Navy SEALs – Part 4: Hell Week

they are among the most secret military units within the United States Armed Forces a classified Special Operations Command oh group with a brutally simple strategy destroy the enemy and remain undetected for over 55 years US Navy SEALs have earned a fearsome reputation for their aggressiveness in war theirs is a tradition of single-minded dedication to victory seals specialize in sea air and land intelligence gathering missions requiring a strict emotional and mental control unimaginable to most people and therein might lie their biggest challenge finding men who can tap into the physical and mental strength required of a Navy SEAL their training course is called bud’s or basic underwater demolition SEAL training buds is a 27 week selection course designed to find the men with an ability to ignore pain and a willingness to sacrifice for the team every tradition of HUD’s revolves around winning losing is unacceptable and is punished severely each week is designed to be more difficult than the last students must compete on a daily basis to remain in the class those who quit must ring a ship’s bell three times in front of the entire class their helmets are placed in a line as a daily reminder that 70% of the men who begin Budds never finish of all the weeks in buds one in particular stands out its sole purpose is to separate the weak from the strong in a ritual every seal must endure and no seal ever once carry to survival a man quickly learns there is only one rule to remember it pays to be a winner it begins on there before midnight on a Sunday evening at the seals training center in Coronado California the third week of buds is called hell you all those seals tend to minimize its significance to their overall training hell week is an initiation for those who can make it through and the end of the road for those who can’t the first evolution of hell week is called breakout it is the beginning of five straight days and nights of mental and physical tension designed to simulate combat stress seal instructors move through the class of 42 men spraying the students with cold water and tiring them with physical exercise and contradictory commands the urgent pace is calculated to confuse and intimidate them hell week represents a separation from everything these young men have ever known where individuals fail and only teams survive in the darkness the class is ordered back to barracks to change into dry uniforms and the urgency to obey one student becomes separated from his swim buddy and a group of instructors pounce on him punishing him for not being a team moments later the other students returned and the deliberate pressure continues they are sprayed with more cold water and the physical exercise resumes but with a higher intensity the class will be ordered to return to their barracks two more times to change uniforms until every piece of clothing they have is wet breakout is less than 25 minutes over being sprayed with water is merely a nuisance the gunfire is loud but not life-threatening even the instructors yelling is nothing new yet after less than 35 minutes in the darkness the students are becoming

disorganized at night distances seem greater sounds are magnified the class is cold and disoriented they are unaware that instructors have quietly removed two students from one of the both groups as the instructors request a roll call they watch to see how long it will take for the class to discover the students are missing even after five weeks of training noise an intensity of hell week break out have shocked the class into forgetting the most basic procedures and you get a muster in your two guys you you forgot everything that we’re taught you we’re gonna make you remember hit the serve the importance of maintaining group unity in one form or another will be repeated endlessly in the week to come being cold and wet makes minutes seem like hours lying in water is so cold it shocks a man’s breath away surf torture at night and drive a person insane with misery and make him question his commitment to becoming a seal with people that don’t understand what we’re trying to do they have to be on the side that we’ve been they have to be able to go out and understand what we need as a community who conduct warfare the way we do we can’t have a man wanting to quit out there we can’t have that luxury he’ll week is a structured world of sacrifice designed to force students to the limits of their endurance in five days and nights may not seem a long time until it is spent minute by minute under the harsh gaze of seal instructors searching for a lack of commitment the oceans has no mercy neither does hell week no us see on Friday left whoo yeah well you’re not cold are you no sir don’t lie to me tell me that you a little sir giggle relax the got six days left don’t forget those nights every man’s ability to endure cold must be unquestioned after a close examination for hypothermia the class will return to the water after a five-minute break hell week is now an hour and 25 minutes old with this picture man every hour of her leak has divided into evolutions designed to discourage individuals and reward teamwork using a carefully planned deliberate strategy three rotating shifts of seal instructors will work the class 24 hours a day each moment seemingly harder than the last although many people viewing hell week for the first time might see these methods as random harassment this week is a scripted blueprint of planned chaos the hell we game it’s a selection course within the selection of course hell week is its own entity guys can be doing good through training but yet may not make hell week hell week is like a black cloud always tell the students asking is that black card coming your way they say whoo yeah but it comes their way and it’s gonna come down and rain it’s motivation it’s working together as a team it’s not gonna be one guy making that boat crew go it’s gonna be the whole team standby down log down log you always have to be motivated you always have to think positive there’s gonna be some times that you’re gonna be asked to do something and you might not like it in hell week winning is rewarded losing is defined as falling behind the power curve and is punished harshly this boat crew has just lost their log relay race to motivate them instructors assign them to lift old misery a tree trunk over four times the size and weight of the regular log this motivation is called the two peas either you play or you pay every student believes he would meet the challenges of Harry but no man has ever prepared for the sheer sacrifice

