- Remi Adeleke is a former Navy SEAL. He is the author of “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds.”
- Adeleke breaks down the realism of SEAL Team scenes in movies and TV, from training to special operations, intelligence gathering and data collection, rescue operations, and direct combat.
- Movies Adeleke rates include “The Rock” (1996), “Tears of the Sun” (2003), “Under Siege” (1992), “Captain Phillips” (2013), “Act of Valor” (2012), and “Navy SEALs” (1990). He comments on training scenes in “Lone Survivor” (2013) and “GI Jane” (1997). Adeleke also breaks down real-life raids and rescues in “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), and “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” (2016).
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Below is a transcript of the video.
– Soldier: Pull out, Graham! Pull! Pull!
Remi Adeleke: Yeah, it’s not that easy.
What’s up? My name is Remi Adeleke. I spent 13 years in the military with the majority of that time spent in special operations as a Navy SEAL. And today I’m gonna be breaking down some iconic Navy SEAL movies and TV shows.
“The Rock” (1996)
Soldier: Everyone good to go?
All: Good to go.
Remi: Yeah, I’ve never seen any devices like that. [laughs] We’re called SEALs. SEAL is actually a acronym, sea, air, land. A lot of people don’t know that. So it’s typical for us to work in the water. I’ve jumped out of a plane into the water before. I’ve jumped out of a helicopter into the water before. In the scene, they’re jumping, not only are they jumping out, but they’re pushing vehicles, underwater vehicles into the water. Now, those type of vehicles, I’ve never seen in my life. [laughs] There are vehicles that we do use called SDVs. It stands for SEAL delivery vehicles.
Goodspeed: Move in! Good to go.
Remi: There are times when, if somebody has a unique specialisation but they’re not a SEAL, they will go on a mission, and they will be embedded within the SEAL platoon. However, they’re not gonna be at the front of the train. They’re not gonna be the first one in the door. [laughs]
That’s for sure. And they’re gonna be somewhere in the middle, somewhere protected and somewhere where they can’t hurt the other guys within the platoon. “The Rock” inspired me. That was the first time I was exposed to Navy SEALs. I had never heard of Navy SEALs before, and I went to go watch the film. And when I saw these guys, that really intrigued me. And then when we got to the scene where they actually sacrifice themselves to save other people, that’s what really kind of stuck out to me, this idea that these men are so close-knit, they’re skilled, they’re great at what they do, and they’re willing to put their lives on the line for other people. I’ve worked with Michael Bay on some other films, so gotta be careful. I would say I would give it a 8.5 as far as accuracy.
“GI Jane” (1997)
It’s supposed to be boats on heads, but they have, they’re holding it with their hands, and we’ve never done that. There’s an instructor in the boat. Nah, that’s not gonna happen. The boat is heavy as it is.
Instructor: Move it! Move it!
Remi: The bell, yep. The bell. That’s definitely real. I know a lot of guys who have rang that bell. Now, these things, I’m assuming that these are buoys. We never did that at all. We never pushed buoys through a, looks like a berm obstacle course, so I don’t know what that is. And here we have the buoy rolling over people. That’s not happening. I mean, that’s more of a liability. Now, this type of surf torture, I have never seen it. I don’t know what kind of push-up that is.
It’s a mental exercise. At least for me it was. You’re laying in this freezing cold water, you don’t know how long you’re gonna be in the water, and that’s where they get a lot of guys who quit. That’s where you do get a lot of quitters. Me, there were multiple times during hell week and various evolutions where, during surf torture, I was either near hypothermia or hypothermic. As a matter of fact, during one surf torture in hell week my core temperature dropped down to 88.7 degrees. So. [laughs] And what happened after that was the instructors took me to BUD/S medical, went through a rewarming drill. I think it took about a hour or two to rewarm me. And then as soon as I was back to a normal core temperature, I went right back into hell week, and when the instructors asked me, they said, “Hey, you wanna quit or do you wanna go back in that cold water?” And I said, “I’ll go back in the cold water.” So.
The instructors are trying to put you in a situation where you have to work together as a team and push through the discomfort. There’s cases where, if you’re not running in sync, the boat will bob and bounce on a person’s head and that just causes more pain. There’s actually been guys who have had serious neck injuries and fractured their necks because of the bouncing or because somebody within the boat was ducking boat, which means they had their head down while other people were carrying the weight. So it’s a pretty serious evolution. And the instructor in the boat, eh, I would have to give it about a four.
“Lone Survivor” (2013)
Instructor: Six times three. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up.
Remi: What we’re seeing here is a swim, it’s called wetsuit appreciation swim. And essentially they make you swim in freezing cold water for a long period of time without a wetsuit. And it’s miserable. It’s horrible.
Instructor: Andrew! Come back!
