US Navy SEAL History
By : Brandon Webb
There are two main components of Naval Special Warfare that make up the back bone of the community. These are US Navy SEAL Teams (including SEAL Team 6 or DEVGRU) and The Boat Teams.
Today’s Navy SEAL origins are deeply rooted in the original Scouts & Raiders, Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDU’s), OSS Swimmers, Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons and the Under Water Demolition Teams (UDT) of the 1940′s and WWII.
Naval Special Warfare Boat Teams were historically known as a “Brown Water” Naval force established in the 1960′s to support shallow water operations in Vietnam.
Below, you’ll find some great information that I’ve organized off of several official sites. However, I’ve edited the material down in order to make it easier to read and understand. Enjoy! -Brandon (UDT/SEAL BUD/S Class 215)
Scouts & Raiders
To meet the need for a beach reconnaissance force, selected Army and Navy personnel assembled at Amphibious Training Base, Little Creek, on Aug. 15, 1942 to begin Amphibious Scouts and Raiders ( joint ) training. The Scouts’ and Raiders’ mission was to identify and reconnoiter the objective beach, maintain a position on the designated beach prior to a landing, and guide the assault waves to the landing beach.
The first group of Scouts & Raiders included Phil H. Bucklew, the “Father of Naval Special Warfare,” after whom the Naval Special Warfare Center building is named. Commissioned in October 1942, this group saw combat in November 1942 during Operation Torch, the first allied landings in Europe, on the North African coast. Scouts and Raiders also supported landings in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy and southern France.
On June 6, 1943, Lt. Cmdr. Kaufmann established Naval Combat Demolition Unit training at Ft. Pierce. By April 1944, 34 NCDUs were deployed to England in preparation for Operation Overlord, the amphibious landing at Normandy.
On June 6, 1944, in the face of great adversity, the NCDUs at Omaha Beach managed to blow eight complete gaps and two partial gaps in the German defenses. The NCDUs suffered 31 killed and 60 wounded, a casualty rate of 52 percent. Meanwhile, the NCDUs at Utah Beach met less intense enemy fire. They cleared 700 yards of beach in two hours and another 900 yards by the afternoon. Casualties at Utah Beach were significantly lighter with 6 killed and 11 wounded. During Operation Overlord, not a single demolitioneer was lost to improper handling of explosives.
In August 1944, NCDUs from Utah Beach participated in the landings in southern France, the last amphibious operation in the European Theater of Operations.
NCDUs also operated in the Pacific theater. NCDU 2, under Lt. j.g. Frank Kaine, after whom the Naval Special Warfare Command building is named, and NCDU 3, under Lt. j.g. Lloyd Anderson, formed the nucleus of six NCDUs that served with the 7th Amphibious Force tasked with clearing boat channels after the landings from Biak to Borneo.
Some of the earliest World War II predecessors of the SEALs were the Operational Swimmers of the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS. Many current SEAL missions were first assigned to them.
Their training started in November, 1943, at Camp Pendleton, moved to Catalina Island in January 1944, and finally moved to the warmer waters in the Bahamas in March, 1944. Within the U.S. military, they pioneered flexible swim fins and facemasks, closed-circuit diving equipment, the use of swimmer submersibles, and combat swimming and limpet mine attacks.
In May 1944, the OSS was divided into groups. Group 1 was loaned to Adm. Chester Nimitz as a way to introduce the OSS into the Pacific Theater.
Adm. Nimitz’s “Granite Plan” for central Pacific operations required an efficient amphibious force. Many of the targeted islands were coral atolls with reefs that acted as natural obstacles to landings. During early November 1943, Seabees engaged in experimental underwater blasting work were assembled at Waipio Amphibious Operating Base on Oahu to begin training in underwater demolition.
On Nov. 23, 1943, the U. S. Marine landing on Tarawa Atoll emphasized the need for hydrographic reconnaissance and underwater demolition of obstacles prior to any amphibious landing.
After Tarawa, 30 officers and 150 enlisted men were moved to Waimanalo Amphibious Training Base to form the nucleus of a demolition training program. This group became Underwater Demolition Teams One and Two.
The UDTs saw their first combat on Jan. 31, 1944, during Operation Flintlock in the Marshall Islands. Flintlock became the real catalyst for the UDT training program in the Pacific Theater. In February, 1944, the Naval Combat Demolition Training and Experimental Base was established at Kihei, Maui, next to the Amphibious Base at Kamaole.
Eventually, 34 UDT teams were established. Wearing swim suits, fins and facemasks on combat operations, these “Naked Warriors” saw action across the Pacific in every major amphibious landing, including: Eniwetok, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Angaur, Ulithi, Peleliu, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Zambales, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Labuan, Brunei Bay, and on July 4, 1945 at Balikpapan on Borneo, which was the last UDT demolition operation of the war.
The rapid demobilization at the conclusion of the war reduced the number of active duty UDTs to two on each coast with a complement of seven officers and 45 enlisted men each.
Birth of the US Navy SEALs
Responding to President John F. Kennedy’s desire for the services to develop an unconventional warfare capability, the U.S. Navy established SEAL Teams One and Two in January of 1962. Formed entirely with personnel from Underwater Demolition Teams, the SEALs mission was to conduct counter guerrilla warfare and clandestine operations in maritime and Riverine environments.
Today, all SEALs go through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training in Coronado, CA.
In response to the attacks on America Sept. 11, 2001, Naval Special Warfare forces put operators on the ground in Afghanistan in October. The first military flag officer to set foot in Afghanistan was a Navy SEAL in charge of all special operations for Central Command. Additionally, a Navy SEAL captain commanded Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) South. Commonly referred to as Task Force K-BAR, the task force included U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and Coalition SOF forces. During Operation Enduring Freedom, NSW forces carried out more than 75 special reconnaissance and direct action missions, destroying more than 500,000 pounds of explosives and weapons; positively identifying enemy personnel and conducting Leadership Interdiction Operations in the search for terrorists trying to escape by sea-going vessels.
Naval Special Warfare has played a significant role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, employing the largest number of SEALs and SWCC in its history. NSW forces were instrumental in numerous special reconnaissance and direct action missions, including the securing of the southern oil infrastructures of the Al Faw peninsula and the off-shore gas and oil terminals, the clearing of the Khawr Abd Allah and Khawr Az Zubayr waterways that enabled humanitarian aid to be delivered to the vital port city of Umm Qasr, reconnaissance of the Shat Al Arab waterway, capture of high value targets, raids on suspected chemical, biological and radiological sites, and the first POW rescue since WWII. Additionally, NSW is also fighting the war on terrorism in other global hot spots including the Philippines and the Horn of Africa.
NSW is committed to combating the global terrorist threats. In addition to being experts in special reconnaissance and direct action missions, the skill sets needed to combat terrorism, NSW is postured to fight a dispersed enemy on their turf. NSW forces can operate from forward-deployed Navy ships, submarines and aviation mobility platforms, as well as overseas bases and its own overseas units.
About SEAL Team 6
SEAL Team Six was originally founded by Richard Marcinko when the Navy asked him to stand up a counter-terrorism unit. Today, the Unit is known by insiders as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG) and commonly referred to as DEVGRU, or by insiders as the “Jedi”. DEVGRU is the deadliest fighting force on the planet. To learn more, you’ll have to go to BUD/S and find out for yourself!
For a complete UDT/SEAL History leading up to Vietnam, and to visit the National UDT/SEAL Museum, click on the image below.
The US Navy SEALs
Forged By Adversity
In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day. My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own. I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete. We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required, yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend. Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.