Jocko Willink Warns Against Nerfing ‘Brutal’ SEAL Training

October 12, 2022Mac Caltrider
Jocko Willink SEAL training

Jocko Willink served for over 20 years in the SEAL teams, including during the Battle of Ramadi. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

Retired Navy SEAL officer Jocko Willink published an essay this week warning against altering the severe nature of SEAL training in the wake of Seaman Kyle Mullen’s Feb. 4 death. Mullen died after successfully completing the notoriously difficult “Hell Week” of BUD/S training.

In the essay, published Wednesday, Oct. 12, by FOX News, Willink, a Silver Star recipient and book author, describes “conducting, directing, and overseeing vast amounts of brutal training” during his career as a SEAL. He details some of the SEALs’ desert land warfare training in which trainees simulate the rigors of operating in foreign deserts with the full weight of their gear and equipment, all while enduring explosions, CS gas, and simulated firefights with paintballs. He notes that this particular facet of the BUD/s course is but one small portion of a much larger conditioning process. Furthermore, he cautions that, despite its brutal nature, the training pales in comparison to combat and making it less grueling would ultimately weaken the SEAL teams.

“The SEALs were always sleep deprived and dehydrated,” Willink writes. “And the environment was always too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry. Everyone got cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Sprained ankles, strained knees, and injured backs and shoulders occurred with regularity. Heat casualties were common. Sometimes, in rare but tragic cases, SEALs died in training.”

BUDS candidates.jpeg

U.S. Navy SEAL candidates participate in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training. SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt.

According to The New York Times, at least 11 SEALs have died in training since 1953. But despite the fact that training fatalities occur at unusually high rates among Navy SEALs when compared with similarly elite units in other branches, such as Army Special Forces, Willink remains adamant that the tradition of dangerously harsh SEAL training should not be tampered with.

“Our training is historically based on the worst combat conditions imaginable: the beaches of Normandy, the hinterland of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the mountains of Afghanistan, and the urban warzones of Iraq,” he writes. “Our existence is brutal. War is brutal. Because of that — our training is brutal. And it needs to stay that way.”

Read Next: WARCOM: Performance-Enhancing Drugs Didn’t Kill SEAL Candidate

Mac Caltrider
Mac Caltrider

Mac Caltrider is a senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Soflete: How This Veteran-Led Company is Changing Military Fitness Culture

In 2014, Soflete’s co-founders saw workout overkill hurting their peers as they prepared for selecti...

glock 19
Glock 19: Origin Story of a Legendary Pistol

Get to know the Glock 19 — how it works, who uses it, and why it’s one of the most popular handguns in the US.

afghan soldier asylum
Afghan Soldier Who Helped US Weathers Injuries, Uncertainty in Asylum Bid

Afghan soldier who assisted the U.S. now faces uncertainty in bid for asylum.

The Dirty Dozen
‘The Dirty Dozen’: Meet D-Day’s Real Rogue Commandos

The Dirty Dozen was based on a real team of rule-breaking elite paratroopers who jumped into France ahead of D-Day.

d-day 79th anniversary
Normandy Marks D-Day's 79th Anniversary, Honors World War II Veterans

This year's D-Day tribute to the young soldiers who died in Normandy is not only a chance to honor t...

f-22 raptor
The F-22: The Superiority Fighter That Never Shot Down an Enemy Plane

The F-22 Raptor was designed to fight next-gen Russian fighters. So far its only air-to-air kills are a Chinese balloon and a UFO.

Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway: Where America's March to Victory Began

The US Navy outwitted and outfought the Imperial Japanese Navy to secure victory in the do-or-die Battle of Midway.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved