The public description of Naval Special Warfare’s Development Group for years has reflected its name. An organization whose primary purpose was to develop tactics and strategies supporting operations from the sea, air or land. This was the accepted description of DEVGRU.

Naval Special Warfare Development Group was tasked with the management and testing of both current and emerging technologies relevant to all of Naval Special Warfare’s units. This is true, but recent events have taught us that “testing” wasn’t the only thing they were up to. While these duties do describe DEVGRU’s mission they don’t entirely depict what lies beneath.

Commanded by a Navy Captain (O-6), NSW Development Group is the Naval Component of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Formerly known as SEAL Team Six, until it was disbanded in 1987, DEVGRU and its Army counterpart, Delta Force, are the United State’s primary counter-terrorism units.

Originally DEVGRU was created as a maritime unit and has since been expanded, and accepted, as an entity which can operate in any and all areas. DEVGRU often works with the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) Special Activities Division (SAD) as well as their Special Operations Group (SOG). Both highly secretive organizations with an increasingly impressive track record. The elimination of Osama Bin Laden not being the least of which.

DEVGRU, and the other units they support, have become famous for their high-risk personnel/hostage rescues and extractions as well as the elimination of terrorist and pirate threats.

In The Beginning

Between November 4, 1979, and January 20, 1981, for 444 days, Fifty-two Americans were held hostage after a group of Iranian students took over a US Embassy in Tehran.

The crisis was undoubtedly politically complicated and negotiations were failing. Just over 5 months into the hostages’ detainment a daring rescue was launched. On April 24, 1980, the United States military departed the USS Nimitz and USS Coral Sea to launching an epic rescue attempt. After the deaths of 8 American servicemen, one Iranian civilian, and the destruction of two aircraft the mission was a failure.

Much like after the bloody beach landings of World War II the Navy was committed to learn and evolve from their misfortune. It was this mission, “Operation Eagle Claw” that led the Navy to develop a full-time counter-terrorism unit and it would be Richard Marcinko who would do it.