The one quality that sets a person apart as an extraordinary leader
It's easy to overlook, but it turns a good leader into a great one.
What sets a person apart as an extraordinary leader?
A leader might have extensive experience, thoughtful plans, a strong presence that commands a room. But all of these qualities are overshadowed by one virtue that sets great leaders apart from good leaders: humility.
This principle is memorably illustrated in a recent book, Leadership Strategy and Tactics, by Jocko Willink. Willink was a U.S. Navy SEAL for 20 years and rose through the ranks to become the commander of the most decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War. After retiring, Willink co-founded Echelon Front, a multimillion-dollar leadership and management consulting company, and has written several New York Times-bestselling books. Leadership Strategy and Tactics, his latest book, is organized to be used as a reference, “so that any leader can quickly understand and implement the strategies and tactics relevant to the situation he or she is facing” (4).
Willink describes in the book an unforgettable encounter he had as a young enlisted man. His first-ever platoon was getting a new commander, a man known as Delta Charlie, and his exceptional stature preceded him:
“Delta Charlie had an incredible reputation as an officer and as an enlisted man … As I heard about Delta Charlie taking over, I was excited but also intimidated … I figured we were in for some stern leadership and strict control … I braced for impact.” ()
Knowing about the new commander’s extensive background and prominent position, Willink expected a tough and authoritarian task master. But what he found couldn’t have been further from the truth. To his shock, the new commander was relaxed, calm, good-humored, and approachable. Willink recalled,
“When Delta Charlie came in and took over, almost instantly our whole world was good. That was one of the strongest displays of the impact of leadership I had ever seen.” (31)
What made this commander such a great leader, who inspired immense respect and dogged devotion in his subordinates? “The core of what Delta Charlie taught me was the importance of humility” (31). He was a legendary commander in part because of his vast experience and knowledge, but even more because of his humility, which Willink demonstrated with the following two examples:
1He took out the trash.
He literally did. At the time, Willink says, the task of cleaning up the platoon office (which SEALs call the “platoon hut”) was seen as very lowly: “The higher up you went in the chain of command, it seemed to me the more distance there was from the menial task of cleaning up” (30).
But unlike other officers, the new platoon commander would take out the trash and sweep the hut at the end of the day. This simple action had an unforgettable impact on Willink:
“Delta Charlie was the most senior man in the platoon; he also had the most experience. But there he was, taking out the garbage. And yet I was too good to do it? We only had to see that a couple of times before the other lower enlisted guys and I started preemptively taking out the trash and cleaning the space so Delta Charlie didn’t have to. We did it out of respect—respect that Delta Charlie didn’t demand, but earned.” (30)
What’s not being taught to future leaders? How to know their inherent dignity
2He delegated decisions and planning.
Willink also describes his amazement that the new platoon commander gave the lower enlisted guys the responsibility of making and executing their own plans, only adding his own assessment at the end of the process:
“I found it quite shocking, as did the rest of the enlisted men in the platoon, that Delta Charlie didn’t order us around at all. He didn’t come up with his own plans for everything. He didn’t tell us how he wanted us to do things. He executed classic Decentralized Command: he told us what needed to get done and then told us to go figure out how we wanted to do it.” ()
Instead of micromanaging and controlling every aspect of planning, Delta Charlie let his men do the planning—and this made them even more committed to the success of the plan. It also helped them learn more and cemented their admiration of their commander. Delta Charlie inspired his platoon to imitate him:
“It was his humility more than anything else that drove the platoon to want to do a good job for him. We didn’t want to let him down. We didn’t want to disappoint him in any way.” (31)
The commander’s exceptional humility made it “the best platoon I was ever a part of” (31), Willink recalls. It made a huge impression that he didn’t look down on junior members of the team or lord his position and experience over them, but gave them chances to lead and humbly worked alongside them. Decades later, Willink said, “I still try to follow his example” (31).
Humility turns a good leader into a great one. It’s a virtue that’s easy to overlook, but it makes all the difference.
