The SEAL Sensibility

From a member of the elite force, an inside look at the brutal training and secret work of the commandos who got Osama bin Laden.

By ERIC GREITENS

At Camp Pendleton in California, where I did my initial weapons training, we must have fired thousands of rounds at practice-range targets printed with the likeness of Osama bin Laden. To take the real shot, the one that brought down bin Laden, was the dream of every Navy SEAL.

Lee Hawkins talks with Eric Greitens, a U.S. Navy SEAL and author of the book "The Heart and the Fist," about what it takes to become a member of this elite military force. Photo: Getty Images.

The man who got that chance in Pakistan last weekend was a member of the SEAL community’s most elite unit. He and the others who descended on bin Laden’s lair would have put in relentless practice for weeks beforehand—assaulting mock compounds, discussing contingencies and planning every detail of the operation. Most of the men on that mission had dedicated the past decade of their lives to this fight, and they—and their families—had made great personal sacrifices.

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A Navy SEAL during a training exercise

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SEALs during training exercises.

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Navy SEAL training includes swims with bound feet and hands, runs through the mountains carrying 40-pound rucksacks and ‘Hell Week,’ a period of continuous tests and drills.

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Seals during training exercises

WSJ’s Julian Barnes profiles the Navy’s Commando forces. The squads, such as the Navy SEALs force that stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound, have been been increasingly used in Afghanistan. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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