‘Lone Survivor’ tells what it takes to become a SEAL

Pt. 2 of 3

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor (cover)

The book Lone Survivor became a bestseller for first time author Marcus Luttrell. Co-author Patrick Robinson is an acclaimed writer of fiction and nonfiction and had already racked up bestsellers.

I didn’t know much about the inner workings of the US Navy’s legendary fighting force. By the time I put the book down I’d learned enough to know that being a SEAL is beyond the reach of most of us.

There were 180 in Luttrell’s original group hoping to graduate; approximately 30 made the cut. I did know beforehand about the brutal training and exacting requirements. Luttrell gave my general impressions the specifics I lacked.

I’ve followed the cases of 3 Navy SEALs caught up in various charges related to the detention of Iraqi terrorist suspect Ahmed Hashim Abed, and many of you who read here regularly know my opinion on the charges against the SEALs. The suspect claimed one SEAL punched him; a sailor outside the Naval  Special Warfare Community made superiors aware of the detainee’s claims.

After reading almost everything available about the cases and gleaning information from attorneys as well as a couple men who had served as SEALs, I came to the conclusion the charges were probably politically driven by Washington policy rather than from within the military.

The training a SEAL undergoes requires superhuman discipline and control. It didn’t follow logic in my opinion that the SEALs who captured Abed would harm him after custody was turned over. The team had grabbed Abed as he slept—no shots were exchanged. None of the SEALs had anything to gain but everything to lose with a punch that in a civilian arena would mean very little.

Here’s a glimpse of the training these warriors undergo:

“Starting at around 0200, we spent the rest of the night running around the base with the goddamned boat on our heads. They released us for breakfast at 0500, and Tuesday proceeded much like Monday. No sleep, freezing cold, and tired to distraction. We completed a three-mile paddle up to North Island and back, at which time it was late in the evening and we’d been up for more than 60 hours…We worked through the night, making one long six-mile paddle, and reported for breakfast again at 0500 on Wednesday…” [pg. 142]

For days on end, it was pretty much “swim-paddle-swim.” Then you got to enjoy a nice long run along the beach. These are the highlights in a long long list of physical endurance exercises. At that point in Luttrell’s training, there were 36 of 180 left.

That brings me to the next matter. As in civilian life, there is a bit of chafing between those who make it to the top  of the warrior ladder and those who do not. That isn’t to say that every member of our armed forces isn’t brave or dedicated. But competition is present, just as it would be in an office with 20 workers who know only one or two of them will reach management levels.

For someone who had endured the rigors of becoming a SEAL and succeeded, a punch thrown improperly would ride enormous risk yet return zero gain.

For a man who made the cut as a SEAL, that would make no sense. After all, any one on that team could have taken Abed out during the capture and it could have been done quietly.

Lone Survivor, Pt. 1
Lone Survivor, Pt. 3

 

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