Training for the toughest special operations job in the world isn't easy. We consulted the Director of Fitness at the Naval Special Warfare Center for some tips. The beginning of our series on fitness focuses on the upper body.
Here's a sneak peek at how the Navy Leap Frogs parachute demonstration team prepare for and execute a jump into Sam Boyd stadium in Las Vegas prior to the Rugby Sevens game. Special audio from the Leap Frogs in flight! For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
Leap Frog: (LF): ...ATC may hold us to the south and have us do a south to north…
DF: The jumpers are huddled up on the ground near a parked helicopter as they finalize gear inspections.
LF: Luke’s in, stay extended three seconds. Stay extended. So, hey, go heavy…ready for me to go down. Ready. Coming down.
DF: Here they simulate the plan for exit, canopy opening, and inflight maneuvers.
Mimicking their planned actions physically and verbally, counting and repositioning themselves to engrain and review the jump plan.
LF: Come in right, come in right, come in right. We’ll try to bang in a 180. If we can’t fit in a 180, no issues, we can both land either side…
RADIO: We have lift off.
DF: A fear of falling comes naturally to almost everyone. What does not, however, is confidence and composure when free falling through the sky, headed straight for the ground. This confidence is earned through rigorous training and education evolutions. I’m Daniel Fletcher, today we go on location with the U.S. Navy's elite parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs. We’ll meet up with former guest, Luke Vesci, and the rest of the Leap Frog as they prepare to jump into Sam Boyd Stadium for the USA Ruby Sevens Championship match in Las Vegas, Nevada.
DF: These are the guys I’m looking for. How’s it going? I don’t think I’ve met you.
DF: I meet the team in the hotel lobby before walking outside to discuss the day’s plan. All of them dressed to match in Leap Frog uniforms or custom navy blue and yellow jumpsuits, professional and focused.
LF: This is Sean, who’s going to be our DZSO, so he will be mic’d up on the ground.
DF: After introductions, we walk out to the parking structure and circle up to hear from the jump master. He gathers the team to confirm the day’s schedule and brief the group about any updates.
LF: General overview for the day today, we’re going to head over to Sam Boyd Stadium. We’re going to do our site survey. As soon as we get there, we’ll link up with the guys from US Rugby 7. The helicopter’s going to land at 12:05. If everything looks good, winds look good, weather looks good, then we’re going to take off at 12:50. Streamers, 12:55, 13:00 TOT, 4,500 feet for the three of us getting out for the practice jump into Sam Boyd today. After that, we’ll just get a good wrap up, debrief, make sure everything is prepped and ready for tomorrow and then go from there. Any questions, concerns?
DF: After the briefing, the team loads their gear into three vans, and we drive out of the hotel parking structure.
During the convoy to the stadium, the three vans move as one unit, unwilling to separate.
The ordinary act of following a friend to the game, becomes today’s first display of coordinated precision, movement and tactics.
DF: We arrive at the stadium and are ushered through parking security.
LF: just as a reminder, this grass is these guys’ livelihood, so don’t step on the lines, try to stay off of the edges and everything like that as we’re walking around.
DF: After a short walk, we arrive at the edge of the field. The grass an almost neon-green, abuzz with turf workers and freshly sprayed game-day paint.
LF: Ready to go?
LF: Yeah. I think so. Today’s looking good.
LF: Do you need anything from our side?
LF: You know, I think we’re good right now.
DF: The team is joined on the field by one of the event directors.
LF: ….Discuss any contingencies, do our brief and our dirt dive, and weather look(continued)
Special Operations training is more than physical endurance. It's a mind game, and you've got to get your mind right. We talked with our command psychologist to better understand how humans mentally adapt to the challenges of hardship. For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
Intro: Anyone whose pushed their personal limits knows it’s the mind that must be trained to overcome barriers and that peak performance requires more than physical capability. I’m Daniel Fletcher. In the next couple of episodes, we take a look into Naval Special Warfare’s Mind Body Medicine Program. Today we speak with an NSW psychologist to discuss optimizing the mental health component of training, rebounding from stress – and reaching peak performance under pressure. Let’s get started.
DF: If you could start off with talking about your role here in this environment and some of your core responsibilities
CP: Absolutely so we have. There's three psychologists that we have here at Naval Special Warfare Center, and we provide support to both Basic Training Command, so all of the SEAL and SWCC students, as well as Advanced Training Commands, so the subordinate commands to Naval Special Warfare Center. So some of things that we do here are we provide clinical services when it comes down to psychotherapy. When it comes down to instructors or our students and then other roles and responsibilities that we have fall in the domain of non-clinical services. So we do assessment selection, so personnel selection of all of the candidates that are coming into the pipeline and as well as the instructors so they're participating in higher trainings. We have to screen instructors to make sure that they're doing things, we have the right people for the right job. When it comes to both the students as well as the staff. So that's what we mostly do, we also provide some support for some other training evolutions. Like so for example with ---SERE [Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion] -- we provide some support and then there are other domains of what we do here regarding mental performance optimization and executive coaching.
DF: Oh, interesting. It seems like you have a big broad and expansive responsibility here. What would you say are some of your favorite areas to work in, some areas that really --- resonate with you?
CP: Yeah. Well for the purposes also of this particular podcast you know, one of the things that tends to get a lot of traction that we're trying to be able to build this equity has to do with how to be able to look at this next generation of operators, the students that are in training and how to make sure that we're able to equip them with skills that aren't just necessarily in the physical domain but how much of the training is really built upon the mental game. And there's a lot of applications when it comes down to, when they finish the pipeline and they come into the teams, be it the special boat teams or when it comes down to the SEAL teams. What we can do, right, establishing this foundation of how to optimize mental performance and that's where I think mind body medicine comes into play.
DF: How is that transformed in your experience in the time that you've been here?
CP: You know it's something that for example you know we have trainees that come in and the big four is something that all of the students that are going to be exposed to in both respective pipelines, when it comes down to SEAL and SWCC candidates. So at Great Lakes, students will be exposed to these big four when it comes down to looking at sports psychology. So one of our predecessors and other psychologists that used to be assigned here at the Center looked at some of the best existing practices and they saw, you know what we could incorporate some of these things because we want to equip students with the skills to be successful without kind of showing like, here are the keys to the kingdom. (continued)
Setting achievable goals and learning to cope with adversity are crucial skills for Navy SEALs and SWCC. In this episode a senior Navy recruiter describes these characteristics and more. For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
Intro: Senior Chief Omar Ozuna, has spent much of his 25-year career in the Navy as a recruiter. He has seen hundreds of successes and failures in his time working with Special Operations candidates and his words of wisdom are helpful for anyone striving to achieve lofty goals. He discusses the important combination of work, attitude, and humility. He also helps to break down the importance of keeping a vision of your “what” and “why,” while balancing that with 100% focus on the next step in front of you, often in the face of great adversity. After you listen to this one, check out our “Mental Toughness” episode for a closer look.
AG: First of all, we want to thank you for being here. I know this is a really big weekend for you.
OO: Yes it is.
AG: But, thanks for being here. And if you want to start just by giving us a little context of how you got into this world where did you come from how did this all start.
OO: OK. Well I've been in the Navy going on 25 years. I'm originally from South Texas. So, most of my life, my adult life has been in the Navy. I've spent a little time. I started off in the fleet then went into recruiting and then I've also done mainly a lot of focus on special operation recruiting. So, I'm kind of spread out not just solely on one area I kind of have a little bit of everything a kind of smorgasbord of information when people come up to me I can somewhat relate to many different walks of life. One of my tours that I've really enjoyed is being a part of the SEAL/SWCC scout team and really seeing the future generation of frogmen and boat guys coming on board and seeing with the frogmen of the 21st century is going to take them.
AG: And you also have a unique perspective as someone who maybe came in not with any defined skill set for example you said you couldn't swim before you came in? And then...
OO: Yeah that's a good way of putting it. I like how you put that. I joined the Navy didn't tell my mom and dad, came home. Showed the brochure to my mom said, "Mom I'm joining the Navy" and the first words that came out of her mouth was "boy you can't swim." And that's a true statement.
AG: Uh oh.
OO: I did not have any aquatic skills. And of course, my dad told me I was way over my head and I just keep moving forward with it. I would end up going in and going to boot camp and passing, I don't know how I passed my third-class swimmers test. Got selected as a torpedo man out in the fleet started off out there and they were looking for volunteers to be search and rescue swimmers. And lo and behold I was the only one that raised my hand and they asked the same question, "can you swim?" I'm like "well not really but if you teach me I'll do it." I would start training every day for it and then opportunity rose again and I took the shot. They sent me off, I crushed the course, first time every time and nailed everything that was thrown at me, and about 10 weeks later I was doing my first open ocean rescue.
I think that's always a very interesting thing to bring up to anyone that's listening. It's not where you start it's where you end. So, I want to make sure I'm honing on that message right there, that nothing's impossible.
AG: Well and you know that's a common theme in this podcast is that you don't necessarily have to be the high school swim team captain, to even to be a Navy SEAL. It's all about the attitude that you have coming in would you say that's your lesson learned from that?
OO: Wow, either you're reading my notes but you definitely hit it on the head. I do I talk about three attributes when we're looking for ideal candidates, and one of those at(continued)
Special Operations training involves running, and lots of it. In this episode we talk with Naval Special Warfare's director of fitness how to run for maximum effect. For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
Intro: I’m Daniel Fletcher. Today we bring back the Director of Fitness for Naval Special Warfare, Mike Caviston, to cover a very important aspect of NSW: running. His advice on training, form, and commonly held misconceptions is crucial if you’re planning for a career in Naval Special Warfare, but also helpful for anyone who strives to be a more efficient and effective runner. Let’s get started.
DF: Thanks for coming back and speaking with us. We’re going to do a deeper dive about running in general. You know, we all do it, civilians, we do it as kids, it’s got some universal appeal to say the least. So, thanks for sitting down with us again.
MC: My pleasure, looking forward to it.
DF: We’ll start off by having you just give a brief history of your employment before coming to work where you do now.
