By lex, on May 7th, 2011
In the Navy, the retention of trained personnel is a high priority during ordinary times. We spend significant sums recruiting qualified personnel, and the technical training they receive can make them both difficult to replace, and particularly valuable to civilian employers who will 1) pay them more, and 2) promise not send them to sea for months on end with thousands of their closest friends sleeping in intimate proximity.
They do things a little differently in Navy Special Warfare:
The pinnacle of SEAL training is known as Hell Week, a period of continuous tests and drills during which most classes sleep only a total of two to five hours. Every man has a different story of Hell Week; he remembers particular classmates and instructors, his own most difficult moments. But every Hell Week story is also the same: A man enters a new world aiming to become something greater, and having subjected himself to the hardest tests of his life, he has either passed or failed.
My Hell Week began in the middle of the night. Sleeping in a large tent with my men, I woke to the sound of a Mark-43 Squad Automatic Weapon. The Mark-43 has a cyclic rate of fire of 550 rounds per minute. It is the primary “heavy” gun carried by SEALs on patrol. A blank round is not nearly as loud as a live one, but when the gun is rocking just feet away from your ears in an enclosed tent, it still sounds painfully loud.
We soon started surf torture. We ran into the ocean until we were chest deep in water, formed a line, and linked arms as the cold waves ran through us. Soon we began to shiver. Instructors on bullhorns spoke evenly, “Gentlemen, quit now, and you can avoid the rush later. You are only at the beginning of a very long week. It just gets colder. It just gets harder.”
To the outside observer, the process certainly appears to work.