6 Military Units Whose Training Would Traumatize Rambo
If you haven't guessed by their names, special operations forces are all about finding men who can perform wartime tasks above and beyond those performed by the average soldier. So how do you train somebody to survive the unsurvivable?
Well, let's just say you have to think outside the box.
United States Army Special Forces Create a Massive Real-Life RPG
America has a whole bunch of special operations forces, each with its own focus and set of skills. United States Army Special Forces, or the Green Berets, are one such unit. Their primary focus is counter-terrorism and unconventional warfare, which we suspect is just code for "stuff the other pussies won't do."
Like training for the inevitable war on Pandora.
What sort of thing do these guys do for practice? Well ...
Exercise Robin Sage is a month-long training exercise focused on blending in in a foreign land and training guerrilla units to liberate their country. Seems pretty tame so far, but surprisingly, not many countries are really down with the whole "let a hundred American troops run around and stir up rebellion in our country for a month" idea. So America decided to simply create its own country to train in. Welcome to the Republic of Pineland, baby!
Yes, that's North Carolina. About a third of it, to be precise.
The People's Republic of Pineland is an entirely fictional country created for one purpose: to put the USASF through their paces. And when we say it's a fictional "country," we're including the people -- the residents are straight up part of the mission. The cities and towns within the 15 counties that comprise the training zone actively participate in the month-long training, with its citizens posing as citizens of "Pineland" in a vast, government-funded, open-air role playing game.
"... lightning bolt?"
People there take on a large variety of roles, from doctors and shop owners right down to one guy who has to torture other citizens before being killed in a final showdown with the soldiers. They even carry two sets of ID and have their own currency, with an exchange rate and everything. They don't stop their normal jobs, either -- the guy whose job it is to pretend to be a torturer is also a volunteer firefighter in his spare time.
Everyone who takes part does it for no more than the cost of the gas they use during the month the exercise takes place. One such citizen, when he dies, is set to receive a full military funeral for his services to his country and his selfless actions during the Robin Sage exercises, complete with a Pineland liberation flag draped over his grave. When asked why he was willing to do so much for so little reward, he simply said, "This may help save a life one day."
Not to mention that having this in his wallet gets him a considerable amount of action.
But hey, at least the citizens were in on it. That's not how they used to do it in Australia, baby ...
The Z Special Unit Would (Pretend To) Blow Up Its Own People
Fortunately, it's not all stereotypes and hyperbole. For example, meet the Z Special Unit, a special operations force established in WWII-era Australia with the express purpose of blowing up everything in the Pacific Ocean that even looked slightly Japanese. During the four-year period in which they were functioning, they carried out 81 operations that ranged from basic reconnaissance to blowing up most of Singapore Harbor while undercover (that is, dressed in sarongs).
"We figure, if you look good, the rest of the war will follow."
It was a habit of this group to carry out mock attacks on Aussie towns unfortunate enough to be situated across the bay from Fraser Island, the unit's main training ground. So presumably, they warned the townspeople beforehand that they were about to come in and start tearing some imaginary enemy shit down.
Yeah, right. Where's the fun in that?
"These friendly civilians don't expect a thing."
The most infamous of these mock attacks, known as the Townsville Raid, was carried out in preparation for the aforementioned demolition of Singapore Harbor. At this time, Townsville was a bustling port filled with Australian warships, and as such, it was heavily defended with all the usual trappings you'd expect: mines, sentries, boat patrols and even surveillance aircraft, which was a fairly big deal at the time.
The mission? Sneak in and attach dummy limpet mines to everything that floated, while simultaneously avoiding being blown up and dismembered by their own country.
In goddamn canoes.
At midnight on the 22nd of June 1943, the unit managed to evade all of these countermeasures and plant the mines on the hulls of 10 ships, which from a security standpoint is roughly about 10 more ships than you'd want an intruder to be able to plant mines on. The men then rowed across to their nearby rendezvous point of Ross Creek. And then, presumably in order to celebrate a job well done, they wandered back into Townsville and found somewhere to grab some sleep.
Until 10 a.m., that is, when all hell broke loose as the mines were discovered. Mines that no one knew were fake. And keep in mind, if these things all went off and sank the boats, you'd be getting into Pearl Harbor territory in terms of losses, and in a navy that could in no way afford it.
