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The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident

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In America’s new war, the first guns in the fight are special operations forces, including the Navy SEALs, specially trained warriors who operate with precision, swiftness, and lethal force. In the constantly shifting war on terror, SEAL units—small in number, flexible, stealthy, and ef?cient—are more vital than ever to America’s security as they take the battle to an elus In America’s new war, the first guns in the fight are special operations forces, including the Navy SEALs, specially trained warriors who operate with precision, swiftness, and lethal force. In the constantly shifting war on terror, SEAL units—small in number, flexible, stealthy, and ef?cient—are more vital than ever to America’s security as they take the battle to an elusive enemy around the globe. But how are Navy SEALs made? Dick Couch, author of the acclaimed Warrior Elite, follows SEALs on the ground and in the water as they undergo SEAL Tactical Training, where they master combat skills such as precision shooting, demolitions, secure communications, parachuting, diving, and first aid. From there, the men enter operational platoons, where they subordinate their individual abilities to the mission of the group and train for special operations in specific geographic environments. Never before has a civilian writer been granted such close access to the training of America’s most elite military forces. The Finishing School is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what goes into the making of America’s best warriors.


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In America’s new war, the first guns in the fight are special operations forces, including the Navy SEALs, specially trained warriors who operate with precision, swiftness, and lethal force. In the constantly shifting war on terror, SEAL units—small in number, flexible, stealthy, and ef?cient—are more vital than ever to America’s security as they take the battle to an elus In America’s new war, the first guns in the fight are special operations forces, including the Navy SEALs, specially trained warriors who operate with precision, swiftness, and lethal force. In the constantly shifting war on terror, SEAL units—small in number, flexible, stealthy, and ef?cient—are more vital than ever to America’s security as they take the battle to an elusive enemy around the globe. But how are Navy SEALs made? Dick Couch, author of the acclaimed Warrior Elite, follows SEALs on the ground and in the water as they undergo SEAL Tactical Training, where they master combat skills such as precision shooting, demolitions, secure communications, parachuting, diving, and first aid. From there, the men enter operational platoons, where they subordinate their individual abilities to the mission of the group and train for special operations in specific geographic environments. Never before has a civilian writer been granted such close access to the training of America’s most elite military forces. The Finishing School is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what goes into the making of America’s best warriors.

30 review for The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    This is the followup to "The Warrior Elite" which is a great description of the training of Navy SEALs. What I love about this book is the sections on leadership and the description of the attitudes of the officers and the people who train them. The author was a very early Navy SEAL and he brings a lot of wisdom and clarity to the narrative. This is not a blood and guts, "kill 'em all" book, or a rah-rah book, it's a description of the depth of training required to create these guys and what lea This is the followup to "The Warrior Elite" which is a great description of the training of Navy SEALs. What I love about this book is the sections on leadership and the description of the attitudes of the officers and the people who train them. The author was a very early Navy SEAL and he brings a lot of wisdom and clarity to the narrative. This is not a blood and guts, "kill 'em all" book, or a rah-rah book, it's a description of the depth of training required to create these guys and what leadership looks like among people who are trained to rely on each other no matter what.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    An excellent coverage of, as the title indicates, the training leading up to a person earning the designation of U.S. Navy SEAL. Always interesting, and especially insightful because the author is a retired SEAL himself. At points just reading it was enough to make me vicariously exhausted. I saw some BUDS trainees (the stage they go through to get into SEAL training proper) back in the '70s at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, California. I was impressed then, and am more so now. I'm troub An excellent coverage of, as the title indicates, the training leading up to a person earning the designation of U.S. Navy SEAL. Always interesting, and especially insightful because the author is a retired SEAL himself. At points just reading it was enough to make me vicariously exhausted. I saw some BUDS trainees (the stage they go through to get into SEAL training proper) back in the '70s at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, California. I was impressed then, and am more so now. I'm troubled at some of the ways the SEALs have been employed in the so-called War on Terror, but that doesn't take away from my respect for their willingness to go through hell and the skill set they come away with. Recommended for readers interested in the process behind the people that sometimes show up in the news and the movies.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Simmons