3 Great military speeches to inspire you as a leader
Though Delta Force generally chooses its candidates from within the Armymost Delta operators come from the 75th Ranger Regiment or the Special Forcesthe group also selects individuals from other branches of the military, including the Coast Guard, National Guard and even Navy SEALs. By contrast, SEAL Team Six selects its candidates only from within the existing SEAL team units. Even if a candidate doesnt pass the daunting selection process to become a DEVGRU operator, he will still remain a SEAL.
Delta Force is thought to hold its selection twice every year, in the spring and fall, at a one-month course somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains. More than candidates undergo a grueling regimen of exercises that test physical fitness, endurance and mental strength. Between the course itself and the commanders review board/interview at the end, more than 90 percent of candidates are not selected. Those who do pass these hurdles enter an arduous six-month Operator Training Course (OTC), which some percent can fail to complete; the others are transformed from raw recruits to trained Delta operators.
Known as Green Team, the SEAL Team Six selection process is a six-month course similar to Deltas OTC, but held only once a year. Some 50 percent of candidates dont complete the course, but remain part of the SEAL organization. Because DEVGRU operators are all selected from within the SEALs, they will often know the Green Teamers from past assignments or training, which will influence how new operators get drafted into their eventual squadrons.
3. Training & Operational Capabilities
Delta Force and SEAL Team Six are Special Missions Units (SMU) under the umbrella of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Both specialize in counterterrorism and can be trained in techniques of Close Quarters Combat (CQB), hostage rescue, high-value target extraction, espionage, explosives, marksmanship and other specialized operations. In addition, however, Team Six operators receive training for specialized maritime operations, in accordance with their naval heritage. Because of this reason, the group may be more likely to be tasked with sea-based missions, such as the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, who was kidnapped by Somali pirates on the Indian Ocean in
Given that operators in Delta Force come from different military branches (even, in some cases, from DEVGRU), they bring different missions and cultures to the unit. Even the two main Army groups that join Delta, the Rangers and Special Forces, bring different cultures, missions and training backgroundsand they retain these after joining Delta Force. Operators can even be awarded medals from their respective branches of the military while serving with Delta. So while SEAL Team Six operators share a common culture with other SEALs, the diverse background of Deltas operators means the unit is really its own distinct entity, with a culture all its own. In addition, the vast majority of Delta Force operators are infantrymen (foot soldiers) or have been at some point in their military career. By contrast, SEALs have never been infantrymen, and are not trained as such; they are specifically a maritime special operations force.
5. Media Exposure
Both Delta Force and SEAL Team Six are known for being highly secretive, even within the military, and the public will never know details about the vast majority of what both units do. But in recent years, high-profile successes have thrust SEAL Team Six in particular into the media spotlight. In the wake of the raid on Osama bin Ladens compound in Pakistan, a list of names of the SEALs involved was even leaked to the press (but never published). This largely unwanted exposure has even extended to Hollywood blockbusters like Captain Phillips and Zero Dark Thirty. (In the case of Delta Force, the successfulbut costlymission to capture Somali strongman Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu in was dramatized in the movie Blackhawk Down. ) What seems clear is that in the current media-saturated climate of hour news networks, social media and government leaks, both units are finding it harder to stay under the radar.
6. Rivalry over high-profile missions
When it comes to the two most admired, most intimidating special ops forces in the game, its natural that some rivalry would exist between them. Both Delta Force and SEAL Team Six have successfully pursued high-value targets in the ongoing war on terror, but when it came to the most high-value of them allAl Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Ladenit was operators from Team Six that stormed his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May Some on the Delta side complained that Team Six got the go-ahead on Operation Neptune Spear because Navy admirals commanded both JSOC and the U.S. Special Operations Command, and some even blamed the SEALs themselves for courting the spotlight after the raid. But despite any rivalry, and despite the differences between the two units, theyre ultimately both on the same side in the fight against terrorism, and even work together (unofficially, of course) on many missions.
