Blood on the Sand: Navy Seal vs. Israeli Commando

July 26, 2010

Geoffrey "Thor" Desmoulin here to give you the work-up on the anchor episode of season two of Deadliest Warrior: U.S. Navy SEAL vs. Israeli Commando.

This good guy vs. good guy battle promises to be as interesting and "explosive" as anything we've seen yet and while you may think these two modern warriors have similar weapons and tactics, remember this: SEALs typically deploy for a specific mission in a hostile foreign country with full kit while Israeli Commandos can be walking home in civilian clothes and be attacked inside their own borders while carrying nothing but a Glock 17 and have to deal with a large potential for Israeli citizen (blue-on-blue) collateral damage. So the operations, training, skill requirements, rules of engagement, and methods to defend yourself are quite different.

The Warriors

U.S. Navy SEAL: SEAL stands for "sea, air and land". The SEALs were established at the order of President Kennedy on January 1, 1962 as a direct response to the conflict in Vietnam. The Americans needed a military unit capable of both preempting and striking back against guerilla warfare. The goal of the SEALs was to conduct counter-guerrilla warfare and clandestine operations, especially on the water. Hence, the SEALs are the toughest and most physically fit warriors in America's military. There are approximately 2,500 active duty SEALs. They are broken down into 8 SEAL teams with 6 platoons each. Each platoon has a close-knit team of 16 men, but missions are often conducted with just 1-2 people. The SEALs are known for their unorthodox methods and "violence of action" culture.

Israeli Commando: The roots of Israel's Special Forces pre-date the birth of the Jewish nation.  During the 1936-1938 Arab riots, a British officer serving in Palestine named Charles Orde Wingate saw a need for the Jews to counter unrest.  He organized a Jewish fighting force and devised anti-guerrilla techniques for them. They were so successful that when the State of Israel was founded in 1948, and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was officially created, Wingate's "units" became the military's Special Forces. Of these Forces, the two most elite units are Sayeret Matkal and Duvdevan. Sayeret Matkal is modeled after the British SAS and in fact shares the same motto, "Whoever Dares Wins." But Matkal also has an additional motto of its own - "Their skill should not be less than their daring" - which is to say they leave nothing to luck or chance. Most likely a byproduct of fighting within the confines of your own borders.

Living the Dream?

After we finished filming Deadliest Warrior season two, I was contacted by our SEAL expert Rob Roy of Special Operations Training Group (SOT-G) based out of San Diego and invited to participate in what they call "The Challenge." Being the excitable guy I am I was stoked to participate in said "Challenge" until I read that the course actually mimicked a day out of BUDs "hell" week. Then I was super stoked with reserved nervousness. On the next page are some photos and an overview of what I experienced and learned during "The Challenge," hopefully it will give you insight on what you'll find out about yourself should you one day choose to participate.

From Early Sushine (Yeah, that's me working hard)...


To Stone Cold Pimp...



Here's how the day went...

1) First up - Physical training test (equivalent to SEAL qualifications distances).

2) Followed by...

a. Various calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups and squats.

b. Repeat and randomize an unknown number of times.

3) Followed by...

a. Running intervals in the sands of Coronado Beach.

b. Shore running in/out of water.

c.  Be the first two to finish the race earning your place to advance to the next "hurt" station, otherwise you continue to run and race.

4) Followed by...

a. Bear crawl back and forth about a 50-meter sand trail.

b. Repeat never knowing when it will change or end.

5) Followed by log training 

a.  As a team, curl, shoulder press, squat with and carry the log.

b.  Repeat, never knowing when it will change or end.

6) Followed by Zodiac boat training

a. As a team, assemble boat, carry out dry land competition, and carry out wet land competition.

b. Repeat, never knowing when it will change or end.

7) The End

a. It comes unexpectedly and you feel like you're glad it's over but if one of the Cadre's suddenly yelled out another task there would be no hesitation. You would simply "evaluate, plan, and execute" the task as fast as possible with the team at your disposal. No questions asked.

8) What did I learn?

a. In combat you never know how long a firefight will last so you have to be physically prepared for high work output but psychologically never knowing when it might end. To me, that was probably the hardest part of the whole exercise.

b. In combat, you never know exactly who may end up on your team. So, you need to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your team and use it to your benefit on every task... or you will fail. Funny, we performed better as a team the more fatigued everyone got (i.e. ego went out the window).

c. In combat you will be exhausted physically and yet the job requires that you engage mentally. So the ability to perform mentally while being physically exhausted was emphasized. The idea is that you no longer think about the end of the battle, you simply focus on the immediate task at hand. For example, we were all exhausted, but when the Cadre asked us to paddle out past the break, get out of the boat and dump in the ocean, get back in the boat and paddle back... that's just what we did but your mind forgot about what would come after... the focus was in the boat at the moment, with the team to complete the task. Once the task ended you reveled in the rest but you were ready for the next command. The system ensures everyone undergoes this "enlightenment" by having the PT test at the beginning... everyone empties their tank despite their fitness level. Trust me every one was tanked by about two hours in. After that the learning began.

That's it for Blood on the Sand this Season. Be sure to check out tonight's episode, and as usual Max (@MaxGeiger), the Doc (@DrDorian) and I (@GeoffDesmoulin) are around on twitter.