The Top 5 Toughest Schools In the Military 3.39/5 (31)

5.  Ranger School – US Army

U.S. Army Soldiers negotiate the Darby Queen obstacle course during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., April 26, 2015. Soldiers attend the Ranger Course to learn additional leadership and small unit technical and tactical skills in a physically and mentally demanding, combat simulated environment. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nikayla Shodeen/Released)

This school trains individuals to become one of the most elite light infantryman (and now women) on Earth.  If you’re lucky you might only have to endure 61 days of training, unless you have to go the pre-ranger school or even worse… get recycled through a phase of training.  Training includes terrain in places that you’re happy to be from but never at.  If you’re lucky to make it through and earn your tab you can join a proud heritage that dates back to a time before the United States declared its independence.

4.  Basic Recon Course – USMC 

Marines graduate in 2009 from the Corps' Basic Reconnaissance Course, a nine-week session based at School of Infantry-West on Camp Pendleton, Calif. (MARINE CORPS)
Marines graduate in 2009 from the Corps’ Basic Reconnaissance Course, a nine-week session based at School of Infantry-West on Camp Pendleton, Calif. (MARINE CORPS)

Underfunded and underappreciated by the other branches, including all of the DoD, Marines do what they do best, make it harder because, well, they’re Marines.  The attrition rate isn’t as high as the other Military schools on this list but that doesn’t make it one of the toughest.  The men going through this course are already some of the best and usually are ready for it.  Training includes everything from small unit team tactics to amphibious operations.

3.  BUDS – US Navy SEAL selection and training

A Navy SEAL instructor watches as BUD/S students participate in surf drill training at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif. Photo by Donna Miles

How do you know when you’re talking to someone who went through BUDS?  They’ll tell you.  This is your path to becoming a US Navy SEAL, an elite force that is the world recognized for their covert operations and dominating in small teams.  If you are tough enough to make it through this process you can retire and write a book about it.

2.  US Army Special Forces Selection and Training

A Special Forces candidate conducts a pre-mission rehearsal with Army ROTC cadets role playing guerilla fighters during ROBIN SAGE.
A Special Forces candidate conducts a pre-mission rehearsal with Army ROTC cadets role-playing guerilla fighters during ROBIN SAGE.

If you want to wear the Green Beret like John Wayne you can skip the Hollywood career and endure some of the toughest training the US Military has to offer.  If you make it through the Selection process where you answer questions about being a pirate, ninja or Viking to duck walking for miles in the forest you get the spend up to 2 years training to earn the feared long tab and a beard (when required).

1.  Pararescue School – US Air Force

Pararescuemen and a simulated "survivor" watch as an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter comes in for a landing. Wikimedia.
Pararescuemen and a simulated “survivor” watch as an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter comes in for a landing. Wikimedia.

One of the highest attrition rates in all military schools but that could be because most are from the basic ranks of the Air Force who do not normally experience infantry specific type training.

Have you been through one of these schools? Comment below!

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Please rate this


  1. Race Hochdorf
    August 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm — Reply

    Not SEAR school?

    • Mike Eddy
      October 3, 2015 at 11:45 pm — Reply

      It’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape), not sear

    • sgt wiseass
      October 23, 2015 at 1:34 am — Reply

      I think he meant sear school.
      You know Cooking school in the navy? lol

    • Chris
      October 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm — Reply

      You don’t really fail SERE. You essentially go through the code of conduct and discover your limits. Everyone has a different threshold of being able to resist and as long as you uphold the CoC, you’re doing it right.

  2. Lynch
    August 17, 2015 at 7:39 pm — Reply

    Marine IOC….

  3. Austin Olson
    August 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm — Reply

    No surprise that the Coast Guard wouldn’t be listed on here due to the unappreciated reputation these men and women have. Training programs such as D.O.G. School (Deployable Operations Group), MSST and MSRT, and of course Rescue Swimmer. These are all challenging courses with high drop-put rates, even for experienced Guardians and members of other services who transfer.

    • John
      October 23, 2015 at 1:40 am — Reply

      Last Admiral of the CG stopped with the silly “Guardian” name. Yall are Coast Guardsmen. That sounds so much better, and doesn’t remind everyone of the terrible Costner/Kutcher movie.

  4. Colt Longwell
    August 17, 2015 at 7:44 pm — Reply

    MCIWS / CWSS (Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival / Combat Water Safety Swimmer)

    • Scott Fleming
      April 30, 2016 at 8:27 pm — Reply

      I second that. Toughest school I went to.

  5. Jeremy Morgan
    August 18, 2015 at 12:54 am — Reply

    I wonder how low on the list Airborne school is. I know that if I can make it through it can’t be that tough lol

  6. bryan
    August 18, 2015 at 5:59 pm — Reply

    I would say sapper school over ranger school bc sapper has everything ranger school does but condensed into 28 days. Plus u can pass the school but not get ur tab.

    • Matt
      October 23, 2015 at 1:54 am — Reply

      Any love for the EOD pipeline? Army side Phase 1 has roughly 80% attrition, NAVSCOLEOD has 60-70%. Sure, its not as physically demanding, but there are very few unintelligent techs. And its a year, even longer for Navy (dive, underwater, airborne, their version of SUT).

  7. Bob Rushing
    August 19, 2015 at 9:18 am — Reply

    Number 1 may be difficult but its NOT a number 1. No way its harder than number 2. Take a bunch of guys who do their PT test on stationary bikes and put them in a tough school Id say attrition would be high.

    • Mike
      August 30, 2015 at 12:45 am — Reply

      Hey bob, you have been through both schools I take it? Didn’t think so. Shut the fuck up.

    • Chris
      October 23, 2015 at 2:04 am — Reply

      Not saying which is hardest but they got rid of the stationary bike a long time ago. If that is what you are going to use for your defense please read current info. All of these schools are super hard and glad we still have those that want to do these jobs!

    • October 23, 2015 at 11:03 am — Reply

      GT, Rock On Bro, those are some good words. HooYah!
      FIG, Rock On Bro, def like your statement. HooYah!

    • Arthur Metz
      October 24, 2015 at 10:14 am — Reply

      except pararescue trainees have to pass a Physical Ability and Stamina Test which have higher minimum standards than the Seal PST. Not to mention pre-dive is built into pararescue indoctrination whereas in bud/s you don’t hit pre dive till phase II which at that point the attrition rate has weeded out the majority.

    • A better bob
      November 22, 2015 at 11:12 am — Reply

      Seriously wtf are you talking about? A. I’m willing to bet you have no basis for comparison. B. You clearly know nothing about the Air Force, ten years ago when the joined the “bike test” was still a thing of the past.

      Just off your high horse and give credit where it is due, all of these men put blood sweat and tears into these programs to do one job… Save lives and protect our freedom.

    • Jeremiah
      November 22, 2015 at 8:00 pm — Reply

      When’s the last time you looked at Air Force PT? Check facts before you talk shit.

    • December 9, 2015 at 8:05 pm — Reply

      I’ve been through both SF and PJ school. Also served in the Navy with the Seabee’s of CHB-2 (Cargo Handling Battalion-2)
      JP School is harder than SF training. But that doesn’t mean any of the schools are easy. They are all tough, some just push it a bit harder. In the end, we are all brothers.

      I served with the 129th ARRS, Pararescue and the 5th Special Forces, A-502 and MACV-SOG, SOA-CCC 1-0 of Rt, Delaware 1970. I spent 3 years 4 month’s in Nam and I’m the real deal…

      Merry Christmas everyone and an awesome New Year.

      • Arthur Dorrough
        January 7, 2017 at 4:14 pm — Reply

        Your zeal reminds me of Robert (Bob) LaPoint, USAF PJ

        • Jim Shorten
          January 24, 2017 at 7:58 pm — Reply

          Yes, Bob is living in the PI. I saw him a couple years back at the PJ Reunion in Apple-Turkey, New Mexico. Looks good and is still doing well…

  8. David Jones
    August 20, 2015 at 1:15 pm — Reply

    1. Pararescue School – US Air Force
    with that being said, how about a PJ inspired shirt?!

    My son is an aspiring PJ and it would be great for him to have a cool, inspiring Gruntstyle shirt to wear. I have already given him the Gruntstyle Air Force shirt. We love Grunt Style!!

