All About BUD/S & Training to Become a Naval Special Warfare Operator - (2024)

On its official Navy SEALs page, the US Navy’s warning reads: “You should consult your physician or other health-care professional before starting any exercise regime…to determine if it is right for your needs.” Is that ever an understatement? As one who has survived the brutal training to become a Navy SEAL, I’ll tell you now — it’s not your daddy’s exercise regime. It’s more like volunteering for torture.

Still undeterred? Good. Our country needs you. Here’s what Navy SEAL training looks like now — and in the future.

Training to Become a Navy SEAL: An Overview

In SEAL training, your “guidance counselor” doesn’t believe in political correctness regarding name-calling. He’ll call you by whatever gets under your skin. In the SEALs, it’s equal-opportunity insults 24/7.

That’s just the start. That is if you even enter the official SEAL training pipeline.

Your first six months are designed to get you to quit, which you can do by simply ringing a bell. You’ll start with the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) school, the highlight of which is “Hell Week.” It’s every bit as bad as it sounds — and then some.

The party isn't over after BUD/S. Then, you’ll test your fear of heights at the Parachute Jump School (and you thought it was all about the water), followed by the SEAL Qualification Training (SQT). SQT, which is 26 weeks and very intense. SQT is a 20x parachute school. If you make it through all that, congratulations! You have just become part of the most incredible fighting unit the world has ever known — the Navy SEALs.

Then, you’ll spend 18 months ready for deployment to some of the worst hot spots in the world. Whether on the sea, air, or land — wherever our nation needs us, we come. We “achieve the impossible through critical thinking, sheer willpower, and absolute dedication…”

SEAL training is the cauldron where those qualities are forged. There’s only one thing you need to remember: Don’t ring the bell.

Intrigued? Here are the details of your journey to becoming a SEAL.
First, you enlist in the Navy. Next, you’ll go off to a recruit training center, where you’ll need to put up some serious numbers in your physical exam and physical screening test (PST) to qualify for the next step in becoming a SEAL. SEAL candidates must do the running portion of the PST wearing boots and long pants.

You’ll also need to take the Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to assess your ability to learn and the Computerized-Special Operations Resilience Test (C-SORT) to test your mental toughness and resilience.

  1. Boot Camp

If you meet the stringent qualifications standards, you’ll attend boot camp and begin training with your SEAL mentor. You might want a desk job now if boot camp isn’t a breeze. However, if you push yourself to the elite levels during your boot camp training, you might be invited to train at the Naval Special Warfare Prep (Pre-BUD/S) school in Great Lakes, Illinois.

    2. Pre-BUD/S

There, you’ll prove you can endure the next leg of your adventure. Pre-BUD/S is a seven-to-nine-week apprenticeship training school that will prepare you for the mental and physical hell you’ll face in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S).

    3. BUD/S and Hell Week

If you make it through Pre-BUD/S, you’ll ship off to Coronado, California, for the toughest seven months you’ll ever spend. BUD/S occurs in four phases — four-and-a-half when you factor in Hell Week:

Indoctrination: Here, you’ll learn about what you’ll undergo, SEAL lingo, special techniques, and what will be expected from you.

Phase 1 – Basic Conditioning: In this phase, you’ll learn small boat seamanship, how to read and follow hydrographic charts, and undergo the most intense physical conditioning you’ll ever experience. About four weeks in comes Hell Week.

Hell Week: You’ll spend five days and five nights with only four hours of sleep. Though you might get hot meals and MREs, that’s about all the physical comfort you’ll have. You and your team will carry your boat over your heads, crawl through ice-cold mud, run through weeds and mosquitoes, do pushups in knee-deep sludge, and get confusing orders from your instructor — all while he calls you the most ego-busting names he can think of (My instructor’s “pet name” for me was “worm”). Here’s where you’ll be tempted beyond belief to ring that bell. But hang in there (sometimes literally).

Phase 2 – Diving: You’ll learn both closed- and open-circuit combat diving — how to complete long-distance underwater transit dives to get where you need to go without the enemy knowing you’re coming.

Phase 3 – Land Warfare: In this phase, you’ll learn how to navigate on land, rappel down cliffs, and handle land and underwater explosives. You'll also learn about small-unit strategies and tactics and undergo advanced weapons training.

Post-BUD/S SEAL Training
The fun doesn't stop after you graduate from BUD/S. Your training doesn’t stop. Before the Navy assigns you to a SEAL team, you need to complete a few more courses, including:
- Basic parachute training
- More diving training
- Special Operations medical training (for medical personnel)

After all this coursework, you’ll become part of a special delivery vehicle (SDV) or SEAL team. You’ll continue with drills and physical conditioning if you’re a SEAL. Additionally, you can take advanced coursework, such as training in foreign languages, tactical communications, sniper skills, free-fall parachuting, explosives, and much more.

