The Most Difficult Special Forces Training: Exploring Elite Military Programs

Choose the training you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 20, 2024 06:41
Looking for the ultimate showdown of grit, determination, and resilience? Welcome to StrawPoll's exclusive ranking of the most difficult Special Forces training programs from around the world! Our extensive list features the toughest and most elite military regimens that push human limits to the extreme. Vote for the Special Forces training that you believe demands the highest level of mental and physical endurance, or add your own suggestion if we've missed any awe-inspiring courses. Ready to dive into the world of unparalleled courage and strength? Click further, and witness the extraordinary tales of heroism that set these warriors apart from the rest!

What Is the Most Difficult Special Forces Training?

  1. 1
    United States Navy
    This is considered one of the most challenging Special Forces training programs in the world due to its high attrition rate and the physical and mental demands placed on candidates.
    The Navy SEALs BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training is a rigorous and demanding program designed to identify and train the most elite special operations forces of the United States Navy. It is widely regarded as one of the most difficult and challenging military training programs in the world.
    • Duration: 24 weeks
    • Location: Naval Special Warfare Center, Coronado, California
    • Trainee Selection: Candidates must pass rigorous physical and psychological screening tests
    • Objective: To develop and assess candidates' stamina, physical endurance, mental toughness, and teamwork abilities
    • Physical Fitness: Intense physical conditioning, including running, swimming, calisthenics, and obstacle course training
  2. 2

    British SAS selection

    The British Army
    The selection process for the Special Air Service (SAS) is notorious for its grueling physical and mental challenges, as well as its emphasis on individual initiative and leadership.
    The British SAS (Special Air Service) selection is a highly rigorous and demanding training program conducted by the British Army. It is designed to identify and train elite soldiers for the SAS, one of the world's most renowned Special Forces units.
    • Duration: Selection lasts for about five months.
    • Physical Fitness: Candidates undergo grueling physical tests to assess their endurance, strength, and fitness.
    • Navigation Skills: Navigation exercises in various terrains, including the mountains and jungle, are integral to the training.
    • Survival Skills: Candidates are taught essential survival skills to endure harsh conditions and extreme environments.
    • Resistance to Interrogation: Techniques to resist psychological and physical interrogation methods are taught and tested.
  3. 3
    The Russian Special Forces, or Spetsnaz, are known for their rigorous physical training and demanding combat skills, including hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, and stealth operations.
    Russian Spetsnaz training is known for its rigorous, intense, and demanding nature, designed to produce highly skilled and resilient Special Forces operatives. The training program is aimed at creating versatile soldiers who excel in various combat scenarios and possess exceptional physical, mental, and tactical abilities.
    • Duration: Around 3 years
    • Physical Demands: Extremely high
    • Mental Resilience: Stressful, requiring exceptional psychological strength
    • Hand-to-Hand Combat: Extensive training in various martial arts and combat techniques
    • Urban Warfare: Specialized training for operations in urban environments
  4. 4

    French Foreign Legion training

    The French Foreign Legion
    The French Foreign Legion is known for its tough and demanding training program, which emphasizes physical endurance, teamwork, and adaptability to different environments and situations.
    The training of the French Foreign Legion, also known as the Legion Etrangere, is considered one of the most challenging and demanding Special Forces training programs in the world. It is designed to test the physical and mental endurance of its recruits, pushing them to their limits in order to shape them into elite soldiers.
    • Duration: 4 months of basic training followed by specialized training
    • Physical Fitness: Strenuous physical training including long-distance runs, obstacle courses, and combat exercises
    • Mental Toughness: Psychological tests, endurance marches, and sleep deprivation to assess and build mental resilience
    • Weapons Training: Intense training in various weapons including rifles, machine guns, and hand-to-hand combat techniques
    • Fieldcraft: Instruction in navigation, survival skills, camouflage, and tactical exercises
  5. 5
    The United States Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, undergo a rigorous training program that emphasizes unconventional warfare, foreign language proficiency, and cultural awareness.
    The Green Berets Q Course is the training program for the United States Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets. It is designed to test and develop soldiers' physical and mental capabilities, as well as their leadership and specialized skills required for unconventional warfare.
    • Duration: Approximately one year
    • Selection Rate: Less than 50% of candidates make it through
    • Phases: There are three phases of training: Assessment and Selection, Small Unit Tactics, and Specialization
    • Assessment and Selection: Consists of physical and mental evaluations to determine a candidate's suitability for the program
    • Small Unit Tactics: Focuses on infantry and unconventional warfare skills, such as marksmanship, tactics, and navigation
  6. 6
    The Israeli Defense Forces have a reputation for producing some of the world's most skilled and effective Special Forces soldiers, with training that emphasizes combat skills, intelligence gathering, and counterterrorism operations.
    The Israeli Special Forces training is known for its rigorous and demanding nature, designed to create highly skilled and capable soldiers. It is primarily conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and includes various specialized units.
    • Length of Training: 6-18 months
    • Physical Fitness Requirements: Extremely high
    • Combat Training: Intense, with a focus on urban warfare and counter-terrorism
    • Weapon Proficiency: Extensive training with a range of firearms and explosives
    • Mental Toughness: Emphasis on psychological resilience and adaptability
  7. 7
    The Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) is the German Special Forces unit, known for its intensive and demanding training program that emphasizes marksmanship, close-quarter combat, and unconventional warfare tactics.
    The German KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte) training is considered one of the most difficult Special Forces training programs. It was created to establish an elite unit capable of conducting a wide range of special operations. The training is highly rigorous and comprehensive, preparing soldiers for various unconventional missions and deployments.
    • Selection Process: Intense physical and mental tests to identify the most capable candidates.
    • Endurance Training: Extensive endurance training, including long-distance runs and hikes.
    • Combat Training: Extensive training in various combat techniques, including hand-to-hand combat and close-quarters battle.
    • Marksmanship: Specialized training in precision shooting and sniper operations.
    • Demolitions Training: Training in explosives handling, bomb disposal, and sabotage techniques.
  8. 8
    The Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) is known for its challenging selection process, which includes grueling physical and mental tests as well as a focus on leadership and teamwork.
    The Australian SASR (Special Air Service Regiment) selection is widely considered to be one of the most difficult Special Forces training programs in the world. It is designed to identify and cultivate individuals with exceptional mental and physical capabilities, and prepare them for the demanding tasks that SASR operatives undertake.
    • Duration: Approximately 18-24 months, including both selection and reinforcement training phases.
    • Physical Fitness: Intense physical challenges, including long-distance endurance marches, obstacle courses, and combat swimming tests.
    • Mental Resilience: Candidates are pushed to their limits, enduring sleep and food deprivation, mental and physical stressors, and complex problem-solving exercises.
    • Teamwork and Leadership: Emphasis on group cohesion and effective leadership skills, as candidates are required to work together in high-pressure situations.
    • Navigation and Survival: Training in land navigation, survival techniques, and ability to operate in harsh and diverse terrains.
  9. 9
    The Indian Parachute Regiment, or PARA SF, is one of the most elite Special Forces units in Asia, with training that emphasizes physical fitness, marksmanship, and combat skills.
    The Indian PARA SF (Special Forces) training is known to be one of the most challenging and demanding elite military training programs in the world. It is designed to select and transform soldiers into highly skilled and versatile special forces operatives.
    • Duration: 1.5-2 years
    • Selection Process: Stringent selection and screening process
    • Physical Fitness Requirements: Extreme physical fitness standards
    • Training Locations: Special Forces Training School, Nahan and Belgaum
    • Basic Training: Focus on weapons training, navigation, demolitions, and survival skills
  10. 10