    A fellow author here on Goodreads Chris Bent who is a former Navy SEAL gave me a copy of this book. Because I am a military brat, and support out troops I was very interested in reading it, but hoping it was not going to be too technical so I'd have to spend hours looking up the definitions of terms. I was not disappointed. Not only is it a fairly easy read, it is a fascinating description of what the SEALs go through to become a SEAL and qualify to earn the Trident, and how they continue to trai A fellow author here on Goodreads Chris Bent who is a former Navy SEAL gave me a copy of this book. Because I am a military brat, and support out troops I was very interested in reading it, but hoping it was not going to be too technical so I'd have to spend hours looking up the definitions of terms. I was not disappointed. Not only is it a fairly easy read, it is a fascinating description of what the SEALs go through to become a SEAL and qualify to earn the Trident, and how they continue to train for the rest of their SEAL careers to stay up to date on advancements in technology and biochemical warfare threats. The story is told with enough detail that you feel like you are there with them...cold, wet, and sandy, or on the verge of heatstroke running in the dessert carrying 85 pounds of gear, guns and ammo. I found it particularly interesting how SEAL training has changed and kept up with the warfare in the different theaters; advancing from jungle warfare tactics in VietNam to the intensely hot and dry deserts of Iraq to the high mountain desert strongholds of Afghanistan. The book leaves me with complete admiration of all Navy SEALS, including Dick Couch, a Navy SEAL himself. I have more appreciation than ever when I hear a SEAL say, "The only easy day was yesterday."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Belcher

    We are all very well aware of the superior elite band of warriors of the Navy SEALs, but most don’t know about their training other than the highly glorified “Hell Week.” Movies such as Navy SEALs and GI Jane have risen to show a hyped up Hollywood version of such training, however in The Finishing School, we follow Dick Couch, former Navy SEAL himself, through the modern day training of America’s top Special Warfare professional. Couch picks up where he leaves off with The Warrior Elite: The For We are all very well aware of the superior elite band of warriors of the Navy SEALs, but most don’t know about their training other than the highly glorified “Hell Week.” Movies such as Navy SEALs and GI Jane have risen to show a hyped up Hollywood version of such training, however in The Finishing School, we follow Dick Couch, former Navy SEAL himself, through the modern day training of America’s top Special Warfare professional. Couch picks up where he leaves off with The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228, and chronicles the training that modern day Naval Special Warfare SEALs have to go through in order to earn the coveted Trident. We follow all of the training that accompanies turning sailors into Naval Special Warriors. This is not some fantasized version that simply glorifies the Naval Special Warrior, but is a technical look into the actual aspects of training. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who enjoys to read about military training, especially the training of Special Forces/Warfare. I also HIGHLY recommend this to any person who has aspiration to one day become a Navy SEAL.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Riley Holzman

    This great book that describes the pain and hardship these men go through just to face more pain and hard ship in the next step of their training. SEALs are some the United States most diversely talented and greatest soldiers we have. If you ever thought about taking this challenge yourself it will make you rethink that a little bit. Couch follows these men all the way through their training and takes you through in such detail you understand that these men are truly doing this for more than the This great book that describes the pain and hardship these men go through just to face more pain and hard ship in the next step of their training. SEALs are some the United States most diversely talented and greatest soldiers we have. If you ever thought about taking this challenge yourself it will make you rethink that a little bit. Couch follows these men all the way through their training and takes you through in such detail you understand that these men are truly doing this for more than themselves. The training they go through is so intense you will be sucked in to keep reading. But what I didn't like was how they didn't like single out one person and tell how they are leaving loved one at home to do this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luke Carson