One thing you must know: training to become a Navy SEAL is a never-ending process. With a dropout rate of around 74 percent, the most important thing is never to ring the bell. Not only as a SEAL but with whatever life throws your way. As Admiral Bill McRaven, who managed the SEALs involved with the Bin Laden raid, puts it, “The only thing that matters is that you go in with this purpose in mind…you are just not going to quit, no matter what happens."

All About BUD/S & Training to Become a Naval Special Warfare Operator - (2024)


Is buds the hardest part of SEAL training? ›

Conclusion. Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL BUDS training is arguably the toughest military training in the world – it's a grueling program that pushes Navy Seal recruits to their limits both physically and mentally.

Where do Navy SEALs go for buds training? ›

3. BUD/S training. After completing the SEAL prep school training, you're sent to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school (BUD/S) at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California.

How long is buds SEAL training? ›

BUD/S is a 24-week training course that develops the SEAL candidates' mental and physical stamina and leadership skills. Each BUD/S phase includes timed physical condition tests, with the time requirements becoming more demanding each week.

How hard is the Navy SEAL training program? ›

SEAL training has been described as brutal, preparing you for the extreme physical and mental challenges of SEAL missions. Training consists of: 56 weeks of initial training that includes Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL BUD/S School, Parachute Jump School and SEAL Qualification Training (SQT)

Is Buds harder than Ranger school? ›

Tough as nails and twice as sharp, Navy SEALs & Army Rangers prove their mettle with grueling selection processes. Only 25% conquer the SEAL's BUD/S training, while just 40% survive Ranger's RASP.

What is the hardest thing about Navy SEAL training? ›

Throughout the entire week, you're hungry, you're cold, you're sandy, you're wet, just the lack of sleep. Constantly getting pushed harder and harder.” In this grueling 5-day stretch, each candidate runs more than 200 miles and sleeps only a total of four hours during the entire time.

Where do you go after buds training? ›

Navy SEALs are trained, organized, and equipped to operate in the sea, air and land domains to accomplish special operations missions. All SEALs attend Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training at the Naval Special Warfare Center. Upon completion of BUD/S, all SEALs undergo SEAL Qualification Training (SQT).

What beach do Navy SEALs train at? ›

Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and its adjacent beaches provide training for Navy SEALs, amphibious insertion and other small units. The beach was recently designated a critical habitat pursuant to the Endangered Species Act for the Western Snowy Plover and the California Least Tern.

What is the pass rate for buds? ›

BUD/S Training, the Toughest Military Training in the World, has a 75-80% attrition rate. The seven or eight out of ten men who fail or quit SEAL Training in the Navy are not just average guys walking the streets today, they're the best the Navy has.

How many miles a day does a Navy SEAL run? ›

Running. Running is a significant part of SEAL training, and the distance trainees cover increases over time. For the first two weeks of training, they run two miles a day at an 8-1/2 minute pace for three days a week. After that period, they run three miles a day for four days a week.

What is the average age of Navy SEAL buds? ›

What is the average age of a Navy SEAL candidate at BUDS graduation? The majority will be in their early-mid 20's. There are some exceptions- even with the maximum age at 28 as that is sometimes waiverable. Here and there you may get a guy under 20 years old.

What are the odds of becoming a Navy SEAL? ›

Navy SEALs account for only about one percent of all active-duty members of the Navy, and it is estimated that only about 20-25% of all SEAL candidates complete the training needed to become a member of the SEALs, with approximately 1,000 candidates entering the training program and about 250 candidates completing ...

Is Navy SEAL training harder than marines? ›

Navy SEAL candidates endure a grueling program that most would agree is the toughest training in any branch of service. SEAL classes have an 85 percent dropout rate and the training to become a SEAL lasts for about a year compared to three months of Marine boot camp.

How much money goes into training a Navy SEAL? ›

Plus, it costs millions of taxpayer dollars in training—approximately $2 million per Navy SEAL—to prepare the most elite fighting force on the face of the earth. With the vaccine mandate repealed, commanders now hold all power over deployments and vaccination status.

What percent of Navy SEALs pass buds? ›

Here's what happens to the typical guy wanting to become a SEAL. You see a movie about SEALs, read a book, watch a documentary. You join the Navy, go to BUDS and quit or fail training. This is typically what happens and the reason why the attrition rate at BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition School) stays around 70-80%.

Is Buds harder as an officer? ›

Yet, despite that equality of training for future SEALs, there is a distinct difference in success rates for the two groups of prospective SEALs. For decades, and presumably since its inception in the 1960s, BUD/S has proven more difficult to complete for enlisted personnel than for officers. The question is, why?

What is the toughest SEAL team? ›

SEAL Team Six became the U.S. Navy's premier hostage rescue and counter-terrorism unit. It has been compared to the U.S. Army's elite Delta Force.

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