    Jordanian SOF training

    Jordanian Armed Forces
    Jordan's Special Operations Forces (SOF) are known for their rigorous and demanding training program, which includes extensive marksmanship training, urban combat tactics, and counterterrorism operations.
    The Jordanian Special Operations Forces (SOF) training is one of the most challenging Special Forces training programs in the world. It is designed to mold soldiers into highly skilled and resilient operators capable of executing complex missions in various environments.
    • Duration: Several months
    • Physical Fitness: Intense physical conditioning and stamina building
    • Endurance Training: Long-distance marches and prolonged field exercises
    • Tactical Training: Small unit tactics, close-quarter combat, urban warfare, and guerrilla warfare
    • Navigation and Land Navigation: Orienteering, map reading, and terrain navigation

Missing your favorite training?


Ranking factors for difficult training

  1. Selection process
    The initial screening and selection process for candidates should be taken into account, as this typically involves rigorous physical tests and mental evaluations that help to identify individuals with the necessary skills and attributes to succeed in Special Forces training.
  2. Physical Demands
    The intensity and duration of physical training should be considered, including activities such as distance marches, obstacle courses, endurance runs, swimming, and strength training exercises.
  3. Mental Demands
    The psychological aspects of the training should be considered, including stress inoculation, sleep deprivation, and emotional resilience. This may also involve simulated and live-fire combat scenarios, escape and evasion exercises, and survival training.
  4. Technical Skills
    The level of complexity and specialization of skills taught during the training process is an important factor. This may include advanced first aid, demolitions, navigation, airborne operations, and language classes.
  5. Duration
    The length of the training program is a critical factor, as longer programs typically involve more comprehensive and challenging curricula.
  6. Attrition Rate
    The percentage of candidates who successfully complete the training should be considered, as a high attrition rate may indicate a more challenging and selective program.
  7. Environmental Factors
    The variety and severity of environmental conditions in which the training takes place, such as high altitude, extreme temperatures, and challenging terrain, can also impact the difficulty of the program.
  8. Instructor Expertise
    The experience and qualifications of the instructors responsible for delivering the training program should also be considered.
  9. Post-Graduation Requirements
    The ongoing training and operational commitments required of Special Forces members should be taken into account, as these can contribute to the overall difficulty and intensity of the training experience.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult Special Forces training. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or train is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 196 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each train once every 24 hours. The rank of each train is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most difficult special forces training

Background Information: Special Forces Training Special Forces training is notoriously challenging, with each branch of the military having its own rigorous program. These elite soldiers undergo intense physical and mental training to prepare them for the most dangerous and complex missions. Special Forces units are often called upon to operate behind enemy lines or in hostile environments where traditional military tactics may not be effective. The most difficult Special Forces training varies based on the branch of the military and the specific unit, but all require an exceptional level of physical and mental toughness. The training typically involves a combination of endurance exercises, tactical drills, and survival skills. Candidates are subjected to extreme physical and mental stress to test their ability to remain focused and perform under pressure. The training can last anywhere from several months to more than a year, with a high attrition rate due to the strenuous demands of the program. However, those who successfully complete Special Forces training are among the most highly skilled and respected soldiers in the military. They are trained to operate in a variety of environments and are often called upon to perform some of the most challenging and dangerous missions in the world.

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