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United States Navy SEALs
US Navy special operations force
"SEAL" and "Navy SEALs" redirect here. For other uses, see SEAL (disambiguation) and Navy SEALs (disambiguation).
The United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's primary special operations force and a component of the Naval Special Warfare Command. Among the SEALs' main functions are conducting small-unit special operation missions in maritime, jungle, urban, arctic, mountainous, and desert environments. SEALs are typically ordered to capture or to eliminate high level targets, or to gather intelligence behind enemy lines.
All active SEALs are male and members of the U.S. Navy.[Note 1] The CIA's highly secretive and elite Special Operations Group (SOG) recruits operators from SEAL Teams, with joint operations going back to the MACV-SOG during the Vietnam War. This cooperation still exists today, as evidenced by military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although not formally founded until , the modern-day U.S. Navy SEALs trace their roots to World War II. The United States Military recognized the need for the covertreconnaissance of landing beaches and coastal defenses. As a result, the joint Army, Marine Corps, and Navy Amphibious Scout and Raider School was established in at Fort Pierce, Florida. The Scouts and Raiders were formed in September of that year, just nine months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, from the Observer Group, a joint U.S. Army-Marine-Navy unit.
Scouts and Raiders
Recognizing the need for a beach reconnaissance force, a select group of Army and Navy personnel assembled at Amphibious Training Base (ATB) Little Creek, Virginia on 15 August 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 unit was led by U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Lloyd Peddicord as commanding officer, and Navy Ensign John Bell as executive officer. Navy chief petty officers and sailors came from the boat pool at ATB, Solomons, Maryland, and Army Raider personnel came from the 3rd and 9th Infantry Divisions. They trained at Little Creek until embarking for the North Africa campaign the following November. Operation Torch was launched in November off the Atlantic coast of French Morocco in North Africa.
The first group included Phil H. Bucklew, the "Father of Naval Special Warfare," after whom the Naval Special Air Force Warfare Center|Naval Special Warfare Center building is named. Commissioned in October , this group saw combat in November during Operation Torch on the North African Coast. Scouts and Raiders also supported landings in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy, and southern France.
The second group of Scouts and Raiders, code-named Special Service Unit No. 1, was established on 7 July , as a joint and combined operations force. The first mission, in September , was at Finschhafen in Papua New Guinea. Later operations were at Gasmata, Arawe, Cape Gloucester, and the east and south coasts of New Britain, all without any loss of personnel. Conflicts arose over operational matters, and all non-Naval personnel were reassigned. The unit, renamed 7th Amphibious Scouts, received a new mission, to go ashore with the assault boats, buoy channels, erect markers for the incoming craft, handle casualties, take offshore soundings, clear beach obstacles, and maintain voice communications linking the troops ashore, incoming boats and nearby ships. The 7th Amphibious Scouts conducted operations in the Pacific for the duration of the conflict, participating in more than 40 landings.
The third and final Scouts and Raiders organization operated in China. Scouts and Raiders were deployed to fight with the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO). To help bolster the work of SACO, Admiral Ernest J. King ordered that officers and men be trained for "Amphibious Raider" at the Scout and Raider school at Fort Pierce, Florida. They formed the core of what was envisioned as a "guerrilla amphibious organization of Americans and Chinese operating from coastal waters, lakes, and rivers employing small steamboats and sampans." While most Amphibious Raider forces remained at Camp Knox in Calcutta, three of the groups saw active service. They conducted a survey of the upper Yangtze River in the spring of and, disguised as coolies, conducted a detailed three-month survey of the Chinese coast from Shanghai to Kitchioh Wan, near Hong Kong.
Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs)
In September , 17 Navy salvage personnel arrived at ATB Little Creek, Virginia for a week-long course in demolitions, explosive cable cutting, and commando raiding techniques. On 10 November , the first combat demolition unit successfully cut cable and net barriers across the Wadi Sebou River during Operation Torch in North Africa. This enabled USSDallas(DD) to traverse the water and insert U.S. Rangers who captured the Port Lyautey airdrome.
