A career in military service demands a willingness to fight, and even die, for the interests and security of the United States. And from boot camp to elite fighter schools, the training the 1.2 million active-duty servicemembers receive reflects the gravity of that responsibility.
Every year, thousands of American men and women begin their military service with basic training, or boot camp. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have their own specific basic training process, tailored to the function of the branch. (These are the states where the most Americans serve in the military.)
Of course, for some in the military, boot camp is only the beginning. Those who excel under the rigors of military life and meet certain criteria – often relating to experience, aptitude, endurance, and personal character – may choose to enroll in programs that develop the most specialized units in the military. (These are 17 of America’s most elite special forces.)
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the main components of basic training for each branch of the armed forces, as well as training programs for some of the most specialized units within each branch.
The 15 training programs on this list range in length from less than two months to well over a year. They also vary in difficulty and intensity. Some of the most exclusive training programs on this list have a completion rate of 20% or lower. Even the difficulty of basic training for new recruits varies, depending on the branch of service.
Still, for each training program on this list, applicants are advised to undergo some level of physical training before enrollment. These programs are designed to push the mental and physical limits of enlistees and troops, as well as teach and hone skill sets not commonly found in civilian life. These include training in weapons use, hand-to-hand combat, reconnaissance, outdoor survival, guerrilla warfare, and explosives to name a few.
All information in this story is sourced from government websites and military publications. It is important to note that many of the training programs are dynamic and evolve over time. Some, which often also require applicants to obtain a government security clearance, do not provide comprehensive details about their training.
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