  9. Pete
    August 21, 2015 at 10:13 pm — Reply

    The only reason Para Rescue made highest attrition rate is because the Air Force are Pussys

    • Frank
      December 10, 2015 at 2:51 pm — Reply

      You are about the dumbest piece of shit. The Air Force are “pussys”? For one I respect every branch of service. To make such a vague statement just shows how truly ignorant you are. PJ school is about a 90% washout rate and that’s after passing a PAST test. I know plenty of marines who wouldn’t be able to pass that test. Get educated you disrespectful piece of shit and stop trying to sound cool by jumping on the bandwagon. I assume by making that type of statement you haven’t even served in the military. If you have you’re probably low ranking never deployed. Read a fucking book.

  10. Allan F.
    August 25, 2015 at 5:53 pm — Reply

    I believe the list should be:

    1. US Army Delta Force
    2. US Army Special Forces / US Navy SEALS
    3. US Army Ranger / US Marine Force Recon
    4. US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer
    5. US Air Force Pararescue / Combat Controller(FO)

    Thank you!!!!

    • Keith
      August 27, 2015 at 12:43 pm — Reply

      And why would Rescue Swimmer be ranked ahead of Pararescue? Because their Mountain Rescue training is tougher? COMBAT dive school is tougher? Paramedicine? Weapons training? HALO? Because I was under the impression they did none of that. Tough school but your list and anything else you have to say is invalid.

    • dylan
      January 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm — Reply

      all very hard

    • Jim Shorten
      January 24, 2017 at 8:14 pm — Reply

      Hmm, PJ’s are rescue swimmers, Coast Guard “Rescue Swimmers” are awesome. But it’s just part of being a PJ.
      Ranger school isn’t that hard.
      SEAL’s are a great bunch of men. I’ve worked with them in war games.
      USMC “Force Recon, well I haven’t been to that school but I’m not sure if it’s really that tough.
      Special Forces is endurance and courage.
      I agree, Delta is a tough bunch of hombre’s. But it’s the individual that is picked for Delta. They usually are picked from SF or Rangers, etc. They are a Special Breed of men. If I would have stayed in Special Forces, I most likely would have been in Delta. I was a Team Leader for SOG.
      PJ’s are just pure strength and endurance. This is why so many drop out. It’s go, go, go When I was a PJ, I was dropped to do 1500 push-ups, it took me two days to do them….
      I served in the Navy, Army (SF) and USAF (PJ) 3 yrs, 4 months combat time. And I can tell you that all the men in these tough military school’s are the best they have. It’s just what you want out of the service. You get out, what you put in. They are all brothers to each other. And I highly respect them all. May God Bless them and watch over them during their missions…
      Jim Jones-Shorten (you can check me out on FaceBook)

      • Carlos
        September 2, 2017 at 2:41 am — Reply

        If your S.O.G why are you telling for the world to see

  11. Mike
    August 30, 2015 at 12:42 am — Reply

    The funny thing is none of you pussies have been to any of these schools, this I know. I agree mostly with this list. One because I have been through it. Nothing like seeing a prior ranger crying in the pool because he couldn’t hack it for the number one school on the list. being prior army, pjs are no joke. End result unless you have been to all these school shut the fuck up.