required each monotonous grueling challenge can break the student who cannot filter out [Applause] no outside cameras have ever filmed hell week before the teams are concerned that a portrayal of their commando training without proper context would either be negative or sensationalized their anxiety is more than simple suspicions of the outside world secrecy is rule one for the talents their best defense is remaining undetected in the field or in the press nonetheless despite some restrictions on filming what is portrayed here accurately represents the challenges and stress these students with experience for the next six days we have to create a stressful conditions for these guys and because this admin environment we’ve got to create it through pain inflicting a certain amount of pain and cold into their bodies to help us decide whether this individual is of the caliber that we need in the team’s hell week is now over sixteen and a half hours old the adrenaline and excitement of breakout have given way to the realization of unyielding misery yet as tired as they feel each boat crew must work as a team or pay the price every task is simple but difficult for six physically exhausted men unless they work together there is only one rule it pays to be a winner grab those things later better engagement put out around here they get treated good hell week is designed to push every student past his breaking point to destroy every conscious reason he might have for not quitting in the end the only reason to remain will be a man’s commitment to his teammates every step of buds training including hell week has been tried and tested by the seals who teach it its harshness is dictated by the job itself the teamwork required in a platoon demands it their profession requires a dedication to training at a level of intensity far beyond the common experience individuals that’s what we are both individuals that are not around here as a whole what we do is push a guy physically and mentally just crank down on pushing light really to his limit so he can see what it is and we do it again it’s not to go to work and again and again merciless of all operational

environment very valuable here today gone tomorrow right now the Porsche ranging away will ring the bell and get out of here hell week relentlessly pounds body and mind until every nerve is raw every emotion exposed it is the seal instructors job to discover how each man will react under pressure like that you understand because you’re a safety hazard sir you need to go to a shepherd and be a Supply Officer someplace safe where you don’t hurt nobody get over the worn out so we works right now and tell me your safety hazard three your safety hazard or what you’ve been doing explain to me I tripped okay now I’m carry you trip there and extended arm carry oh yeah you tired are you fatigued than anybody else at me no did you trip all the way back to its way pretty carrier boat to you no I did not so what’s your problem fine what’s your problem stop playing mr. Newell what’s your problem mr. Knoll why don’t you want to be here one what’s your problem mister you’ll answer me what’s wrong start talking sir I’m doing a combat situation you’re not gonna put out and kill your whole platoon hell week a simulated combat scenario and you’re failing we put you in a real situation you’re gonna kill people so you’ve got to put out you’ve got no chance I’m giving you one more chance I’ve got authority right now to do something to you that you don’t want to happen after two hours of lifting logs the exhausted class is totally in the moment second seemed like hours minutes seemed like days they fail to realize their being rested because resting doesn’t mean relaxing with a cold superiority of a master interrogator one instructor scolds them for their lack of attention to detail by challenging their personal commitment to each other war is not fair neither is straight do it again do not want to be here you do not belong here you know that I know that think off gracefully I can do that too I just want to help I want to be your friend right now that’s the way it works I give you Nicholas you give me a dime you understand what I’m saying you guys go first all right training is a sacred trust but if you don’t look at it that way then you should not be in the training

