The navy's underwater demolition unit, modeled after the US Navy Seals, yesterday made public part of its training program for recruits at its base in Kaohsiung's Tsoying military port.
The unit is launching a one-week intensive physical-conditioning test for its recruits. The test is called Hell Week.
During Hell Week, trainees are not allowed to sleep and have to spend their time swimming, running and going through obstacle courses.
The trainees, divided into separate teams, can earn one hour of sleep each day if their team gets the highest combined score in that day's tests. The losing teams have to continue their training without sleep.
Yesterday, under a scorching sun at a beach at the Tsoying military port, the navy revealed details of the Hell Week training program. Participants, including officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers, were seen nearing physical exhaustion as they labored to pass the required tests.
Hell Week training, modeled on that of the US Navy Seals, is aimed at testing the limits of trainees' physical and mental endurance. All trainees, regardless of rank, receive the same treatment during the training.
Yesterday marked the fifth day of Hell Week, with the training course to conclude tomorrow with a final and ultimate test -- the "Road to Paradise."
In the Road to Paradise test, each trainee has to crawl his way through a 15m-long road paved with coral, sharp stones and other objects painful to the touch. The test is also used by the marines.
The test is not difficult to pass as long as the trainee can endure the physical pain.
Hell Week is the last part of the first phase of the basic training program that the underwater demolition unit requires of its recruits. The first phase lasts 10 weeks.
The first phase began with 54 trainees, but the number dropped to 32 prior to Hell Week.
A Singaporean non-commissioned officer, identified only by his surname, Chen, is among the 32 survivors. He is the only foreigner among the trainees.
The second phase of the basic training program will also last 10 weeks, during which the recruits will undergo advanced and specialized training in fields ranging from mine demolition, combat scuba diving, coastal reconnaissance, survival skills in the wild, parachuting, urban combat and maneuvers in mountainous regions.
With training covering air, sea and land operations, the underwater demolition unit is considered among the best of its kind in the three services.
In times of war its task is to infiltrate and raid enemy territory to pave the way for the landing of marines.