Even when members of the Z Unit came forward and insisted the mines were fake, nobody trusted them, and they weren't allowed to dismantle them out of fear that they'd pull some other crazy shit. Their unit commander, Samuel Carey, was arrested and then eventually booted out of Z Special as a condition of his release.
Yes, even Australia has to draw the line somewhere.
The North Korean Storm Corps Will Punch You to Death
Yet they seem to still want to find more ways to make it onto more of our lists. Being a country that is also situated right next to its number one enemy, North Korea spends a lot of time flexing its military might, or just damn well showing the hell off, to the point where the regular soldiers are so well organized you could swear they were the same guy Photoshopped over and over again.
Someone got a little crazy with CTRL + V.
North Korea has a select special group of soldiers, known only through rumors, called the Storm Corps, proving that North Korea, as well as being crazy, has a totally bitching naming system for its army. Little has ever been officially confirmed by North Korea about what the Storm Corps are or how they operate. The only thing that seems to be certain is that they have one goal: to fuck up South Korea's shit, big time. Training for that task apparently requires a strict regimen of insanity.
Including daily courses in advanced Flag Marching.
A soldier once captured by the South Koreans revealed under interrogation that a single Storm Corp soldier trains specifically to take on between three and 15 opponents at once. Another soldier, allegedly a defector from the Storm Corps, describes how soldiers are required to punch a tree trunk 5,000 times in a row, day and night, for a month. Then they make them punch the jagged edge of a tin can until their hand is bloody and covered in pus, and then finally they start punching a pile of salt. The twisted reason for this being, of course, that the soldiers' hands become solid like a rock, thus allowing them to literally beat their enemies to death with their rock-hard fists.
The worst part is, the guy who undertook this and lived to tell about it looks like a completely regular guy. The Storm Corps could be anyone, anywhere, and you wouldn't realize it till you shook their hand and realized it felt like a brick.
"My hand could just as easily be on the other side of your chest right now."
NAVSOG and CGSOG Will Get You Drunk
By the nature of their title, special operations forces are expected to work in any conditions. It isn't adequate to just have a body you can sharpen knives on; your mind and will also need to be strong, simply because the brass won't appreciate you peeing yourself and cowardly fleeing during your mission to eliminate ZomBin Laden.
These guys, who are essentially the Southeast Asia version of what would result from a U.S. Navy SEALs/Baywatch crossover, considered this relationship between the body and mind and decided to ask the important question, "But what if their minds were fucked?"
There's no complicated way to put this: During training, they get their men stone drunk. Because, obviously, nowhere is better for this type of stuff than an army base.
"Yeah, I'm not feeling anything so far. Hey, let's go throw grenades at farm animals."
Even the name of this training technique itself, "Hell Blast," doesn't help to disassociate the whole thing from any connotations of partying and drunken debauchery. But before you all go off and start packing for your immediate emigration, realize that, these being special operations forces, there has to be some kind of perverse reasoning behind all of this joviality. And there is: While drunk, the men (or women, which they've recently started admitting) still have to complete their normal training regime, which includes activities such as target shooting, running six miles every day and being able to swim 18 miles without a rest.
Remember, training is all about preparing for every contingency. Including finding out that the team had a few on the chopper ride to their mission.
"I sure hope puke doesn't clog machine guns."
According to the commander of the unit, getting the soldiers drunk during training allows the instructors to gauge their personalities and find out whether any of them are going to be complete assholes on-mission. Particular attention is often paid to those who love fighting or become very troublesome under the influence, and if anybody is found to act like that, they immediately get their ass placed under observation.
"I've got my eye on you, Steve. You hold your tequila like a 4-year-old."
The U.S. Navy SEALs Put You Through Hell
The training regimen of the U.S. Navy SEALs is legendary within the world of special operations forces, most notably for the bastard time that is "Hell Week," a week-long smorgasbord of pain and suffering that, on average, makes half of all recruits to this unit drop out.
We're not sure what's going on here, but it's absolutely crucial to national security.