MC: Well, before I came to the center, I was a coach and a teacher. I was at the University of Michigan, and I worked with a number of athletes in different sports, but primarily I was a rowing coach. I was a competitive rower myself, and I got into coaching. And while that was unfolding, I went and got my graduate degree at U of M in kinesiology, and I began teaching, and so I spent about 22 years as a rowing coach and 14 of those years as a lecturer in kinesiology.
DF: So, you have an extensive background, obviously, it’s awesome to be able to talk to you about this because I think this is something that is personally interesting to me. I’m a runner, and my father is a marathon runner, and so he kind of got me into running pretty early. We all think we know how to run, but in your view, what percentage of active runners are actually doing it correctly?
MC: That’s a hard question to answer. It’s hard to definitively say what correct running is, and I try not to get too caught up in that when I’m talking to people. I was just working with a group earlier today, the recent class that completed Hell Week, and they’re going through what we call Walk Week, and I’m trying to help them get back literally on their feet so that by next week, a couple of days from now, they can get back into regular training and pass their timed four-mile runs. And so, we review a lot of running technique and give them some running drills and help them get through the aches and pains that accumulated during Hell Week so that they’re feeling a little bit better about themselves. And that’s one of the things I stress to them, is that there’s no absolute right or wrong way to run, but I can give them some guidelines and some things to think about and especially for people that are sort of on the borderline. You know, they’re not the greatest runners, or maybe they’ve been running, and they keep getting injured, and they’re trying to figure out why, then I’ll give them some technical things to think about. But everybody’s built different, everybody has a different body type, everybody has a different training background, so I’m a little hesitant to say, “Oh, this is the correct way to run.”
DF: Right, and that’s because of you’re saying physiologically people’s differences although we may look very similar…
MC: Or, or we don’t all look that similar, so we get a wide variety of people here, you know, some football linebacker types that if they didn’t have to go through BUD/S, I wouldn’t have them run more than two or three miles a week. We also get people that were actually very competitive cross-country runners, and so, yeah, they’ve got a runner’s body, and they’ll do very well running. But as a mix of people, people that were primarily swimmers or water polo players, maybe they’re good athletes, but they haven’t really spent the years building up the bo(continued)
The Leapfrogs are the Navy's Parachute Team. This elite team of SEALs and SWCC have performed countless demonstrations around the country for millions of people. We sat down with one of the Leapfrogs to find out what it's like -- and what we found out surprised us.
Intro: The United States Navy Parachute Team, or “The Leap Frogs,” is the official parachute demonstration team for the US Navy. As a part of Naval Special Warfare Center, the team brings together active-duty Navy SEALs, SWCC, and support personnel. They demonstrate professional excellence by performing precision aerial maneuvers throughout the US. I’m Daniel Fletcher, today, we chat with Luke Vesci, a member of the Leap Frogs, who shares with us not only his personal perspective on parachute mastery, but also insights from his 13-year career with NSW. Let’s get started.
DF: Thank you so much for starters for sitting down with us. I appreciate you taking the time.
LV: Absolutely, thanks for having us, yeah.
DF: If you just want to briefly just identify a little bit of your career and your history with the Navy, we can start with that.
LV: Okay. I’ve been in the Navy for 13 years and I came actually out of high school in San Diego. I joined the military, so it was very natural for me to join the Navy. I remember seeing all the helicopters flying by, and I’d actually come down and check out the training on the Strand when I was a kid cause I was really interested in that kind of thing (DF: Cool). Also grew up going to Miramar Air Show, and I remember seeing the jump teams at the air show and seeing the boats and, you know, the SEAL booth and the SWCC booth. I just remember thinking at a very early age that this was, this was exactly what I wanted to do. So, I joined the military back in 2005, and I decided at that time that I wanted to become a Navy SWCC, so what I did is I got a contract and joined the military, went to boot camp, did all the screening that was at Great Lakes at the time and went to SWCC school back in 2006 and graduated SWCC class 5-4, which happened to be the first class that we were actually awarded the SWCC designator, so SB. That was the first year SBs and SOs, SEALs, got their own designator, so that was, that was very privileged to graduate as a full blown SWCC at that time. From there, I checked into my first command, which was Special Boat Team 20, and that’s in Little Creek, Virginia. I did three good years there, deployed twice. One of the deployments was an around the world tour (DF: Wow), so we went to the Middle East, we went all over the Philippines, Indonesia, so we did what we call the world tour, and it was a really great experience, especially for a first deployment. From there, I deployed again to Iraq, and I augmented one of the SEAL teams at that time, and basically what we were doing is doing a lot of over the land mobility with Humvees and then also doing some stuff on the water using some boats that we had basically built from the bottom up as a combat craft, so that was a really interesting deployment.
LV: From there, I went to, screened and selected for Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and I spent five years there. Had a great time there, did three full deployments out of Development Group. And then at that point, I’d been in the Navy for about nine years, and I wanted to kind of do something a little bit different. So, at that time, I requested to become an instructor over here on the West Coast. Like I said before, I was from San Diego, so I wanted to come back, and that’s what I did. So, I came back, I went to Advanced Training Command, and I taught what we call ‘air operations’. So, I was teaching Static Line Jump Masters school. I was also running the Navy Parachute Course, which is the free fall and static line, and then at the same time, we were doing the HRST-Cast Master Course, which is the helicopter rope suspension techniques(continued)
Command Master Chief (SEAL) Britt Slabinski, was awarded the nation's highest honor for his heroic action fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
On May 24, 2018 Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Britt Slabinski was invited to the White House and presented with the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the nation’s highest military honor for his actions in 2002 when he led his team on a daring rescue mission to save their teammate who was wounded behind enemy lines. In this episode, Command Master Chief Slabinski talks about the importance of team mentality when facing adversity and what service means to him.
DF: Thank you for sharing some of your time with us for one. That’s, that means a lot I think to have your perspective voice in on the podcast, so thank you for sharing some of your time with us to start with.
BS: Certainly, happy to be here.
DF: For people that might not know you, if you could just briefly introduce yourself and tell us your history with the Navy. I know it’s not brief but…
BS: Certainly, so I am Britt Slabinski. I am a retired Command Master Chief, served 26 years mostly all of that in the SEAL teams and mostly all East Coast teams. Went through with BUDS class 164, graduated with that in January 1990, and then served with SEAL Team Four for a few years and then served to, with Naval Special Warfare Development Group and served at group two as a Command Master Chief and then retired from Naval Special Warfare Command. In March of 2002, deployed to Afghanistan January 2002, but in March of that year, conducted an operation called Operation Anaconda, where I led a seven-man reconnaissance team onto a snow covered 11,000-foot mountain peak to conduct over-watch operations, reconnaissance operations. During that operation, one of my teammates, upon landing our helicopter landing on top of the mountain, we received heavy RPG, rocket propelled grenade fire, machine gun fire. Damaged the helicopter badly, and one of my teammates was ejected from the aircraft. Teammate’s name was Neil Roberts. So, my helicopter crash-landed in a valley, and I made the decision to launch an immediate rescue mission with my remaining team members back up to the mountain, up against superior numbers, heavily armed enemy force. And for those actions during that day, I was awarded the Medal of Honor.
DF: And I understand that just happened recently as far as receiving the award. Is that correct?
BS: I did. It happened May 24th at a ceremony, at the White House presented, presented to me not too long ago. (DF: Oh wow, so just, yeah not too long ago at all.) Yeah, not too long ago at all.
DF: That must have been pretty, that must have been a pretty amazing experience.
BS: It was. It’s still very surreal, and I don’t think surreal is the right word for it (DF: Yeah, right?), but it is still very, very surreal, amazing experience indeed, but…
DF: Yeah, yeah, tough to wrap your mind around I’m sure. So, let’s rewind back to joining the Navy. What or who inspired you to do that?
BS: So, I think like most youth, graduating from high school, I’m trying to figure out want do I want to do with my life, and from an early age on, I was involved in Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts was the kind of foundation of my life, and I became an Eagle Scout, and from what I learned in scouting, that really became the foundation of my life, Boy Scout oath, Boy Scout law, those things are what I made decisions from. They were vitally important to me growing up and still are to this day. My father was also a UDT guy, so he was in Naval Special Warfare really back in the early days. He went through one of the beginning classes of it, class 13 back in the (DF: Wow, that’s interesting) early 1950s (DF: Wow). So, when I was around 13, 14 years old, my dad took me to a SEAL reunion where he introduced me to some of his teammates. And from that moment on, I thought,(continued)
SEAL Officer Selection and Assessment (SOAS) is a test of potential candidates before they are selected and sent to SEAL training. We spoke with the program manager to learn more about this unique process to find the best and brightest. For more information go to www.sealswcc.com.
Recruiting for Navy SEAL officers involves a two-phase screening and selection system where candidates from all officer sources (US Naval Academy, ROTC, and OCS) undergo the same selection process. All three Naval Officer programs require applicants to attend SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection, known as SOAS, where they are assessed physically and mentally on the attributes desired in NSW officers. If you haven’t listened already, the previous episode goes into the lead up to SOAS. Today, we’ll dig deeper into SOAS itself with program manager, Andrew Dow.
DF: Well, first of all, welcome back. Thanks for joining us again…
AD: Thanks for having me. (DF: Yeah) This is good, and I think discussion more on SOAS, SEAL Officer Assessment Selection, what it actually is will be beneficial to aspiring SEAL officers to have an idea of what they need to do in order to get to BUD/S and then eventually become a SEAL officer.
DF: So, not everybody will maybe have listened to the previous episode talking about getting to this point. If you can give a quick summary about what SOAS is and what its goals are, we can kind of roll into it from there.
AD: So SOAS, SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection, is a two-week screening course for aspiring SEAL officers coming from all accession sources, whether it’s Naval Academy, it could be, any inner-service academy, NROTC, OCS, lateral transfers, those are commissioned officers already who want to find something else to do or aspire to be a SEAL but was unable to do it the first time. Like I said, it’s a two-week course that’s going to test you physically, mentally, it’s going to test your behavioral skills, it’s going to test how you are as a leader, how your teamwork is, working with others.
DF: I was going to ask, (AD: Yeah) where is the school? Is it here in San Diego?