Remi: Yeah, this guy, he’s a shallow water, shallow water blackout. You know, he blacked out from being on the water. The majority of it is footage from a Discovery Channel documentary called “BUD/S 234.” And, interestingly, I watched that documentary in order to prepare for BUD/S, ’cause, you know, coming from the Bronx, and I didn’t have a lot of exposure to Navy SEALs or how to prepare for SEAL training. As a matter of fact, when I joined the Navy, I couldn’t swim.
Instructor: Two minutes! You don’t make it, you do it again!
Instructor: Have you been tested this hard ever in your life?
Remi: BUD/S is six months broken up into three phases. First phase, which is where they really weed out the majority of the class. Then there’s second phase, which is dive phase. That’s when they’re beginning to really teach you different elements of being a SEAL. And then third phase is, weapons, tactics, land warfare, and demolitions. If a person makes it through six months of BUD/S, then next step is SQT, SEAL qualification training. That’s where you really get into the weeds of what it means to be a Navy SEAL and to do the job that we do. And then from there you go on to your SEAL team. For an attrition rate, for SEAL training, fluctuates between 75 and 90%. The class that I graduated with started out with 270, and we only graduated 29 guys. I have to give it a 10. I have to give it ’cause it’s the real deal. You don’t get no realer than that.
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” (2016)
[laughs] Jack: Listen to me. Listen. Hey, listen up. When you go outside that gate, you go left. You understand?
Jack: The right is bad guys. You are going left. You get in the back way to the annex. You got it?
Rone: I got it.
Remi: This guy who’s driving and he seems disoriented and he’s not paying attention to this, ’cause most likely he’s not a SEAL. If he was a SEAL, he wouldn’t be as confused.
Jack: Peel it! Peel it! Peel it! Someone cover us on the roof!
Remi: What was going on was the guys were bounding. And when a unit is bounding away from a contact, it’s always important for one or two or three, however many guys, to be shooting and the other part of that team moving, you know, we call that shoot, move or cover move. So, in the clip, you know, John’s character said, “cover and move,” and that’s something we always do when we’re bounding from a contact. Those are all weapons that not only, you know, I’ve carried, but I’ve seen other guys in my platoon, in my teams carry when we go out the door on operations. This movie, “13 Hours,” is based off of an actual event that happened in Benghazi. The embassy was attacked and overrun. The guys who were defending, for the most part, they were all guys who have special operations backgrounds. A few of them were Navy SEALs. Actually, one of them, the guy who got killed, Ty. Ty Woods was my BUD/S instructor. He put me through SEAL training. Personally, I would give it a 9.5.
“Act of Valor” (2012)
So, they’re fast-roping. I’ve fast-roped before. Fast rope, it’s a easy way to insert into a situation.
Pilot: Continue, you’re clear.
Remi: This guy right here, he’s an intelligence guy. He’s a SEAL, but he’s also an intelligence guy. We call it HUMINT, which is human intelligence, and that’s what I did in the SEAL teams. Not only are they covering down on doors as one guy’s, as the point man is moving forward, but they’re covering down on windows. So, everything is a threat when you’re on operation, especially, you know, on a ship like this, or a house, you know, closets, open doors, windows, hidden spaces.
Soldier: Clear. Bridge secure.
Remi: When one guy says clear, clear is just, that’s something we say when the room is clear. That doesn’t mean that nobody’s in the room. That means that the room is clear.
[boat engine roaring]
The SOC boats that you saw in the clip, they’re really high speed. They’re operated by a special operations unit called SWCC. SWCC stands for special warfare combat-craft crewman. On the rivers and any operation along the water, they help insert SEALs and extract SEALs from targets. They used real Navy SEALs and real SWCC operators as the main actors, so I would give it a 9.5. The 0.5 that’s missing is the fact that, you know, in Hollywood, you gotta [laughs] you gotta spice it up a little bit to have a storyline. I get that as a writer, so.
“Navy SEALs” (1990)
Soldier: Jesus, Dane, who packed your chute? It doesn’t look good.
Remi: We always check each other’s gear. My platoon chief had a saying: “Check, check, and recheck.” Yeah, this is a HALO. Standard HALO. Jumping out.
Soldier: Oh, s**t!
Remi: So, what’s going on here, this guy has a malfunction. Yeah, he’s, this reserve opens pretty late, probably ’cause he cut away late. Yeah, it’s not that easy.
If you have a malfunction and you’ve tried to fix it and it didn’t work, you gotta cut away. And essentially what it is, you look down, and you look down at that red tab, and you pull that cutaway first, and then you look down at your reserve, and you pull that away second, in that order. There have been people who’ve died, not just in the military but in civilian jumping because they had a malfunction and they made it worse by opening their reserve parachute before cutting away, and their reserve parachute now gets tangled in their main parachute, and, I mean, it’s nothing you can do after that. I have to give it a, I’d have to give it a five, man. [laughs] I have to give it a five.
“Zero Dark Thirty” (2012)
Soldier: Echo 02, moving to deck three.
