25 insane military training exercises from around the world

Jumping through a ring of fire. Breaking bricks with your head. Drinking cobra blood.

Those are some examples of the insane exercises many troops from around the world have to go through as part of military training.

Some are actually meant to train troops, but many are just a show of force meant to intimidate other foreign powers.

Check out the intense exercises below.

The Japanese martial art of tameshiwari involves breaking bricks or wooden planks. South Korean special forces do it with heavy rocks …

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A soldier from the South Korean special forces during an anti-terror exercise in Incheon, west of Seoul, on June 13, 2013.

… while Chinese SWATs do it with their heads.

REUTERS/China Daily
A SWAT officer at an antiterrorism drill in Weng’an county, Guizhou province, in 2012.

The Iran’s Basij militia is a volunteer force, but its training in the martial arts is gruesome nonetheless.

REUTERS/Caren Firouz
An instructor and his students, members of Iran’s Basij militia, during martial-arts training at a mosque in central Tehran in 2010.

Iraq’s Shiite volunteer forces take their knife-fighting training pretty seriously, as you can see.

REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
Shi’ite volunteers during a graduation ceremony after completing their field training in Najaf in 2014.

Mexican marines, meanwhile, have to learn to crawl across a thin metal wire without falling.

REUTERS/Henry Romero
A Mexican marine during training at a military base in Chetumal in 2012.

Psychological training is also important for military forces, particularly in China. This exercise is meant to relieve anxiety.

REUTERS/Stringer
Paramilitary Chinese police officers during a psychological-training program aimed at relieving anxiety, in Chuzhou, Anhui province, in 2013.

Not all training has to be gruelling through. Here soldiers at the 11 Gorkha Rifles Regimental center take part in a yoga session in Lucknow, northern India.

REUTERS/Pawan Kumar
Soldiers at a yoga class during their training period at 11 Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre, on a foggy day in the northern Indian city of Lucknow in 2008.

South Korean special warfare trainees are covering themselves with snow here to help strengthen both physical power and psychological fortitude.

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
South Korean special warfare forces during winter mountain-training exercises in 2007 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
REUTERS/Nicky Loh

Taiwanese marines have to crawl through a rocky pathway in front of their fellow recruits to finish their training course.

A trainee undertaking the frogmen “Road to Heaven” test in Zuoying, Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, in 2011. The “Road to Heaven” test, which is the final stage of a nine-week intensive Amphibious Training Program, requires trainees to execute various exercises and leopard crawl along a 50-metre-long path that is littered with jagged corals and rocks.

In China, jumping through a ring of fire is just part of training.

REUTERS/China Daily
A frontier soldier from the People’s Liberation Army during training in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, in 2014.

This Iraqi military exercise is not very sophisticated, but it is brutal: Do the chair or get beaten.

REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
Shi’ite fighters during field training in the desert in Najaf, south of Baghdad, on February 1.

These special forces soldiers in Belarus are training for chemical warfare.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
Servicemen from the Interior Ministry’s special unit during a test near the village of Gorany, some 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of Minsk, in 2012. Servicemen have to pass several tough tests before being awarded entry to the elite “Red Beret” unit, according to the ministry.

Colombian policemen train in camouflage in the jungle, preparing to battle FARC, one of the most fearsome guerrilla forces in the world.

REUTERS/John Vizcaino
Policemen training on the Jungla International Course, in Chicoral, near Ibague, in 2013. Every year the Colombian police force invites elite law enforcement and military personnel from across Central and South America to participle in this training course.

Elite forces from Nicaragua also train for jungle fighting. It’s called “hostile-environment training.”

REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
Soldiers from the special forces unit “COE” participating in a military-training exercise at a military base about 17 kilometers (11 miles) west of Managua in 2007.

Alpine warfare is another form of hostile-environment training that many forces around the world have to go through. Believe it or not, this is in Israel.

REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israeli soldiers from the Alpine Unit during a demonstration of their skills for the media on Mount Hermon, near the Israel-Syria border, in 2012. The Golan Heights form a strategic plateau between Israel and Syria of about 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles). Israel captured it in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

Thai navy sailors are trained to survive in the tropical jungle. In a joint military exercise in 2013, they taught US Marines to drink cobra blood.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A US Marine drinking the blood of a cobra during a jungle-survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the “Cobra Gold 2013” joint military exercise, at a military base in Chon Buri province in 2013. About 13,000 soldiers from seven countries — Thailand, US, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia — participated in the 11-day military exercise.

You might also be required to eat bugs from a bamboo stick if you join the Thai navy, as the US Marines found out.

REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
A US Marine during a jungle-survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the “Cobra Gold 2012” (CG12) joint military exercise, at a military base in Chon Buri Province in 2012.

Australia North West Mobile Force patrols the desert of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. For this reason, its soldiers learn Aboriginal survival skills, like spear fishing.

REUTERS/David Gray
Lance-corporal Vinnie Rami, an indigenous soldier from Australia’s North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) unit, after hunting on Astell Island, part of the English Company Islands, located inside Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, in 2013. NORFORCE is a surveillance unit that employs ancient Aboriginal skills to help in patrolling the country’s vast northwest coast. NORFORCE’s area of operations is about 700,000 square miles, covering the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia. Aboriginal reservists make up a large proportion of the 600-strong unit and bring to bear their knowledge of the land and the food it can provide. Fish, shellfish, turtle eggs, and even insects supplement rations during the patrol, which is on the lookout for illegal foreign fishing vessels and drug smugglers, as well as people smugglers from neighboring Indonesia.

These Philippine recruits have to hold a banana on their heads while eating lunch to teach them balance and posture. If the banana falls, they have to eat it. Peel included.

REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
Newly recruited female marines taking lunch with fellow soldiers after undergoing drills inside the marine headquarters in the town of Ternate, Cavite city, south of Manila, in 2013. An estimated 350 women combatants in the 10,000-member Philippine marines go through the same rigid physical and mental training as their male counterparts. Since 2006, female marine officers have been performing in the field of assault armor, field artillery, airborne, and other combat duties, a marine officer said.

A similar drill for new recruits of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army involves marching with a cross tied to your back. It is all part of reaching a military posture.

REUTERS/William Hong
New recruits of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army during training to adjust their standing postures in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 2013.

Another Belarusian special forces member tests his balance walking over smoke bombs and fires.

Servicemen of a special unit from the Interior Ministry taking part in a test near the village of Volovshchina, 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of Minsk in 2009. Servicemen have to pass several tough tests before being awarded entry to the ministry’s elite “Red Beret” unit.

Often soldiers are asked to train with animals. These Dutch gendarmes have to ride their horses through smoke bombs.

REUTERS/United Photos/Toussaint Kluiters
Members of the Dutch Royal Guard of Honour during a rehearsal ahead of the Dutch 2014 budget presentation, at the beach of Scheveningen, in 2013.

Here’s a US soldier jumps from an airplane with his dog, Cara, breaking the record for “highest man/dog parachute deployment.” They jumped 9,174 metres.

REUTERS/K9 Storm Inc./Handout
US Military Member Mike Forsythe and his dog, Cara.

German special forces have to be able to assemble a gun underwater — holding their breath.

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
German policemen, aspirants for Berlin’s special police force, SEK (Spezialeinsatzkommando), assembling a gun during an underwater drill in a Berlin police barracks in 2005.

But military training is not always so daring. These Lebanese soldiers use a virtual-reality game to practice their shooting skills without the risk of getting injured.

REUTERS/Sharif Karim
Lebanese soldiers during a training session on the “Engagement Skills Trainer” program provided by the US embassy in Lebanon to the Lebanese Armed Forces at the Engineering Regiment Base in Warwar, near Beirut, in 2010. The EST 2000 program provides the LAF with the capability to train soldiers virtually on all aspects of firearms training without the expense or potential danger of using live ammunition.

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