on June 18, 2002
This book contains a great deal of information about the SEAL training program and how mindboggling difficult it is to accomplish. The author is obviously very interested in the actual training program; what gets lost are the people themselves. I was expecting the book to be something of a Survivor-type story, where we would meet some members of the class of 228, get to know them and their motivations and see which ones failed and which ones survived. Instead, the characters are introduced in a very perfunctory way, and almost none of the quitters are gone into in any detail.
on June 15, 2004
I first became interested in the Navy SEALs during a Learning Channel 5-part series that follows class 324 thru BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition, Seal training) To see the various evolutions these young men had to go thru was inspiring. Thus when I was on Coronado Island I decided I had to get a book that dug deeper into the forging of a Navy SEAL. I was recommended this book by the owner of a Coronado bookstore. Dick Couch, the author and former Navy SEAL was given access to BUD/s class 228 to tell the story of the men who make it to graduation and beyond. Throughtout the book you get a real sense of what it would be like to go thru the training, and all the internal thoughts that you need to fight off to make it. There is a great deal of detail put into Indoc., First Phase, Hell Week, Second Phase and Third Phase. While that entails all phases of BUD/s graduation there is much more training ahead for the graduates, that most likely gets told in Finishing School.
I highly recommend this book, to at the bare minimum understand the trials these men go thru, and at the max. to push yourself to achieve things you never thought possible.
on December 13, 2003
This book is definitely written from an conventional Navy officer's perspective. Despite Couch's past SEAL career, he basically comes across as one of the "conventional" thinking SEAL officers that Richard Marcinko repeatedly complains about in his many best selling books. Dick Couch paints the modern SEALs as like some prima donnas and discounts their past "badboy" image and history. He even goes so far as to call the SEALS of the Vietnam era, seventies and eighties era as "streetfighters" rather than warriors. I found this disrespectful to the many enlisted SEALs and mustang SEAL officers who developed the SEAL mystique during the post Vietnam era.
Couch obviously favors Naval Academy grad officers from the things he says in his book. His Naval Academy bias comes thru loud and clear. He talks little about the many fine "Mustang" SEAL officers who have made the SEAL community what it is today. Many of the more innoative SEAL officers are former enlisted SEALs, who after first becoming enlisted SEALs went onto college, then went to OCS and became SEAL Commissioned Officers. Richard Marcinko is one of these "Mustang" SEAL officers, who earned everything he had and was given nothing.
Couch's opinion at the end of the book that the earlier era SEALs were "streetfighters" rather than real warriors is just plain disrespectful to the many sixties, seventies and eighties era SEALs who built NAVSPECWAR into what it is today. Those men were the pioneers...who rebelled against the conventional Navy and built the current SEAL reputation. Those "streetfighter" SEALs Couch talks about were doing SEAL things long before special ops became popular or hip or cool. In fact they were doing it when special ops was actually UNPOPULAR in the Vietnam and post Vietnam era.
Thank Goodness I rented this book from my local library. Rather than shelling out the cash to buy it. I actually thought it was a good book initially, but due to the author's disrespectful opinions and slants which come thru clearly in this book, Im glad I didnt buy it with my own cash.
This book to me displays a very conventional side of the Navy SEALs and its a side I doubt would be very useful in the war against terrorism. We need more "streetfighters" SEALs to fight dirty in this war against terrorism.
on September 3, 2003
The training to become a US Navy SEAL is one of the toughest programs of any special operations unit in the world. From what I've read, the only other units that might come close or match the SEAL training is perhaps the Air Force's Pararescue and Combat Controllers program.
This book affords us a rare opportunity into the world of the basic training stages of SEAL candidates. Basic Underwater Demolition and SEAL training (BUD/S) is approximately 6 months but as pointed out in this book, it takes at least a year of training to become a full-fledged Navy SEAL. After one finishes BUD/S, he must go for SEAL Tactical Training (STT) and function as part of a SEAL team for another six months before he is eligible to receive his coveted SEAL trident pin. BUD/S is the focus of this book however. We get to know a number of SEAL candidates fairly well from the first day of indoctrination to the final day of BUD/S and beyond. Class 228 began with 114 trainees who were selected from a much larger group of applicants. Of those 114, only 10 of them managed to go straight through all of the phases and graduate. The majority seem to volitarily drop out of the program at some point in the program (particularly during the infamous "hell week"). Anyone can volitarily quit and any time in the training by simply telling an instructor "I quit". Trainees quit for a number of reasons, but some of the more common reasons are because of the constant exposure to cold water and the inordinate lengths of time trainees must stay awake. The trainees body temperatures are allowed to drop to what most medical professionals would regard as dangerously low. Trainees passing out in the pool is not uncommon in BUD/S. Some of the trainees begin to hallucinate and become irrational and delirious from sleep deprivation.