    • September 13, 2016 at 6:53 pm — Reply

      Many of these dudes posting comments have probably never served in the military to begin with. Theres difference between assessment and selection for example whn I enlisted I was fortunate enough to secure an 11X option 40 contract that guaranteed me a slot to Airborne School then RASP as long as I graduated 18 weeks of OSUT (MOS changed to 11B) and at least met the minimal qualifications in rifle marksmanship and PT score in the Option 40 contract which are a lot higher than the minimum required to earn blue infantry cord, cross rifles w/blue discs. After graduating 3 weeks Airborne School I made it into the 75th Ranger Regiment because I attended the 8 week or 61 day RASP Ranger Assessment & Selection Program got selected, earned the 2nd Ranger Battalion scoll and the coveted tan beret making me an army special operations soldier. Roughly 14 months later I attended the 8 week or 61 day Ranger School earning me my Ranger Tab in serving with 2nd Battalion for 3 1/2 years. After going through several Ranger Regimental advanced courses and 1 deployment to Iraq and 1 to Afghanistan I re-enlisted and attended the army basic Sniper School then was afforded the opportunity to attend the Marine Scout Sniper School and pretty much no more than 2 months later I attended the amy SFAS Special Forces Assessment & Selection. I was selected went through the SF training pipeline eventually graduating the SF “Q” Course where I was officially awarded the Special Forces “long tab” as well as my green beret. I then began foreign language training, and advanced Special Forces Individual MOS 18B Special Forces weapons sgt. (Weapons Expert) training. After becoming completely qualified as an 18B I was assigned to an ODA. The first SF group I was assigned to specializes in advanced Airborne operations and Military Freefall HALO- High Altitude Low Opening & HAHO-High Altitude High Opening so I went through the U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Center& Schools Military Freefall School and later down the road Advanced Military Freefall Operations course (Jumpmaster). After several deployments in both Iraq & Afghanistan as well as a few other locations not at liberty to discuss I was reassigned to another SF group that specializes in undertaking special operations aquatic/dive oriented missions. Now I’ve attended Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder, Ranger, Army Basic Sniper, Marine Scout Sniper, SF SOTIC level 1-2 (Special Forces Special Operations Target Interdiction)[Now called SF Sniper Course], Jungle Operations, SERE level C, Military Free Fall, Army Reconnaissance & Surveillance Leaders Course, Air Force Wilderness Survival, etc… the goes on and none were easy however, in my opinion which probably doesn’t have much value since there are so many top notch been to every spec ops type training in the military who seem to know everything yet seriously know far too little based on the majority of posts Ive had the pleasure to read and laugh at the most physically, mentally, emotionally, stressful, stamina & endurance testing, unnatural, overall most difficult, technical (other than the sniper schools/courses & SF Group/ ODA level sniper/marksmanship training as far as technical) and intellectually demanding schools I attended in the 15 years experience as an army special operations and U.S. SOCOM 75th Ranger Regiment Ranger, 7th SF Group, 10th SF Group green beret & Special Operations Sniper is hands down the Special Forces Combat Diver School & Combat Diver Qualifications Course. Also, probably the best if not a close 2nd best special reconnaissance unit in the entire U.S. military is the little known newest special operations unit to fall under the command ubrella of the U.S . J-SOCOM the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Special Troops Battalion world class Regimental Reconnaissance Company or RRC formerly called the Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment or RRD. In order to make it into this small super high speed company you have to be the best of the best. Traditionally only seasoned senior elnlisted Rangers with a good bit of combat experience and a lot of specialized and advanced training were the only ones considered to attend the 34-37 weeks of special and covert training like SF Combat Diver School, Military Freefall School, Reconnaissance & Surveillance Leaders Course, Expert defensive/offensive driving courses, advanced photography, digital editing, advanced signals/communications, Counter Espionage, Special reconnaissance, special surveillance methods, how to bend in with local population, advanced survival, advanced escape techniques, lock picking, intelligence collection/reporting techniques/procedures, battlefield assessment, state of art early warning sensor deploying and techniques, specialized static line parachuting training and other advanced courses which many are taught by the CIA’s SAD’ & SOG as well as the FBI, NSA, DDS-diplomatic security and the U.S. Secret Service. After training the canidates must attend and qualify a 6 month operators “Q” course similar to ACE’s CAG 1st SFOD-D “Delta Force” and its 6 month operator “Q” course. In fact operators within the RRC are often called “mini CAG” because a good majority have traditionally eventually made it into the super top secret (true quiet professionals) unlike this other elite JSOCOM unit that goes by the name DEVGRU Naval Special Warfare Developmental Warfare Group aka “ST6” or SEAL Team 6. And why hasnt anybody mentioned the Airforce’s other two Air Commado Special Operations unit types the 2 year Combat Cotroller School and training pipeline and the nearly 3 years plus Air Force Special Operations Combat Weather Technicians School and Training Pipeline. Like Air Force Special Operations 2 year plus Pararesue School and training pipeline all 3 have a ridiculously high attrition rate. And whoever it was that called the these guts pussies because their airmen you wouldn’t make it past the CCT/PJ indotrination program much less make it all the way. CCT’s are trained in advanced combat and special tactics but are also FAA certified air traffic controllers and most become qualified TAPC JTAC as well, PJ’s receive special tactics and advanced combat and are also certified EMT’s, Paramedics and in advaned emergency combat life saving and combat trauma training as well. Last but not least the Marine MARSOC Raider training isn’t no kind of a joke either. You guys that are the real deal, I feel ya, Im shaking my head too. For thoseof you who dont know what you’re talking about and comunicating between on another either because you are posers stealing valor and years of hard work, loyalty, dedication, pain, loss, sacrifice, blood, sweat, tears and determination and damn near constant perfection from those who have lived and are currently living the life of a special operations or special warfare operator. Please pretend to compare dick sizes on Twitter or Facebook.