AD: Yes, yes. So, SOAS is conducted, um at NAB Coronado in San Diego, California, right where BUD/S is conducted. It’s run similar to a BUD/S environment except that there aren’t instructors. It’s an assessment, so they’re assessors. And their job is to watch each candidate, specifically how they react under stress. What are they doing? Are they being a leader, are they being vocal, or are they being that term I used in the last episode, a gray man? Being a SEAL officer, you cannot be a gray man.
DF: It’s the opposite of that.
AD: Exactly, you need to be vocal. I’m not saying to cheerleader, but you need to be vocal, and you need to have the respect and earn the trust of the men and women that will be following you.
DF: In a nutshell, what do you think is kind of core to this process? What is SOAS looking for in these people?
AD: Overall SOAS is looking for the, it’s, it’s approaching the whole man concept, right. We want someone who’s physically strong, the mental fortitude, the intelligence, being selfless and being that team player. We’re not looking at officer candidates that will be successful through BUD/S and SQT. We’re looking at officers who will be successful in the Navy and in the teams. Just remember, SOAS is, it’s not BUD/S. It’s going to be hard, it’s, but it’s an evaluation. It’s an interview. You’re being assessed in order to earn that spot at BUD/S.
DF: How long has this process been a part of SEAL officer selection and training? Is this a new thing? Has this been going on since the beginning, or can you touch on that?
AD: This is very relatively new program that was developed to screen officer candidates to go to BUD/S(continued)
Successful SEAL officer candidates are exemplary not only in physical fitness, but in other crucial areas such as discipline, resiliency, innovation, intelligence, tenacity and LEADERSHIP. In this episode our officer programs expert explains the difference between enlisted and officer roles, the checklist of steps to follow, and the selection criteria. For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
DF: Navy SEAL officers are expected to lead from the front. Successful SEAL officer candidates are exemplary not only in physical fitness, but in other crucial areas such as discipline, resiliency, innovation, intelligence, tenacity and LEADERSHIP. There are various accession paths to get to the selection program known as SOAS, or Seal Officer Assessment Selection. Today we hear from SOAS Program Manager, Andrew Dow, who explains the difference between enlisted and officer roles, the checklist of steps to follow, and the criteria that the NSW board uses in their selection process.
DF: Thank you for sitting down with us. For people who might not be familiar with you, start by just giving us a little bit about your story coming into the Navy.
AD: Sure, graduated the Naval Academy 2007. I was BUD/S class 270, finished Hell Week and then graduated with 273 SQT class, Seal Qualification Training. Upon graduating SQT, I went and did three platoons in the SEAL teams, two assistant officer in charge platoons, and then during my Platoon Commander tour, I finished that and was medically retired from the Navy as a lieutenant.
DF: Okay, is that where you picked up doing what you do now?
AD: After I did my two Assistant Officer in Charge platoons, I went and did my Platoon Commander. That was cut short, and I was medically retired from the teams as a lieutenant. Upon finishing that I worked for Apple for 14 months as an Operations Program Manager and capital expenditures, learned a lot about corporate America and decided that was not for me, and I really wanted to get back to the team environment. So, I went and I earned the position of the SOAS, SEAL Officer Assessment Selection Program Manager, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since 2015.
DF: Okay, so starting from the ground level, we’re speaking about SEAL officers here. If you could spend a minute talking about the responsibilities of a SEAL officer versus an enlisted SEAL, what makes the jobs different just at a fundamental level?
AD: Absolutely, so the biggest difference is one’s an officer, and one’s an enlisted, right. At the end of the day, it’s a team environment, so everyone’s working off each other, and it’s the job of the officer to make sure that the enlisted have task and purpose of what needs to be accomplished. One of my old Platoon Chiefs told me that this is the best way to see it. The officer is a general manager and platoon chief, senior enlisted of the platoon, is the coach, and your enlisted guys and gals are the players. For more in depth, you know, the officers, at the end of the day, it rides on what the officer has done. If something goes wrong, it rides on him. He’s the one responsible at the end of the day. He gives what is necessary to get done, he provides the, his men and women with the proper equipment, what they need, you know, task and purpose, and everything else that is needed in order to accomplish the mission. It is their job to action the mission. That’s the enlisted job. They’re both leaders in their own sense, you know, not just officers. Enlisted SEALs are leaders within their own right, and it’s so important that they have a good cohesion mix working together.
DF: Yeah, so I want to touch on that a little bit because there’s considerable overlap in the qualifications or the personality traits for both of those positions. Can you talk a little bit about where they differ in terms of the officer side of the camp so to(continued)
The Medal of Honor is our nation's highest award for bravery in combat. We asked Senior Chief SEAL Ed Byers, Medal of Honor recipient, what it means to serve to our country during dangerous and covert operations. For more, check out www.sealswcc.com
Daniel Fletcher: Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers is the 6th SEAL to earn the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on December 8, 2012. He discusses the challenge of going from a life of secrecy to the responsibilities of a life in the limelight. He says he wears the Medal to honor his fallen teammate from that mission, and continues to humbly serve as a mentor and inspirational representative of the Naval Warfare Community. Here’s his story:
DF: The main objective of this podcast is really to assist in continuing or growing the quality and preparedness of NSW candidates, specifically SEAL/SWCC guys. In many ways, you set the bar for standards for people in other branches of the service and as well in the Navy, but at the same time I think if people that are coming into this process are trying to shoot for fame or success that they’re probably going to miss their opportunity to be successful because, as I’ve learned, so much of success in the teams is about that team, not about the self.
DF: How, how can people that are intending to become high performing NSW operators kind of navigate that duality between self and team to be successful team member?
EB: Well, one of the, one of the fundamental principles of, of BUD/S is in the very beginning, is they have to have, they have to start off with a clean slate with the people that make it through the pipeline and actually show up to the teams. So, what they do through a whole lot of pain and some suffering and trials and tribulations is they get you to repeatedly fail or struggle through things in the hopes that you start to realize that you cannot do this process alone. You can’t make it through BUD/S alone. So, they strip away your personal identity in the very early stages, and they do that through a multitude of different exercises, and while you’re going through that, you really don’t understand it at the time what they’re trying to get to, and what they’re trying to get to is to make you realize that you have to start thinking about team before self. And when you start to do that, as pretty indicative of each class, is the class will start to grow together, and they’ll become more efficient, which means they’ll get beat less, and you’ll end up with this core concept of, you know, team gear, your gear and then yourself, and that’s the order in which you take care of things.
DF: So, do you think it’s fair to say that maybe in the beginning parts of the process or even through professional development after BUD/S, that there is more of a focus on self because obviously when you’re working together, there’s a big aspect of like you’re saying, you’re kind of almost becoming, the team is yourself, right, or kind of becomes yourself, (EB: right) so that is where you’re focused on, where success is. Are there aspects of your career in NSW that are more focused on yourself, like whether it’s professional development? You think that’s something that people should hone in on, the ability to kind of switch back and forth and have that awareness?
EB: Well, there’s always going to be an aspect of self. We are individuals. We, everybody has their own personality and their own, their own things that make them tick and what defines them, but just like any good building, it has to have a good foundation, and that’s where BUD/S comes in. They have to lay the foundation first and teach you these inherent traits that our community believes makes a good team guy. Eventually, there will be times where you’ll be out on your own. It’s no secret that at any one time in this world right now, Special(continued)
Future Navy SEALs and SWCC must make it through one important course before they attend training in San Diego: the NSW Prep School. In this episode, the director of Prep discusses how his staff physically and mentally prepares the students with running, swimming, strength and conditioning, exercise science, and kinesiology. For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
DF: Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, otherwise known as NSW Prep, occurs in Great Lakes, Illinois over two months. There is one goal of NSW Prep: to improve SEAL and SWCC candidates’ mental and physical readiness to prepare them for the challenges of BUD/S and BCS. Cordy Pearson, who you’ll hear from today, is the Program Manager for NSW Prep and speaks about expectations for this major milestone in the process.
DF: Cordy, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. Obviously, you have a really unique perspective. We’re hoping that we can transfer that to as many people as possible that want to find out more about what you do here. If you want to start a little bit about your career and how kind of what led you here. We can start there, or if you just want to jump right into what you do right now, we can do that.
CP: Came in right out of high school. I was a state champion boxer before that, not much pool work or swim work, came straight into the Navy. September 11th happened when I was in first phase, changed the course of how things I thought (DF: Right) were going to happen, and I ended up doing two platoons with SEAL Team One. I was a lead breacher and lead vehicle driver for both those deployments, ended up getting out I was looking to start my own business, got a call to come up here. This place had just started, then they offered me a lead instructor position, then over the course of four years, worked myself into the program manager position, I’ve been the program manager for six years.
DF: In an overarching way, what is the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, and what is its kind of mission and goals?
CP: The mission of the NSW Preparatory School is to train, mentor and coach perspective NSW SEAL and SWCC candidates and NSW-centric specific core physical and mental skills.
DF: Unpack that a little bit. What does that kind of mean in say real world terms, on a day-to-day basis for you? What types of things do you try to do?
CP: We try to prepare the students as best we can for the rigors that they’re going to face out at BUD/S (DF: Okay) and BCS. We basically want to help them get through the next major crucible, which would be Hell Week or The Tour. That’s how we gauge our success. We do that by running, swimming, strength and conditioning. We have professional staff that does that, and we help them with their mental toughness, their military bearing. We also talk to them about ethos, core values, and some nutrition and injury prevention as well.
DF: Is everyone that’s working at Prep here Navy staff?
CP: So, we have a mix of Navy and civilian staff here. Civilian staff consists of coaches, so they’re subject matter experts in running, swimming, strength, conditioning, they have educations in kinesiology, exercise science. We have two former SEALs that are working in tandem with those coaches to help deliver the NSW message and the way the students should be acting (DF: Right, part of that ethos you spoke about)…and those evolutions, explaining to them why we do some of the things that we do.
DF: Okay, so how does this tie into the boot camp piece that they’re all going through at the same time? Is this after, is this before, is this during? For the layman, can you kind of paint that picture for us a little bit?
