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US Navy SEALs

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US Navy SEALs
US Navy SEALs in woodlands operation. (Source: unknown.)

Unit Profile

The United States Navy SEALs are the U.S. Navy's Special Operations Force (SOF). The force specialises in Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD) and SEa, Air, or Land (SEAL) operations. SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) teams go through a tough military training. This training or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) is conducted at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado. Students encounter obstacles that develop and test their stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team.

On January 1st, 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed documents to expand the use of unconventional warfare. In response to the changing military role, the Navy commissioned SEAL Teams One and Two. Formed entirely with personnel from the UDTs, the SEAL Teams were established to conduct counter guerrilla warfare and clandestine operations in maritime and riverine environments.

In January 1962, the first SEAL Teams were commissioned to conduct unconventional warfare, counter- guerrilla warfare, and clandestine operations in maritime and riverine environments. These Teams were SEAL Team One on the West coast and SEAL Team Two on the East coast.

The teams were sent on deployment almost immediately after they had come operational. THeir first deployment was during the Cuban MIssile Crisis in 1962. During that same time they were sent to Vietnam where they stayed until 1973.

The first large operation after Vietnam, the SEAL's took part in was Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983. In that same year all remaining Underwater Demolition Teams were redesignated as SEAL or SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Teams. In 1989 they came into action in Panama during Operation Just Cause, The Gulf war in 1990 and 1991. In 1992 and 1993 the unit operated in Somalia as part of Task Force Ranger during Operation Restore Hope. More recent they hunted war criminals in the Former Yugoslavia.

SEAL Team Seven and SEAL Team Ten were formed in March and April 2002. They used personnel from the other six teams. Each of the eight teams now in the force includes six platoons, compared to eight platoons earlier. The eight teams allow a more stable continuous deployment cycle.

Mission

  • Primary mission: Unconventional warfare
  • Secondary mission: Counter Revolutionary Warfare

Raised and Disbanded

  • Raised: January 1962

Units

  • SEAL Team One
  • SEAL Team Two
  • SEAL Team Three
  • SEAL Team Four
  • SEAL Team Five
  • SEAL Team Six (Disbanded 1995)
  • SEAL Team Seven
  • SEAL Team Eight
  • SEAL Team Ten
  • Development Group or DEVGROUP (Raised 1995)

Headquarters

  • Coronado, California, USA
    Little Creek, Virginia, USA
US Navy SEALs
US Navy SEALs. (Source: unknown.)

History

Origin

The U.S. Navy's premier Special Operations Force are the SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) teams that trace their history to the first group of volunteers selected from the Naval Construction Battalions (SeaBees) in the spring of 1943. These volunteers were organised into special teams called ‘Navy Combat Demolition Units’ (NCDUs). The units were tasked with reconnoitring and clearing beach obstacles for troops going ashore during amphibious landings, and evolved into Combat Swimmer Reconnaissance Units. The NCDUs distinguished themselves during World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.

In 1947, the Navy organized its first underwater offensive strike units. During the Korean Conflict , these Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) took part in the landing at Inchon as well as other missions including demolition raids on bridges and tunnels accessible from the water. They also conducted limited minesweeping operations in harbours and rivers.

During the 1960's, each branch of the armed forces formed its own counterinsurgency force. The Navy utilised UDT personnel to form separate units called SEAL teams. January of 1962 marked the commissioning of SEAL Team ONE in the Pacific Fleet and SEAL Team TWO in the Atlantic Fleet. Team Two was trained in Little Creek, Virginia, and Team One was trained in Coronado, California. Both SEAL Teams were among the first units called to mobilise during the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis. These teams were developed to conduct unconventional warfare and clandestine operations in both blue and brown water environments.

Vietnam

Concurrently, Naval Operations Support Groups were formed to aid UDTs, SEAL teams, and two other unique units —Boat Support and Beach Jumpers— in administration, planning, research, and development. During the Vietnam War , UDT's performed reconnaissance missions and SEAl teams carried out numerous offensive operations. In 1967, the Naval Operations Support Groups were renamed ‘Naval Special Warfare Groups’ (NSWGs) as involvement increased in limited conflicts and special operations.