A lot of it is the standard stuff -- activities range from carrying heavy wooden logs up near-vertical sand dunes to the infamous trial that is "surf torture," in which soldiers lock arms and wade into freezing cold ocean water. They stay in the water for 15 minutes at a time, take a five minute break to be checked for signs of hypothermia and then are ordered back in over and over again.
All of this happens while having only a total of four hours sleep. And that's not four hours per day, either -- that's over the course of a week. Bear that in mind when firing off your next whiny status on Facebook about pulling your third all-nighter of the semester.
"Man, I could really go for some repetitive boat-carrying exercises right now."
There usually isn't a formal announcement when "Hell Week" actually starts, with the only announcement being the sudden, massive series of artillery explosions and gunfire, and the screams of the instructors telling everyone to get their asses outside.
That's because in preparation for what has to be the world's worst surprise party, the entire base is tricked out to simulate a combat zone. The central courtyard where the trainees are made to exercise is lined with barrels filled with artillery simulators, which, as the name would suggest, are blanks that replicate artillery strikes all the way from the whistling of the "incoming" shell to the very massive and very real explosion that soon follows.
It's just like Call of Duty, only with fewer screamed threats of murder.
The trainees will continue to do their drills among the random explosions, while instructors walk among them, screaming and firing off hundreds of blanks from machine guns.
They also have an industrial-strength fog machine that fills the place with a misty haze in between the pyrotechnics, which makes us think that when designing this program, the instructors accidentally Googled "KISS concert."
"... and party every day."
The Russian Spetznaz Will Make You Kick Your Own Ass and Swim in Blood
You may remember us mentioning the Spetznaz before -- more specifically, how badass and crazy their training is.
We're only allowed to use this image one more time, then our servers catch fire.
But believe it or not, that image is barely scratching the damn surface. When you get beneath all the back-flipping and hatchet-throwing, Spetznaz training is freaking brutal. Whereas most special operations forces train to make you a more competent warrior and hone your skills, the Spetznaz thought, "Screw that. War is full of pain and misery -- that's what our soldiers must know."
Basic Spetznaz training involves learning a unique martial art. Being a Spetznaz martial art, it obviously teaches the soldiers how to disarm and kill as quickly as possible, as well as how to fire two guns at once. Why? Spetznaz, that's why.
We're pretty sure that's a man punching an AK-47 in half.
After soldiers are fully trained in the art of ass-kicking, a popular training exercise is to allow Russian recruits to beat the living shit out of each other to test their skills. But obviously recruits can only test their own skills so much -- to really test the limits of what a soldier can do, you need the experienced guiding hand of a superior officer.
Or a sledgehammer.
Yes, that image is an actual part of Spetznaz training, designed to build strength and possibly as a punishment for boners in the shower. When officers do need to step in, however, they like to make damn sure the soldiers know shit is about to go down, as a defector from the GRU detailed in this book.
Young soldiers are awoken in the middle of the night, dragged through the dark and thrown into a room. The room is dark, cramped and filled waist-deep in blood and rotten organs. We really can't emphasize the blood part of that, either. Warning: The following quote is a bit icky.
"It's not water they are in -- it's blood. Blood up to the knees, the waist, the chest. On the walls and the ceiling are chunks of rotten flesh, piles of bleeding entrails. The steps are slippery from slimy bits of brain. Undecided, the young soldiers jam the corridor. Then somebody in the darkness lets a huge dog off its chain."
Suddenly pull-ups don't sound so bad.
The blood and organs come from a nearby slaughterhouse, which makes absolutely no difference to the soldiers who were only moments ago asleep. So when the choice is put in front of them to be grossed out or attacked by a big dog, they get the hell out of there, which is exactly what the Spetznaz wants. Blood is a part of war, and if the soldiers can literally wade through it, it's not going to bother them in a battle situation, which just may give them that split second to catch their opponent by surprise.
And a second is all they need.
You can find more from Adam at Alert Level Stork! And he helped write The Four Humors, a collection of short stories published independently by a group of Cracked writers. Karl lost a bet and is honoring it by plugging his friends' band.
For more military exploits, check out 6 Massive Secret Operations That Are Hidden All Around You and The 6 Most Hilarious Undercover Operations Ever Pulled Off.
These men -- these hallowed leaders of the free world -- want to kick your ass. And only Daniel O'Brien can help, with How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country!
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