    The finishing school was a very insightful and interesting book detailing the intense training that that navy seals must compleat after they graduate from BUDS, from jump school at fort bending to cold weather training in kodika alaska, and insensitive firearms training in the deserts in Nevada this book provides a very detailed insite into the training that these men are going threw to just qualify to join the seal teams. All though this book is highly educational it is far from a book full of The finishing school was a very insightful and interesting book detailing the intense training that that navy seals must compleat after they graduate from BUDS, from jump school at fort bending to cold weather training in kodika alaska, and insensitive firearms training in the deserts in Nevada this book provides a very detailed insite into the training that these men are going threw to just qualify to join the seal teams. All though this book is highly educational it is far from a book full of story's of the seals, if you are thinking of reading this book as a fast fun read then this is not your book. The finishing school has a very slow pace threw out most of the book out side of picking up at a couple of points like at the firearms training, on top of this slow pace it's a very challenging read the author loves to use acronyms and at certain points in the book I found myself finishing a paragraph and asking my self what did I just read forcing me to reread a lot of paragraphs two sometimes three times before I understood what I was reading. Even though of its complexity and slow pace I would recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of being a seal or to anyone that wants to learn more about the training that seals go threw.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dio Handoyo

    Given OPSEC constraints faced writing the book right after 9/11, Captain (Ret.) Couch has delivered an outstandingly vivid account of the journey BUD/S graduates go through to earn their Tridents and beyond - to the realm of work-up process platoons go through to obtain the deployment-ready status. As with his previous work The Warrior Elite, this book go lengths in painting the impressive degree of commitment and professionalism shown by both the trainees and the instructor cadre under TRADET. Given OPSEC constraints faced writing the book right after 9/11, Captain (Ret.) Couch has delivered an outstandingly vivid account of the journey BUD/S graduates go through to earn their Tridents and beyond - to the realm of work-up process platoons go through to obtain the deployment-ready status. As with his previous work The Warrior Elite, this book go lengths in painting the impressive degree of commitment and professionalism shown by both the trainees and the instructor cadre under TRADET. A page-turner in its own, the books is made richer by the sprinkling of comparisons with Capt. Couch's own experience going through training in his days and how far the process has evolved since.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    This takes place after the Seals finish Hell Week and start the classes to earn the Trident. I will say wow when it comes to the number of different classes they have to take and how long they are before they are deployed. This seems like a 2 year process and very impressive. I think mentally this must be draining on them. This was written in 2004, so it is outdated when it comes to their training because he stated the courses are constantly being updated. The last sections of the book became a b This takes place after the Seals finish Hell Week and start the classes to earn the Trident. I will say wow when it comes to the number of different classes they have to take and how long they are before they are deployed. This seems like a 2 year process and very impressive. I think mentally this must be draining on them. This was written in 2004, so it is outdated when it comes to their training because he stated the courses are constantly being updated. The last sections of the book became a bit much in reading just because of them doing another course, then another one, etc. Overall well written.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    This is a really exciting and good book. This book is about navy seal team candidates. This book shows how hard you really have to work to become a navy seal. This book also tells brief stories of seal team members going through battle. I recommend this book to people that are like me and like reading about special forces. this book has wide ranges from in training moments to how to do easy tactics that Seals need to know. I also recommend this book to people that are interested about learin abo This is a really exciting and good book. This book is about navy seal team candidates. This book shows how hard you really have to work to become a navy seal. This book also tells brief stories of seal team members going through battle. I recommend this book to people that are like me and like reading about special forces. this book has wide ranges from in training moments to how to do easy tactics that Seals need to know. I also recommend this book to people that are interested about learin about the navy Seals.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Cartier

    Thank you Dick Couch This book is a follow-up to Warrior Elite and is so worth the read just like Warrior Elite was. The young men described in this book work hard and fight hard when necessary. This book describes the training they go through after BUD/s. I'm not even a citizen of the United States of America and I am thankful for what these men do for the world. Take the time to read this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John F.

