How to Join Naval Special Operations

by Stew Smith

Do you think you have what is takes to become a member of Naval Special Warfare or Special Operations? You have several choices now! As of October 2006, the Navy changed the way SEAL Teams, SEAL recruits, and all the branches of Naval Special Warfare/Operations do business. Now, SEAL enlisted personnel no longer have to select Source ratings (i.e. BM, RM, GM etc) and learn a job that they will not practice as SEAL operators. Now, the Special Warfare and Special Operations communities have their own rating source codes. To be a member of Naval Special Warfare/Operations community, you have four choices:

1) Navy Special Warfare (Official Site)
2) SEAL - Sea Air Land  (SEAL Recruiter)
3) SWCC - Special Warfare Combatant Crewman
4) Naval Special Operations

- EOD - Navy Diving and Explosives Ordinance Disposal
- Navy Diver - Deep Sea Diving and Salvage Operations

This change in structure not only affects the way SEALs operate but also Navy Divers, EOD, and SWCC as well. In fact, many times if a member gets injured at SEAL Training or decides SEALs is not for him, he can be transferred into one of the other special warfare or special operations professions. If the student has the desire and meets the standards of the other communities in SpecWar/SpecOps, he can attend one of those schools. All the SpecWar/Spec Ops communities are seeking to expand their size by up to 20% by 2010. A student can also choose another career path within the Navy. Below are the four steps required to becoming a member of the Navy Special Warfare/Operations communities:

Step 1: Choose A Spec Ops/Spec WarSource Rating

Now competition for rank advancement occurs within the Special Warfare community as opposed to competing Navy-wide for advancement to the next pay grade. All Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations careers have individual source ratings. A recruit will attend boot camp with one of these designations, and as long as he can pass the Physical Screening Test at boot camp, he can attend the next phase of training.

- SEAL: (SO)
- SWCC: (SB)
- EOD: (EOD)
- Diver: (ND)

Step 2: Training (for SEAL Candidates only as an example)

No longer do boot camp graduates have to go to a variety of A-schools. Now, all of the above members of the Special Warfare / Operations Communities use their own training as their A-school. For instance, a SEAL recruit will go straight to BUD/S - Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training after boot camp and a SWCC recruit will go to SWCC training  to learn their job / rating.
Here is the SEAL recruit training pipeline:

BUD/S Indoctrination: (5 weeks - Coronado, CA) BUD/S Phase I: Physical conditioning (2 months - Coronado, CA) BUD/S Phase II: Diving (2 months - Coronado, CA) BUD/S Phase III: Weapons, demolitions and small unit tactics (2 months - Coronado, CA) Parachute Jump School: (1 month - Ft. Benning, GA) Advanced Sea, Air and Land Training: (5 months - Coronado, CA)

Step 3: Advanced Training/Placement (SEAL Community)

Upon graduation, the new SEAL will Receive Naval Special Warfare Classification and further opportunities for Advanced Training. The new recruit will report to a SEAL Team or SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team in Virginia Beach, VA, Pearl Harbor, HI or Coronado, CA.

For the first few months or more, the new SEAL will have an opportunity to continue Individual Specialty Training (up to 6 months) or join a SEAL platoon/SDV Task Unit and continue work-up training to prepare for future deployments.

Step 4: Deployment And Combat Operations

After an intense workup with your SEAL/SDV Platoons, you will be deployable for international operations. Typically, SEALs will deploy with their team to an area of operations around the world and then conduct a variety small unit missions.

How To Prepare For Naval Special Warfare/Operations Training:

Due to the Naval Special Warfare mission of increasing the size of the Naval Special Warfare / Operations up to 20% by 2010, the Navy has hired former Navy SEAL, Divers, and EOD members to help recruiters in every recruiting district screen, recruit, and prepare young recruits both mentally and physically for the various SpecWar/SpecOps schools.

Ask your local recruiter about the Navy Special Warfare / Special Operations Mentor in your area.  The mentor's duties are to help you prepare for training by giving regularly scheduled PST - Physical Screening Tests and other workouts that consist of:

- Swim - 500 yds using sidestroke, breaststroke, or combat swimmer stroke
- Pushups - max reps in 2:00
- Sit-ups - max reps in 2:00
- Pull-ups - max reps in 2:00
- 1.5 mile timed run - PT gear / running shoes - SEALs wear Boots / Cammies

There are basic minimum scoring standards for this Physical "entrance exam" but if you strive for the minimums you have a six percent (6%) chance of graduating. Strive for above averages scores and be in top shape before reporting.  This will require months - maybe even a year or two to get into "SpecWar / SpecOps Shape."

Naval Special Warfare Is Looking For The Mentally Tough

Some say that SEAL training is 10% physical and 90% mental. What does that actually mean?  It does not mean that you will be studying more than PT, running and swimming. It does mean that you will be pushed physically past your point of exhaustion, then you have to dig deep within yourself and let your body perform even though you have nothing left in you. This is where 90% mental comes into play. You have to mentally will yourself past this point of exhaustion so you finish the mission at hand. It truly is a test of mind over matter. As you know "if you don't mind - it doesn't matter."

Learn More About Naval Special Operations

To properly prepare for BUD/S, you do not need to lift heavy weights in the gym, do martial arts for hours a day, soak your body in freezing water, or sleep in the back yard in the winter. All you need to do to prepare for the rigors of high repetition PT, miles of running, swimming with fins, and obstacles courses is climb rope, run, swim, PT and take your showers or baths in water that is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. No need to soak in ice. Water in Southern California ranges about 50-70 degrees year round. 

Becoming SCUBA qualified prior to BUDS/EOD/DIVER is not a bad idea. Using a regulator for the first time during diving phase can be a bit intimidating. You will have to learn dive physics and dive medicine, so an understanding of math and the science of diving will be beneficial to any SPECWAR/SPECOPS recruit. See a PADI or NAUI Scuba School near you, though it is not a necessity.

If you think you have what it takes, see a local recruiter and they will link you up to a Specwar / SpecOps mentor to prepare you for a very challenging career.

Find Available Special Operations Opportunities

Navy Special Operations Fitness Articles:

- Navy SEAL Fitness Test
- Navy SEAL Fitness Preparation
- Getting Fit for SEAL Training
- The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness
- How to Prepare for BUD/S
- Video: SEAL BUD/S Training
- Navy SWCC Fitness Training
- All Navy Special Operations Fitness

If you need assistance with training plans check out the Navy SEAL, SWCC and other branches training guide at the Military.com eBook Store.

Learn more about available Special Operations opportunities.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.


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