to work effectively as part of a small unit.
The second half of the third phase of training takes place on San Clemente Island, which is located about 60 miles from Coronado. On the island, trainees put into practice the skills they learned during the previous phase, further developing their proficiency and readiness for combat situations.
It is worth noting that only a small percentage of trainees make it to the Third Phase, as it demonstrates a high level of commitment and determination to become a SEAL.
Graduating from BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs) as a Special Warfare Operator is a significant accomplishment, but it is not the end of the journey. There are still additional training and qualifications that must be completed before a trainee can earn the right to wear the Trident and officially become a SEAL.