In early May , a two-phase "Naval Demolition Project" was directed by the Chief of Naval Operations "to meet a present and urgent requirement". The first phase began at ATB Solomons, Maryland with the establishment of Operational Naval Demolition Unit No. 1. Six officers and eighteen enlisted men reported from the Seabee's NTC Camp Peary dynamiting and demolition school, for a four-week course. Those Seabees, led by Lieutenant Fred Wise CEC, were immediately sent to participate in the invasion of Sicily. At that time Lieutenant Commander Draper L. Kauffman, "The Father of Naval Combat Demolition," was selected to set up a school for Naval Demolitions and direct the entire Project. The first six classes graduated from "Area E" at NTC Camp Peary. LCDR Kauffman's needs quickly out-grew "Area E" and on 6 June , he established NCDU training at Fort Pierce. Most of Kauffman's volunteers came from the navy's Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) and enlisted Seabees. Training commenced with a grueling week designed to filter out under-performing candidates.
By April , a total of 34 NCDUs were deployed to England in preparation for Operation Overlord, the amphibious landing at Normandy. On 6 June , under heavy fire, 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%. Meanwhile, the NCDUs at Utah Beach met less intense enemy fire. They cleared yards ( metres) of beach in two hours, another yards ( metres) by the afternoon. Casualties at Utah Beach were significantly lighter with six killed and eleven wounded. During Operation Overlord, not a single demolitioneer was lost to improper handling of explosives. In August , four NCDUs from Utah Beach plus nine others participated in the landings Operation Dragoon in southern France. It was the last amphibious operation in the European Theater of Operations. With Europe invaded Admiral Turner requisitioned all available NCDUs from Fort Pierce for integration into the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) for the Pacific.
Thirty NCDUs had been sent to the Pacific prior to Normandy. NCDUs 1–10 were staged on Florida Island in the Solomon Islands (archipelago) during January  NCDU 1 went briefly to the Aleutians in  NCDUs 4 and 5 were the first to see combat by helping the 4th Marines at Green Island and Emirau Island. A few were temporarily attached to UDTs. Later NCDUs 1–10 were combined to form Underwater Demolition Team Able. Six NCDUs: 2,3, 19, 20, 21 and 24 served with the Seventh Amphibious Force and were the only remaining NCDUs at the end of the war. The Naval Special Warfare Command building is named for LTJG Frank Kaine CEC commander of NCDU 2.
OSS Maritime Unit
Much like their brethren in the US Army Special Forces (aka Green Berets), the Navy SEALs claim a lineage to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS was a paramilitary organization and also a progenitor of the CIA. Army Special Forces, founded in by former members of the OSS, established the first military special operations combat diver units nearly a decade before the SEALs were created in  Some of the earliest World War II predecessors of the Green Berets and SEALs were the Operational Swimmers of OSS.
The OSS executed special operations, dropping operatives behind enemy lines to engage in organized guerrilla warfare as well as to gather information on such things as enemy resources and troop movements. British Combined Operations veteran LCDR Wooley, of the Royal Navy, was placed in charge of the OSS Maritime Unit (MU) in June Their training started in November at Camp Pendleton, California, moved to Santa Catalina Island, California in January , and finally moved to the warmer waters of The Bahamas in March Within the U.S. military, they pioneered flexible swimfins and diving masks, closed-circuit diving equipment (under the direction of Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen), the use of Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (a type of submersible), and combat swimming and limpet mine attacks.
The OSS MU mission was "to infiltrate agents and supply resistance groups by sea, conduct maritime sabotage, and develop specialized maritime surface and subsurface equipment and devices." The MU operated in several theaters. In the Mediterranean, a fleet of hired Greek wooden fishing vessels—called caiques—covertly supported OSS agents in Albania, Greece, and Yugoslavia. After Italy surrendered, the MU and Mariassalto, an elite Italian special operations naval unit, operated against the Germans. In the Far East, the MU operated in conjunction with an Operational Group to attack Japanese forces on the Arakan coast of Burma. They jointly conducted reconnaissance missions on the Japanese-held coast, sometimes penetrating several miles up enemy-controlled rivers.
