Just watched Full Metal Jacket for like the 40th time, and based on the US Marines track record, seems like its pretty damned effective training.
Also just got done an epic book about the French Foreign Legion:
. … and it sounds like these are a bunch of hombres I would not want to mess with either.
But does this mean they have the toughest “boot camps”? I’ve read nightmare stories about the Navy SEALS as well . . . .what military has the toughest boot camp, regardless of results on the field which may or may not be determined by technology and management tactics?
as a related issue: why compare only to other military units? How how comparing marine boot camp today to itself–i.e. back in the days of “Full Metal Jacket”?
There are lots of youtube videos about Marine boot camp that make it look like a totally different place than it was in the 1970’s.
(and yes, I assume that the youtube clips are edited so that they don’t show the worst face of the military. )
The three you mention aren’t even comparable to begin with. Marines are regular troops, the FFL is sort of “elite infantry”, and being though is in fact part of its appeal, they probably rather exagerate it than downplay it (and it can afford to be super selective, since it has vastly more applicants than it needs), and the SEALS are in a completely different category, being special forces.
I am not a Vet, but I do respect all of the men and women in uniform. I enjoy reading about military history, but admit most of what I read is about the American Military. If I had to pick, I would say that the Marines have one of the toughest boot camps in the American military.
I do remember reading something about a group of Marines stationed in Afghanistan I think. They were in a large encampment with military from several countries and happened to be close to a group of French Foreign Legion members. The marines had scavenged up several items to use as a make shift gym so they could stay in shape and occupy some of their down time. The Marines noticed that the Legionaries (sp?) tended to go for a run in the morning and lazed around the rest of the day. The Marines decided that the Legionaries weren’t as ‘tough’ as everyone claimed since all they ever witnessed was them going on a daily run.
One day both groups were talking and the Legionaries invited the Marines on their morning run. By the time the run was over, the Marines were exhausted and the Legionaries had barely broken a sweat. They were further humbled when one of the Marines discovered that the packs the Legionaries carried were much heavier than their own. After that, the Marines had nothing but respect for them and would quickly defend their new friends anytime someone would try to say anything negative.
While purely anecdotal, it was a fun read and since this has been moved to IMHO, I assume it is OK to tell the story.
I’ve noticed that Marines do tend to focus a lot on upper body strength. That’s nice to have in a fistfight, but it’s not very useful for most infantry work; in fact, I’d say that in the field, bulging pecs and biceps are just more dead weight you need to carry. Most of the best terrain-eaters I’ve known were wiry types.
Enlisted Navy SEALs start out in regular Navy boot camp, like any other swabby. SEAL training is a special program within the Navy that must be applied for, just like other Special Forces groups in other service branches. That training, as you noted, is designed to weed out those without the physical - and more importantly, the mental - fortitude to serve.
I found the Seal bootcamp series (on youtube) terrifying and exhausting just watching it but (it seemed to me) that at the end they had basically selected for a bunch of people with amazing aerobic capacity because that’s really what caused the vast majority of people to fail. Not intelligence or bravery or tactical skill but simple physical endurance.
So yeah the “winners” who toughed it out and became Seals were super tough at being able to go to the human limits of exhaustion and beyond but (just based on he documentary) but they really didn’t seem to be “super soldiers”. One 17/18 year old recruit with astounding endurance became a Seal in the series.
I did know someone who was in the FFL and the Parachute Regiment. He had the balls to join the FFL at a very young age. He said the Paras were a more difficult training camp. I don’t say that to disparage the FFL as I assume they and the Paras contain a very different breed of soldier.
Marine Corps boot camp is the hardest from a “stress environment” point of view. From minute one it’s all about creating the fog of war by over stressing the recruit. In the end, he ends up being no stranger to stress and multitasking as he follows orders and move towards the objective. No other service goes to that shock level to indoctrinate a recruit.
At least the military men (and women) I know have all said that High Altitude Warfare Schools (HAWS) are the ones which are the toughest both physically and mentally. So much so that flunking out is not a black mark on your career; some people can do it, others cannot and the brass understands it.
To the OP, what do you mean the “toughest”? And military men who make it a career (especially officers) have to undertake multiple courses of training in their career. Special Forces training is plenty tough. So is mountain warfare. But what about technical subjects like Nuclear or Radar School? The extremely complicated logistics courses? Might not be as sexy as Commando training, but lets face it, without the Staff work which gets food, fuel and ammunition to them; your hot shots are going no where.