    Outstanding book! I loved The Warrior Elite and now The Finishing School. My best friend served America for 30 years as a US NAVY SEAL. These two books really help me understand his life, service, dedication, professionalism, and responsibilities to the Teams and the NAVY so that I may live free. I tip my hat to these men who volunteer to be the best in the world of Special Operations -- GO NAVY! GO NAVY SEALS!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris Harris

    Earn the Trident This is an excellent book written about the in depth training that is required not only to become a Navy SEAL, but the on going training that prepares these warriors for whatever mission they are tasked with. A great read, but I felt some parts were a bit too detailed.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    with all my respect and admiration to the subject...the book itself is a bit monotonous and repetitive. It gives a good idea about what kind of training and for how long and where .....but feels more like a syllabus

  14. 4 out of 5

    Steven Northover

    This book is well written. I bought it to learn more about Special Operator training and leadership. I was not disappointed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cody Garrett

    Incredibly detailed process, from civilian to deployable platoon SEAL - covers BUDS, SQT, CQD, and advanced training. Highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erik Spohr

    Sequel of sorts to "The Warrior Elite"

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christine Dunahoo

    I have all respect for the military but this book didn’t click with me. It felt like a technical manual and had too many acronyms to keep track of.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    I didn't think it was as engaging as the Warrior Elite...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    If you are into the Navy Seals or any military ops books, this is a good one!

  20. 4 out of 5

    William Zink

    Great material. Just a little repetitive. Really enjoyed reading what it takes to be elite.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cristy Emmnm

    I enjoyed this book. It's the necessary sequel to The Warrior Elite, Couch's nonfiction account of BUD/S SEAL training and, as such, answers a lot of the logical questions consequential with the former book: What happens after a SEAL-wannabe "passes" BUD/S? What does a SEAL's operational duty actually entail? What are the SEAL teams like? Why are there SEAL teams? What is a SEAL's career - enlisted or officer? And, in some way, what is the life of a SEAL like during war-time, i.e. right now? Tha I enjoyed this book. It's the necessary sequel to The Warrior Elite, Couch's nonfiction account of BUD/S SEAL training and, as such, answers a lot of the logical questions consequential with the former book: What happens after a SEAL-wannabe "passes" BUD/S? What does a SEAL's operational duty actually entail? What are the SEAL teams like? Why are there SEAL teams? What is a SEAL's career - enlisted or officer? And, in some way, what is the life of a SEAL like during war-time, i.e. right now? That said, because it's in war-time, there are a lot of personal protections that Couch undertakes for the individual SEALs so there's not a lot of getting-to-know individual SEALs (or pre-qualification SEALs). There's also the matter of not following a class, per se (with the exception of class 202 during SQT which takes about 1/3 of the beginning of the book), so there's less of a group of men that we have the chance to get to know. That was something that I really enjoyed about The Warrior Elite: I had favorites, men I'd root for. I was emotionally attached to the evolution of those baby-faced boys who walked into first week of Indoc at BUD/S and walked out men - even the ones that didn't make it or were rolled back into another class. I don't forget them even now. I wanted Williams to make it. I cheered on Clint Burke whose height was actually an anomaly and, in a way, a weakness. I got to know Mark Luttrell (who I later got to know - and dislike - in his own memoir, Lone Survivor). But, for this book, Couch certainly satisfied in regards to the training questions I had and, in some small way, lifestyle and family questions that I had as well - particularly in the last 1/8th of the book. I could do without some of the jingoistic pro-Iraqi war stuff that pre-dates WE ACTUALLY KNOW BETTER NOW, EH? facts that have come out since the writing/publication of this book. Regardless, as someone who couldn't identify a semi-automatic weapon from a full automatic weapon, I feel very well-informed about the lifecycle of a SEAL team/platoon/squadron and training cycle of the individual man holding the SEAL trident. Good job, Capt. Couch.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Captain Couch (USN retired) had full access to several SEAL classes as they completed every step of training that the Navy requires for a SEAL to earn the Trident and then (after even more training) become a member of an operational SEAL platoon that is fully prepared to deploy into potential combat zones. As a Marine Veteran, I really enjoyed reading this book! It begins with a review of BUD/S training (the subject of a previous book by Mr. Couch), and continues to detail SEAL Qualification Tra Captain Couch (USN retired) had full access to several SEAL classes as they completed every step of training that the Navy requires for a SEAL to earn the Trident and then (after even more training) become a member of an operational SEAL platoon that is fully prepared to deploy into potential combat zones. As a Marine Veteran, I really enjoyed reading this book! It begins with a review of BUD/S training (the subject of a previous book by Mr. Couch), and continues to detail SEAL Qualification Training (SQT), Cold Weather Training, and the platoon-level training that precedes deployment. I have read many books by former SEALs, but "The Finishing School" was definitely the most comprehensive and informative of them all. Despite its intricate level of detail, Mr. Couch kept the text engaging and the language accessible to both veterans and civilians. The focus is on the active-duty SEAL trainees and their trainers, not the author. Finally, while he kept some classified information out of the book (with good reason), he was careful to always identify the omissions and explain the purpose for them.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This book is a bit more technical than I expected, nevertheless, it's a good one. If you had any questions regarding what the Advanced SEAL training is like, then this is what you are looking for. It relates technical aspects of the Advanced SEAL training, weapons used, the kind of situation the students have to put up with, what are the instructors advices etc. I was actually hoping this book was going to be a little bit more "hands on". I mean, not so focused on the tech aspects, but in the st This book is a bit more technical than I expected, nevertheless, it's a good one. If you had any questions regarding what the Advanced SEAL training is like, then this is what you are looking for. It relates technical aspects of the Advanced SEAL training, weapons used, the kind of situation the students have to put up with, what are the instructors advices etc. I was actually hoping this book was going to be a little bit more "hands on". I mean, not so focused on the tech aspects, but in the students' opinions about the training. Additionally, I don't think I like the way the book ended, once again seemingly portraying the Middle Western part of the world as "the big villains" of the story. I don't agree with terrorist acts, alright, but I also don't think that the people in it are evil people per se. Some part of that is cultural, most of it is political and, as usual, it's people who suffer the consequences of the most influential. I have seen the same problem in the book SEAL of God, but consider this opinion coming from a person who lives in a country that does not suffer from the threat of an eminent war. Overall, a pretty good, solid, interesting book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charles Franklin