The MU developed or used several innovative devices that would later allow for the creation of a special operations combat-diver capability, first in Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and later in US Navy SEAL units. Perhaps the most important invention in the realm of special operations diving was the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU) invented by Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen. The Lambertsen unit permitted a swimmer to remain underwater for several hours and to approach targets undetected because the LARU did not emit telltale air bubbles. The LARU was later refined, adapted, and the technology used by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and NASA. The Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School at Key West, Florida, the home of Special Forces maritime operations, draws its roots from the Maritime Unit.
Lambertsen began his involvement with OSS as a medical student offering the use of his technology to the secretive organization in In he was commissioned as an Army Officer and later joined the OSS as an Operational Swimmer. Lambertsen himself led the OSS Maritime Unit on covert underwater missions to attach explosives to Japanese ships. Dr. Christian Lambertsen is remembered today as the 'Father of Military Underwater Operations'. Along with all the members of the OSS Maritime Unit, he was made honorary Green Berets and recognized by organizations like the UDT Navy Seal Association for their heroic and critical work.
In May , Colonel "Wild Bill" Donovan, the head of the OSS, divided the Maritime Unit into four groups and approached General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz about using OSS men in the Pacific Gen. MacArthur had no interest at all. Adm Nimitz looked at Donovan's list of units and also said no thank you except he could use the swimmers from the Maritime Unit to expand the UDTs. He was primarily interested in them for being swimmers, not their military training. The interest in the tactical applications of the OSS Operational Swimmers' training only developed later but most of Group A's gear was put into storage as it was not applicable to UDT work. The OSS was very restricted in operations in the Pacific. ADM Nimitz approved the transfer the five officers and 24 enlisted men of Maritime Unit Operational Swimmer Group A led by Lieutenant Choate. They became part of UDT 10 in July LT Choate would become commander of UDT The rest of MU Group A would fill most of UDT 10's command offices as well as many of the swimmers. Five of the OSS-trained men participated in the very first UDT submarine operation with USSBurrfish in the Caroline Islands during August Three of the men failed to make the rendezvous point for extraction. They were reported captured in Japanese communications and identified as "BAKUHATAI" — explosive ordnance men. They were never seen again and are listed as MIAs.
Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs)
Main article: Underwater Demolition Teams
Prior to Operation Galvanic and Tarawa, V Amphibious Corps had identified coral as an issue for future amphibious operations. Rear Admiral Kelly Turner, commander V Amphibious Corps had ordered a review to get a grip on the problem. VAC found that the only people having any applicable experience with the material were men in the Naval Construction Battalions. The Admiral tasked LT T.C. Crist (CEC) with developing a method for blasting coral under combat conditions and putting together a team to do it. LT Crist started by getting others he had blasted coral within CB By the end of November , he had close to 30 officers and enlisted gathered at Waipio Amphibious Operating Base on Oahu.