The focus on certain trainees makes this book all the more compelling. We meet a young man who wants to become a SEAL very badly but he's dropped for not being able to meet the physical demands. There is another man who is trying BUD/S for the second time; he's very strong and has no problem with most of the training evolutions but he eventually gets a pulmonary edema and hence is forced out of the program. Then there's a man who doesn't seem to have a weakness at all and breezes through everything until he's forced out of the program due to sinus problems.
I'll stop and leave with a quote from this book which I found interesting:
"warriorship is as much a tempering of the spirit as a physical rendering"
on August 15, 2003
I've read just about every book there is to read on Special Forces/Special Forces training. Usually they fall into 2 categories: Too much rah rah by an ex-SF guy, or not enough detail. This is THE best Special Forces book written to date, hands down! And without argument it is the most descriptive and incisive book on the Navy Seals ever written. But what makes this book so good is the style of writing. No glory embellishments, no rah rah. Just the facts, which are far more seat-of-your-pants exciting than anything else out there. Captain Couch let's the men, the dangerous work they do, and initiation into the most elite warrior force in the world, tell the story. The book follows what starts off as 137 top-notch military performers, through the incredible physical and mental challenges that is Seal initiation and training, until ultimately only 13 of the original class makes it through. Additionally, the author spends time constantly attempting to uncover the mysteries of why one man makes it all the way through, and why another, who is seemingly cruising through, quits one day before the end of hell week. By the end of the story, you feel like you know every one of these guys. I've referred this book on many times. Not one person has not been awed by this incredible book. If you have any interest in Special Forces or the Seals, don't miss Warrior Elite. This is a must read! I cannot wait until his next book comes out.
on July 9, 2003
This is absolutely the best book on BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL) Training that I have ever read. Most of the SEAL training you hear about is the infamous Hell Week. This book does an excellent job of showing you that Hell Week is merely a speed bump in a SEAL's training.
Retired Captain Dick Couch is a 1967 graduate of the US Naval Academy and Honorman of BUD/S Class 45. In this book, he takes the reader through all six months and three phases of BUD/S. Due to training requirements, he isn't really allowed to fraternize with the BUD/S trainees, but he does a good job of portraying some of the students of Class 228. So much so, in fact, that I found myself getting a bit choked up reading about their graduation ceremony. It felt like I was there, sitting proudly in the audience as I watched a family member or friend graduating from BUD/S.
It's amazing that you learn that the average SEAL is not a hulking mass of muscle like you would be apt to think. Many are under 6 feet tall and weigh in the area of 160-170 pounds. Certainly not the stereotypical Rambo-like visage one would expect (note: Rambo was a Green Beret, not a SEAL; you will also find out through other reading that most Green Berets are not like Rambo, either). One learns that what separates these elite men from others who fail the BUD/S course is heart, will, and determination. Strength, stamina, and endurance are important, but the strongest and fastest do not always make it. It is the heart of these warriors that stands above others.
Couch takes it a step further and touches upon post BUD/S training, the future of Navy SEALs and their possible role in the war on terrorism, following the 9/11 tragedies.
He mentions in this book that he is currently working on a new SEAL book scheduled for release in the spring of 2004. "It follows the path of a BUD/S graduate as he earns his SEAL qualification and prepares for operational deployment with his SEAL platoon. As with 'The Warrior Elite', [he is] following a group of men through their advanced SEAL training--the training BUD/S graduates must successfully complete before they are awarded their Naval Special Warfare Insignia, the Trident...[he is] also oberserving SEAL platoons and SEAL teams preparing for operational deployment." I can't wait for this new book!
