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G.I. Jane References & Background

These are resources I referenced when writing the G.I. Jane fiction story, "Rematch." See also the many articles, interviews and reviews on the G.I. Jane page.

G.I. Jane References: Combined Reconnaissance Team (CRT)

Most viewers and reviewers are under the impression that Lt. O'Neil is going through SEAL training in G.I. Jane and receives a SEAL trident at the end of the movie. In fact she was signed up for the "Combined Reconnaissance Team" selection program at the Navy SEALs training center, also referred to in the film as "SEAL/CRT" training. (In the movie this center is located at Catalano Naval Base in Jacksonville FL; the real facility is at Coronado in San Diego CA.)

The CRT is a figment of the film's imagination. It brings together operators from across several branches of the service: Navy SEALs, Army Delta, Marine Force Reconnaissance, and Navy Intelligence. The latter, of course, is Lt. O'Neil.

The "real" SEAL training course is called "BUD/S" (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL). It is six months long, with an average dropout rate of around 75%. The film's SEAL/CRT course was three months long, "boasting" a 60% completion rate. The film's SEAL/CRT course included many elements of BUD/S.

For SEALs, the SERE course and training mission are normally part of SEAL Tactical Training (STT), another six months of advanced operator training that follows BUD/S. Not until completing STT and further testing does a SEAL candidate actually receive the coveted gold Trident insignia. They are still considered apprentices, or "f*cking new guys" (FNGs) for another year after receiving their Tridents.

In the film, at the end of the selection course Lt. O'Neil is awarded a large silver insignia with the inscriptions "SEAL" and "CRT." We are assuming that from there she and the other successful candidates will go on for additional advanced training before actually being deployed on missions.

(See images of O'Neil's orders and the insignia.)

Combined Reconnaissance Team action figuresCRT Squad: Combined Reconnaissance Team - A hobbyist presents photographs of his CRT action figures, with the caption, "Got the idea from the movie GI Jane. Not sure if it is a real unit, but the premise is a team that is combined of operators from all the Special Forces: Navy SEAL, Green Beret, Delta, Force Recon. You get the picture. This is my Desert Ops CRT." His CRT Squad is male-only.
G.I. Jane: A Review - Fraser Ronald of found G.I. Jane to be entertaining, but was annoyed with the "Combined Reconnaissance Team" concept, saying, "I have actually read a fair amount about the Special Operations Command in the US, including the US Navy SEALs, and I have never heard of a CRT. I'm not exactly sure why Demi couldn't simply be joining the SEALs? Why the CRT? Aren't the SEALs cool enough? Further, the Brass brag to the Politico about the 60% dropout rate in CRT training. 60%? That's easy! The dropout rate in BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs) training is more than 75%."

G.I. Jane References: Fraternization

Lieutenant O'Neil is an officer. She outranks the Command Master Chief, who is a very senior "enlisted member."

The regulations seem to be designed to specify some clearly damaging behavior but also to leave room for interpretation to cover cases they didn't foresee. I'm assuming a commanding officer would have some flexibility with a case like this.

As long as Urgayle and O'Neil are no longer in a teacher student relationship and are not serving in the same unit or chain of command, I don't think that a relationship between them would be considered "not respect[ing] differences in rank and grade."

But the language is so open-ended that I'm guessing a person with an agenda might be able to level a fraternization charge against O'Neil (the officer) anyway. Given the delicacy of her situation, she could be vulnerable to that. Military Fraternization - Readable article on general fraternization issues. Navy Fraternization Regulations - Navy regulations in HTML instead of PDF. References OPNAVINST 5370.2B. I am assuming that this page and the official regulations document contain identical content but have not verified that.
Comparative Military Ranks - From, not an official military source. Displays the relative ranks for officers and enlisted members. Explains on a linked page that Command Master Chief Petty Officer (CMCPO) is actually a position rather than a rank. That is, Urgayle's rank is Master Chief Petty Officer, the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy, but he is serving as the senior enlisted person of the Catalano training facility, reporting directly to the Commanding Officer, Captain Salem.
Complaint Processes (Fraternization) - From the Office of the Naval Inspector General. References OPNAVINST 5370.2B but actually puts forth a more inclusive definition "The Navy prohibits personal and business relationships between officers and enlisted members, calling them prejudicial to good order and discipline. Personal relationships include dating, cohabitation and any sexual relationship." No exceptions are listed.
OPNAVINST 5370.2B (PDF) - Actual USN regulations regarding fraternization. Very readable. Summary: "Personal relationships between officer and enlisted members that are unduly familiar and that do not respect differences in rank and grade are prohibited, and violate long-standing custom and tradition of the naval service." [fixed link 24-jun]

G.I. Jane References: Hand Signals

How to interpret those mysterious signals used in close-quarter combat by SEALs and other special operations groups.

