The Navy SEAL Teams were founded at the direction of President John F. Kennedy in 1962, with the main objective of establishing a unit within the US Navy that could conduct guerrilla warfare in maritime and riverine environments.

Long before the first SEAL Teams were established in the 1960s, the SEAL community had a rich history reaching back to the OSS swimmers of World War II, and the UDTs (Under Water Demolition Teams) that supported SOG (Special Operations Group) with their amphibious landing at Inchon Korea in the 1950s.

After 1962, SEAL Teams One and Two did their part to establish a strong foundation of accomplishment in the riverine environments of Vietnam. In 1989, the US invaded Panama and SEAL Team Two’s combat swimmers set charges that left Noriega’s boat at the bottom of the canal. And the SEAL Teams of the 90s regularly conducted non-compliant ship takedowns to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq’s former leader, Saddam Hussein.

Now, in 2014, the community is faced with the harsh truth that today’s modern SEAL Teams (excluding the SDV community), after over a decade of war in the desert, are losing their edge in the maritime environment.

Admiral (SEAL) McRaven, USSOCOM’s Commander, has recognized this, and appropriately called for the Teams to refocus their efforts on getting their maritime expertise back. Our sources tell us that the SEAL Training Commands (TRADET-Training Detachment) on both coasts have taken this to task, aggressively re-vamping the maritime training pipeline however, one critical piece is still missing. Modern equipment.

Training is now where it should be, but the Teams are still plagued by a slow-moving bureaucratic acquisition process that has left them using equipment dating back to the 1950s. The current acquisition professionals are mostly entrenched civilians at USSOCOM, most with no military experience. It’s true that equipment doesn’t make the operator, but arguably there are basic technologies that need to be leveraged to maintain a competitive advantage in the underwater battle space. A pass by any Team’s dive locker these days would look more diving museum than modern SEAL Team.

“Some of our partners have equipment that, quite frankly, is better than ours because we spent a decade fighting ashore,” Pybus said. “It’s time to catch up.” said Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, commander of Navy Special Warfare in 2013.

The current situation is one that resonates with me personally, and something I tried to move forward as an instructor after my tour in Afghanistan with SEAL Team 3.