During that same period of time SEAL operators were sent to Vietnam as advisors to the Southern Vietnamese military forces. As the war got more intense they served in assaults and patrols through the Mekong Delta and Rung Sat Special Zone. Teams of six to eight SEAL's would patrol to an ambush area or village to gain intelligence.

They were known to target the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army infrastructures, focusing on leaders and political figures. They were referred to by the North Vietnamese as the Men with green Faces. Large rewards were promised to soldiers who killed or captured a SEAL. No SEAL however was ever captured by a North Vietnamese soldier. The last SEAL platoon departed Vietnam on December 7th 1971. The last SEAL advisor left Vietnam in March 1973. During this period of time the SEAL force was expanded rapidly to six teams. The SEAL teams lost 46 members but claim to have killed 200 times that amount of Viet Cong soldiers. Their reputation with the Vietnamese is described by their nickname, the green faced devils.

US Navy SEALs in Vietnam
US Navy SEALs in Vietnam. (Source: unknown.)

Post Vietnam Era

In 1983, existing UD's were re-designated as ‘SEAL teams’ or ‘SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams’ and the requirement for hydro graphic reconnaissance and underwater demolition became ‘SEAL missions’.

The first large operation after Vietnam, the SEAL's took part in was Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983. In that same year all remaining Underwater Demolition Teams were redesignated as SEAL or SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Teams. In 1989 they came into action in Panama during Operation Just Cause, The Gulf war in 1990 and 1991. During Operation Desert Storm the Navy SEALs performed over 200 missions without losing a single men. In 1992 and 1993 the unit operated in Somalia as part of Task Force Ranger during Operation Restore Hope. At the end of the 20th century they hunted war criminals in the Former Yugoslavia.

The Naval Special Warfare Command was commissioned April 16th, 1987, at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. Its mission is to prepare Naval Special Warfare forces to carry out their assigned missions and to develop special operations strategy, doctrine, and tactics.

In 1995 SEAL Team Six, the SEAL's Counter Revolutionary Warfare unit, was disbanded. It was replaced by the Development Group or DEVGROUP. This unit was on paper raised as a test and evaluation unit.

In 2001 the SEALS has a large deployment during the US invasion of Afghanistan. From that time on they were constantly present in that region.

US Navy SEALs
Navy SEALs and Polish GROM operators posing after action in Iraq in 2003. (Source: unknown.)

Operations

1963 First Vietnam War-detachment of elements of SEAL Team One in Da Nang, Vietnam to serve under the command of the CIA-COS.
1964 Seals became a component of the military-CINC of Vietnam’s theatre.
October 25th 1983 Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada
December 20th 1989 Operation Just Cause in Panama
August 14th 1992 - December 1993 Operations Provide Relief, Restore Hope, Continue Hope in Somalia
March 2002 Operation Anaconda in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
March 2003 Participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
US Navy SEALs Afghanistan
Task Force K-Bar SEALs searching munitions found in the Zhawar Kili cave complex, Afghanistan, Jan. 14, 2002. (Source: unknown.)

Organization

All SEAL Teams are Commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5). Until 2002 a SEAL team consisted of eight operational SEAL platoons and a headquarters element. Nowadays a SEAL team has six platoons. The SEAL platoon is the largest operational element that will normally be employed to conduct a tactical mission. Multi-platoon operations should not be planned or conducted without extensive preparations and rehearsals. A SEAL platoon is normally commanded by a Navy Lieutenant (O-3). A platoon consists of 16 SEAL's and may divide into two squads or four elements. All SEAL platoon personnel are dive, parachute, and demolitions qualified.

Until 2002 deployed platoons and other Naval Special Warfare forces would operate under the operational control of a forward-deployed SEAL Team commander while senior SEAL team leadership would remain at the home base. From 2002 on the SEAL team leadership deploys overseas with the team.

SEAL teams are allocated to a specific region. Basically there are two kind of teams, West Coast and East Coast Teams.

The eight teams allow a more stable continuous deployment cycle. One team from each coast will be deployed overseas for six months. This team will be successively relieved by other teams as they complete their 18-month interdeployment training cycles.

In each cycle, the SEAL's will train as individuals for six months and for another six months as SEAL teams. Six months before deployment, the teams will be joined by Special Boat detachments, SEAL delivery vehicles, mobile communications teams, tactical crypto logic support personnel, and explosive ordnance disposal personnel. These teams will be designated as Naval Special Warfare squadrons and train together before deploying as a unit. Earlier detachments would not join the teams until deployment.