you should not be that Officer in the back and good pushup the rescue guys did half way hook push-ups I didn’t appreciate that but because he did 110% he pulled you guys through and I gave you that so good job mr. Santori that’s the way should be each and every time this way should be 110% you guys remember that it’ll make it a lot in combat uncertainty or disorder can result in death this boat crew is about to learn that confusion inhale weak like confusion in battle bringing pain next man took control a little bit undue stress and your throws what’s going to happen when you’re out in the field number one man senior man take the slug in his head he falls down next man has paid control bingo you freeze that means you take a slug in your head not only that but throughout your squad probably dead push them out I want in I say one day 111 one above 9 1 0 good good very good I mean very very good push-ups I will recover you guys again ready we compare hell week to a combat situation and what we’re looking at is the fatigue and stress on the individual to make sure that he can perform under those stressful situations but in reality when the bullets do fly a lot of things happen the main thing is the individual just doesn’t sit there the individual reacts because every tenth of a second could mean your life or your partner’s Elle week is the ultimate mind game a shortcut to finding those men who have the determination to overcome any obstacles and withstand any adversity and who will not tolerate failure in themselves or others you know I think that a lot of people come through here and they think well you know this training is fun this is gonna be great we’re gonna get out sand in the surf and have a great time during the thing we try to emphasize here is don’t lose sight of the big picture and the big picture is is that this is a combat unit you’re not gonna have everybody pull your law-like all the time every minute up today I hated hell week just like everyone else hated it hell week but the thought of quitting never crossed my mind it’s an attitude process more than it is anything physical when you find a mental weakness or she exploited see how far you can go and if you can get rid of him then you’re accomplishing your mission because you don’t want him next to you in a combat situation for you get it up cut meat off your head boy I mean how do you ask somebody what was it like exactly in a car accident it’s indescribable the same thing with like a hell week evolution it’s just something that a man has to go to he has to do he has to endure he has to come out of it with a positive mental attitude and ready to go some people don’t like to be cold some people want to give up too soon whereas in order to pass this program you have to show that no matter what comes up I’m gonna do the level required that means if it matters getting cold it doesn’t really matter if there’s water in my face mask doesn’t matter if I lose a fin it doesn’t matter you just keep going now a lot of people aren’t used to that so if the person’s not motivated and he doesn’t want to be a part of the best it’s a volunteer program three rings that Bell and they’re out there is a feeling in the teens for those who belong and those who don’t a man’s peers must trust his commitment to the group if a platoon questions an individual’s performance he will be replaced in hell week ultimately the

instructors determine whose days and who leaves their conclusions are based on one in question would I go to war with this individual as an instructor here give the responsibility to every member of the SEAL Teams to uphold the standards that we feel as Naval Special Warfare operators are the ones to take the war it’s very important to each and every one of us that we adhere to those standards the instructor caster has to take the angle that we possibly may be work with these individuals down the line early on the morning of the second day six tired boat crews practice landing their 150 pound rubber rafts on the jagged rocks in the surf line in worst surf conditions cracked ribs sprained ankles even torn knee ligaments are common injuries the darkness has had an unsettling effect on the class the one thing more miserable than being cold and wet is being cold and wet in the dark different geographical areas where we go it’s cold and by cold it’s 32 degrees cold at ice before you get in the water you take the shovel out and beat the ice down so the environment you work at is difficult it’s not for everybody so this you got all these guys standing around what are you walking for drop down surviving in war is the basic instinct of every soldier at critical moments a man must overcome conditions and misery they could never before have imagined to endure such conditions and still destroy the enemy is the commitment each seal demands from his teammates Tuesday tired the cold wet you’re hungry constantly sand is rubbing skin off you all over the place on the inside of your legs the back your knees from your thighs your armpits back your neck that makes or breaks these guys a simple evolutional go ahead make an arch with instructors so they can enter the sandpit area with the problem with their sleep deprivation all their emotions are so strung out that they get real depressed easy they can work together the guy in charge gets really emotional you know they just can’t can’t work it so we have to just keep on them after 32 hours 30 of the 37 men who began hell week remained the instructors know most students who quit will do so within the first 48 hours the knowledge that some quitters may still be uncovered motivates the instructors to continue searching for weaknesses their sole strategy is to keep the class off-balance taunting them with veiled threats and tedious work assignments I think the training in 1975 the emphasis was on negative reinforcement always I think though that over the years we found that we can look a lot more out of a student by using positive motivation now that’s not to say that then the negative hammer went away it