CP: So, yes, for how this is structured, going from boot camp, all enlisted people come from boot camp, and anybody who’s from the fleet would come here, (continued)
Comfort, speed, and efficiency in the water are all hallmarks of a successful NSW recruit. Aquatics expert Dan Kish talks with us about developing confidence in the water. For more information visit www.sealswcc.com.
“Get your heads up and get your eyes open. Stop trying to hide from the pain.”
“Heads up; eyes open.”
DF: Welcome to, “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEAL podcast.
DF: Comfort, speed, and efficiency in the water are all hallmarks of a successful NSW recruit. Today at NSW Preparatory School we continue our discussion with aquatics expert, Dan Kish, to speak specifically about safely developing confidence in the water.
DF: This will be a popular episode because there are so many people that are not comfortable in the water and even before that flat out can’t swim or have had very little exposure to the types of swimming that you’re talking about. For people who are in that camp, what is your recommendation for them in terms of kind of introducing water sports initially into their training regimen? Do you recommend people kind of start with the real basics like modified freestyle just to kind of learning to at least kind of start the crawl, walk, run kind of part of this swim process? I can’t help but think that there’s going to be a lot of people that tune into this episode to learn like, “Hey, I’m a bad, I know I’m a bad swimmer,” or, “I think I’m a bad swimmer. Where do I even start? This combat sidestroke, I can barely even get in the water without feeling like I’m going to drown, you know what I mean?
DK: That’s common. A lot of friends that joined, you know, higher military branches and very weak and deficient in the water, and they knew it, and they asked me like, “Hey, I know you can swim. Can you help me out here?” and I would drag them to the pool with me. Water polo is another great way to become comfortable and confident and with team building going on. It’s the most calories you’ll ever burn in a match or game, you know, one game of polo. There is no rest cause you’re treading no matter what you are doing. You’re in the pool. You are sprinting. And great ways to become, you know, a little bit more comfortable and confident. You don’t have to be the fastest swimmer. We just want you to have a good foundation or base that we can build on and make you, you know, get dialed in and tuned in to become much, you know, more efficient in the water, and it should be the last of your worries once you get out, you know, two mile swims in the bay, water rescues, pool comp, knot-tying should be flawless once you get out there I hope.
DF: So, you just mentioned a comfortable or confident base. Can you maybe give me your definition of that? It doesn’t have to be precise, but I’m sure people will, set that as a benchmark for where they want to get at a bare minimum. And so, kind of maybe give me a picture of what that means to you.
DK: It’s very easy to identify who is scared or uncomfortable in the water from day one. If you’re swimming with big eyes, panic mode, just trying to find the wall as fast as you can, that’s wrong. You know, slow things down. You should be able to swim, you know, longer distances. You don’t need to have a ton of speed, but your 500-yard times should hopefully be under that ten minute, you know, nine minute base to be good and comfortable in the water. If you’re over eleven, twelve minutes, you’re going to struggle significantly in the pool evolutions that take place here.
DF: So, that’s a pretty good number then. People can actually kind of have a metric for themself to say, you know, “Where I’m at in this spectrum in terms of comfortability.” Obviously, I think with the type of instruction you can provide in your other teammates, obviously people can get much better and much more comfortable, especially with additional exposure, but that’s a good place for them to start is that what you’re sa(continued)
Naval Special Warfare is always looking for hard-charging, motivated applicants, including Sailors already serving in the Fleet. We talked with a SEAL Officer whose job is to pick the best applicants from the "Big Navy" for a career in NSW. For more information visit www.sealswcc.com
The only easy day was yesterday...
DF: Welcome to, “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEAL podcast.
DF: Naval Special Warfare is always looking for hard-charging, motivated applicants from all communities. However, specific attention is paid to existing Navy sailors wanting to convert from a career-path in the “Big Navy” to one in Naval Special Warfare. I’m Daniel Fletcher. Today I speak with the Special Operations Enlisted Community Manager, a SEAL Officer, to find out more about the conversion process.
DF: First, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. I know you’re a busy person. You have an important job; you have a lot of stuff going on. I think the information that you’ll be able to give us will be really valuable to people coming through the pipeline, so thank you first and foremost. Tell us a little bit about your roles and responsibilities, kind of your baseline areas of focus.
ECM: I’m a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy. I’m an 1130 Designator, that’s a SEAL Special Warfare Officer. I’m currently the NSW Enlisted Community Manager. This is typically like on O4, O5 SEAL assigned to the Bureau of Personnel. We advise the Commander at NPC and staff on SEAL enlisted personnel matters, so anything from policies to planning, to trying to develop incentives to keep people in the Navy or join the Navy.
DF: Correct me if I’m wrong here, you’re kind of a strategic piece in keeping the right numbers and types of personnel coming into the pipeline to keep mission capabilities where they need to be?
ECM: Numbers is certainly a big part of it. We also focus on the quality and putting everything together, whether it’s the recruiting mission, the training at the Naval Special Warfare Center. We don’t necessarily oversee that, but we’re definitely influential (DF: A big part of it) in all the decisions.
DF: One of the main reasons why we’re here is to talk about the specific selection and the draft process. Just to give people an idea of some of the stuff that might be a little intangible that kind of contributes to whether they make it through or not, maybe if you could speak to that a little bit and give us a little bit of your insight of some of the things that might be a little bit overlooked in terms of what you’re looking for in these candidates.
ECM: We use what we call the whole person approach, so we look at the candidate completely. Everything that we know about the candidate, everything that’s put into the package, we assess, and no one single factor is going to disqualify that person. We take what we’re seeing of the candidate, and we compare it to what our needs are. We have certain needs with year groups to correct inventory shortfalls… (DF: When you say inventory, sorry to cut you off, you’re talking about personnel?) Right, absolutely. So, when we’re short on year, whether that’s not enough people made it through BUD/S or the SWCC schoolhouse, we’ll look to make up those shortfalls by bringing people that are already in the Navy, fleet sailors.
DF: Are there any areas of the process that you think candidates might overlook as being more important than they might realize in terms of this whole person approach?
ECM: No, I think a lot of stuff that make people a good sailor out of the Navy is the same things we’re looking for them to make good SEALs, and that’s things like being a good team player, being a leader within their organization and sustained superior performance. And we use the standard Navy assessments to, to evaluate that, so things like their evaluation reports that they get f(continued)
Navy SEAL and SWCC candidates get a taste of NSW training at boot camp. The Dive Motivators begin the process of familiarization -- and selection -- of candidates for the long training pipeline ahead of them. Reality sets in quickly. Listen as we talk with a SEAL Master Chief. Find out more at www.sealswcc.com
“you have to pay attention to detail and you have to give it your maximum effort”
DF: Welcome to, “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEALs podcast.
DF: Navy boot camp is the first place Special Warfare recruits will receive unique training. It starts early, with what they call “Dive Motivation.” This is where special warfare candidates perform their morning workout. I’m Daniel Fletcher, today I speak with Dive Motivator, SEAL Master Chief Steve Drum to get some personal advice about recruit fitness. From mental performance and focus to the physical standards test.
DF: Well, first of all, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. I know you have a busy schedule. Your words of wisdom will be really appreciated and I think really nice insight for people that are going through this process.
SD: Sure, my pleasure.
DF: Tell us a little bit about what you do here on a regular basis. Your main priorities and responsibilities briefly, that would be a great start.
SD: Within our commodity, we have all of the Warrior Challenge programs, so SEAL, SWCC, Diver, EOD and Air Rescue. And so what we do here is we facilitate a progressive workout schedule to consist of roughly 26 workouts. About half of them are going to be progressive swim workouts, and the other half are going to be progressive run workouts. After you show up here at boot camp, and you pass the PST. Then you are going to be put into a schedule where you’re going to start off with a three-mile run some basic, fundamental swimming drills to get stroke development down and things like that, and it’s all just to get you further comfortable in the water. It’s all to get you some more mileage and time on your feet okay, but it’s important to note that we’re here to facilitate these workouts, but dive motivator training here is subordinate to the overall training that you receive at boot camp. You’re here to be a basically trained sailor. That’s front and foremost here. Official Naval Special Warfare and NSO programs officially start when you graduate boot camp. That said, we’re here to make sure that you’re as prepared as you can for the next phase in the pipeline. So, we’re here to give you not just the workouts but give you mentoring, turn the heat up on you a little bit to ensure that you’re able to collaborate with your shipmates to the left and right of you to be able to buy into something greater than self. That you’re able to get along, and you’re able to buy into the mission that we have here.
DF: You’re kind of a bridge in terms of the fitness piece between people taking their initial PST and then arriving at BUD/S if they make it that far? Is that fair, or is that not accurate?
SD: We’re going to make sure that when you show up, it’s a different animal than when you were probably taking the PST back with your mentors and your coordinators. This is why we always advise that you have a good cushion when you show up here at RTC.
DF: When you say cushion, you mean a baseline fitness level, or what do you mean by that?
SD: If you are leaving at your 15-day PST, and you’re just doing the bare minimums, it’s going to be hard here for the following reasons. A: you’re going from, unless you worked a really difficult job right before you shipped, you’re going to go from a minimal amount of stress, plenty of sleep, good nutrition, and maybe some of these guys, two workouts a day, and you’re going to come over here, and you’re not going to get the sleep, you’re not going to get the high quality food, you’re going to (continued)
Physical and mental health is important to the recruiting process for SPECWAR candidates. We spoke with an expert at the Navy's Recruit Training Command to find out how Navy SEAL and SWCC candidates can stay on top of their game. For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
“You have to pay attention to detail and you have to give it your maximum effort”
Daniel Fletcher: Welcome to “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEAL podcast.
DF: Mental and physical health is essential to a successful trip through Navy Boot Camp, even more so for NSW candidates. I’m Daniel Fletcher. As we continue our boot camp series from Great Lakes, Illinois, we sit down with medical liaison for crew training command, Chief Hospital Corpsman Jeff Ramirez. We answer some common questions about recruit medical history, mental health, medications, and preventative care. Listen up.
DF: Thanks for sitting down with us for one, and if you could just briefly talk about what you do here that would be a great start.