      • Jim Jones-Shorten
        January 24, 2017 at 8:33 pm — Reply

        SFC Tucker…
        Wow brother… If that is all true, thank you for your service… That is a lot of schooling. I did a lot of schools myself, being in the Navy, Army and USAF. And I flew on weekends with MAG-16, out of DaNang, back in 1966 and 67. When I was in the Navy. I worked with the SeaBee’s but was an SN. never got past E-3 LOL, went up to E-8 in the Army SF then dropped down to E-6 in the Air Force (PJ). Best wishes, jim Jones-Shorten.

  12. GT
    August 31, 2015 at 7:13 am — Reply

    Looks like this article has caused some serious butt hurt. Those of you who feel the need to bash Pararescue need to STFU and show some professionalism. You mock what you don’t understand. My indoctrination course was a mixed bag of former Marines (myself included), soldiers, a CG rescue swimmer, and of course regular AF types. Let me tell you…everybody suffered. I was the only prior service Marine to make it. Out of 120 candidates only 4 of us became PJs 2 years later. Our mission isn’t sexy…we’re in the business of saving lives especially when the odds are stacked against us. Show some fucking respect and then do your homework. As far as I’m concerned all of my SOF brethren belong at #1 on this list. Every selection is a ball smoker and should be respected by all.

    • Adrian
      October 23, 2015 at 6:09 am — Reply

      Well said, GT.

    • Shades
      October 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm — Reply

      Good stuff GT and valid. I was expecting recon to be higher based on what ive heard from close sources but i knoe combat controllers and pararescue types are some of the hardest simply because of the variance in types of skills you need to pass them. All in all, none of them are worth while screwing with… though the seals might like it 😉 i kid i kid!

    • Alfonia Davis
      March 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm — Reply

      What would be the best choice for someone who wants to join one of these schools but can’t decide which is best for oneself. Right now I’m just training myself mentally and physically to push myself to the next level. Any advice would be appreciated thanks.

    • Jim Shorten
      January 24, 2017 at 8:27 pm — Reply

      GT, Amen brother… Jim Jones-Shorten… 129th PJ

      • Zip
        August 27, 2017 at 1:04 pm — Reply


        Thank you so much for your service.

        In the late 80s I was assigned to the 129nd (not as a PJ). The head of the PJ unit was Chief Masterseargent Wofford and I’m curious if he was just an airman at time you got out?



  13. Prescott Smith
    September 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm — Reply

    Although the school no longer exists, MACV Redondo School should be on the list. This was the training school in Nha Trang, Vietnam, which was run by the Delta Project, 5th Special Forces Group, to train LRRP’s in Vietnam. The final exam was a LRRP mission into enemy controlled territory. It doesn’t get anymore realistic than that!

  14. Michael
    September 11, 2015 at 9:09 am — Reply

    I had the heart and was prepared to make it through Ranger School. Wearing the Tab was important, but not as much as the training that helped push me through some of life’s obstacles. (Hind Sight) As hardened as I once was, I was NOT a strong swimmer….hence, I would likely not have made it through some of the other courses. BTW, I haven’t tired to either. I can’t do what other folks do with ease in the water. On land, I’m good to go. I just appreciate all of our collective skills that makes what we do appear to be easy.

