Over the past few years, when I have been on airplanes or in other circumstances with limited entertainment options, I have seen several documentaries about the training of Navy Seals. Maybe it is related to the killing of Osama bin Laden—I do not know. These training shows are so plentiful that I have concluded that anytime I am stuck somewhere with only a few channels of television to watch that a Navy Seals training documentary will be on.

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A recurring theme of these documentaries is that some soldiers are forced to work so hard they give up, put down their helmets, ring a bell, and quit the training. There are always multiple images of the bell and of helmets sitting next to the bell, as well as commentaries from remaining soldiers:

A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

“It just got too much for him and he could no longer cope.”

“They were hard on him but the Seals are only for the strongest.”

“It’s not easy being a Seal and that is why so many quit.”

The announcer, in a deep and serious voice, will then offer a few words about how many try and fail and that being a Seal requires an extraordinary amount of endurance to succeed.

In every class of recruits, many would-be Seals quit training because it is very, very difficult. On little sleep, a recruit is forced to run long distances, hold his breath for extended periods of time, endure extreme cold, and deal with all sorts of unreasonable stress that is not normal by any stretch of the imagination. At each step, recruits simply put down their helmets because it is just too difficult.