The public has always been fascinated by the training that US Special Operations Forces receive. What goes in to making an elite warrior? What skill sets are cultivated and polished in these young men?

To sum it up, we train as we fight.

At places like the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, our Special Operations personnel train for the austere environments which they will face overseas. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of the training is not secretive in nature. However, there is one closely held training secret within the Special Operations community. That secret is out now, and activist groups and politicians are now trying to prevent our soldiers from receiving this life saving training.

It is called Live Tissue Training (LTT), or more often known as the “Goat Lab.” Rumors have persisted in the public sphere about the goat lab for decades. Journalists like Jon Ronson heard bits of information about it, but had no idea what live tissue training was actually about. This led him to come up with some completely absurd conclusions about why Special Forces medics maintain a stock of live goats on Ft. Bragg.

The reality is that these goats are used by the SOCM (Special Operations Combat Medic) course to help train our Special Operations medics to work on casualties under the most realistic conditions possible in a simulated environment; training them as we fight. SOCM does not just train Special Forces medics, but also Navy SEAL and Ranger medics as well. These are the very best combat medics in the world. I’ve seen them in action myself, and have 100% confidence in the product that comes out of the SOCM course at Ft. Bragg.

I have even been able to participate in Live Tissue Training myself a few times, as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant. I found it to be some of the best training I ever had.

This is how it works: soldiers first receive classroom training of life saving medical procedures that they may have to use on their buddies in combat. These techniques range from putting a tourniquet on an amputated limb (the concept proven to the public at large in the recent bombing in Boston), to more complicated procedures like inserting a chest tube or performing a cricothyrotomy.

After the classroom sessions, a training area is set up with stretchers and live goats are brought into the room. A veterinarian supervises this entire block of training to ensure that the Live Tissue Training is conducted properly, and that the training is executed to the highest professional standard. The veterinarian injects the goats with anesthesia to put them under.