Remi: First and foremost, they’re operating at night. Every, this is a DA. It’s a direct action. They’re going after a specific target. I’ve done a lot of these, and 99% of them have been at night. I think I heard three shots initially, and then he shot him again while he was on the ground. People say, well, that’s excessive. We do that for a reason. ‘Cause, you know, it’s not like in the movies. In the movies, you shoot a guy one time, he falls. In reality, you know, you can shoot a guy six, seven, eight times, and he can still fight, so. See, they’re really silent. It’s just hand squeezes, and there’s no verbal communication. I mean, it was a mirror image of a lot of operations I’ve been on, as far as, like, the movements and the tactics and sneaking through. Those lasers that you see, we can see them, because of the type of camera that was used. But we use IR lasers on our weapons. Typically, in some movies, you’ll see the red lasers or green lasers on guns. That’s super unrealistic. We use hand signals or, you know, or we use our weapons as a way to communicate with each other so that we can stay stealth and stay completely silent and not tip off the enemy.
No vests. All clear.
Remi: When they came across the women, the first thing that they did was they searched them, and they were searching them for a suicide vest. The enemy will put suicide vests on women and children. I remember when there was a guy we were tracking for a long period of time, and I won’t mention the country we were in, where he would recruit, you know, kids 9, 8, 7, 11, 12, 13, and put suicide vests on them. Rating for this one, this scene, this specific scene, because of the way they moved tactically, I would give it a 9.5.
“Tears of the Sun” (2003)
Waters: I’d just like to hear what you guys have to say about it. That’s all. Speak freely. Lake: My opinion, sir, we cut our losses. This isn’t our war.
Remi: That is one of my favourite Navy SEAL movies. I’ll say that. I’ll say that first and foremost. It was directed by a phenomenal director by the name of Antoine Fuqua. It really shows the interaction between SEALs, but not just, not just SEALs, but, you know, the leadership of a SEAL platoon and the other guys, the sled dogs, so to speak. We have a saying, again, “Leadership at every level.” And so we all are able to give our input. I’ve been in situations with my OIC, OIC’s officer in charge of the platoon, and where he wants everybody’s input, he wants to hear, “Hey, how should we take down, how should we take down this target? What should we do?” And it’s not like other military units where you just had, you got one guy in charge, and, you know, he says, “Go storm that mountain,” and everybody just mindlessly goes and storms that mountain. Interestingly, a lot of people don’t know this, but the requirements academically to get in SEAL training are really, really high. And a lot of guys who do show up to the SEAL training, BUD/S, they have bachelor’s degrees. A lot of them have master’s degrees. There were guys who were established. I mean, there were guys who were accountants and lawyers or big businessmen, and one day they woke up and said, “You know what? This is boring. I wanna be a Navy SEAL.” [laughs] Yeah. You know, that scene, I would give it a 9.5. It’s hard for me to give anything a 10, but, yeah, for that scene, absolutely a 9.5.
“SEAL Team” (2017-)
Not only these guys covering and moving, but they had proper 360 security, which allowed that one SEAL to see that suicide bomber. As soon as they took contact, they immediately started firing back. And that’s something that we always do. We, you know, suppress the threat. And then, yeah, again, we have 360 security. So, the contact was in the front, and, you know, again, SEALs are not mindless robots. So everybody didn’t just start shooting at the contact in the front. If somebody gets injured in the field, you know, first and foremost, if they can take care of themselves, they take care of themselves in the middle of the battle. And then once somebody can get to them, then that person, you know, goes and gets them and tends to them. In the Navy, we don’t call medics, medics. We call them corpsmen. And once that corpsman can get to them after the threat has been suppressed at that point, then they will go tend to them.
Eric: Bravo 6, say again your last.
Ray: 6 to base, I say again. Fallen eagle.
Remi: When somebody gets killed on operation, you know, you win the fight, and then after you win the fight, you know, you help, you know, transport, transport them back to base and give them a proper ceremony.
Soldier: We lost Bravo 1.
Eric: How long till we can get him out of there?
Remi: I would give that scene specifically a 9.5.
“Captain Phillips” (2013)
Commander: I need sights on targets. I need three targets green.
Remi: Passing comms to the snipers who are gonna take the target so they’re aware of what’s going on. Again, going back to communication. Communication’s key.
Commander: Stop the tow. Execute.
Phillips: What was that?
Remi: He could have been a commander. Commander’s actually a rank, but for the sake of just explaining this point, you know, we had a commander who was definitely a Navy SEAL, and he’s giving commands, but he’s also giving the guys, you know, giving the guys freedom to do their job. He’s not micromanaging them. And so throughout that scene, there was a lot of great communication. And that’s 9.5.
9.5 is like a 10. I have to say 9.5 because, you know, Hollywood has to spice things up and dramatize things, so, I get that, so. But, you know, for me, I would say that was a 9.5.
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