JR: I deal with all medical related issues, in terms of recruit appointments, any injuries that we have here going to network hospitals, to the federal healthcare center, outsourced down to Chicago. Any questionable areas that the doctors have that they need to liaison with the RDCs here in terms of missed appointments or recruits not eating enough, or even if they feel like they’re getting too much exercise, because there’s instances where we start breaking some recruits down that are couch potatoes, and then they get over here, and they learn right away that it’s a little different here.
DF: What types of tests or any type of screening do you administer, or is that not part of your position?
JR: So, that’s not part of my position here. So, I deal with the docs, and it’s going to range from mental health to your physical therapy, your preventative meds and then general, sick hall, but it’s every illness or injury or anything medical related between RTC and the providers.
DF: Okay. Are there any ailments or injuries that you see specifically for the 800 guys that are coming through the pipeline here?
JR: 800 guys... I would say the biggest injuries that I see would be shin splints, stress fractures and not getting enough nutrients. Rhabdo, Rhabdomyolysis. We’ll see that. They didn’t train for the pipeline before they got here. So, when they’re doing the DIVEMO PT, their body is breaking it down. (DF: Pretty severe.) Their muscles are breaking it down pretty severe, yes.
DF: I guess that is kind of a form of a failed test so to speak, if someone’s put in a position physically where their body is not holding up. Are there any other specific medical tests that are given periodically or on a routine basis that you see NSW candidates having issues with?
JR: Special physicals. They’ll go to special physicals. They’ll answer the questionnaires there, go through their overall history to see if there’s anything that raises any red flags. In terms of anything periodic, that doesn’t happen unless they, they choose to go to sick hall. You know, if they’re having some issues that RDCs say they see, any 800, any recruit really walking around with limps or looking distressed or sick, we’re going to send them to sick hall regardless. You’ll get your labs drawn over there, or if you’ve got to go to bone density scan or X-rays. A lot of 800s, you know, they really want to be here most of them, so it’s kind of hard to get them to go to medical sometimes. So it’s, you know, its our responsibility, and I get a lot of phone calls about that, “Hey, I have a recruit that’s kind of been limping around. He says he’s okay, but, however, my spidey senses are telling me he probably needs to get seen.” Then we’ll go ahead and send him in there and usually find out something else.
DF: If there’(continued)
To be a Navy SEAL or SWCC, you must first be in the NAVY. The first stop in the training pipeline is Recruit Training Command, known informally as "boot camp." In this episode we visit RTC and learn more about boot camp for NSW candidates.
DANIEL FLETCHER: To become a Navy SEAL or SWCC you must first learn to be a sailor. This essential process starts at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. First utilized in 1911 and home to the United States Navy Boot Camp. This, is where it all starts.
“you have to pay attention to detail and you have to give it your maximum effort”
DF: Welcome to The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday, the official Navy SEAL podcast. Every aspect of a Navy recruit’s life is scheduled, categorized, and inspected. There are rules and standards for how the toilet paper, toothbrushes, and T-shirts are stored to how they eat, dress, walk, and speak. I'm Daniel Fletcher. Over the next few episodes you’ll hear from a select group of people responsible for on-boarding NSW candidates into the Navy. Today I speak with Chief Petty Officer William Roberts, one of the Recruit Division Commanders conducting this eight-week orientation.
DF: This podcast is meant specifically for people in the SEAL/SWCC pipeline. For a minute, if you could talk a little bit about how those candidates are treated or the process. Maybe, is it different than people that are off the street joining the “Big Navy?”
WR: As an RDC, which is a short term for Recruit Division Commander, we’re just responsible for how ever many recruits come in. It doesn’t matter if it’s 105 recruits, 60-something recruits. We’re just responsible for their day-to-day care and their day-to-day wellbeing from the time they arrive to the date of departure. We take care of when they eat, when they sleep, what training they need, where they have to go, when they have to be there, how they fold their clothes. We train all of that from beginning to end, from day of arrival to date of departure.
WR: For anyone that’s in what we call 800 Divisions, which are your SEALs and SWCC recruits or candidates, boot camp is not any different for them than it is for anybody else. There’s a few other requirements in regards to what we call Dive Motivation PT that they have to participate in on a daily basis Monday through Friday. Outside of that, the only difference here is that there is an expectation that they are going to be better than those that are coming in for “Big Navy” just “Regular Navy” as we call it. There’s an expectation that they’re going to perform a whole lot better than those recruits, so there’s, for lack of better terms, a bull’s eye on their back. Everybody’s gunning for them; all the other RDCs are gunning for them. Staff, not necessarily gunning for them, but every simple mistake they make, it’s highlighted because they’re what’s called an 800 Recruit.
DF: So the 800 Recruits coming in here, they have a higher expectation of themselves as well and that they’re going to be held to a higher standard later on through their employment with the Navy.
WR: Definitely. The idea is that they come here, they know why they’re here as far as being in the Navy. The Regular “Nav” is more, “I didn’t have a choice. There was nothing else left for me to do. I don’t know what I want to do, so this is just the option for me to try right now.” Whereas in SEALs and SWCCs, they kind of know they’re signing up to put their lives on the line. They...know... that’s what they’re going to do barring that they make it through the training pipeline.
DF: Right. Right. Yeah, I think a lot of people think that if you want to become a SEAL, you go to Coronado, you go to BUD/S, and you become a SEAL, and they kind of skip over the process of basic training or Navy recruitment process. Probably do a lot of reading about Navy SEALs and the BUD/S training and(continued)
The open water can be deadly, and Navy SEALs and SWCC must master this unpredictable element to make it their ally. This episode explains NSW's secret technique: the Combat Sidestroke. More info can be found at www.SEALSWCC.com.
The open water can be both deadly and unforgiving. Before sailors become SEALs or SWCC, they must demonstrate mastery of this punishing and unpredictable element; making it their most valuable ally. I’m Daniel Fletcher, today we speak with aquatics expert Dan Kish at the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School. We discuss the best practices, tools and techniques used exclusively by Navy SEAL or SWCC candidates and operators, particularly the Combat Sidestroke. Let’s DIVE in.
DF: For starters, thank you for taking the time. Your expertise is super important to be able to share with as many people as possible that are trying to get successfully through this program. For starters, if you can just go ahead and spend a little bit of time talking about your role here in Naval Special Warfare, and then we can take it from there.
DK: Sounds good. My name’s Dan. I am one of the physical training leaders here at Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, and my main point of focus is the aquatic side. So, it’s much more than just swimming. We spend a lot of time on treading, water rescue, pool comp skills. My job is to help make the candidates as comfortable and confident in the water over the eight weeks here and plan and execute all the workouts safely to the highest standard that we expect of them.
DF: The water aspect of, of kind of the initial exposure to the standards of the, the physical standards test is usually where a lot of people I think are at their weakest. At least most people have not been exposed to the level of swimming that is needed, required to be able to make it in the program or even kind of start training. So, I think that your information will be really valuable for a lot of people listening. Maybe if you could just start off with talking just a little bit about your background in aquatics. I’m guessing that you were a swimmer, or you were involved in some sort of water sports before you came into the program.
DK: So, correct. I always loved being in the water. I was that kid you couldn’t get me out of the pool, the lake growing up. I got pretty good at swimming, so I swam, you know, the aquatic kid, high school, club, college, a little bit of postgraduate swimming, so all the staff members are Division 1 swimmers, collegiate swimmers. Did some postgraduate swimming, was good, got into coaching, became successful at that, and I’ve been here since class 297, so just over five years now, and I love it. We get all walks of life from kids that have barely seen a pool, barely passed the PST to get in, to Olympic Gold Medalists and everything in between there, so all walks of life come through, and kids just want to learn, get better in the water, but water is majority of time their weakest, you know, environment to be in. We’re humans. We don’t belong in the water at all, and a lot of kids come to prep not prepped for what we’re about to do here.
DF: The focus of this episode is the Combat Sidestroke, and we’ll get to that in just a second. You mentioned a couple other areas that your focus is on, whether it’s treading water and stuff like that. Are there areas that maybe other than the Combat Sidestroke that people should maybe investigate in addition to that stroke specifically to at least kind of get themself familiar with?
DK: Absolutely. Besides just swimming the Combat Sidestroke, we swim slick, so without fins on and then with fins on. We also train freestyle almost every day, and we also swim breaststroke here, so they all are great assets to know and learn. The better you are at all the strokes, the better you’ll be at any one. We’ll even throw some butterfly just for fun in there as well(continued)
Hydration and blood sugar are crucial during intense physical training. Our staff nutrition expert explains how a solid eating plan may be the key to avoid training failure. For more go to www.SEALSWCC.com.
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
What we put in our bodies affects everything. Today we sit down to talk with a Navy SEAL and SWCC nutritionist.
You’ll hear from my colleague, Angie Giovannini as she speaks with Justin Robinson about the importance of nutrition during and after training.
AG: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us a little bit about a really important pillar of training, which is nutrition. If we could just start out with you giving us a little bit of your background and how that fits into your work here at Naval Special Warfare. That would be really helpful.
JR: Great, well I’m happy to be here, too. I’ve been working at this Center, AKA the schoolhouse, for the last two and a half years. So, I started in June of 2015. Before that, was teaching college for a year, was in a similar position to this with an Army unit for a couple weeks before the government that had some cuts that came down, so it’s nice to be back into that system. Prior to that, I worked in professional baseball. I did a dual undergraduate in kinesiology and nutrition, and then my master’s degree is in kinesiology as well. I am a registered dietician and board certified specialist in sports dietetics, which I know is a mouthful, but…it’s the sports nutrition credential for dieticians.
AG: And so what drew you to Naval Special Warfare? How does that all fit in here?
JR: Really just working with people who are highly motivated. I’ve done the general training. I’ve done the personal training, I’ve done the general nutrition counseling, worked in the hospitals, and that’s great. You can make an impact, but I feel I’m at my best when I’m working with people who are highly motivated, people who will push me to do more research, to read more articles so I can come back to them and provide them with resources and information that will improve their careers, try to add some longevity to their careers. So, that’s probably the most, is highly, highly motivated population.
AG: And so, just to start out, let’s talk about how important nutrition is. Why is this something we’re even talking about today?
