By lex, on August 31st, 2011
Admiral Bill McRaven speaks on the use of DevGru forces for IRF duties in Afghanistan:
The new commander of American Special Operations forces has defended the use of commandos in a Navy Seals unit to back up a raid in Afghanistan earlier this month that ended in tragedy when a Chinook helicopter was shot down, rejecting criticism that planning for the operation was different from other missions that had been carried out successfully, as many as a dozen on a typical night.
By lex, on July 29th, 2011
I was getting some cash at the ATM in Liberty Station here in San Diego earlier in the week. Noted six young men in non-military clothing, t-shirts and baggy shorts. Sailors, I thought – it’s a Navy town. Short haircuts, but not buzzed. Obviously superb athletes, with limbs and legs formed for functional tasks rather than show. SEALs, I thought to myself. From NAVBASE Coronado. No mistaking them. One or two together is maybe a pair of workout fanatics. Six is part of a team.
That might be changing soon:
The top commander of U.S. special operations says he thinks it’s time for women to go into combat as Navy SEALS.
A Navy SEAL himself, Admiral Eric T. Olson said at the opening session of the 2011 Aspen Security Forum that he would like to see female SEALs in combat roles.
“As soon as policy permits it, we’ll be ready to go down that road,” said Olson.
He added that being a SEAL is not just about physical strength. “I don’t think the idea is to select G.I. Jane and put her through SEAL training, but there are a number of things that a man and a woman can do together that two guys can’t,” said Olson. “I don’t think it’s as important that they can do a lot of push-ups. I think it’s much more important what they’re made of and whether or not they have the courage and the intellectual agility to do that.”
If you don’t do SEAL training, you’re not a SEAL.
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By lex, on May 7th, 2011
In the Navy, the retention of trained personnel is a high priority during ordinary times. We spend significant sums recruiting qualified personnel, and the technical training they receive can make them both difficult to replace, and particularly valuable to civilian employers who will 1) pay them more, and 2) promise not send them to sea for months on end with thousands of their closest friends sleeping in intimate proximity.
They do things a little differently in Navy Special Warfare:
The pinnacle of SEAL training is known as Hell Week, a period of continuous tests and drills during which most classes sleep only a total of two to five hours. Every man has a different story of Hell Week; he remembers particular classmates and instructors, his own most difficult moments. But every Hell Week story is also the same: A man enters a new world aiming to become something greater, and having subjected himself to the hardest tests of his life, he has either passed or failed.
My Hell Week began in the middle of the night. Sleeping in a large tent with my men, I woke to the sound of a Mark-43 Squad Automatic Weapon. The Mark-43 has a cyclic rate of fire of 550 rounds per minute. It is the primary “heavy” gun carried by SEALs on patrol. A blank round is not nearly as loud as a live one, but when the gun is rocking just feet away from your ears in an enclosed tent, it still sounds painfully loud.
We soon started surf torture. We ran into the ocean until we were chest deep in water, formed a line, and linked arms as the cold waves ran through us. Soon we began to shiver. Instructors on bullhorns spoke evenly, “Gentlemen, quit now, and you can avoid the rush later. You are only at the beginning of a very long week. It just gets colder. It just gets harder.”
To the outside observer, the process certainly appears to work.
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By lex, on May 3rd, 2011
The Navy SEALs who took down “Geronimo” had the time and presence of mind to go rooting around a bit, even after having to flex to a “Plan B” extraction:
The assault force of Navy SEALs snatched a trove of computer drives and disks during their weekend raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, yielding what a U.S. official called “the mother lode of intelligence.”
The special operations forces grabbed personal computers, thumb drives and electronic equipment during the lightning raid that killed bin Laden, officials told POLITICO.
“They cleaned it out,” one official said. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?”
U.S. officials are about to find out. The material is being examined at a secret location in Afghanistan.
“Hundreds of people are going through it now,” an official said, adding that intelligence operatives back in Washington are very excited to find out what they have.
“It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” the official said.
I somehow doubt his browser history will be very revealing
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By lex, on May 3rd, 2011
Navy SEALs, like the ones who double tapped bin Leaded, are a famously tight-lipped group. But retirees feel free to open up a bit, like the proprietor of Coronado-based McP’s, who is quoted in today’s Sandy Eggo Union Tribune: Continue reading
By lex, on February 22nd, 2011
The truly remarkable thing in the denouement of the Sailing Vessel Quest hostage taking, is how utterly unremarkable were the actions of the special forces who attempted to come to the rescue of the hostages after shots were fired:
On Monday, two pirates had peacefully come aboard the USS Sterett to negotiate with naval forces for the release of the hostages, and remained aboard overnight.
But at 8 a.m. East Africa time Tuesday, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired from the Quest at the USS Sterett, a guided-missile destroyer 600 yards away. The RPG missed and almost immediately afterward small arms fire was heard coming from the yacht, said Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
U.S. forces converged on the Quest in small boats and some pirates moved to bow and put up their hands in surrender.
A member of a U.S. special operations force killed one of the pirates with a knife, Fox said. A second pirate was also killed, and the bodies of two other pirates were discovered on board, bringing to 19 the total number of pirates involved. The U.S. military didn’t say how those two died and it was not known if the pirates had fought among themselves.
By lex, on February 16th, 2011
Having read the Sigacts summaries back when I was on active duty, I was routinely impressed with the quiet professionalism of the heroes from explosive ordnance disposal, or EOD. When the story of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are finally told, they would be the unsung heroes.
But one among their number was recently awarded the nation’s third highest award for combat valor:
It was approaching midnight Sept. 7, 2009, at the Malmand Bazaar in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when the leader of an explosives disposal team was horribly wounded after stepping on a pressure-activated IED — an improvised explosive device — buried in the dirt.