S eals are fast, slippery sea creatures, always wary of being a polar bear’s next meal.

SEALs are the fastest, wariest, and most elite special forces team in the US Navy. SEALs stands for “Sea, Air, Land” — because Navy SEALs carry out operations in all three environments, so they’re one tough group of commandos.

Let’s dive into their world as we get a glimpse of what it takes to become a SEAL, and check out one of the most awesome training bases of the US military.

Baby Seals

The SEALs story began in World War II, when US troops from the Army and Navy were trained to gather information about beaches in France and North Africa that America wanted to invade. Back then, the elite team of commandos was known as the Scouts and Raiders. It wasn’t until the Vietnam War 20 years later that they became the SEALs.

Training Camp

Training to become a SEAL is easy-shmeasy. All you have to do to be accepted into the training program is successfully pass the SEAL Physical Screening Test. The test includes swimming 500 yards in under 13 minutes, doing 42 push-ups in two minutes, 50 sit-ups in two minutes, and running 1.5 miles in 11 minutes. That shouldn’t be a problem.

Once the applicants have been accepted into the training program, they’re shipped out to a base in Coronado, California, where they undergo 24 weeks of training that includes seven weeks each of physical conditioning (just whipping them soldiers into shape), combat diving (the “sea” part of SEAL), land warfare, and another three weeks of parachute jumping (and there we have the “air”).

So what exactly do they do during all this time? Well, there are lots more push-ups. Also, running: running while carrying a boat above their heads, running while holding a very heavy log. Swimming, diving, rolling in the mud. More push-ups. And all this takes up 20 hours of every day. The trainees only get four hours of sleep, if they’re lucky. They’re cold, they’re wet, they’re covered in mud, and they’re very, very tired. But they gotta carry on, because if they miss even one small step, they’re out of the program.

Even after graduates complete the grueling 24 weeks of training, they’re still not done! It takes another 26 weeks for each member to be trained for a specialized skill. When they’ve finally completed that, they’re recruited into one of the ten SEAL teams.

The Best at Everything

Each year, approximately 1,000 applicants are accepted into the training program. Guess how many make it through to graduation? Only 25 percent! Now you can see why it’s known to be one of the toughest military training programs in the world.

I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone in their right mind want to voluntarily put themselves through so much torture? Well, most soldiers join the military to fulfill their patriotic duty, as well as to get some adventure. But for those who set their hearts on becoming a SEAL, it’s a lot more than adventure they’re looking for.

Without a doubt, SEALs are the best, the fastest, the strongest, the bravest. And those who join the SEALs definitely need to be the best at everything. And although no SEAL is doing it for the money, the pay ain’t bad either. Navy SEALs are the highest-earning enlisted personnel in the military. In addition to the standard pay, SEALs can look forward to lots of bonuses and incentives, like jump pay, demolition pay, and dive pay — bonuses for jumping out of an aircraft, carrying out a demolition, and other dangerous missions. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 680)