    I picked this book for my "22 Until None" Reading List because I had previously read Dick Couch's book "The Warrior Elite" and enjoyed the personal insight and perspective from the former Navy Seal Commander and best-selling author. Everyone is so focused on BUD/S, but I wondered, "What happens afterward?" This book isn't the answer. While it isn't a straightforward "This is step 1, This is step 2" kind of book, "The FInishing School" opened my eyes to the HUGE amount of training and organization I picked this book for my "22 Until None" Reading List because I had previously read Dick Couch's book "The Warrior Elite" and enjoyed the personal insight and perspective from the former Navy Seal Commander and best-selling author. Everyone is so focused on BUD/S, but I wondered, "What happens afterward?" This book isn't the answer. While it isn't a straightforward "This is step 1, This is step 2" kind of book, "The FInishing School" opened my eyes to the HUGE amount of training and organization that goes into making a SEAL. First, BUD/S is just the MINIMUM to get this level. A prospective SEAL has a long path before he earns the coveted trident. Dick Couch outlines that journey and then highlights some particular aspect of that training. Because of Couch's experience, readers get a very detailed explanation in those highlights. Overall, I was impressed with the book. I definitely understand and appreciate the SEALS even more after reading it. As a side note, I now understand a little more of the mentality of two SEAL mentors of mine, Jocko Willink and Mark Divine.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Diana H.