JR: Great question. Everybody’s got to eat. I look at it this way, that nutrition won’t be necessarily the difference maker. Having a solid nutrition program will not make you make it through this training pipeline. However, poor nutrition can be the reason that you don’t make it. So, we definitely see early on, in the early parts of phase and early parts of training when the intensity level is very high, we see low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. We see dehydration, we see heat injuries, and so, the individuals coming through the pipeline, the students who aren’t hydrating, who aren’t fueling high enough are going to get that low blood sugar, and it doesn’t matter how motivated you are, how fit you are, how strong you are, if you have low blood sugar, you can’t perform. And so, I like to say that it won’t be the reason you make it through, but it absolutely can be the reason that you don’t, so I want to eliminate that.
AG: Okay, on the flipside, there’s certain diets and certain eating choices that you make that can make you perform at your best… (JR: Absolutely) So, what are some things that you would recommend?
JR: So, it’s funny because especially now with so many different diet plans being very popular, it’s almost like a dichotomy. You have the vegans over here saying that plant-based is the only way to eat, and it makes you healthy, etc., etc. And on the other side, you have more of the carnivores, whole 30, Paleo and even the ketogenic crowd, who’s saying, “No, no, no, this is the onl(continued)
SWCC are special boat operators who conduct covert missions from the water, at night or under fire. Learn more about these unique warriors in this episode. For additional info check out www.SEALSWCC.com
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
A crucial part of any Naval Special Warfare mission is the covert insertion and extraction of operators, especially at night or under fire.
The team responsible for this, SWCC, or Special Warfare Combatant-craft crewmen, are trained extensively in how to pilot and maintain special boats and their weapons. They are physically fit, highly motivated, combat-focused, and responsive in high-stress situations. They frequently work with the Navy SEALs.
Today we speak with Bill, the SWCC Instructor of the Year who is also responsible for the first block of SWCC training, called Basic Crewman Selection. Let’s get started.
AG: Well, first, I’d like to thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. I know you’re a pretty busy guy.
B: Oh, you’re welcome.
AG: If you could start by introducing yourself and letting the audience know, you know, what you, who you are and a little about what you do.
B: Yes, I’m Petty Officer First Class Bill. I’m an instructor here at the SWCC Schoolhouse, specifically our selection phase, which we call BCS, stands for Basic Crewmen Selection.
AG: So, what does it mean to be an instructor here?
B: An instructor, what that means here is that we are the primary role of, of conducting evolutions for the students and anything and everything that’s required for the students to get through our, our schoolhouse.
AG: Very nice. And I think you, you left out something in your introduction. You’re not just any instructor. You’re the Instructor of the Year?
B: Yes, I was fortunate enough to be, to be awarded the Instructor of the Year. I got a lot of help from a lot of guys previous to get that award.
AG: What does that mean?
B: Well, what those qualities would mean to me personally is that you are the example for what you would want a candidate to become. So, anything ranging from character and competence, what we always hit for, our students, that’s what we’re looking for, so we’re demonstrating that ourselves with our personal leadership, team ability, with how we are physically, on evolutions, our personal fitness, our knowledge, everything that we want out of the students that we are demonstrating that ourselves.
AG: Okay. How did you decide to go SWCC? Where did that come from, the motivation?
B: I decided to go SWCC about ten years ago when it was actually through a YouTube video, showing the capabilities and everything going on with the Riverine aspect of SWCC. I saw that video, I was interested in the military before, kind of just cruising through, looking at different Special Operations positions, and that’s what I was into, and I saw that one, and I was immediately hooked.
AG: Awesome. I think we should pause for a second to let anyone listening know where we’re sitting cause they’re probably going to be hearing some sounds around here. Can you tell us what we’re looking at over here?
B: Yeah, so right now, we’re sitting at what we call here Pier Four in the Slab. It’s a, it’s a main spot that we conduct a lot of our training here at the Basic Crewman Selection phase of the SWCC Schoolhouse, where they do many different physical activities, they start their underways here, and they perform countless swims down here, so if, if anyone chooses to go the SWCC route, they would be spending many hours where we’re currently sitting.
AG: Nice. Well, before we start talking about what actually happens when you go SWCC, I want to just start by asking you if someone’s interested in going that direction, what do you think the best first step (continued)
Training inevitably leads to injury, but with the right guidance you can avoid most issues and recover faster. Our staff physical rehab expert talks about how you can reduce your risk of injury. For more info go to www.SEALSWCC.com.
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
In training, when you push yourself to the limits there is always a risk of injury. In the special operations field this is even further magnified. Today we speak about the fundamentals of fitness and injury prevention with expert Don Kessler, a man from the highest levels of competition. He is on the ground every day helping Special Warfare trainees perform their best and has some solid advice. Let’s get started.
DF: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us and speak about what you do for NSW. First, let’s talk a little bit about you for a minute, 40 plus years of physical fitness background with athletes varying from high school students to Olympians. What do you think uniquely qualifies you for your specialized position that you have at NSW?
DK: Well, I started out as a hospital corpsman after getting my master’s degree in physical education, and this was during the Vietnam time, and I eventually got stationed at the US Naval Academy and working as a hospital corpsman there. I moved into athletic training as my profession, but I had years of experience in the military going into that, and I loved it so much that I decided I was getting out of the military to continue on in athletic training. So, I went through, again, working in high schools, colleges. I worked at the Olympics, I worked with US Soccer, so there were many different variations I went to, and when the time came to retire from college athletics, I didn’t feel like I should stop. And so, I contacted some people in the NSW community that I knew and said, “I think I could be some help or benefit to them,” and they said, “We agree.” They thought that my experiences would be able to help teach some of these people some of the things that we do in athletics but also that we should treat the NSW people as Division 1 or professional athletes.
DF: How does the training that you do now specialize from the typical sports medicine that you’ve seen earlier in your career?
DK: My job in the medical side of BUDS training is that I’m to do the functional rehabilitation. So, we have three physical therapists that work with us that will work with the initial part of an injury, and I’m to functionally get them back into full action. They call it the BRIGS program, taking you from the very simple things of coming out of an injury or post-op and getting you back to able to do the obstacle course. So, that’s what my job is, it’s unique among any of the programs that we have in that I have to know what are the things that they ask of the students, both SEAL and SWCC, to make it through the training. And so, my functional rehabilitation is built towards what do you need to do to pass, or what do you need to do to pass through Hell Week or the tour.
DF: So, it is very similar to a lot of other athletic training, you just, a different kind of endgame, so to speak, in terms of what their capabilities need to be?
DK: It’s, like with any sport, and as I used to tell the students that I would have as athletic training students, that you have to look at the team you’re working with and know what is required of them in each thing and even watch people coach them and decide if I’m going to rehab them, what am I doing specifically for that sport. If it’s a thrower, if it’s a swimmer, if it’s a runner, I need to know specific things I need to do to get them back to full rehabilitation. And so, what I did was spend about two months just watching what they did in training and say, “All right, when I go to do my rehab, these are the things that I’m going to need to incorporate in the functional training to get the(continued)
People say a lot about SEAL training, but only we can give you the true, updated info. We asked two First Phase staff to debunk the popular myths about BUD/S and tell us how it really is. For more info check out www.SEALSWCC.com.
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
SC: Hello, everyone, I’m Scott Williams, a member of the Navy SEAL and SWCC Scout Team here at Naval Special Warfare Center. I’m here today with Ken, a retired SEAL currently on the training staff at basic training command and an active duty SEAL, Steven, who is also on the training staff. The topic of our discussion today is myth-busting BUD/S, so let’s get right to it.
K: Hi, my name’s Ken. My background is 33 years active duty service, retired in 2016, was hired on about right after retiring to first phase at basic training command, and I’m the deputy OIC [Officer In Charge].
S: Hi, my name’s Steven. I have almost 20 years in of active service and still active, and I’m currently on the training staff at Basic Training Command, BUD/S.
SW: There’s a lot of chatter and written material on the market these days usually produced by ex-SEALs, and it talks about how candidates can prepare for BUD/S. Most of this seems to be from the perspective of guys that went through the SEAL pipeline years ago. Is it the same old BUD/S it used to be?
K: Well, from my perspective of having gone through it 33 years ago, no. It’s more professional, it’s harder because the candidates that are coming our way are better prepared than they ever have been, and what we’re looking for is that mental toughness. The attributes that we’re looking for are, or the traits: grit, integrity, honesty, team before self. Those words were never used when I went through 33 years ago, but they’re used today, and that’s what we’re looking for young men to display those things.
SW: Thanks, Ken. Steven, your perspective?
S: I would absolutely agree. I went through 17 years ago, so half of Ken. It’s absolutely more professional now. Without a doubt, I would, I don’t know if I would say it’s easier or harder, but it’s absolutely more professional. The reason I would say it’s hard is that everything we do in the training pipeline is to elicit a response from the students of what we want to see, and the characteristics that Ken just listed out, you can’t get those from every single class. Every class has their own personality by doing the exact same thing every time, so there’s small changes that are done for a reason to elicit certain responses that we want to see or to encourage certain attributes that we want to put forth.
SW: It seems like there’s a lot of books or videos out there that give you tips or tricks on how to game the system so to speak. Can that be done? Is that realistic?
S: I think it’s hard, especially the way we look at the program now with getting, encouraging those certain attributes. The pipeline is so long that a lot of the tips I would think you see are just for potentially first phase, which is only seven weeks of a over a year long pipeline. If you are using tips or tricks, they might work for a day, a week, two weeks, but with a pipeline being so long and so professional nowadays, that’s going to come out at some point in training in my opinion.
K: Yeah, I would say you can. The young men that come through this program, if they get with the wrong sort, those that have been in the pipeline for a long period of time, never having even completed first phase yet, could lead some astray, like, “Hey, cut this corner doing this way. Cut that corner doing that way.” That’s not what we’re looking for. Can it happen? Yes. Do we want to see it happen? No. We want everybody to experience BUD/S the same way. The kid that gets out of this program who cheated to get through the program, most likely even if he gets (continued)
Women have quietly served in Naval Special Warfare for years. Today, we spoke with two female warriors who deployed with the Teams. For more info go to www.sealswcc.com.
