Being a warrior-athlete is certainly one factor. The other—more important factor? The ability to stay positive in adverse conditions.
That American Marines are tough is accepted as fact. Though the Corps was originally founded in 1775, their place in the American psyche was secured thanks to the brutal island hopping campaigns against the Empire of Japan during World War II. In the Pacific, the Marines defined themselves as America’s elite force-in-readiness—an ethos that continues today.
Put simply, the Marines consider themselves the best of the best. Thanks to this belief, the Marine Corps has traditionally eschewed the term special forces: if all Marines are elite, then what’s the point of calling some Marines more elite than others? Still, some of the Marine Corps’ best make up Force Reconnaissance, a special-operations capable force with a mission profile comparable to that of the Green Berets or Navy SEALS.
The Reconnaissance selection and training course is intensely rigorous. Thanks to the Marines’ amphibious nature, much of selection involves swimming and underwater training in addition to timed marches and other physical fitness tests. The dropout rate is high—over 50 percent of candidates who attempt Recon selection drop out. Of those that don’t pass selection, half are failed due for medical reasons. The other half, nearly a quarter of all candidates, voluntarily choose to quit, or “Drop on Request.”
A high dropout rate is a testament…