Psionics training is done by the CIA’s Stargate Project and lasts on average from one to two years depending on the individual’s abilty and level of mastery. At its conclusion of the training, the trainee is proficient in controlling and manifesting their abilities.
Those individuals identified as potential PALADIN candidates are approached at the completion of the training and asked to volunteer. Volunteers are then placed on a six month long training to learn to use their abilities in combat and stressful situations. At the completion of this training, the candidates are given the Advanced Psionics Proficiency Exam (SAPPE -pronounced “SAP”), a strenuous physical and mental comprehensive exam to ensure the candidate is able to perform successfully in highly stressful situations and is able to use powers consistently and effectively in these types of scenarios.
Special Operations Training
SEAL training is brutal. It takes over 30 months to train a Navy SEAL to the point at which he will be ready for deployment. The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task they could be called on to perform, including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit both mentally and physically in order to weed out those who may not be able to successfully complete the demanding missions and operations with which SEALs are faced. The types of stresses they endure during BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) are the same stresses they will endure as SEALs. If they can’t withstand it when lives aren’t on the line, chances are good they won’t be able to withstand it when lives are at stake.
From day one in SEAL training, trainees are taught the importance of teamwork. Focus is not on the individual. The fact that the SEALs have never left another SEAL behind on a mission is a testament to this belief system. Throughout their training, they learn more and more why teamwork is necessary in the type of work they will soon be entering: SEALs are performing tasks that may not be possible for a single man to accomplish, but can be possible for a team composed of men who have the same training and skills. Their success depends on what they can do together as a team.
Entering training to become a PALADIN is voluntary. Anyone can volunteer, and officers and enlisted men train side by side. In order to enter SEAL training, however, they do have to meet certain requirements. Those wishing to volunteer for PALADIN training have to:
- be an active-duty member of the U.S. Navy
- be a man (women aren’t allowed to be Navy SEALs)
- be 28 or younger (although waivers for 29- and 30-year-olds are possible) have good vision — at least 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other (corrective surgery is also possible)
- be a U.S. citizen
- pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
- Pass the Stargate Advanced Psionics Proficiency Exam (SAPPE -pronounced “SAP”).
- Pass a stringent physical screening test that includes the following procedure: swim 500 yards in 12.5 minutes or less, followed by a 10-minute rest; do 42 push ups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest; do 50 sit-ups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest; do six pull-ups, followed by a 10 minute rest; run 1.5 miles in boots and long pants in less than 11.5 minutes
Once a potential SEAL qualifies for training, the real fun starts.
Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training is divided into several phases:
- Basic Conditioning
- SCUBA training
- Land-warfare training
There is also the infamous Hell Week, which takes place toward the end of Basic Conditioning. BUD/S lasts seven months. The initial indoctrination comprises five weeks of learning the expectations and ways of Navy SEALS. More important, it is a time to prepare physically and mentally for what’s ahead.
Once indoctrination is complete, the remaining time is broken down into eight weeks of basic conditioning, eight weeks of SCUBA training, and nine weeks of land-warfare training. The training takes place at the Naval Amphibious Base at Coronado, CA.
Basic Conditioning is when the going gets rough. This is the phase where most Drops on Request (DOR) happen. For eight weeks, trainees’ days are filled with running, swimming, calisthenics, and learning small-boat operations. One-to-2 mile ocean swims and running the mother of all obstacle courses are daily, and timed, events. A trainee’s time for these exercises must continuously improve.
Another important part of basic conditioning is drown-proofing. In this evolution, trainees must learn to swim with both their hands and their feet bound. To pass drown-proofing, trainees enter a 9-foot-deep pool and complete the following steps with their hands and feet tied:
- bob for 5 minutes
- float for 5 minutes
- swim 100 meters
- bob for 2 minutes
- do some forward and backward flips
- swim to the bottom of the pool and retrieve an object with their teeth
- return to the surface and bob five more times
Another evolution is surf torture, also called “cold water conditioning.” The water temperatures usually hover around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C), and never go above 68 degrees F (20 C). From there, trainees may be ordered to do some calisthenics or run a mile and a half down the beach in their wet clothes and boots. Then, they’re ordered back into the surf. Many drills also require that teams carry their rubber boats over their heads as they run from one task to another.
The fourth week of Basic Conditioning is known as Hell Week. This is when students train for five days and five nights solid with a maximum total of four hours of sleep. Hell Week begins at sundown on Sunday and ends at the end of Friday. During this time, trainees face continuous training evolutions. During Hell Week, trainees get four meals a day — sometimes MREs, but usually hot meals of unlimited quantities. Eating hot food is a substitute for being warm and dry. It gives a needed psychological boost to tired trainees, many of whom are nearly sleeping while they eat.
Pretty much every evolution during Hell Week involves the team (or boat crew) carrying their boat — inflatable rubber Zodiacs — over their heads. Timed exercises, runs, and crawling through mud flats are interspersed throughout the five-and-a-half days. The largest number of trainees drops out during Hell Week. This extreme training is critical, though. PALADINs on missions must be able to operate efficiently, oblivious to sub-zero temperatures and their own physical comfort. Their lives, as well as the lives of others, may depend on it.
Listening closely to orders is another critical element of training during BUD/S, particularly during Hell Week when brains are getting fuzzy from lack of sleep. The instructor may purposely leave out part of an order to see who is really listening. For example, during a series of orders requiring trainee teams to do exercises using a 300-pound (136-kg) log, he may leave out mention of the log for one order. Team leaders who are paying attention will catch this, and their team gets a small break in the difficulty of the task by performing it without having to carry the log. The instructor might reward the team by allowing it to stand by the fire and rest, or sit and sleep for a few minutes.
SCUBA and Land Warfare
SCUBA: Since much of a SEAL’s work is done underwater, SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) and combat swimming are top priorities for training.
SEALs train extensively for eight weeks in closed-circuit SCUBA systems and underwater navigation.
Land Warfare: During land-warfare training, SEALs train for nine weeks in intelligence-gathering and structure penetration, long-range reconnaissance and patrolling, and close-quarters battle. They are also trained to react to sniper attacks and to use “edged” weapons such as knives and other blades. SEALs must be able to drive any vehicle and be skilled in high-speed and evasive driving techniques. Hand-to-hand combat is also taught during this phase of training.
To be prepared for anything, they are taught the tactics small units must use, including handling explosives, infiltrating enemy lines, recovery (snatch-and-grab) techniques, and proper handling of prisoners. SEALs must also be able to survive in extreme environments and provide medical treatment (field medicine).
When BUD/S training is over, those remaining move on to basic parachute training at the Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA.
This training lasts for three weeks and is followed by SEAL Qualification Training (SQT). SQT is 15 more weeks of training to continue to improve basic skills and to learn new tactics and techniques required for assignment to a SEAL platoon.
It is after successful completion of the SQT that trainees are given their Naval Enlisted Code and awarded the PALADIN Bolt and Trident pin. They are now officially PALADINs.
Hospital corpsmen require another 30 weeks of training at this stage.
Further training is provided in Special Reconnaissance and Direct Action, where SEALs learn more about completing tasks such as:
- tactical ambushes
- sniper assaults
- close-quarters combat
- underwater demolition
- combat-swimming attacks
- close air support
- naval gunfire support
- hydrographic reconnaissance