Former SEAL Joel Lambert is on Discovery's show 'Lone Target' (International Networks/Scott San via Discovery Cha)
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‘Lone Target’ premiered Jan. 1 and airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard. If you’re overseas, the show will begin airing in February in 200 countries but with a blunter title: “Manhunt.”
Discovery Channel calls it “the ultimate chase in a real-life game of cat-and-mouse.” There’s a man on the run, with little more than a canteen. In pursuit are the world’s foremost military and law enforcement trackers.
Too bad for the trackers, though. Joel Lambert is a former SEAL.
The 41-year-old survivalist is the star of the channel’s new series “Lone Target,” a reality program that drops Lambert each week in the middle of nowhere with 48 hours to evade his pursuers.
He goes up against the Army’s Phantom Recon unit at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., tonight, attempting to outsmart the unmanned aerial drones tracking his movements through the desert.
Lambert, 41, is a former special warfare operator first class who served about 10 years and separated in 2007. He deployed to Kosovo and Afghanistan and received an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device.
Lambert said he “smashed himself up pretty bad” at the end of his career and his operational capabilities were limited.
So he left service and soon found himself as a weapons consultant on the first two “Transformers” movies.
A military liaison for director Michael Bay told Lambert that the Discovery Channel was looking for a former spec ops type for a reality show, and he jumped at the chance to use his skills again.
Q. What kind of SEAL training prepared you for this kind of survival?
A. In the SEAL teams, you kind of find what you like and you pick your proclivities and you get your schools and your education and your training along the lines of the stuff you’re really enjoying.
The tracking stuff, and the survival stuff — I think I went to three different [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] schools when I was in the teams. I have no idea why I did that! Just a glutton for punishment, I guess. So I got a lot of the tracking and counter-tracking, survival, and I got a lot of it on my own as well.
Q. How did you pick who would track you?
A. To be honest, the ones that we took for this first season are the ones that got onboard first.
From Poland, which had just massive assets. Helicopters, thermal imaging, SWAT teams, tracking dogs, ATVs, horses. Like 75 or 80 personnel.
To the Phillippines, the scout rangers, which are some of the best jungle trackers in the world.
South Africa, bushmen trackers, guys from the tribes. Having them tracking, and lions and rhinos and leopards and cheetahs and crocs in front of me, around every corner. It was pretty brutal.
Q. You worked with an Army team as well. Was there any rivalry there?
A. The rivalry, I don’t really subscribe to all that stuff. The warrior brotherhood stretches across a lot of boundaries.
These guys, they were fantastic. And they had drones! What am I going to do with that? It limits my options quite a bit. The terrain [in Arizona] was brutal.
I had to make a point that was only 2 kilometers away, but it was also 2 kilometers in elevation. So I basically had to make a 45-degree climb and I’m really dehydrated, out of water, no food. But I made them work.
Q. Who’s on your wish list for next season?
A. I would really like to go to Australia. They have some amazing fugitive recovery teams that work with aborigine trackers. I’d also like to go to New Zealand; some of that terrain would be incredible.
I’d love to work some of the Eastern European countries, like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Former soviet bloc countries. They’re in a weird transition in their militaries.
I want to go to Finland, Norway, Sweden. The [Finnish Coastal Jaeger] commandos, they’re great. I’d love to have some of the Jaeger hunt me.
Q. How do you feel about former SEALs using their service to sell entertainment?
A. The Trident that I wear is not mine to do with as I wish. It’s borrowed, and I wear that with the permission and endorsement of the men that went before me, the men that I trained who are in now and operating, and the ones yet to come.
That is not something that I can pimp out, or that I will allow someone to merchandise. I am a former SEAL. But what I’m doing has nothing to do with our operational techniques in the teams, and it never will. And it also will never be something I talk about past a very shallow level.