Insertion is at 9:00 a.m. Tugging on their dry suits hoods, the men slip into sub-zero Alaskan water with wisecracks about needing sunscreen. The first team maneuvers themselves, their packs, and the boat through nasty surf to a marker, then into a cove, where they climb a slick cliff and wait at the top. The rest of the team must arrive before anyone moves on. Instructors note the conditions are excellent because they can't get much worse. A zipline next, then a climb against a 40-mile-per-hour wind to the top of Pillar Mountain. Instructors watch for students needing direction on tactics. Lessons will be handed out at debriefing. First and for all, the enemy should always be on their minds. To make the case, one instructor tells the story about the first time he felt an enemy's bullet whiz past him. Since that day, he's never forgotten to keep himself out of range. After BUD/S, he knows combat will prove the single most defining experience to every SEAL. The Kodiak sky defrosts from gray to blue. Sunlight skims across the sea, the coast, and the forest and finally, turns the white peaks to gold. By the time this training is complete, the men will have followed the sun's path across every inch of the island.
SEALs train and test continuously. Before and after deployments they are required to attend schools to receive designations that allow the platoon to act as a combat team. The skills they acquire are completely unique to Special Operations: electronic and media exploitation, foreign weapons, advanced driving skills, advanced parachuting operations (HALO/HAHO – High Altitude Low Opening/High Altitude High Opening), advanced weapons, diving supervisor, unmanned aerial vehicle, leadership school, instructor school, and language school. Every SEAL is expected to stay at the top of his game, without injury, without sickness, and without a day off.
SEAL training has more relevance now than any other time in our history. Our present enemies require different battle strategies than previous wars. “Train the whole way, use this opportunity and make your mistakes here; get a personal system and a buddy system…because it’s the little things.”
On average a SEAL spends 219 out of 365 days away from home either training or deployed.