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
(Angie Giovannini Intro) In two thousand fifteen, the Department of Defense announced that they were opening front-line combat roles to women for the first time in American history. In two thousand sixteen, they were given the opportunity to apply to the Navy SEALs and SWCC. But female sailors have deployed with SEAL teams and other special operations units for years in important, front-line roles.
In this episode, I speak with two such women who have deployed multiple times with America’s elite special operations units, and still serve with them today.
First you’ll hear from Jannelle, who is serving on active duty with the training staff at BUD/S.
AG: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. I know you have a pretty unique perspective, and so let’s start out with you just telling us a little bit about what you do, how you got to where you are, a little background.
J: Sure. I’ve worked with NSW in the past. My last command was here in Coronado, so that’s a SWCC command, and I was approached from my Command Master Chief about the women in Special [Operations] Forces and if I wanted to support that initiative and come to the Center and kind of be in the role where you establish the transition from just a male pipeline to open it to females. So, obviously, I was totally, totally onboard with going over to the Center just cause I love the community and wanted to stay within it, and, yeah, support the whole full integration of women.
AG: And what attracted you to this community? What was it about it?
J: When I first joined the Navy, I just really wanted to do anything that was active and physically demanding. I played sports in college and pretty much my whole life, CrossFit, things like that, so I was drawn to the physicality and also, to be quite honest, I didn’t want to be on a ship.
AG: And when you are on deployment or in operation, in operational zones, what would you say life is like? What’s your everyday life that you can talk about?
J: It’s been mostly with SEAL teams deployment and then also EOD, and it’s, so a normal day really is a normal night. Most everything is done at night on deployment, and it’s, I think I have a unique deployment experience just because deploying with a SEAL team is just such a close-knit group. You become like almost a family, especially because it’s such a small, small group. But, yeah, the days are, days are long. You know, I spend a lot of time in the tactical operations center just cause I do Intelligence and really just supporting the troop as much as I can for their operations.
AG: Can you explain a little bit what “Intelligence” means?
J: Sure, so Intelligence in the Navy is just basically analyzing threats and, in a tactical sense, targeting essentially the enemy forces.
AG: You mentioned how important it is the camaraderie that happens when you’re on these missions. Can you talk about the importance of teamwork, especially from the perspective of someone that is being attached to different teams at different times? How does that work, the dynamic?
J: Yeah, I think teamwork is the reason this community is so successful. I think from a very beginning, you, you start doing everything together, you know, and you embrace, like I didn’t go through BUDS, obviously, but you do go through workups on deployment, and it kind of sucks. So, what I like to say is you embrace the suck together, and you, you certainly build a trust and camaraderie with one another, so, where you gain credibility, and people learn to trust you, you know, and see if you’re good at your job. I think that if you don’t have that(continued)
You want to join Naval Special Warfare? Recruiting can be a confusing process. A Navy Recruiter, a SEAL and a SWCC break it down for you. For more info go to www.SEALSWCC.com
DF: Welcome to “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEAL podcast.
Whether you dreamed about becoming a Navy SEAL as a kid, or just found out that being a SWCC is something you want to learn more about, you probably have a lot of questions. I’m Daniel Fletcher, and today I’m speaking with three experts on the SEAL and SWCC recruiting process. We’ll hear personal experiences from an active duty SEAL and a SWCC operator, whose names have been changed for security.
DF: So, from the top here, let’s just have you guys introduce yourselves. I’ll start with you and then go across, and you guys can just give us a brief summary of what you guys do here.
S: Okay, awesome. My name is Sean. I’m a United States Navy SEAL, here stationed at the SEALs SWCC Scout Team with these other two gentlemen beside me, and just basically part of our job is to do outreach and reach out to the youth, high school kids, the college kids to give them ideas of what it takes to be a Navy Seal or a SWCC.
BM: My name is Chief Brian Murray. I coordinate the outreach efforts, plan the trips, help put the budgets together and act as kind of the liaison between the operators and the recruiting districts.
F: Hi, my name is Frank. I’m a SWCC operator, special warfare combatant craft crewman. I’ve been doing that for about ten years, and my role here at the SEAL SWCC Scout Team is essentially the same as Sean’s. We go out, we talk to high schools and colleges, narrow down to athletes and try to give a real-world perspective on what it takes to be a SEAL or a SWCC.
DF: Nice, well thank you guys for taking the time to talk with us again. Let’s go through this process from the beginning from your perspective, kind of first just steps for somebody that might be interested in it, in a career in naval special warfare. Yeah, if you could go ahead and just give a little brief…
BM: Okay, so for anybody that’s interested in this program, the first step that they need to take is to go down to the local recruiting station. What’s going to take place at that meeting first is they’re going to get mentally, morally and physically qualified. What that means is they’re going to take an ASVAB test or a practice ASVAB test to make sure they meet the minimum requirements academically. They’re also going to screen them, check and see if they’ve ever been in any kind of trouble. If so, what waivers are available for them, and then they’ll also set up a physical a MEPS to make sure that they don’t have any physical problems, surgeries, things that they need waivers for. So, they’ll, once they get prequalified, we’ll schedule a MEPS day, and MEPS will bring them in, check their heart, check their vision, their hearing. Once we determine that they are qualified for this program, they’ll start working out with local Navy recruiting district scouts similar to what these guys do but a little different. They’re just responsible for the local area, guys and girls, and they’ll take them out, they’ll do physical screening tests, different things on a local level and get them ready for the process until they are selected.
DF: Maybe we can go a little bit deeper into that from your perspective. These are, these are any Navy recruiting centers, or is it a specific Navy SEAL or Special Operations kind of track that these people have to go take?
BM: Well, first they’re going to need to go visit a traditional Navy recruiting station. The reason that is is because to join the Navy as a Special Warfare Operator, you first have to join the Navy. So, you have to get qualified to do those things. Now, they can go get prequalified without joining the Navy and still go(continued)
Wanna be a SEAL or SWCC? You gotta go through HIM. We asked a Master Chief SEAL how he selects candidates for contracts. For more information visit www.SEALSWCC.com.
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
DF Intro: In the Naval Special Warfare selection process only the best and most qualified are offered an opportunity to compete for a SEAL or SWCC contract. Selection hinges on the performance and metrics of applicants, which are tracked and analyzed extensively. I’m Daniel Fletcher and today I speak with the Master Chief responsible for who makes the cut. You’ll want to pay very close attention to what he has to say.
DF: Well, thank you Master Chief for taking the time to talk with us today. Your perspective and what you do in the organization is really critical, even though it may not be out in the forefront most people seeing what you do. Obviously, it’s a very important part of the process people moving through NSW program. If you could take a couple minutes and explain your path to where you came with NSW organization real quick.
WC: Yeah, yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me, so just my background. I’ve been with the SEAL teams for 19½ years, west coast primarily, SEAL Team 1, SEAL Team 3 and SEAL Team 5 with instructor tours kind of in between there. I also taught all the leadership development courses for the SEALs on the west coast and east coast prior to doing the position that I’m currently doing.
DF: So, the audience that’s going to be listening, people that want to become Navy SEALs and SWCC operators, usually I’ll ask if you could talk to the people going through the selection process or even before the selection process begins, kind of from an outside perspective, is there any big overarching things you feel that would be really worthwhile to implement or at least be made aware of if you were a recruit in that process from your perspective? Is there anything that you see is missing? Obviously, they’re going to be aware of the PST scores that they want to try to hit, but outside of that, are there kind of any intangibles that you feel should be communicated to the people that are going into this process that maybe they might not be aware of?
WC: Yeah, that’s a great question. There’s probably a lot that could be said on that. I think one thing I’ll kind of start off with for the audience is my position is, is the SEAL program manager, which program manager probably doesn’t mean anything to anybody, but more or less what I do at the recruiting command is I am selecting the best and most qualified applicants that I receive for the SEAL and SWCC community. So, the process itself can be convoluted because each, each individual as you make the determination to go and speak to a recruiter might kind of get a different story, but to break it down more or less, once you decide that SEAL and SWCC is something that you’re interested in doing or just doing any other job within the Navy, you go to a recruiter, and that recruiter will ask you a series of questions to get a little bit of background about you, kind of start the initial processing piece. From there, they’ll schedule you to go to, to MEPS and take your ASVAB exam. Your ASVAB exam, if you’re unaware of that is just a, an exam that allows the Navy to see where your strengths are. And then MEPS is the location where they actually do a physical on you so the Navy has an idea of what your physical and medical capabilities are, any issues that might arise. It’s kind of full disclosure for the Navy. At that point, the applicant can go and talk to a Warrior Challenge mentor or coordinator, and that Warrior Challenge mentor or coordinator will help the applicant prepare for the PST, will teach the strokes and the run clinics that the applicant needs, come up with workout programs, diet programs for the applicant so that they can best perform the PST, and they will also be the (continued)
Navy SEALs and SWCC possess a high degree of mental toughness. You can too. Find out how from a Navy SEAL Force Master Chief. For more on this visit www.SEALSWCC.com
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
I’m Daniel Fletcher, and today I’m speaking with a retired Navy SEAL Force Master Chief about the mental aspects of Naval Special Warfare. Let’s get started…
DF: We’ve carved out a little time to talk mental toughness with a decorated Navy SEAL, ...We all know that physical exertion is a big part of the training process, but we hear a lot about the mental aspects of the challenges, whether it’s in training or after graduation, even through deployments, whether it’s separation from family or just facing general adversities, stressors, all this kind of stuff...if you could tell us, from your perspective, after having a career as a SEAL, what aspects of the, we’ll call it a job, in your mind required the most mental toughness.
M: Absolutely, Daniel. Thank you for the time here, and I’m very interested in setting our future generation of SOF operators up for success, so I’m glad to be here today talking to you. I would say anecdotally, any SOF selection course is roughly 80% mental, 20% physical. In fact, I just came from talking to 20 students that DOR’d today, and nine out of ten students that dis-enroll from this program are for lack of mental fortitude. So, what we’re attempting to do today is to take things that most of our operators have utilized unwittingly their entire careers and present these mental tools as a process up front to our students coming in the pipeline now so that they can start to cultivate these mental skills early on in their training in the hopes that they will be more mentally resilient than we were and stick around and do 30 years in SOF with their families intact, living purposeful, meaningful lives and able to handle, readily handle stress and crisis.
