Militaries have trained people to become better at killing people for centuries. Typically, military exercises are designed to simulate combat and warfighting while training both the body and the mind to respond correctly even under great duress. The theory is that when all hell breaks loose, personnel fall back onto their training to cut through the confusion, chaos and fear that can cripple fighters.
However, some military forces go to extremes to ensure that their personnel are ready for absolutely anything, like preparing a solider for the day that they have to punch a tree to death with their bare hands. If it sounds sci-fi, it’s because it almost is; almost. Here are the 10 strangest military exercises!
10. Fun with Live Grenades
The People’s Liberation Army of China features exercises designed to toughen the bodies and minds of their soldiers, preparing them for battle. One of the craziest exercises of this wing of the Chinese military involves six soldiers and a live grenade. The first soldier pulls the pin and begins to pass the ticking time bomb around his circle of peers. After the grenade is handled by each soldier and returns to the pin-puller, the grenade is then tossed in the hole in front of them while the six soldiers leap away from the explosion.
9. Kill Houses as Far as the Eye Sees
Opened in 2009 by King Abdullah himself, the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) is designed to increase the effectiveness of their special operations capabilities. KASOTC features 67 urbanized buildings such as apartment complexes, an embassy, commercial buildings and even a town square. The facility includes 350 360-degree cameras, live-fire killhouses, a multi-helicopter landing pad and an airport with two airplanes modeled after 737 and A300 jets.
8. Great Leader’s Special Punch Training
North Korean special forces endure intense physical training that pushes their bodies to the limit, similar to other special military troops. One particular exercise they undertake makes it possible for them to punch through 20 sheets of cement blocks. Wrapping a rope around a tree, North Korean special forces practice punching trees thousands of time a day for a month in order to toughen up their hands.
7. Drunken Hell Blast
The Philippine military forces include a special elite group that survives the most difficult training out of all their units. Similar to other SEAL and special forces units that train personnel to be able to operate under any circumstances, NAVSOG undergoes “Hell Week” training featuring various tough tasks while enduring extreme sleeplessness. Unlike other special forces, they also have a “Hell Blast” training regimen that forces personnel to get completely and utterly drunk while engaging in military exercises.
6. Destroy Flaming Concrete Blocks with Your Forehead
Special forces training to become Red Berets – the best of the best – under the command of the Interior Ministry of Belarus undergo some of the most bone-breaking exercises of any military force. This deeply-religious military unit celebrates the pagan holiday of Maslenitsa, in which soldiers show off their training through feats of strength, like breaking several concrete blocks engulfed in fire with their heads while shirtless in the dead of winter.
5. Tactical Somersaults of ISIS
The growth and spread of ISIS forces throughout Northern Iraq and Syria is one of the most significant developments in worldwide terrorism over the past few years, especially considering their ability to conquer large cities like Mosul. One of the more bizarre aspects of ISIS military exercises is their infatuation with the “tactical somersault”. Examples are found on videos that show a recruit somersaulting over a heavy machine gun while picking up the weapon and struggling to aim, rendering him useless.
4. Killing Chickens With Your Teeth
Cobra Gold is a joint military exercise of the United States and Thailand militaries that grew into the biggest multinational gathering in Southeast Asia, including the military forces of Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan. However, one training exercise that seems to take things a bit far is the part where trainees bite into a chicken’s neck to kill and decapitate the bird.
3. SAS Death March
The British SAS is one of the most feared and respected special forces on the planet. Even the American military applauds their fighting skills, toughness and tactical prowess, modelling their Delta Force special ops after British standards. The deadly part of their training is the series of long marches that cumulates with ‘Endurance’, a non-stop, 40-mile, time-trial march carrying a 60-pound backpack, a water bottle and a rifle.
2. A Different Type of Russian Roulette
The most dangerous military exercise in the world likely belongs to the Russians, who conduct live fire training in a way that’s unique compared to the rest of the world. Confidence training involves human volunteers standing next to targets to simulate a hostage-taking situation. Soldiers fire live bullets that strike targets perilously close to the volunteer’s head. In order to get special forces accustomed to combat conditions, soldiers also shoot each other in the chest before returning fire on inanimate targets. While wearing bullet-proof vests, of course.
1. Spetsnaz Blood Training
The Spetsnaz is a super-elite, Russian special forces division that takes pride in accepting only the toughest, meanest and most disciplined fighters in their country. The training is designed to push soldiers to the absolute brink of their physical and mental abilities,; part of getting ready for battle for those in Spetsnaz involve blood training, specifically, getting used to dealing with copious amounts of blood that spill during deadly military operations.