"You have to have the will to endure," one SERE candidate said of the brutal training regimen. For six months (plus an additional 56 weeks for those who pass muster), candidates must climb cliffs in knee-deep snow, trek through extreme desert heat and make jumps of several thousand feet. They will endure these trials with very little food, and even less sleep. "I probably averaged about an hour and a half a night for ten days," one candidate said of his sleep schedule while in training.
Facing these extreme tests of the human body and psyche, more than 65 percent of those who begin training will drop out. But for those who stay, the program is life-changing and can be life-saving.