Military training is the best. Although this is a debatable point, is every example of military training as good as the last? The answer is inevitably going to be no. There are countless examples of poorly trained military units, just as much as there are good and elite ones. There is a reason boot camp training is desirable; it is only through the high demands of this, ‘no room for failure’ ethos. For many, a PT will only get them so far. They need the kick up the rear to get them going. Here we will take a quick look at some of the most elite military units in the world and how they might have influenced how many train these days.

Israel’s Sayeret Matkal

Founded in 1957, the Israeli Sayeret Matkal is one of the world’s most elite fighting forces. The Israeli military is known for its toughness and intense training regime. It’s not difficult to see why as Israel is not the most popular nation in its neighborhood. This unit has been involved in pretty much every counter-terrorism operation that Israel has been involved in since its inception. Sayeret Matkal is notoriously secretive, and as such information on it is sparse. But we do know Israeli tactics are incorporated in many training regimes and self-defense classes, most notably Krav Maga, which is practiced worldwide. The training itself is said to be brutal, we only need to look at the training they reportedly endure in preparation for capture, it supposedly involves real abuse and torture. So, we are not going as far as Sayeret Matkal in our training, but you’ve got to admire the dedication.

British SAS

The SAS (Special Air Service) is the elite of the British army, having been active since 1941 with origins in North Africa during World War II. The rationale was for a highly trained, small elite group of soldiers who would operate independently behind enemy lines. The group is highly selective, with only 22 active servicemen at any one time. As you can imagine, the training for SAS soldiers is as intense as they come, and much like the motto, “Who Dares Wins”, it is not for those who like to take things easy. The brutal five-month training regime has a whopping 90 percent fail rate. Do you still think you could do it? The course is so intense that it has reportedly claimed the lives of three recruits. There can be no doubt that it is deadly. There are parts of SAS training that are mimicked through boot camps, such as the hill phase, much of it just pushing you to your limits. Other aspects of the training, such as being dropped in the Burmese jungle to survive are not exactly practical for a class situation. What we can say is, if 90% fail the real training, even 10% of an SAS workout is going to be brutal.

Navy Seals – USA

The United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams, the Navy Seals to you and I were founded in 1962, formally although they claim their roots back to World War II. The unit is said to have its origins in 1942 at Fort Pierce in Florida, after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Their numbers are not so elite as the British SAS, with around 2,500 recruits, but try and tell them they are less than anyone and that’s a fight you’re not going to want to be a part of. The training is wide-ranging and brutal. Three phases are involved, Phase 1: Physical conditioning, Phase 2: Combat diving, and Phase 3: Land warfare. Being such a staple of the best of the US military aspects of the Seals training has been incorporated into many fitness regimes. One of the main advantages of following the Seals way of thinking is the range and variety of the training. You have the physical aspect that is as tough as they come, but also the diving. Many dive schools follow aspects of the Seals dive training. It’s hard to find a gun range that doesn’t take at least some inspiration from this type of combat training. I know whenever I visit my favorite range, Shoot Point Blank Naperville, I try to use these skills. 

Alpha Group – Russia

We couldn’t use the US Navy Seals as an example and not include their long-term cold-war rivals, Russia’s Alpha Group. The group dates back to 1972 under the Soviet Union, it emerged in response to the Munich Massacre of the same year; the Palestinian terrorist Black September who took nine Israeli Olympic athletes and a police officer hostage before killing them. The Soviet Union needed a counter-terrorist operation given the tension towards them and other communist nations during that era. The unit became known as experts in hostage situations, often involving insurgent Soviet deserters. This skill set would become increasingly in demand during the fall of the Soviet Union. The unit would be increasingly involved in foreign operations from the 1980s onwards, making them more comparable. Alpha group still exists today in the modern Russian Federation and continues to operate to this day. Physical training involves much of the same type of rigorous demand as many of the other elite units. Training in full weight kit and body armor and a complex training regime follows, that many do not complete.

Boot Camp Training It is fair to say the average fitness enthusiast is not looking for training to apply to these elite military units. Any individual looking to apply to one of these fighting units needs to train to a high degree. Boot camp training is to push individuals looking for an enhanced level of fitness. However, it is not intended to be used as real military training but can take the ethos of military training and bring it to the masses.

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