    I gave this book 5 stars for the simple reason that it deserves that kind of recognition. It is laid out is a logical way, the content while intense and perhaps difficult to understand it made clear by the author, and the reason for the advanced training is explained. The men and women who make up and support the SEAL teams are a special bunch of people. Not everyone has the capability, drive, and desire to purposefully put themselves in harm’s way, but these people do; and they do it on a regula I gave this book 5 stars for the simple reason that it deserves that kind of recognition. It is laid out is a logical way, the content while intense and perhaps difficult to understand it made clear by the author, and the reason for the advanced training is explained. The men and women who make up and support the SEAL teams are a special bunch of people. Not everyone has the capability, drive, and desire to purposefully put themselves in harm’s way, but these people do; and they do it on a regular basis. Thank you to Dick Couch who served and now brings the warrior life to the attention of the rest of us. Thank you to the support personnel who take care of all the details that never make the news but are necessary to the success of the SEAL teams. Thank you to every warrior, past, present, and future, for protecting the American people often without our knowledge or any public thanks. Read the book, it’s great!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Noah W

    When it comes to learning about Navy SEAL's look no further than Dick Couch. I read his previous book The Warrior Elite which chronicled SEAL Class 228's journey through BUD/S Phases 1 though 3. This book goes through SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) that comprises rest of the training pipeline required to become a full-fledged SEAL. Most SEAL books focus on BUD/S and "Hell Week" and so it was refreshing to learn more about the advanced training. Topics include: Officer leadership training, hand- When it comes to learning about Navy SEAL's look no further than Dick Couch. I read his previous book The Warrior Elite which chronicled SEAL Class 228's journey through BUD/S Phases 1 though 3. This book goes through SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) that comprises rest of the training pipeline required to become a full-fledged SEAL. Most SEAL books focus on BUD/S and "Hell Week" and so it was refreshing to learn more about the advanced training. Topics include: Officer leadership training, hand-to-hand combat, firearms training, jump school, navigation, arctic survival, etc. Highly recommend, especially if you have already read The Warrior Elite.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I didn't realize just how intense SEAL training is. This book is a GREAT followup to The Warrior Elite, taking the reader past the introductory crucible that is Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, and going into as much detail as security clearances allow to explain the almost 2-year process for a BUD/S graduate to actually earn his Trident pendant. Weapons, demolition, combat swimming (I didn't even know that was a thing!), this book covers it all. Navy SEALs are true warriors, i I didn't realize just how intense SEAL training is. This book is a GREAT followup to The Warrior Elite, taking the reader past the introductory crucible that is Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, and going into as much detail as security clearances allow to explain the almost 2-year process for a BUD/S graduate to actually earn his Trident pendant. Weapons, demolition, combat swimming (I didn't even know that was a thing!), this book covers it all. Navy SEALs are true warriors, inside and out, and this book does an amazing job describing just how well trained in the art of war they are.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert Chapman

    Excellence and peak performance are some of my favorite areas of study, so a book about Navy SEAL training was a natural fit for my library. Everybody knows that SEALs are the best and that the depth and difficulty of their training is the stuff of legend. I truly had no idea just how in-depth and detailed the training was until I read this book. The author does a wonderful job of chronicling the training from BUDS all the way through to mission prep and beyond. After reading this book my respect Excellence and peak performance are some of my favorite areas of study, so a book about Navy SEAL training was a natural fit for my library. Everybody knows that SEALs are the best and that the depth and difficulty of their training is the stuff of legend. I truly had no idea just how in-depth and detailed the training was until I read this book. The author does a wonderful job of chronicling the training from BUDS all the way through to mission prep and beyond. After reading this book my respect for these elite warriors and all that they persevere through reached new levels.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Overall, well written. A bit more technical than I wanted and with less information about how Seals are actually trained, but gave a good overview of the 18 months leading up to deployment. Covers every little school and course that a Seal might go through. Author was a Seal in the early days and this seems like his way of keeping in touch with the community. Best for those wishing to geek out on special forces.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tj

    This was an interesting book on a look at Navy SEAL training, done by an ex-SEAL. The tone of the book is very type A, but it had to be expected with a person who could be a Navy SEAL. If you want to read about the training a SEAL goes through it is a great book, just a little to "I am man, hear me roar" type of feeling for me.

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