It’s one thing for Sailors to qualify for the Special Warfare Operator (SO) rating, but quite another to earn the right to wear the Special Warfare insignia, commonly called the “SEAL Trident.”

The journey to earning the SO rating badge begins in earnest following the completion of enhanced Naval Recruit Training and an eight-week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Preparation course conducted at the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School in Great Lakes, Illinois. The three-week BUD/S Indoctrination or Orientation is where SEAL candidates are introduced to the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California, the types of physical training they’ll be engaging in over the coming months, and the SWO obstacle course, and other aspects of what the Navy calls the “BUD/S lifestyle.”

This is when BUD/S Training gets serious.

In the first phase, the emphasis is on basic conditioning and water expertise. Over the seven weeks of this part of the BUD/S Training, the class of SEAL trainees is expected to exceed the amounts of running, calisthenics, and swimming they had performed the previous week. Performance yardsticks are completion of a four-mile run, an obstacle course, and a two-mile swim—all timed. Augmenting the physical conditioning are classes on hydrographic surveys.

The climax of this phase, affectionately known as Hell Week, comes about halfway through the process phase. Over the span of five-and-a-half days, the candidates run more than 200 miles and perform grueling physical training for more than 20 hours per day—and they’re only allowed four hours of sleep over the entire period. Needless to say, the dropout rate is quite high, but those who make it through Hell Week stand a good chance of finishing their BUD/S Training.

Phase two is Combat Diving, and it goes without saying that SEAL candidates who aren’t comfortable spending a great deal of time in watery environs will struggle mightily during this seven-week training period. In May of 2016, one SEAL candidate died of drowning during “Introduction to Combat Swimmer” training; he was also the fifth trainee to black out during pool exercises conducted during the Combat Diving phase.

Land Warfare Training is the home stretch in the race to earn the Special Warfare Operator rating badge. Basic weapons, land navigation, marksmanship, small-unit tactics, rappelling, demolitions, and other combat skills are the focus of this seven-week course, half of which takes place on San Clemente Island. Sailors who successfully finish Land Warfare Training have qualified for their SO rating—but the biggest prize still lies ahead.

To earn the Special Warfare Insignia and the right to join a SEAL platoon, SO Sailors have to pass a 26-week SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) course. Besides providing advancing tutelage in many of the skills they learned during Land Warfare Training, SQT teaches them medical skills, maritime operations, cold-weather operations and survival, and SERE (Survival/Evasions/Resistance/Escape) tactics and strategies. They also will have qualified in static-line and freefall parachuting (both HALO and HAHO).

Only at this point can Navy Special Warfare Operators don the highly coveted SEAL Trident and claim membership in one of the world’s most elite combat units.

Important: While we might have this item in stock, low demand means this item is frequently manufactured to order. Please allow up to 10 business days processing time.

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