  15. Aaron
    October 23, 2015 at 1:47 am — Reply

    Do some research. Navy Nuke School and prototype. DoD Highest attrition rate and suicide rate. A 6 yr degree condensed into 1 yr. Mind over muscle

    • Chris
      November 21, 2015 at 9:19 pm — Reply

      Hooyah nuke waste. Yeah as far as academics go navy nuke school is on its own level. MIT suggested a minimum of two and a half years to learn the material. The whole pipeline is just under a year and half. And the suicide thing is no joke. I wasn’t there that long and there were two sailors who commited suicide and one that was sent to the ER for overdose. Its seriously hard and a shame that they get made fun of. As weird as some of them are I have alot of respect for those that make it through.

  16. FRANK
    October 23, 2015 at 2:19 am — Reply

    All hell!! You’re all wrong, Armor schools the toughest among all, who else teaches our troops to drink all night and get up and run pt. Work on the mass of Tanks all day long and party all night I don’t think you guys know what you’re talking about being a tank is the toughest. And for some of those who don’t get this, it was a joke I think all the schools are tough, anybody who wears a tab is a badass of course. I love the tab that I used to wear just a regular guy. But I also will always be a tanker. Tanker Frank out

  17. michael
    October 23, 2015 at 2:36 am — Reply

    And then you get guys like Mike who skip the part about them asking for comments and spend their time being a keyboard warrior and trying to start a dick measuring contest with anything that breathes. Get the over yourself, bitch.

  18. Carlos F. Saldana
    October 23, 2015 at 3:00 am — Reply

    US Army Special Forces Scuba School in Key West. FL. The highest attrition rate in the military. Don’t believe me???? Look it up, or better yet attend the school!!!!!

    • September 13, 2016 at 6:57 pm — Reply

      Actually its called Special Forces Combat Diver Couse & Combat Dive Qualifications Course however, yes you are correct the attrition rate is. 3.5 /5 on average.

    • Arthur Dorrough
      January 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm — Reply

      Had a couple of guys wash up on shore in the class ahead of mine. I was USAF Pararescue on loan from God. I think it was class of 1970

    • Jim Jones-Shorten
      January 25, 2017 at 12:48 am — Reply

      I did attend the school. And no… It’s a tough school, but it’s only part of the PJ course. Try going through the whole PJ schooling. I went to SCUBA school while in Special Forces. I didn’t have to go through again, when I was a PJ…

  19. Andrew
    October 23, 2015 at 5:01 am — Reply

    Was the list generated based off of recruitable mos’s? I am wondering why no delta devgru marsoc. Just a thought not trying to start a fight. I do know that the marine counterintelligence and humnet course has a very high attrition rate, also infantry officers course, obviously had been in the news recently(wic). From the marine side water is our life but we don’t have the backing of massive man power that the army has. We all have different missions, specific for our abilities and we have been established today by the mission essentials from past years.

  20. Learch
    October 23, 2015 at 5:47 am — Reply

    Nuke Power School (USN) should be on the list it’s the academic version of BUDS where one in three pass.

  21. Shawn
    October 23, 2015 at 6:42 am — Reply

    I respect all on the list, and those mentioned in the comments. I must say that I was personally ecstatic to complete intelligence school (Morse code interceptor). All 4 branches trained together and there was an extremely high attrition rate (including the late great Robin Williams).

  22. J Howe
    October 23, 2015 at 6:45 am — Reply

    Cook school. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to make powder eggs edible.

  23. Scott
    October 23, 2015 at 8:33 am — Reply

    None of them can touch advanced combat clerk.

  24. Fig
    October 23, 2015 at 8:43 am — Reply

    Yeah I see a lot of people hating on pj’s. My question is have you ever been throw that school? My guess is no. I have and I passed and served 8 years as a pj. I did it because my father was SF for 16 years and my uncle was a seal. I saw what they went throw and I new that wasent really what I wanted to do. I wanted to help them in a different way. Not only the military but other people. If you are in the military no matter what you do you are my brother and sister. I will help to the end. That is why we say so others my live.

