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Marine orders investigation into intensive SEAL training after top athlete’s death

Top Navy officials have ordered an independent investigation into the intensive selection course for its SEALS after the death of a sailor revealed a history of physical abuse, poor medical supervision and use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The outgoing Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William K. Lescher ordered the investigation in a letter dated August 31.

It was promptly given to a rear admiral from outside the SEALS, the New York Times reports, indicating that Navy officials had given it top priority and wanted an independent investigation into the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs course — or BUD/S for short.

Lescher asked investigators to focus on safety precautions, the qualifications of instructors and medical personnel, as well as drug testing policies, as sailors complain that the course has only gotten tougher since a SEAL Team Six commander took charge.

He also asked what had changed since February, when 24-year-old former college football player Kyle Mullen died just hours after completing the course’s Hell Week, which takes place during the fourth week of part of Phase 1.

It’s a grueling “five-and-a-half days of cold, wet, relentlessly difficult operational training with less than four hours of sleep,” the Navy says, and candidates “run more than 200 miles and do physical training for more than 20 hours.” per day.’

Lescher has now given investigators just 30 days to report their findings, with a Navy spokesperson telling the Times: “The Navy remains committed to transparency and to ensuring that final reports are thorough, accurate and impartial and that maintain trust and credibility throughout the process. method.’

Marine orders investigation into intensive SEAL training after top athletes

Kyle Mullen, a 24-year-old former athlete, died in February just hours after completing BUD/S Hell Week

His mother, Regina, said that while he was a college football player, he never took steroids, but found it necessary to complete the selection course to become a Navy SEAL.

His mother, Regina, said that while he was a college football player, he never took steroids, but found it necessary to complete the selection course to become a Navy SEAL.

His mother, Regina, said that while he was a college football player, he never took steroids, but found it necessary to complete the selection course to become a Navy SEAL.

Mullen was taken to Sharp Coronado Hospital in California on February 4 after showing “symptoms” following his completion of relentless training.

He eventually died of bacterial pneumonia, which caused him to drown in his own bodily fluids.

But a follow-up investigation found that he and 40 of his classmates had tested positive for steroid use, as sailors tell the Times the rampant steroid use is sanctioned by the instructors — warning them not to get caught.

Mullen’s mother, Regina, has since criticized the Navy’s reluctance to help her son because he coughs up blood during training.

“They killed him,” Regina, who is a registered nurse, told the Times. “They say it’s training, but it’s torture.

“And then they didn’t even give them proper medical care. They treat these boys worse than they are allowed to treat prisoners of war.’

She explained that her son, who played football for both Yale and Monmouth University, never touched steroids during his athletic career, but that all changed in light of the tough “hell week” course.

She said it all started in late 2021 when her son was recovering from swimming-induced pulmonary edema (SIPE), a potentially life-threatening illness common among people who exercise in icy water.

After his first attempt to complete the training failed and he recovered with other candidates coughing up blood, Regina said her son learned that many of them were taking steroids to help them complete the course.

She said Mullen then devised a plan to buy a used car to store steroids to aid him in his next attempt on the course at the Coronado naval amphibious base, near San Diego, California. February.

“I told him not to,” she told the Times. “But eventually he got the car and shared it with a bunch of guys.”

Although Mullen appeared to be fairly better at training after taking the steroids, his mother said he was already vomiting blood and having trouble breathing by the second week.

“I said, ‘Go to the hospital right away,’ Regina said. “He said, ‘No, Mom, if you want to go to the hospital, they’ll make you stop first. Plus, it’s just SIPE.”

Former students say the course has only gotten harder since former SEAL Team Six Commander Capt.  Bradley Geary (pictured in November 2021), took charge and his friends made the instructors with little supervision

Former students say the course has only gotten harder since former SEAL Team Six Commander Capt.  Bradley Geary (pictured in November 2021), took charge and his friends made the instructors with little supervision

Former students say the course has only gotten harder since former SEAL Team Six Commander Capt. Bradley Geary (pictured in November 2021), took charge and his friends made the instructors with little supervision

Still, the Times reports, the Naval Special Warfare Command — which had investigated Mullen’s death — blamed the sailor rather than the program’s failures.