didn’t but we try to use that a whole lot less than what we used to there is always a reason for what you’re doing here you understand me yeah sure count you think I just dream this up you think I dream this up last night prior to going to bed you think I had our dream when I woke up I said well I’m gonna do this today you put this on yourself do you understand me yeah sure I did put it on you you both have a bad attitude you better change it because this is on the second day of hell week chance you got a long ways to go if you don’t like it there’s a bell on the other side of that little wheel from there you can always ring it and I won’t ask any questions you understand me yeah I can’t no one’s holding you back you want to go ring the bell right now I’ve never read Othello ever what should we use next time you question me it’s gonna be a lot harder than this you understand me my gosh your challenge get out of here we are seeing better results with our methods we’re training smarter then used to and I think we’re putting out a better product than what they did make sure that thing hold strong to be a lot of guys using it tonight what are you doing I can’t read the house why cuz it’s not me to ring the bell because I want to be here sir are you sure sir we got sand all over your hair and your face at the evening shift change on the second day the class waits for a doctor to inspect them for signs of sickness or injury this is the moment most feared by instructors who worry that the low will allow the students time to think about their situation the instructors maintain the pressure by sending the students into the water but the class has stabilized itself and privately the instructors are pleased that no one quits partly because of outside complaints partly for increased effectiveness the seals have modernized their training methods considerably over the last 15 years using the latest techniques of sports medicine men are no longer automatically washed out of buds because of injuries often they are given a chance to heal before resuming class but even during medical inspections there is no escape from learning the unyielding lessons of attention to detail in unconventional war despite the many different changes made in hell week training over the years even during medical inspections the hell remains give you away it is important and make a big piece of trash right now but when it comes to the real thing Gary Laurie hey you decide I don’t need that so I’ll just leave it here and you leave what exactly say somebody hey somebody’s been here now because you cannot line up facing the Serb I don’t want that that’s the sir face the son who keep that your head and you bring it back to me later for having them rise to a certain challenge we just do that with mental obstacles we do have physical obstacles if they rise to it they become

seals if they don’t they find another it’s amazing how far the human body can push itself when it wants to that’s what hell week was all about sleep deprivation for a week we keep sandy we keep muddy we keep cold it’s hard during that period of time the student is gonna know what his limits are the biggest hurdle is himself there’s not one person here who has been pushed as far as we’re going to take daily boundless with himself hey it’s the biggest friend of a day early morning on the third day begins with whistle trills the ever-present megaphone and drones it’s monotonous message as the class concentrates on the whistle one whistle hit the deck – whistles crawl three whistles stand up without realizing it they have begun to ignore the distractions and listen only way for the commands in combat fear can be paralyzing man can die from panic indecision or carelessness SEALs believe the man who gives up on a beach in San Diego will give up when you need him most those who quit are no different physically than those who make it the only difference is attitude [Applause] blondes have done Ironman competitions and some will make training and some of them don’t it’s hard to judge the guy that’s gonna make Andy is past the threshold and now he’s hurting now that’s the time that he’s questioning whether he wants to be he’s questioning do I have to endure this day after day after day we want to see if that individual can suck it up and perform when we’re on his buns you know want him to put out you take cuz I want to be 105 percent extra fun I won’t think about recovering you if you do it right it really is difficult you’re cold when you have an opportunity walk over there to the shower to get under a blanket or to quit and you know you know two hours from now you’ll be warming in bed it’s you know during hell week it’s easy to say you know we don’t seals believe that when a man is pushed far enough he will either quit or retreat into the inner safety of his mind where he can function oblivious to the pain in his body if he cannot divorce himself from the pain and

