Fascinating Facts About the Navy SEALs You Probably Didn’t Know

When it comes to special forces, no group is more well-known than the Navy SEALs. Not surprisingly, the elite group has a plethora of nearly impossible missions under its proverbial combat belt. SEAL Team Six, for instance, killed Osama bin Laden. And Chris Kyle? Well, he was the Navy SEAL whose life was depicted in American Sniper. And the list goes on.

So, while we may not know the military’s every move (because that would kind of defeat the purpose), we do know one thing’s for sure: The SEALs are one badass band of the military’s most elite. And just ahead is a list of facts you probably didn’t know about these highly-skilled special forces.

Water boarding was once used as a training technique

Illustrative Editorial of Controversial Waterboarding

Illustration image of waterboarding | innovatedcaptures/iStock/Getty Images

Meant to simulate drowning, water boarding is a form of torture that has been used on POWs, terrorists, and the like. And it is brutal. So brutal, in fact, that CIA agents last 14 seconds on average. Furthermore, it doesn’t always get the intended response; the very act of it can scare a person into falsely confessing or telling lies.

Despite that, the Navy’s SEAL training program gave it a shot. However, the technique is no longer used as a counter-interrogation training method. Not surprisingly, the trainees struggled to withstand it, and that was bad for morale.

Next: Do you know which president formed the SEALs?

JFK formed the SEALs as a counterpart to the Green Berets

Navy SEAL trident rests atop a folded American flag

Navy SEAl trident | pamelasphotopoetry/iStock/Getty Images

In an effort to have a maritime counterpart to the Green Berets — the army’s special forces — John F. Kennedy formed the SEALs in 1962. And they’ve been accomplishing incredible feats ever since. According to NavySeals.com,

The Teams have operated in every hellhole known to modern warfare and come away with many victories, some bruises and a vast history of achievements. Most SEAL missions are unreported and unknown to the general public. Due to focus, dedication, training, and an attitude that ‘Failure is NOT an option’ the Teams have been very successful.

For the record, the SEALs’ other counterparts — in addition to the Green Berets — are the Night Stalkers and the Army Rangers, as well as the Air Force’s Delta Force and the Marine Corps’ RECON and MARSOC.

Next: Times are changing.

Women weren’t allowed to apply until 2016

Naval Academy training exercise women

Females training at the U.S. Naval Academy. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Remember the movie G.I. Jane? Well, back when the film was made — in 1997 — that was nothing more than a fictional story. After all, women being allowed to apply for the SEALs is a relatively new concept.

According to Vice Admiral Robert P. Burke, the Navy has been actively seeking women who might be interested in the SEAL program ever since the Navy lifted limitations in 2016.

Next: Humans aren’t the only fearless troops on the special ops teams.

The Belgian Malinois is the preferred breed of the Navy SEALs

French soldiers stand with military dog

Soldiers stand with military dog. | Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Dogs have long served in various branches of the military. And the SEALs’ breed of choice? Well, that’d have to be the Belgian Malinois. Much like their human counterparts, these pups undergo rigorous training that prepares them for the most extreme of missions.

In particular, these elite canines can detect explosives or hostile humans, and they can run twice as fast as an in-shape human. Oh, and they’re also trained parachutists, meaning they jump out of planes with their handlers or solo. So, there’s that.

Next: It’s a tough program for a reason.

80% of candidates drop out during SEAL training

Navy SEALs Training | Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

It’s no secret that SEAL training is absolute hell. But 80%? Well, that seems like a lot — because it is. But hey, that’s how the Navy determines the elite few who have what it takes to become a SEAL. And clearly, the system works.

Training begins with the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition Course, during which recruits are put to the ultimate test both physically and mentally. “Just the idea of the 132 hours of training during Hell Week is enough to prompt a sailor to ring the class bell 3 times, signaling a permanent stop to his own training,” Low VA Rates, a military mortgage center, writes.

Next: The SEALs are an elite group, indeed. 

Navy SEALs make up 1% of all Navy personnel

SEAL trainees take part in physical training. | Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

According to Low VA Rates, there are about 2,450 active-duty Navy SEALs. And prior to 9/11, SEAL Team Six consisted of 90 men; after 9/11, that number was raised to about 300. Relatively speaking, the number of active-duty SEALs is very, very small. So small, in fact, that it accounts for only 1% of the Navy’s personnel.

Next: This one may surprise you.

More SEALs have died in training than in combat

Military Personnel Pay Their Respects To Chief Petty Officer Matthew J Bourgeois 35 Of

Soldiers paying their respect to Navy SEAL killed in the line of duty. | Usaf/Getty Images

Any member of the military deserves all the respect in the world. That said, this point isn’t meant to discredit or point fingers. Rather, it’s to show the very real dangers associated with even the training process.

As USA Today reports, “More Navy SEALs have died in training over the last three years than in combat or from combat-related wounds, according to records kept by the Navy Seal Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Virginia Beach.”

So, would you have what it takes to become a Navy SEAL? Don’t worry, neither would we.

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