On 23 November , the Marines suffered heavy losses at Tarawa. The second wave of landing craft ran aground on coral reefs in unexpected shallows due to the tides. As a result, Admiral Kelly Turner requested the formation of nine underwater demolition teams for advance landing reconnaissance and demolition of beach obstructions. Six would be assigned to VAC in the Central Pacific while the other three would go to III Amphibious Corps in the South Pacific. UDTs 1 and 2 consisted of men LT Crist had gathered at Waipio. When Teams 1 and 2 were initially formed they were "provisional" with men total. The first underwater demolition team commanders were CDR E.D. Brewster (CEC) UDT 1 and LT Crist (CEC) UDT 2. The teams wore fatigues with life-vests and were not expected to leave their boats – similar to the NCDUs. However, at Kwajalein Fort Pierce protocol was changed. Admiral Turner ordered daylight reconnaissance and CEC. ENS Lewis F. Luehrs and Seabee Chief William Atchison wore swim trunks under their fatigues anticipating they would not be able to get what the Admiral wanted by staying in the boat. They stripped down and spent 45 minutes in the water in broad daylight. When they got out they were taken directly to Admiral Turner's flagship to report, still in their trunks. Admiral Turner concluded that daylight reconnaissance by individual swimmers was the way to get accurate information on coral and underwater obstacles for upcoming landings. This is what he reported to Admiral Nimitz. The success of those UDT 1 Seabees not following Fort Pierce protocol rewrote the UDT mission model and training regimen. Those Seabees also created the image of UDTs as the "naked warriors". At Engebi CDR Brewster was wounded and all of the men with ENS Luehrs wore swim trunks under their greens.
Seabees made up the vast majority of the men in teams 1–9, 13, and  Seabees were roughly 20% of UDT  The officers were mostly CEC. At war's end 34 teams had been formed with teams 1–21 having actually been deployed. The Seabees provided over half of the men in the teams that saw service. The U.S. Navy did not publicize the existence of the UDTs until post-war and when they did they gave credit to LCDR Kauffman and the Seabees. During WWII the Navy did not have a rating for the UDTs nor did they have an insignia. Those men with the CB rating on their uniforms considered themselves Seabees that were doing underwater demolition (Fig. 11). They did not call themselves "UDTs" or "Frogmen" but rather "Demolitioneers" which had carried over from the NCDUs and LtCdr Kauffmans recruiting them from the Seabee dynamiting and demolition school. The next largest group of UDT volunteers came from the joint Army-Navy Scouts and Raiders school that was also in Fort Pierce and the Navy's Bomb disposal School in the Seabee dominated teams.
Three days after requesting the creation of UDTs Admiral Turner also requested the creation of a "Naval Combat Demolition Training & Experimental Base" at Kihei, Hawaii. The actions of UDT 1 were immediately incorporated in the training which made it distinctly different from that at Fort Pierce. He was in that position briefly from when UDTs 1 & 2 were decommissioned until he was made Commander of UDT 3.
The UDT uniform had transitioned from the combat fatigues of the NCDUs to trunks, swimfins, diving masks and Ka-bars. The men trained by the OSS had brought their swimfins with when they joined the UDTs. They were adopted by the other teams as quick as Supply could get them. These "Naked Warriors", as they came to be called post-war, saw action in every major Pacific amphibious landing including: Eniwetok, Saipan, Kwajalein, Tinian, Guam, Angaur, Ulithi, Peleliu, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Zambales, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Labuan, and Brunei Bay. The last UDT operation of the war was on 4 July at Balikpapan, Borneo. 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.
- For the Marianas operations of Kwajelein, Roi-Namur, Siapan, Tinian, Eniwetok, and Guam, Admiral Turner recommended sixty Silver Stars and over three hundred Bronze Stars with Vs for the Seabees and other service members of UDTs 1–7 That was unprecendented in U.S. Naval/Marine Corps history. For UDTs 5 and 7 every officer received a silver star and all the enlisted received bronze stars with Vs for Operation Forager (Tinian). For UDTs 3 and 4 every officer received a silver star and all the enlisted received bronze stars with Vs for Operation Forager (Guam). Admiral Richard Lansing Conolly felt the commanders of teams 3 and 4 (LT Crist and LT W.G. Carberry) should have received Navy Crosses.
Even with the war over UDT 21, in keeping with UDT history, made a sign to greet the Marines landing in Japan. For Operation Beleaguer UDT 9 was deployed with the III Amphibious Corps to Northern China.
Operation Crossroads UDT 3 was designated TU for the operation. On 27 April , seven officers and 51 enlisted embarked at CBC Port Hueneme, for transit to Bikini. Their assignment was to retrieve water samples from ground zero of the Baker blast.
