The very arduous SAS Pre Selection Training has a success rate of approximately 10%. Even after being “badged”, the probationary period can see further applicants returned to their original units.
The SAS Pre Selection Training is 14 days long. Preselection ensures that those wanting to take on the challenge have the necessary navigation skills required to even attempt SAS selection. Even on passing one of the world’s hardest tests to enter one of the world’s most elite of the Special Forces there is still a further 9 months of training, learning, taking in so much more information. Failure at any stage means being returned to their original unit.
Inside of two weeks two thirds of candidates are typically eliminated from the selection process. It is evident that the training is as much about mental toughness as it is physical, the need to carry on well beyond what you would physically be able to manage. This ensures that, operationally the SAS trooper can manage beyond the limits of conventional forces on tasks which call on very special people in the most arduous of conditions working in very small teams. Often there is no support.
Navigating over hard Waikato farmland at night is a key feature of the SAS Pre Selection Training, having to make it to key map references. This must be done at an average of 3 kilometers an hour. To be too slow means you’re out. All this on limited food intake. All part of testing endurance and determination while partaking in these solo efforts.
The Jerry Can test finds the candidates carrying a 25kg Jerry Can filled to the brim over the Kaipara sand dunes. There is always an extra can which has each candidate taking turns to carry two at once.
Despite making good times and performing well some simply give it away, deciding that the SAS is not what they want. A great deal of the difficulty comes from not knowing when a given exercise is going to end. You must carry on regardless, if you want to make it.
Surviving candidates are thrown head first into a Escape and Evasion test where SAS staff hunt them down relentlessly. This tests the resolve of the men to their limits and beyond. “Hare and Hound” is relegated within a specific area and if the candidate is caught outside that area, they are put back 10 kilometres. Because this test must be competed within a given time, including navigating through very dense forest, no one wants to go outside the set boundary. Pure exhaustion might inadvertently lead to that anyway.
To finish there is a 60km trek through Woodhall Forest, reputed to be the hardest part of the whole ordeal. Even after completion some who have made it to the end are not selected. They are deemed to immature or do not fit the psychological profile required.
Once badged the NZSAS trooper wears the coveted sand beret, like that of the British SAS or Australian SASR. This has only been instituted since around 1986, where previously, rather than the sand coloured beret, the red beret with SAS badge was worn. This is significant in New Zealand where there is no Airborne unit, which, traditionally world wide airborne personnel wear the red beret. The sand coloured beret represents those founding days in the deserts of North Africa over 60 years ago.airborne personnel wear the red beret. The sand coloured beret represents those founding days in the deserts of North Africa over 60 years ago.