    • Jim Jones-Shorten
      January 25, 2017 at 12:56 am — Reply

      I was SF (10 years) and a PJ for 7 years before retiring. Served in the Navy for 3 years 7 months, kitty cruiser, got out when I turned 21. before the Army. I love working underwater. I think if I had to do it again, I’d go SEAL’s. But being a PJ is the most awesome feeling. Nothing like saving a life… The brotherhood in these special area’s of the military are awesome. I just went to a funeral of a brother PJ. There had to be over 50 PJ’s there for his send off. That is a loving brotherhood…

      • Chipper
        January 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm — Reply

        Hoo Yah Jim

  25. Damon
    October 23, 2015 at 10:49 am — Reply

    Marine Embassy Guard School was no joke… Did it back in 1999, had more than half of my class fail out. It was like a ghost town in my section of the barracks by the time we graduated.

  26. October 23, 2015 at 11:23 am — Reply

    This list is bogus. Here is why. By the time a fleet marine gets noticed, and has the honor of being invited (cant request it and not part of enlistment contract) to one of our elite schools. I.E…. s.o.t.g. scout sniper school, scout swimmers course, recon. That marine has already had the training and fitness of all the other branches special combat forces. And yes i mean seals too.

    • Matt
      October 24, 2015 at 8:54 am — Reply

      This is a true story bro. I was prior Marine Corps who went Army, Ranger school was like Marine Corps boot camp.

  27. October 23, 2015 at 11:37 am — Reply

    Why isn’t Marine Corps SOI on this list? 99% of the Marines who go through MCT couldn’t even hack it in SOI.

  28. Brian
    October 23, 2015 at 11:46 am — Reply

    Hey academically US Navy Nuclear Field “A” School is tough to get through.

  29. Hank
    October 23, 2015 at 1:38 pm — Reply

    Went through PJ first hand. Didn’t make it very far. The pipeline is incredibly hard, but I think the attrition rate is so high because the sorry excuse for a PT program in basic training sets us up for failure. That being said I had a few cross trainers in my team who failed as well. A few Marine recons, one army ranger and some Air Force TACP and CCTs. Shit’s hard yo. Props to anyone badass enough to make it through any on the list.

  30. John
    October 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    The Navy Nuke ET program

  31. OscarMike
    October 23, 2015 at 5:18 pm — Reply

    USAF Special Operations Weather Tech …. statistically the highest wash rate of any U.S. Military pipeline (yes, even higher then PJ).

  32. Jackson
    October 23, 2015 at 8:42 pm — Reply

    I dont care what any of you say, it should be Army Special Forces. Navy SEALs. Marine Recon. PJs. And then MARSOC.

  33. Greg
    October 24, 2015 at 4:38 am — Reply

    While not a physically challenging school, the Defense Language Institute will give your brain a run for its money. Languages like Russian, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic had 75% + attrition rates.

  34. Jim Jones-Shorten
    October 26, 2015 at 6:27 pm — Reply

    I’ve graduated from the top two… HooYaa… yes, I’m cool
    sunglasses emoticon

    It’s a lot more than just being tough, you have to be smart as well.
    Pararescue is mentally challenging, everywhere from Medical, all the aircraft, tactics, repelling to HALO insertion, etc. Many more people are washed out of Pararescue then all the other branches. But all those who graduate from Pararescue, SEAL’s, SF, Rangers, Force Recon, Coastguard swimmers, all have the same warrior’s heart and are the best of the best. And we are all brothers

    US Navy (DaNang Vietnam 22 months)
    US Army (Special Forces A-502, B-53 MACV-SOG, CCC MACV-SOG
    USAF Pararescueman (129th ARRS)

  35. November 21, 2015 at 9:43 am — Reply

    Much respect to any and all who have made it through any of these schools. However, after deploying with Combat Engineers in two separate Operations, 5th Eng Bn/Desert Storm, 489th Eng Bn/Iraqi Freedom, I fully believe that Sapper school should be on that list. I knew some high speed, low drag 12Bs that went there and came home with no tab. It’s no joke.