The command structure has also been extensively changed. Under former SEAL team operations, individual platoons would deploy while the team command element remained at the home base. From 2002 on the SEAL team leadership will join the team in their overseas deployment.

The deployed teams are supported by specially created Logistic Support Units. These units are assigned to the Naval Special Warfare groups on each coast. They will consolidate the administrative and support functions formerly carried out by each team. This allows the team to focus on training and operations.

US Navy SEALs Iraq
US Navy SEALs in Iraq. (Source: unknown.)

January 1962

  • West Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 1
  • East Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 2

Vietnam Era

  • West Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 1
    • SEAL Team 3
    • SEAL Team 5
  • East Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 2
    • SEAL Team 4
    • SEAL Team 8

May 1981

  • West Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 1
    • SEAL Team 3
    • SEAL Team 5
  • East Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 2
    • SEAL Team 4
    • SEAL Team 8
  • SEAL Team 6

1995

  • West Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 1
    • SEAL Team 3
    • SEAL Team 5
  • East Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 2
    • SEAL Team 4
    • SEAL Team 8
  • Naval Special Warfare Development Group, (DEVGRU)

April 2002

  • West Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 1
    • SEAL Team 3
    • SEAL Team 5
    • SEAL Team 7
  • East Coast Teams
    • SEAL Team 2
    • SEAL Team 4
    • SEAL Team 8
    • SEAL Team 10
  • Naval Special Warfare Development Group, (DEVGRU)
US Navy SEALs
US Navy SEALs - Geared Up. (Source: SEAL.Navy.mil.)

Equipment

US Navy SEAL High Altitude Low Opening (HALO)

  • CWU 27/P Flight Suit
  • STRIKE Commando Recon Vest
  • NOMEX Flight Gloves
  • Protech Crash Helmet
  • PVS-21 Night Vision Goggles
  • ESS Profile Night Vision Goggles
  • Oakley Assault Boot
  • 12 Channel Global Positioning System
  • Global Positioning System Pouch
  • Hatch Tactical Centurion Knee Pads
  • HALO Parachute
  • Lightfighter (Airborne) R.A.I.D. Pack
  • Visual Identification Projector Signal Light
  • LASH II Headset
  • Multi Purpose Knife
  • HALO Altimeter
  • MCU 2/P Gas Mask
  • Helicopter Aircrew Breating Device
  • MS-2000(M) Strobe Light
  • Cyalium Light Sticks
  • SABER I Radio
  • Canteen
  • Drop Leg Platform W/ MOLLE System Gas Mask Carrier
  • Underwater Demolition Team Life Preserver
US Navy SEALs
US Navy SEALs. (Source: unknown.)

U.S. Navy SEAL Underwater Demolition Team (UDT)

  • Version 5 RAID Battle Dress Uniform
  • Jungle Hat
  • Tactical Sure Fire Vests

or

  • Military Wetsuit
  • Tactical Sure Fire vestsPVS-21 NVG W/ Re-focus Lens & Face Mount
  • Dive Mask
  • Titanium Dive Gloves
US Navy SEALs
US Navy SEAls members emerge from the water during tactical warfare training. The SEAL member in the foreground is armed with an M-16A1 rifle equipped with an M203 grenade launcher. The SEAL member on the right is armed with an HK-33KA1 rifle. (Source: unknown.)

Other Equipment

  • Secumar Vest
  • Nomex Flight Gloves
  • PVS-21 NVG w/ Re-focus Lens & Face Mount
  • Dive Mask
  • SF TASC Headset W/ New PTT Switch
  • LAR-V Mod 2 Rebreather
  • Combat Diver Lanyard
  • Military Diver Navigation Broad
  • Dive Fins
  • Waterproof Utility Pouch
  • Combat Diver Transceiver
  • Dive Boots
  • Military Depth Gauge
  • Dive Compass
  • Visual Identification Projector Signal Light
  • G Watch
  • Cover Buttpack
  • Subload
  • Weight Belt

U.S. Navy SEAL Close Quartered Battle (CQB)