DF: So, where do you think that kind of starts? Is this something you think, ideally, starts before recruitment process How do you see this process starting from a blank slate if you had the opportunity to kind of sculpt a 13-year-old to come into NSW kind of program? Where do you think that kind of starts in, in early adulthood or late childhood?
00:02:41:00M: Absolutely, Daniel, fantastic question. So, I would say in reference to developing mental toughness in adversity in your life, the key is to constantly challenge yourself, do things that you’re uncomfortable doing every day. It could be something as simple as taking a cold shower in the morning, where you’re subjecting yourself to being uncomfortable and getting comfortable being uncomfortable. And the more adversity you face prior to showing up for the pipeline, the stronger your mental toughness baseline will be.
00:03:14:00DF: What are the ways you think that young people can kind of start incorporate some mental training into their lifestyle?
M: Yeah, sports is a big part of it definitely. You know, when you’re out there playing football in the summertime, and you’re doing double sessions where you’re working out all morning and over lunch, you’re so sore you can’t even move, and you have a whole afternoon session, that’s probably the closest experience I could equate that, that could crossover to BUD/S, is working yourself to that degree and at a minimum. You know, I know our wrestlers and our football players and water polo players have a higher probability of success in the training because they, they’ve had some upstream stress inoculation from playing competitive sports
DF: I’ve heard mentioned a few times endurance athletes tend to do very well, and I think that does kind of tie into the mental aspects involved, and(continued)
Ever wondered how to train yourself for a career as a SEAL or SWCC? Meet the man who literally wrote the official book on physical training for Naval Special Warfare. For more information visit www.sealswcc.com.
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
DF: Welcome to “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEAL podcast. We all know it’s not easy to become a Navy Seal or a SWCC, but if there were ways to mentally and physically prepare yourself that could set you up for success? I’m Daniel Fletcher, and today I’m speaking with the director of fitness, SEAL and SWCC training, Mike Caviston to find out more
DF: We’re sitting here in the birthplace of SEAL and SWCC trainees, the Naval Special Warfare Training Center. Today, we’re in Mike Caviston’s office, director of fitness for SEAL and SWCC training to get some expert advice. Welcome, Mike. Thanks for joining us.
MC: Thank you for having me.
DF: So, can you tell us a little bit about what you do here?
MC: Well, my title is director of fitness. It’s actually a pretty broad job. A big part of it is education. My background is education. My background is kinesiology, and so I tried to educate people at all levels, and certainly a big target audience are anybody interested in entering the program from the very beginning. And I try to coordinate the advice that I give with statistics that I’ve gathered based on the success of people that have actually entered the program. So, I spend a lot of time looking at the different training requirements, what people are physically doing and making my recommendations for how to prepare for that.
DF: It seems like a lot of people that are in the Special Forces have a physical fitness or a sporting background. I think that maybe you could comment on that, that the kinesiology of the athlete, it seems obviously that the Navy SEALs are looking for athletes that are capable of even more. Do you think that there’s a specific sport that lends itself specifically to success the Navy SEALs?
MC: I don’t think there’s a particular sport. I don’t claim to have the final answer on that. I know that there have been a wide variety of SEALs that have come from different sports, in other words, just about any sport you can think of is represented in the community. I would say based on my observations and experience and what is required in the program that anybody with a good endurance background is going to have a leg up. So, somebody that’s been, you know, competitive runner, swimmer would probably be a good candidate.
DF: There’s definitely going to be some younger folks listening to this. I think that kids’ lifestyles or teenagers’ lifestyles are largely dependent on their upbringing and their parents and, you know, what kind of physical activity and environment they’re raised in, but for those kids that might have the option to maybe pursue a specific sport or change their lifestyle, seeing as you grew up in a really active environment, and you continue to live in that currently, what recommendations do you make to either parents or kids, you know, about lifestyle as a young person?
MC: Just general physical activity. You know, it’s, I don’t think there’s any magic formula, any one particular sport. I am asked questions or see online those types of questions all the time, younger people interested in what sports they should play in high school or even before. Doing something is the biggest component. Again, I always come back to I think being involved in an endurance sport is a good thing, and if you can become comfortable in the water, that’s a good thing, so swimming or water polo or something that involves being in the water, something that involves running, maybe not automatically track or cross country, although those are probably good options, but s(continued)
What is a Naval Special Warfare Mentor, and how can he help you train for the world's toughest special operations program? We found out from one of the best in the business. For more info visit www.SEALSWCC.com
The only easy day was yesterday. (Intro)
When looking to take on a new challenge in life, mentors can make the difference between success and failure. I’m Daniel Fletcher, today we get some wisdom from an NSW Mentor, check it out
DF: Joe, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. I appreciate it
JF: You’re welcome.
DF: It’s not too often we get to sit down with someone with your experience and learn a little bit about what you do. Hopefully, we can, we can dig in deep and find out all the things that most people would be asking at home. For starters, what is a mentor in the SEAL school or the SEAL/SWCC or NSW environment?
JF: A mentor’s someone that they can go to and find out what they need to do to get through their proper pipeline of training, and it’s good to have one, especially these days, because there’s so much stuff out on the Internet, kind of want to keep it simple, but at the same time, give them the information they need and show them kind of in a way if they come to training what’s going to be expected of them.
DF: So, at what point in the recruiting process do you normally kind of interject or become involved in the recruits’ kind of actions?
JF: It’s a good question. You know, what happens normally is if they don’t know they need to go to the recruiter, they’ll call us, or they’ll call a friend of ours or someone that’s, you know, in the teams or in one of the Spec Op programs, and then they’ll be directed to myself, which happens quite often. And of course, I have to turn around and direct them to their Naval recruiting station. So, they go to their Naval recruiting station in their area, and they have to have a physical before they can work with us. Once they have the physical, they are, you know, more than welcome to come down and work out with our what we call boat crews, and we run boat crews in different areas depending on the size and location of the specific Naval recruiting district that they’re working with.
DF: So, it’s really kind of step one into Naval Special Warfare.
JF: Exactly. Step one is to make sure that they are physically capable and don’t have, you know, some sort of anomaly where it’s going to hold them back or get them hurt when they’re training with us.
DF: So, what types of, I guess you kind of touched on it, people thinking that they can kind of fast-track into the Naval Special Warfare program by, by knowing somebody or, you know, what’s the fast way to do this? It seems like that’s first, the first thing you kind of bring them down to ground zero and say, “Hey, we start from the beginning here.” What other types of maybe anticipations you think people have that aren’t accurate to the program?
JF: Well, a lot of times, if they don’t have a brother, uncle or father in the teams, and they don’t know the proper method, they get on the Internet, and they see what they want to do, and they go from point A to point C without going through point B, and point B is going through that Naval Recruiter because regardless of how they want to handle it, they’re going to go in the Navy first, and they’re going to go through boot camp first, and then they’re going to get their pipeline if they keep their scores, and they keep doing the PST, and they get stronger.
DF: So, would it be fair to say your responsibility is to kind of to guide recruits through the process?
JF: Right, and what I have to tell them, and I end (continued)
We talk with two senior operators about what it means to be a SEAL or SWCC, what they do, and how they became leaders among America's elite special warfare warriors. For more info visit www.SEALSWCC.com.
Welcome to “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEAL podcast, a new series brought to you right from the origin of the Navy SEALs in Coronado, California.
We created this as an official source of information for anyone who’d like to learn more about Naval Special Warfare. Throughout the series we’ll give you suggestions for on getting into mental and physical condition, navigate the recruitment process, and dive into important aspects of the Special Warfare Ethos.
I’m Daniel Fletcher. Today we start at square one by sitting down with a SWCC Master Chief and a Navy SEAL Senior Chief, to learn the fundamentals of Naval Special Warfare. Today, and throughout this series, active duty operators’ names may be changed for security reasons.
DF: First of all, I’d like to thank you guys for both taking the time to join us. I know you guys are very busy. If you could just start off and introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do, kind of your title, and then we’ll dig in and find out a little bit more about what you’re doing in terms of the details and stuff like that. So, Jack, I’ll let you go ahead and start.
J: How you doing, my name’s Master Chief Jack, and I’m a Special Warfare Combat Craft Crewman, also pronounced SWCC [SPELLS]. I’ve been in the Navy for about 25 years now. I actually started off in the fleet. I was assigned to the USS Nimitz for my first five years of my career, where later, I went through SWCC training with Class 33.
DF: Okay, go ahead, Chad.
C: Yeah, I’m Senior Chief Chad. I came in the Navy in ’96, went through BUDS in ’97 and have been serving just over 21 years now at Team 3, Team 7, have been in overseas tours.
DF: If you could maybe real quickly tell me a little bit about yourself and what brought you to make the decision to become a Special Forces operator, maybe a little bit about your background, that would be great. If you could start, Chad, from the SEAL perspective, that would be great.
C: So, I was, I was in college. It was near completion of my degree, which I did complete before I joined the Navy, but I just had an epiphany on a backpacking trip. And you know, I was studying criminal justice getting my bachelor’s degree, realizing that the, the avenues to actually have a career in criminal justice would probably be with the prison system, which means, you know, as you graduate into the prison system and look at the infrastructure of how you promote there, you’re going to be in an office behind a desk. And any selection of career that I chose within my degree was going to get me behind a desk in an office somewhere. So, I just had an epiphany on a backpacking trip and decided that my career needed to change. My mindset needed to change, and I needed to do something that was going to get me out from behind a desk, ultimately speaking. So, I literally came back off that backpacking trip and went into a recruiting office and told the recruiter I’d like to join the Navy. I thought about being a pilot and went into the room where they show you the videos of all the different things you can, the cool things you can do in the Navy, and the first thing he popped in was the SEAL recruiting video. And so, four hours and 23 seconds later, I walked out of his office, and said, “That’s what I want to do.” I grew up kind of in an elite soccer environment. I was pretty good at soccer, played with the best of the best soccer players in Texas, and what was kind of troubling for me is, you know, e(continued)