United States Navy SEALs

United States Navy SEALs
June 13 18:05 2010 Print This Article

The U.S. Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Teams are, along with Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen, the United States’ principal naval special operations force. SEAL teams are trained and have been deployed in a wide variety of missions, including direct action and special reconnaissance operations, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, and other missions. Without exception, all SEALs are male members of either the Navy or the Coast Guard.

The origins of the Navy SEALS go back to World War II when the United States Navy saw that in order for its troops to successfully land on beaches it needed soldiers to reconnoitre the landing beaches, take note of obstacles and defenses, and ultimately guide the landing forces in. As a result the Amphibious Scout and Raider School was established in 1942 by joint- Army and Navy at Fort Pierce, Florida. It was intended to train explosive ordnance disposal personnel and experienced combat swimmers from the Army and Marine Corps, becoming the Naval Combat Demolition Unit, or NCDU.

The NCDU was first employed in Operation Torch during the invasion of North Africa in 1942. This unit became the ‘first group’ specialized in amphibious raids and tactics in the United States Navy.

President John F. Kennedy (a World War II Navy veteran), aware of the situations in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for unconventional warfare and special operations as a measure against guerrilla warfare. In a speech to Congress on May 25, 1961, Kennedy spoke of his deep respect for the United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets). He announced the government’s plan to put a man on the moon, and, in the same speech, allocated over $100 million toward the strengthening of the special operations forces in order to expand American capabilities in unconventional warfare.

The Navy needed to determine its role within the special operations arena. In March 1961, Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, recommended the establishment of guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units. These units would be able to operate from sea, air or land. This was the beginning of the Navy SEALs. Many SEAL members came from the Navy’s UDT units, who had already gained experience in commando warfare in Korea; however, the UDTs were still necessary to the Navy’s amphibious force.

The first two teams were on both US coasts: Team One at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, in San Diego, California and Team Two at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Men of the newly formed SEAL Teams were trained in such unconventional areas as hand-to-hand combat, high-altitude parachuting, demolitions, and foreign languages. Among the varied tools and weapons required by the teams was the M4A1 assault rifle, a new design that evolved from the AR-15 rifle. The SEALs attended UDT replacement training and they spent some time training in UDTs. Upon making it to a SEAL team, they would undergo a SEAL Basic Indoctrination (SBI) training class at Camp Kerry in the Cuyamaca Mountains. After SBI training class, they would enter a platoon and conduct platoon training.

By 1943 had expanded the Amphibious Scout and Raider School syllabus to include underwater demolition.

Following the near-disaster of the landing force on Tarawa in November 1943, when offshore coral reefs and other obstacles in the surf resulted in many of the Marines drowning, Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner directed the formation of nine Underwater Demolition Teams mostly composed of navy personnel from the Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees). These volunteers were organized into special teams and were tasked with reconnoitering and clearing beach obstacles for troops going ashore during amphibious landings, and evolved into Combat Swimmer Reconnaissance Units, becoming the Navy UDTs.

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