  • PRO-TEC Half Head Helmet
  • NVG Helmet Mount
  • Raid Battle Dress Uniform or Flight Suit
  • Personal Retention Lanyard
  • Forearm Shot Shell Holder
  • Belt with Weapon Catch
  • Plate Carrier Harness (Interchangeable Upgrade Plate)
  • Drop Leg Platform
  • Hydration System Carrier
  • Compass / Strobe Pouch
  • Magpul Mss M93
  • SPIE Harness
  • Rappelling Gloves
  • Nomex Flight Gloves
  • T-800 Goggles
  • Admin / Compass / Flash Pouch
  • Navy SEAL Dive Watch
  • Multi Purpose Knife (MPK)
  • SOE Rigger’s Belt

U.S. Navy VBSS

  • Raid Battle Dress Uniform (B.D.U.) or Flight Suit
  • TP-1E Body Armour
  • ABA tactical vest
  • PRO-TEC Helmet Special
  • Skydiving Goggles (modified)
  • AN/PVS-5A Night Vision Goggles
  • Tactical back pack
  • MCU 2/P gas mask Carrier
  • Canteen pouch with Strobo Light
  • Drop leg holster + dual magazine pouch
  • M9 Pistols
  • Cyalium Light Sticks
  • Leg Pouch General Purpose
  • GI Rappelling Gloves
  • GORE-TEX Boots
  • LPU-21/P life preserver
  • Navy SEAL Combat Flotation Vest
  • Tactical Light

Weapons

Pistols

  • Colt Government M1911A1
  • Smith & Wesson Model 39/Mark 22 Mod 0
  • Beretta M92F/FS (M9 Pistol)
  • Heckler & Koch MK23 Mod 0 (SOCOM pistol)
  • SIG-Sauer P226

Submachine Guns

  • Thompson submachine gun series
  • Ingram Model 10 and Model 11
  • Heckler & Koch MP series

Rifles

  • Colt M16
  • Colt M4
  • M14 battle rifle
  • Heckler & Koch G-series
  • Kalashnikov AK-47

Sniper Rifles

  • Barrett M82 series .50 caliber sniper rifles
  • M-21, and KAC SR-25 sniper rifles
US Navy SEALs
US Navy SEALs. (Source: unknown.)

Support Weapons

  • AT-4 anti-tank rockets
  • M-870 Shotgun
  • M-60 Machinegun
  • M-79 Grenade Launcher
  • MK-43 & M-2HB Machineguns
  • SAW

Vehicles

  • Desert Patrol Vehicle
  • High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle
US Navy SEALs
US Navy SEALs - DPV Buggies. (Source: SEAL.Navy.mil.)

Training

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training is conducted at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado (San Diego, CA) and lasts 26 weeks.

SEAL training and duty is voluntary. Many BUD/S students find that they do not have the desire to continue to endure the physical and mental strain of training, and subsequently Drop On Request, or DOR, from the course. Officer and enlisted personnel go through the same training program, and it is designed to develop and test their stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team. The tradition of DOR consists of dropping one's helmet liner next to a pole with a brass ship’s bell attached to it, and ringing the bell three times. Classes typically lose around 70–80% of their trainees — either due to DORs or injuries sustained during training. The Navy will not release exact numbers, either percentages or raw figures, of the attrition rate for BUD/S. Most trainees are eliminated prior to completion of Hell Week and far fewer “brown shirts” (those who have made it through Hell Week wear brown t-shirts instead of white) quit the BUD/S program.

There is no way to predict what percentage of trainees will DOR during BUD/S. SEAL instructors say that in every class, approximately 10 percent of the students simply do not have the physical ability to complete the training. Another 10–15 percent will definitely make it through unless they sustain a serious physical injury. The other 75–80 percent is “up for grabs” depending on their motivation. During one BUD/S class, no one completed the six-month program.

A trainee who DOR’s from First Phase before the completion of Hell Week must start from the beginning of INDOC if they subsequently reapply to the BUD/S program and are accepted. They must complete Hell Week again. Trainees who rolled back after completing Hell Week due to injury or another factor are rolled into whatever day of training a board of instructors and other individuals deem necessary. Some are back to day 1–1 of 1st Phase, while others may be rolled into day 5–1. Any BUD/S trainee who drops on request after Hell Week goes through the same out processing as a trainee who quits before or during Hell Week. If they reapply to BUD/S, they must also complete Hell Week again.