  36. December 9, 2015 at 8:10 pm — Reply

    I’ve been through both SF and PJ school. Also served in the Navy with the Seabee’s of CHB-2 (Cargo Handling Battalion-2)
    JP School is harder than SF training. But that doesn’t mean any of the schools are easy. They are all tough, some just push it a bit harder. In the end, we are all brothers.

    I served with the 129th ARRS, Pararescue and the 5th Special Forces, A-502 and MACV-SOG, SOA-CCC 1-0 of Rt, Delaware 1970. I spent 3 years 4 month’s in Nam and I’m the real deal…

    Merry Christmas everyone and an awesome New Year.

  37. Matthew (10:34)
    December 19, 2015 at 2:46 pm — Reply

    Alright, give me a good 7-10 years, and i will do all of these, or as many as possible. (Reason for 7-10 years, is because i also want time in field and not always training. Although it helps. I am 17 so i have nothing to say about the list until i try it) so witg that said, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and i salute the men and women who have accomplished these courses of extreme training.

  38. William
    December 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm — Reply

    Sappers school needs to be on this list. Very difficult school and this is coming from a Sapper school graduate.

  39. GaDBG
    December 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm — Reply

    This list is way too broad to even say which is harder. First off the attrition rate for PJ’s would be greater if they hadn’t decided to make their own medics course since they were getting destroyed in SOCM school. I’m a SWCC so I spent lots of time with the buds guys throughout the beginning of training and their is no doubt in my head that water seperates the men from the boys. I’m in the SOCM course now with a few fellow CQT grads plus SQTeam guys and the academics can’t rival any physical evolution you can be put through……all the 18D guys nowadays have to go through this school as part as the pipeline so I think they (and the SO’s) by far have the toughest pipeline in the whole armed forces

  40. Clay
    December 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm — Reply

    Astronaut training anyone?

  41. Gene
    January 5, 2016 at 11:55 pm — Reply

    My two cents:
    Every branch has their own tough schools. Even though the army has more options for schools (rangers, selection, ect). We all are brothers in arms. I have no idea what these schools are like so im not going to say the army is better than the Marines.
    But im going to salute the guy’s who do attempt to go to any special operation and the guy’s who do get selected are bad asses.
    Current 31B (Military Police)

  42. Caden
    January 13, 2016 at 12:47 pm — Reply

    all very hard

  43. January 18, 2016 at 8:39 pm — Reply

    You guys are high!!

    1) Seals
    2) Delta
    3) Force recon
    4) Air Force PJ
    5) Ranger.

    Ranger school is tough but I know 2 friends of mine that went through and they are total pussies. An average infrantry marine is equal to a Ranger. Now Delta, different story.

    • Chris
      February 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm — Reply


  44. Alfonia Davis
    March 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm — Reply

    What would be the best choice for someone who wants to join one of these schools but can’t decide which is best for oneself. Right now I’m just training myself mentally and physically to push myself to the next level. Any advice would be appreciated thanks.

  45. Pearson
    May 16, 2016 at 7:25 am — Reply

    Two of them

    Drill Sergeant School and the Ranger’s Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC). One out of every three will never finish.

  46. January 25, 2017 at 11:48 am — Reply

    Para-rescue and, Combat Controllers train the same way..

  47. Tenacious
    June 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm — Reply

    I went through the PJ training back in the days of 1969… PT requirements were different then.. I had to go through the Army Ranger Mountain School in Delongica, GA.. Jump School at Benning.. pre scuba at Bragg (sharks vs minnows), Scuba at Key West Naval Station, Medical at Shepard and I was blessed to do Winter Survival/POW School up in Spokane, Wa… plus many months at Eglin AFB in Florida…. ahhh those were the days my friends… then off Guam/Japan for rescue mission station…

  48. Chris K
    February 6, 2018 at 4:18 pm — Reply

    This list is a joke. Marine Corps Boot Camp is about the equivalent of army ranger basic course. Seal training should be ahead of Army special forces training. The five that should be on that list, in no particular order, are BUDs, PJ school, Army special forces, Marine Corps raider recon and then EOD

    • February 7, 2018 at 8:30 am — Reply

      Maybe we should update the list, person who wrote that list obviously went awry, as the current staff would tend to agree with you.

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