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  • "After pretraining, as it's called, the survivors enter a period known as 'the pipeline'—scuba school, jump school, freefall school, dunker-training school, survival school. The PJs learn how to parachute, climb mountains, survive in deserts, resist enemy interrogation, evade pursuit, navigate underwater at night. The schools are ruthless in their quest to weed people out; in dunker training, for example, the candidates are strapped into a simulated helicopter and plunged underwater. If they manage to escape, they're plunged in upside-down. If they still manage to escape, they're plunged in upside-down and blindfolded. The guys who escape that get to be PJs; the rest are rescued by divers waiting by the sides of the pool....

    If a PJ fails, he's out of the entire program. For a period of three or four months, a PJ runs the risk, daily, of failing out of school. And if he manages to make it through the pipeline, he still has almost another full year ahead of him: paramedic training, hospital rotations, mountain climbing, desert survival, tree landings, more scuba school, tactical maneuvers, air operations. And because they have a wartime mission, the PJs also practice military maneuvers.... And finally—once they've mastered every conceivable battle scenario—they learn something called HALO jumping."

    —Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm, 1997 (NY: HarperCollins, 1999), 176–177

    September 8, 2009