separate people up on the firm right now have done the very same thing you have there’s only one difference they finish you did when you pay to be a winner that’s kind of treatment the teamwork that we like to see the people potentially make it through this part of training you guys just look at that and then be those guys if you go on about Gemma Lucien [Applause] and why you are here in a week the two last both days on the left here the other guy’s head into the chow hall a mile and a quarter distance from the beach to the chow hall has seen like a forced march the class has lost track of time all the students are hungry and tired and they struggled to remain alert to crews who were not able to keep up with the rest of the class while marching to lunch get an ultimatum for these men the reality of being dropped from training is a far more effective motivation than any physical punishment when you transit to and from this chow hall our performance dropped every one of you here and don’t think for a moment that I can cuz I’ve already performers trough an officer he’s gone out of training you are this close to being next in line now you’ve gone through three days in this hell week gift Drive because you can’t keep up walking to the chow hall your parents are your family’s going to a school what happened well I couldn’t keep up walking to the chow hall so I got dropped do you understand yeah no one is allowed to talk during new times students struggle not to fall asleep as they eat one of four meals they receive each 24-hour period on average each man eats approximately four to six thousand calories a day to maintain energy food is their only comfort in the absence of warmth and sleep but sitting down brings on swelling of the joints and stiffening muscles moving after eating is yet another painful challenge for tired men wave goodbye to the Sun wave goodbye to the Sun I on your right arm there goes a son it’s a pretty sunset forward as night falls on the third day of hell week 26 men remain the instructors will not let up night is the prime time to test a man’s commitment to becoming a seal on the early morning of the fourth day the boat crews are performing an evolution called lions loads each man is linked to the man in front by his legs which are wrapped around the other man’s waist like a water bug propelling itself through the water each boat crew swims parallel to the shore landing at their assigned target and scaling a sea wall while an instructor observes the students can sense that the physical pace of Hell week has diminished the instructors know that physical punishment no longer will have any effect on the class after four days and nights of cold water psychological torment and agonizing exercise the class has become numb to the misery at this stage of Hell week they are operating on instinct slowed the pace the instructors have not relaxed their demands for attention to detail you control this group but each boat crew is now operating as a team and the instructors see the class is working together okay some like your not so much it calls man see they have learned the lessons of hell we for the remaining two days and

nights the instructors will simply keep the class cold and Budds has attracted its share of criticism because of its 70 percent failure rate dropouts cost money and mean wasted training time but seals believe that teamwork is their best weapon and quitters are their biggest enemy for seals hell week is a time proven tradition to find the men who matter guys that want to be there they know what the program is about they can put up with the coal they can put up with the enduring aspect and now after the hell week evolutions we feel like they’re conditioned to a point where we can start moving on to the other phases where they start doing more of the land warfare and such many individuals join units like the seals seeking excitement and challenge but seals want only those who are aggressive loyal to their peers and able to sacrifice for the good of the group seals call these qualities the gifts that keep on giving and know them to be the essential link in the CEO team tradition the greatest fess that you can have with someone is to trust your life to them and I know that I can walk around with any instructor here on the staff anybody down at SEAL Teams and I can trust my life to them and they can trust their life today that’s what it’s all about it’s teamwork hell week is nearly over but it’s only the beginning for those who want to become seals ahead ly 13 more strenuous weeks of water training and diving instruction followed by nine intense weeks of land warfare after graduation each man spends six months to a year on probationary status inside an operational SEAL team where other seals screen him for temperament and commitment there is only one rule to remember it pays to be a winner talk to me Frances how do I know that you’re not gonna talk again over there cuz you told me not to so together I told you not to all the time ago