I HIGHLY recommend this book to potential SEAL candidates and anyone interested in the training of this elite fighting force.
on December 14, 2002
I can't say enough about this book. This book should be required reading for all military. Dick Couch takes you from the time they report in to indoctrination through all the phases and what happens to them after graduation. As a former Marine, I wished I had read this book before leaving the Corps in '97 "after feeling sorry for myself" for all the stuff I put off with. One thing I never realized was how many Marines resigned or leave the Corps, joined the Navy for a "chance" to be a SEAL. The Corps part of the Dept of the Navy. THe Commandant and the Secretary of the Navy should get together to offer this opprotunity to Marines so they don't risk Professional suicide trying to be a SEAL as it stands now. One story about a Marine officer resigning to enlist in the Navy blew me away. I don't know whether I should praise him or call him a fool. Also, Class 228 feature the first black to graduate BUDS in years. The author for whatever reason did not point this milestone out and only mentioned him in passing. Book is still good. I'll read it over and over whenever I need motivation and start feeling "sorry" for myself. Add this with the video of Class 234 and I have the complete Seal experience without trying out for them. Marines should READ this book!! Don't let the fact it's a Navy book keep you away. The NCO sword use to belong to the Army. Learn all you can especially when the the Saber is rattling. Semper FI
on August 13, 2002
I've read several great books about SEALs and their training, and, as a middle-aged guy in pretty good shape who never served in the military, I wondered, like so many men, if I could have survived BUD/S. No, I couldn't have. I know that now, after reading The Warrior Elite. This book, written from a privileged and intimate viewpoint by a Vietnam-era SEAL, reveals in literally excruciating detail how demanding and relentless the training is. I was not surprised that the flamboyantly macho and musclebound contenders are the first to drop out, or that the quietly determined, average-build guys are the ones who make it.
However, I was surprised at how unforgiving the process is as far as dealing with physical injury. I was stunned that the one guy, who was just a machine, a leader, never tiring, never complaining, always performing as a leader, was let go because of a sinus infection. It seemed an egregious waste of an outstanding soldier due to something completely beyond his control. No one in the Mekong Delta ever got sick? No one in Desert Storm was ever injured or ill? I'm all for rigorous standards but jettisoning this particular guy because of a sinus infection seemed bone-headed and counterproductive.
Anyhow, now I know I wouldn't have made it. The first time I was made to take a dip in the ice slush with my pants full of sand after no sleep at three in the morning I believe I could have easily rung the bell and run for the showers.
An enjoyable book.
on August 9, 2002
As a nephew of a SEAL 1 Vietnam Veteran, Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what BUD/S training was all about until I stumbled across Mr. Couch's well written precise book.
From day one of a soldiers dream to become a Navy SEAL, this book takes you where no others have even attempted. The author, a former Frogman himself, was allowed inside to document this sadistic ritual of stamina, mental strength, self discipline, and physical endurance as BUD/S Class 228 forms with 114 men who dream of wearing the sacred Navy Trident, a symbol of America's Elite Sea,Air,and Land Warrior's. There is one way out, ring the bell, follow class 228 and see what fortitude it takes to keep one's hand off the bell tower.
Upon reading this book, one will have a new insight of what a Navy SEAL is about. As Television and Hollywood Movies build a superhero style character on the big screen, you will be surprised at how many make the journey, and yet, the average size of those who suceed average just 5'9, 160 lbs. SEAL BUD/S training is a full blown gut check, and this book is surely to become your favorite! Much Respect to All Frogman! Hoo Yaa!
on May 18, 2002
There are lots of books on SEALs out there, some good, most bad, very few great. This is one of the great ones. Why? Because it takes a theme that has been done to death, the training of the Navy SEALs, and writes what is probably the definitive book on the subject while doing what none of the other books has done. For the first time, a book follows the trainees through BUDs, through Hell Week, and keeps going all of the way to the assignment to an active team. It emphasizes the fact that the vaunted Hell Week, long portrayed as the horrible endurance contest that it is, is in fact just one of the gut checks along the way to becoming a SEAL. It's not a magical peak where everything after is easy, it's a point that weeds out many but is more preparation for the rigors ahead than a line to cross. To put it bluntly, there is no need to write another book on the training of the Navy SEALs, this is the final word. If you have dreams of becoming a SEAL, read this book. There is much wisdom in these pages. Ever think that "your reputation begins at BUDs"? You'll learn that here.
Finally, a book that reaches the levels set by books such as "Brave Men, Dark Waters" and "Class-29 : The Making of U.S. Navy SEALs". Well written, insightful, and just simply excellent. Buy this book!