The United States Navy's elite sea, air and land forces -- commonly called SEALs -- is a special operations unit that specializes in missions behind enemy lines. Whether seizing an enemy location, collecting intelligence or placing underwater explosives, SEALs are frequently at the forefront of clandestine operations. Not every applicant can meet the initial qualifications to become a SEAL, and not every candidate selected can successfully complete the intensive training program.
Basic Qualifications to Become a SEAL
Enlisted SEALs do not need a college degree, but all Navy officers must have at least a bachelor's degree, although no specific major is required. Candidates must have vision of at least 20/25 after correction, with uncorrected vision of 20/40 or better in the best eye and at least 20/75 in the worst eye. They cannot be color-blind. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, able to obtain a security clearance and no older than 28. Enlisted candidates must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery as part of the enlistment process, and SEALS must score at least 165 on the mechanical comprehension, electronics information and general science sections combined, or 220 or higher on the word and math knowledge sections and the paragraph and mechanical comprehension sections.
Physical Qualifications for SEALS
Candidates must pass a physical screening test to qualify. They must swim, using the sidestroke or breaststroke, 500 yards in no more than 12 minutes and 30 seconds. After a 10-minute rest, they must complete 50 push-ups in a two-minute period, then, after a two-minute rest, perform 50 sit-ups in two minutes. Following another two-minute rest, they must complete 10 pull-ups in a two-minute period. They are then allowed a 10-minute rest period. The final challenge requires them to run 1.5 miles in no more than 10.5 minutes.
Initial Training for SEALS
SEALs training is divided into two phases. Initial training lasts slightly more than one year and consists of basic underwater demolition (BUD) school, SEAL prep school, parachute jump school and SEAL qualification training. SEA prep school is physically demanding, requiring candidates to improve their times on the physical screening test and is capped by timed tests requiring candidates to swim 1,000 meters and run four miles. BUD school lasts 24 weeks and is divided into orientation, physical conditioning, combat diving and land warfare. Jump school lasts three weeks and is held in San Diego. After successfully completing the other phases, candidates attend 26 weeks of SEAL qualification training to increase both their physical and mental skills. Areas covered include cold-weather operations and survival, close-quarter combat and marine operations.
Advanced Training for SEALS
After graduating from seal qualification training, candidates are assigned to a team and immediately start advanced training. They will spend the next 18 months in individual specialty training before progressing to training at the unit and task group levels. Each section lasts approximately six months. Enlisted personnel who hold a medical specialty first complete a six-month medical training course, and officers first complete an officer's course in operations planning and team briefings. Individual specialty training can include tactical communications, sniper, jump master or foreign language training.
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