May 14
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What kind of people are these guys?
Many SEALs don’t fit the crew-cut, clean-shaven military stereotype. They are more likely to be bearded, with a rough look “like a street urchin,” says former SEAL Richard Marcinko, so that they don’t stick out. Many are former college athletes, with exceptional agility and upper-body strength. They’re quiet and self-effacing in public, operating under a mandate of total secrecy, but the brutal nature of their training makes them fearless. “They’ve learned to compartmentalize it,” says former Navy psychologist Mark Russell. “Their training takes over and allows them to overcome whatever fear response they have.”

What motivates SEALs?
It’s not money. A Navy SEAL is paid about $54,000 a year, and is expected to spend up to 300 days a year in deployment. Most SEALs do as many as 15 tours in their lifetimes, but leave the service with little more than a standard military pension. Elite soldiers have motivations that are hard for other people to understand, says Eric Haney, a former member of the Army’s Delta Force commando unit. “Some people are driven to this. Just be damn glad they are.”

A SEAL’s best friend
The Navy SEALs who stormed Osama bin Laden’s hideaway last week had support from a heavily armored four-legged soldier—a bomb-sniffing combat canine described by the New York Times as the “nation’s most courageous dog.” The military pooch was likely equipped with the very latest in military technology—a “canine tactical assault suit” with wireless infrared cameras and a built-in speaker to hear its trainer’s orders. The unit’s dogs—German shepherds or Belgian Malinois—can alert SEALs to the presence of suicide belts or other explosives, and are trained to chase down fleeing suspects, bite them on the leg or arm, and hold them for capture.

—from “The Navy SEALs,” a Q&A guide, The Week, May 13, 2011


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