The Special Ops – US Navy SEALs was first activated in May of 1961. They have since become one of the top Special Forces in the world. Their SEAL acronym is derived from their dedicated and specialized performance on SEa, Air and Land. The primary role of the US Navy SEALs includes counter-terrorism, direct action, special recon, foreign internal defense and unconventional warfare. Additional roles and responsibilities include counter drug operations, recovery of personnel and hydrographic recon. Their involvement in the war on terrorism is almost exclusively land-based. There are an estimated 2,400 active SEALs.
History of the SEALs
The roots of the US Navy SEALs can be traced back to WWII. During that war, the US Navy realized the need for a covert recon of possible landing beaches and pertinent coastal defenses. This resulted in the formation of the Amphibious Scout & Raider School in September of 1942 – just nine months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The group saw its first combat by November of that same year.
By July of 1943 a second group was established. Their codename was Special Service Unit 1. They managed a number of missions in the first few months of deployment without losing any of any personnel. Later, conflicts over operation issues began to arise, resulting in the re-assignment of all non-Navy personnel. As a result, the Special Service Unit 1 was renamed – 7th Amphibious Scouts – and their new mission(s) included going ashore via assault boats, erecting markers for incoming crafts, handling casualties, the blowing up of beach obstacles, maintaining voice communications which linked the troops ashore plus various other tasks. They continued to conduct missions throughout the Pacific for the balance of the war.
Additional specialized groups were developed during WWII including demolition units, operational swimmers and underwater demo teams.
US Navy SEAL Training
The US Navy SEALs are noted as being one of the toughest trained groups worldwide. Some classes experience a drop-out rate as high as 90%. On average, a Navy SEAL recruit will spend over a year in training, which begins with a 24-week selection and training course – Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL or (BUD/S). This is followed by the SEAL Qualification Training program, which is 28 weeks long and covers all basic necessary SEAL skills. A 26-week Special Ops Combat Medic course is also required to be completed by the sailors entering with the Navy Hospital Corpsman rating or those who have been chosen by the Naval Special Warfare Command. Once the trainees have completed all the formal training courses, they are assigned to a specific team where they will receive an additional 18 months of Professional Development/Schools and Troop unit level training before each six month deployment.
What is presented here is but a brief overview of the basic history and training for the US Navy SEALs. Their training, missions and highly classified operations are far more complex. This elite Special Ops Force – the US Navy SEALs - is a highly trained, elite group whose training and missions challenge the best of the best.