There are many SEALs who have attempted BUD/S two or even perhaps three times before successfully completing training. There is only one person who has successfully completed Hell Week three times. He completed training after his third application to BUD/S.

US Navy SEALs Hell Week
US Navy SEALs - Hell Week. (Source: unknown.)

PST

Assignment to BUD/S is conditional on passing the Physical Screening Test. The Physical Screening Test is given to ensure that all applicants for SEAL program display a standard level of athletic proficiency before arriving at BUD/S. The PST requires the following minimums:

  • 500-yard swim using breast or side stroke in under 12:30
  • At least 42 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • At least 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • At least 6 pull-ups (no time limit)
  • Run 1.5 miles in boots and long pants in under 11:30
  • Members’ vision must be 20/200 uncorrected and correctable to 20/20. SEAL candidates may qualify for PRK or LASIK surgery to correct their vision

Again, the above are the minimum requirements necessary to qualify for BUD/S. Prospective trainees are expected to far exceed these minimums. Competitive scores are as follows:

  • 500-yard swim using breast or combat side stroke in less than 10:00
  • 79 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • 79 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • 11 pull-ups (no time limit)
  • Run 1.5 miles in boots and long pants in under 10:20

INDOC

Upon arrival at Naval Special Warfare Command, check-ins for BUD/S are immediately placed into a pre-indoc phase of training known as “PTRR”, or Physical Training Rest and Recuperation. PTRR is also where all of the “roll-backs” are placed while waiting to be put into a class. Once additional medical screening is given, and after enough BUD/S candidates arrive for the same class, organised physical training begins.

BUD/S consists of a five-week “Indoctrination Course”, known as INDOC.

First Phase

The first phase is covering physical conditioning and lasts eight weeks. This phase is designed to test the students mental prowess and physical endurance. The first two weeks of the First Phase are spent working up to the third week, better known as 'Hell Week.

During this period, from Sunday evening until Friday afternoon, trainees get a total of approximately four hours of sleep, (exactly how much depends upon the schedule set by the instructors, and how closely the trainees can be kept to that schedule) while subjected to intense physical stress. Trainees are almost always wet and sandy and develop what is known as the “Hell Week shuffle”, which is a way of walking that keeps salt-stained clothing away from chafed skin. The last day of Hell Week is known as “So Sorry Day”, during which the BUD/S students are made to crawl and slither their way through scum-covered water in the “demo pits” as automatic weapons fire blank rounds over their heads and artillery simulators explode around them.

During the entire First Phase, a BUD/S student will be tested regularly in timed runs (four miles), timed swims (two miles) and a timed obstacle course. First Phase teaches students the importance of cool-headedness, perseverance and, most importantly, teamwork.

Second Phase

The second phase covers diving and also lasts eight weeks. In this phase students will learn to dive using SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Students will be taught to use both an open and closed circuit diving system. Physical conditioning continues but is not stressed as much as in First Phase. Second Phase transforms students into Basic Combat Divers.

Third Phase

The last phase is covering land warfare and lasts nine weeks. Students will travel to San Clemente Island and learn the basics in demolitions, reconnaissance and land warfare. Physical training picks up again to challenge the students' endurance. Students are also taught land navigation, small unit tactics, patrolling techniques, rappelling, infantry tactics and military explosives.

Advanced Training

After BUD/S, students must then attend the Navy’s Strategic Air Operations (SAO) school in the desert outside of San Diego. Until 2003, the Army trained Navy Special Warfare teams to freefall. The new school allows more SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC) to become free-fall and HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) qualified than ever before. Upon completion of the three-week SAO school, they receive their Naval Special Warfare Classification (NEC) code. Finally, the last requirement before going to a team requires students to go through SEAL Qualification Training, or SQT, which is a 15-week course. This course is also conducted in and around the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. After completion of SQT training, students are then considered SEALs and are awarded the SEAL pin, or Trident. Upon assignment to a team, the new SEALs undergo more advanced training during the 18 month work-up to their first 6 month deployment and are not considered experienced until having completed at least three deployments.

US Navy SEALs
Paddling to Shore. (Source: SEAL.Navy.mil.)

Video: US Navy SEALs sniper

References


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