Shotgun hand signalHand and Arm Signals - Illustrations of common signals used by military and SWAT teams in Close Range Engagement (C.R.E.) operations.
Shotgun hand signalHand and Arm Signals - Illustrations of common signals used by military and SWAT teams in Close Range Engagement (C.R.E.) operations. (alternate source)
Hand signal man meets real humansParody of Hand Signals - Same illustrations of common signals used by military and SWAT teams in Close Range Engagement (C.R.E.) operations -- but with much more entertaining labels.

G.I. Jane References: Navy Dive Schools

As women are not allowed to become SEALs, the Navy offers the following alternatives for females.

Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) - A unique training command, which serves as the center of all U.S. Navy Diving. Located in Panama City, Florida, the school provides both a controlled diving environment as well as direct access to open water diving throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

NDSTC trains all military divers with the exception of Navy Special Warfare (SEALS) and Special Forces. The training includes Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and all Marine Corps Combatant divers.
Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal - A joint-service training facility for members of the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Air Force. Oversight and management is the responsibility of the Department of the Navy. Their mission is to train officers and enlisted personnel in the best methods of detection, identification, render safe, and disposal of explosive ordnance and related devices.

This includes known foreign ordnance, chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, clandestine improvised devices and any and all ordnance/devices which may be encountered under water (Navy students only). NAVSCOLEOD is a tenant command at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

G.I. Jane References: Navy Uniforms

Navy Uniform Trivia - From, a page of interesting factoids about proper U.S. Navy uniform usage.
Navy Lieutenant shoulder stripesRank Insignia of the U.S. Armed Forces - From the U.S. Department of Defense official site, illustrations depicting rank insignia used for both officers and enlisted personnel, including insignia pins, stripes and other devices. Naval officers wear distinctively different rank devices depending upon the uniform they're wearing. The three basic uniforms and rank devices used are: khakis, collar insignia pins; whites, stripes on shoulder boards; and blues, stripes sewn on the lower coat sleeves.

See also this two-page PDF file with the same information.
U.S. Navy "summer white" uniform for chief petty officerUnited States Navy Uniform Regulations - From the U.S. Navy official web site, detailed descriptions of various uniform components plus regulations spelling out which uniforms can/should be worn in which situations. Each section available in either HTML or PDF, with black and white photographs. Although the photos for women depict skirts and heeled pumps, women may substitute slacks and flat-soled shoes, and are required to do so on shipboard or whenever conditions make skirts and heels unsafe.
Mens Summer Working Khaki uniformUnited States Navy Uniforms - Color photographs and descriptions of various U.S. Navy uniforms, along with the military and social context in which each is worn. Details include fabric content and the wearing of caps, insignia and decorations. The author also mentions which uniforms were most popular in movies.

G.I. Jane References: SEAL Books & Movies

Books and other movies that feature SEALs in action.

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War - Review of the book and movie, written by an Air Force colonel. He calls the book an "historical document written in the same style as a memoir", and says both book and movie are accurate: "The book and movie both provide exceptional insight into the reasons why Delta Force, Air Force combat search and rescue (CSAR) assets, Navy SEALs, and Army Rangers--the finest ground operators in the world, fielding state-of-the-art equipment--experienced over 50 percent casualties in 18 hours of fighting against a third world enemy who had little, if any, formal military training and fought only with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG)."

He concludes, "Everyone in the Air Force should either read Black Hawk Down or watch the movie version--preferably do both."
Navy SEALs DVD coverNavy SEALs: BUD/S Class 234 - From the Discovery Channel, a documentary following class 234 through BUD/S training as the 83 class members gradually drop down to 32. Five hours on three DVDs, very detailed. Six chapters: "Welcome to Buds," "It Pays to Be a Winner," "Two Weeks and a Long Day," "Hellweek," "The Only Easy Day was Yesterday" and "The Homestretch." Also available for rental through Netflix.
Navy pilot and Bruce Willis on the set of "Tears of the Sun"Tears of the Sun: Navy 'stars' in Hollywood blockbuster - Navy personnel who worked as consultants or extras for the Bruce Willis movie, Tears of the Sun, give it a thumbs up for accurately portraying the Navy and the work of the SEALs.

G.I. Jane References: Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Training

Resources for those interested in the issues of women in combat and/or curious about the accuracy of G.I. Jane's portrayal of SERE training. Note that standard SEAL training starts with BUD/S. SERE is a separate course, offered in various forms by different branches of the military. SERE's primary focus is on survival training, which G.I. Jane did not address. Specifics about the limits to which trainers will go during the resistance portion of SERE (mock POW exercises) are difficult to pin down but speculation is abundant.