BUD/S has long been criticized for its debilitating nature, with candidates often suffering concussions, broken bones, infections and near-drowning.

Over the course of training, SEAL candidates endure weeks of carrying heavy logs, inflatable boats, long sessions of sit-ups and pull-ups in the icy surf and ‘drowning proof’ exercises that involve mariners’ hands underwater. are tied up as they struggle to survive.

SEALs say they need the relentless course to find the rare individuals who can take on some of the toughest missions.

But the course has only gotten tougher in recent years, sailors told the Times, after former SEAL Team Six commander Capt. Bradley Geary had been put in charge and his buddies had made the instructors with little supervision.

He also fired a number of senior civilian advisers whose job had been to oversee training, mentor young instructors and intervene if they saw unnecessary abuse or alarming medical problems, the Times reports.

Since then, the average pass rate has dropped to half of what it had been before — with some classes seeing just 7 percent of sailors pass.

BUD/S has long been criticized for its debilitating nature, with candidates often sustaining concussions, broken bones, infections and near-drowning

BUD/S has long been criticized for its debilitating nature, with candidates often sustaining concussions, broken bones, infections and near-drowning

BUD/S has long been criticized for its debilitating nature, with candidates often sustaining concussions, broken bones, infections and near-drowning

SEAL candidates undergo weeks of carrying heavy logs, inflatable boats, long sit-ups and pull-ups in the icy surf and 'drowning proof' exercises that involve tying seamen's hands underwater as they fight for survival

SEAL candidates undergo weeks of carrying heavy logs, inflatable boats, long sit-ups and pull-ups in the icy surf and 'drowning proof' exercises that involve tying seamen's hands underwater as they fight for survival

SEAL candidates undergo weeks of carrying heavy logs, inflatable boats, long sit-ups and pull-ups in the icy surf and ‘drowning proof’ exercises that involve tying seamen’s hands underwater as they fight for survival

At least five sailors who were BUD/S students in 2021 and 2022 told the Times how instructors had beaten, kicked or otherwise assaulted students and came up with new ways to get them to stop.

They said the proctor, whose job is to be an ally and mentor to the students, would use his nighttime mentoring sessions to inflict more punishment, by having students run for miles in the dark and repeatedly in the frigid ocean. to dive.

Students were then only allowed to sleep for about two to three hours, they said, causing their immune systems to fail with diarrhea, vomiting and pneumonia common among the intern.

But any student injured was called a weakling and a quitter, they said, and often punished for seeking help as the medical staff watched in silence.

For one man, that meant that when he went to his instructors one morning with a painfully swollen leg that he thought was broken and he asked to see medical personnel, the instructors told him to wait two hours in the surf of the Pacific as the rest of his class ordered to sing his name and encourage him to quit.

The medical staff stood still for an hour, he said, before pulling him out of the water, hypothermic.

He then ended up in a local hospital, where he had to have surgery to remove a flesh-eating bacteria.

A former SEAL whose son attended the course said he saw his son severely swollen with multiple abrasions two weeks after BUD/S training.

He took his son to a civilian doctor for help without drawing the instructors’ attention, but his son passed out a week later from exhaustion and his injuries.

The ex-SEAL told the Times how when BUD/S qualified in the 1990s, it was tough, but the emphasis was on learning teamwork and mental acuity.

What his son went through, he said, was more like the novel The Lord of the Flies.

Four recent candidates also told the Times how sailors had used drugs to get through the course, and when instructors briefed their class on drug use, the emphasis was on not getting caught.

Navy officials told the Time changes were made in response to the complaints, including allowing students more sleep and calling back the most difficult parts of the course.

However, the Navy spokesman added that while many of the instructors had been withdrawn from BUD/S training since Mullen’s death, none of them received any punishment.

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