The U.S. Navy SEALs are the United States’ elite special operations force, and becoming a part of the team requires a training regimen so demanding, it has been dubbed “Hell Week.”
The SEALs were formed in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy as a marine counterpart to the U.S. Army Special Force. Over the years, the SEALs have amassed a sensational history of successes and become legendary in their exploits.
Their success stems from the hardest training in the U.S. military – a defining event of their Basic Underwater Demolition School (BUD/S) training known as Hell Week.
During Hell Week, cadets train for five days and five nights solid with a maximum total of four hours of sleep. The ordeal that unfolds in damp, chilly conditions tests physical endurance, mental toughness, pain and cold tolerance, teamwork, attitude and ability to work under sharp physical and mental stress.
Timed exercises, runs and crawling through mud flats are woven into these trials. Additionally, cadets have to be wary of sleep deprivation as well, as the four hours they’ll get won’t count for much.
Although Hell Week tests all the necessary skills for a SEAL, the emphasis is on action. Almost every Hell Week “evolution” involves a cadet team carrying their inflatable rubber Zodiacs over their heads.
Only a quarter of SEAL candidates make it through Hell Week. The selection process is ultra-intense because the instructors want to be left with the most elite soldiers – the best of the best.
The only true predictor of which candidates will make it through is hunger – those who want it most succeed.