'GI Jane' | Hollywood's fanciful tale perpetuates feminist myths - Elaine Donnelly, member of 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, argues that women do not belong in combat positions, let alone in the SEALs. She also contends that G.I. Jane's portrayal of SEAL training, particularly the SERE POW simulation, was wildly unrealistic. (Note: she reports that the film shows the master chief raping O'Neil; in fact he only threatens to do so.) First published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, 31-Aug-1997. Links to other resources with similar viewpoints.
AR 350-30. Code of Conduct, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Training (PDF) - Detailed Army regulations for SERE. Interesting. Specifies that "during training, capturing forces or units will treat simulated prisoners exactly according to the GPW" (Geneva POW conventions).
Lessons Learned: Have Military Scandals Meant Nothing? (PDF) - Position paper by Dorothy Mackey, STAMP Exec. Director, describes a SERE POW simulation in which a female Air Force Academy cadet was beaten unconscious and subjected to "simulated rape." The paper claims that though the AFA temporarily dropped SERE training, they have "recently ... considered bringing back SERE training with 'simulated rape.'"
Marine Corps SERE Training - Describes a SERE course, with emphasis on survival training. Describes POW internment and forced labor but interrogation techniques are not detailed.
NavySEALs Comm Shack Forum Discussion on SERE - One of several threads with hints, speculation and rumors about SERE training. Glutton for punishment? See also this one and this one.
SERE captureSurvival Training - Description of the SERE Level-C training course for Army Rangers, including photographs and details from an August 2002 CNN "inside look." Article states that "The Army strictly limits how harsh the physical and mental pressures can be [in the mock POW camp]. But it will not publicly disclose what the limits are so it can maximize the anxiety for future students."

G.I. Jane References: U.S. Navy SEAL Training

As mentioned above in the "Combined Reconnaissance Team" section, the trainees in G.I. Jane are not actually going through SEAL training. They are in a "SEAL/CRT Selection Program," invented for the movie.

For those of you interested in actual standard SEAL training, here are some references. It begins with a six-month course entitled "Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL" (BUD/S). SERE is a separate course, offered in various forms by different branches of the military.

Tom Rancich and fellow BUD/S candidatesLt Cdr Tom Rancich, Navy SEAL (retired) - Tom Rancich, then a Navy lieutenant, was one of the leaders of his BUD/S class in 1992. He was featured in an article about Hell Week written by Douglas C. Waller for Newsweek. The article later became part of Waller's book, Commandos. Tom went on to serve 13 years leading SEAL platoons and studying the roots of terrorism. The website features a copy of the Hell Week article and more information about Tom Rancich and his work.
Navy SEALsNaval Special Warfare Center: (BUD/S) Training - Description of SEAL training from the official US Navy SEAL web site. Site also contains a wide variety of history and other SEALs background information. See also the U.S. Navy's SEAL training page.
Navy logoNavy US Navy SEAL Training BUD/S - In-depth description of the program most similar to the one depicted in G.I. Jane, with video clips, photographs, and FAQs. See also picture archive.
civilians after a SEAL training coursePeter Goes to Boot Camp - Amusing and enlightening daily journal written by an average New York City resident as he endures a 10-day training course taught by former Navy SEAL Instructor John "Jack" Walston. More information about the courses at The Original SEAL Physical Training Course.

An excerpt: "Final thought I got home this morning around 7:30am, and jumped in the shower. I was doing some work at Venture Downtown, and needed to be dressed and out the door. I got out of the shower, and attempted to put on deodorant. I found that I couldn't hold my arm up on its own. I had to lift my arm up with my other hand, grab the top of the bathroom vanity, take the deodorant in the other hand, and apply it. I couldn't believe it, until I realized that I didn't believe the guy who said that after his first day, he had to wash his hair by spraying the shampoo on the wall and rubbing his hair against the wall, into the shampoo. I believe him now."
BUD/S traineesReinventing BUD/S - Article from All Hands, official U.S. Navy magazine, vividly describes a BUD/S training program. April 2001.
Navy SEALs in a huddleRichard D. Schoenberg Photography - Go to page two of the portfolios for a slide show featuring sixty outstanding photographs of Navy SEALs in training at Coronado. These were selected from approximately 15,000 images that were taken in 2003. A book of this work is due to be published in 2004.
Trident insignia of the SEALsU.S. Naval Special Warfare Command Missions & History - U.S. Navy site describes the work of the SEALs, the history of the organization, and the training facility at Coronado, in San Diego. This is where Viggo Mortensen met with SEAL trainers in his research for the part of Master Chief Urgayle.

G.I. Jane References: Women in Combat

Salon logoBad news for G.I. Jane? - Salon magazine's interview with Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, about the Pentagon's recommendations on separating genders in the military, the physical differences between men and women and the risks of putting pregnant women on combat ships. Published 09-Jan-1998.
ABC News logoGirl Power: Women Join the Boys in Combat, But Not Without a Fight - An in-depth piece on the political and military history of women in combat, and discussion of both practical and social issues. By Leela Jacinto, ABC News, 14-Jan-2003.
Military Women.orgMilitary Woman Issues - Resources for women in the military, including a lengthy and continuing discussion of whether women should be in combat roles. Scroll down to 27 Jan 97 on the first combat discussion page for the view of one Navy SEAL regarding integration of women into their ranks.
Center for Defense Information logoWomen in the Military: Combat Roles Considered - From the archives of the independent research organization, Center for Defense Information, a background piece on the issues surrounding women in combat. Conclusion: "If the United States is to remain the world's most capable and most powerful military power, we need to have the best person in each job, regardless of their gender."

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