- In the UDT 12 put up another beach sign to greet the Marines at Da Nang.
The Korean War began on 25 June , when the North Korean army invaded South Korea. Beginning with a detachment of 11 personnel from UDT 3, UDT participation expanded to three teams with a combined strength of men. During the "Forgotten War" the UDTs fought intensively, beginning to employ demolition expertise gained from World War II and use it for an offensive role. Continuing to use water as cover and concealment as well as an insertion method, the Korean Era UDTs targeted bridges, tunnels, fishing nets, and other maritime and coastal targets. They also developed a close working relationship with the Republic of KoreaUnderwater Demolitions Unit (predecessor to the Navy Special Warfare Flotilla), which continues today.
Through their focused efforts on demolitions and mine disposal, the UDTs refined and developed their commando tactics during the Korean War. The UDTs also accompanied South Korean commandos on raids in the North to demolish train tunnels. This was frowned upon by higher-ranking officials because they believed it was a non-traditional use of Naval forces. Due to the nature of the war, the UDTs maintained a low operational profile. Some of the missions include transporting spies into North Korea and the destruction of North Korean fishing nets used to supply the North Korean Army.
As part of the Special Operations Group, or SOG, UDTs successfully conducted demolition raids on railroad tunnels and bridges along the Korean coast. The UDTs specialized in a somewhat new mission: Night coastal demolition raids against railroad tunnels and bridges. The UDT men were given the task because, in the words of UDT LT Ted Fielding, "We were ready to do what nobody else could do, and what nobody else wanted to do." (Ted Fielding was awarded the Silver Star during Korea, and was later promoted to the rank of Captain). On 15 September , UDTs supported Operation Chromite, the amphibious landing at Incheon. UDT 1 and 3 provided personnel who went in ahead of the landing craft, scouting mud flats, marking low points in the channel, clearing fouled propellers, and searching for mines. Four UDT personnel acted as wave-guides for the Marine landing. In October , UDTs supported mine-clearing operations in Wonsan Harbor where frogmen would locate and mark mines for minesweepers. On 12 October , two U.S.minesweepers hit mines and sank. UDTs rescued 25 sailors. The next day, William Giannotti conducted the first U.S. combat operation using an "aqualung" when he dived on USSPledge. For the remainder of the war, UDTs conducted beach and river reconnaissance, infiltrated guerrillas behind the lines from sea, continued mine sweeping operations and participated in Operation Fishnet, which devastated the North Koreans' fishing capability.
Birth of Navy SEALs and the Vietnam War
Main article: Vietnam War
President John F. Kennedy, aware of the situation in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for unconventional warfare and special operations as a measure against guerrilla warfare. In a speech, to Congress, on 25 May , Kennedy spoke of his deep respect for the United States Army Special Forces. While his announcement of the government's plan to put a man on the moon drew most of the attention, in the same speech he announced his intention to spend over $million to strengthen U.S. special operations forces and expand American capabilities in unconventional warfare. Some people erroneously credit President Kennedy with creating the Navy SEALs. His announcement was actually only a formal acknowledgement of a process that had been underway since the Korean War.
The Navy needed to determine its role within the special operations arena. In March , AdmiralArleigh Burke, the Chief of Naval Operations, recommended the establishment of guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units. These units would be able to operate from sea, air or land. This was the beginning of the Navy SEALs. All SEALs came from the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams, who had already gained extensive experience in commando warfare in Korea; however, the Underwater Demolition Teams were still necessary to the Navy's amphibious force.
The first two teams were formed in January  and stationed on both US coasts: Team One at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, in San Diego, California and Team Two at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Formed entirely with personnel from UDTs, the SEALs mission was to conduct counter guerilla warfare and clandestine operations in maritime and riverine environments. Men of the newly formed SEAL Teams were trained in such unconventional areas as hand-to-hand combat, high-altitude parachuting, demolitions, and foreign languages. The SEALs attended Underwater Demolition Team replacement training and they spent some time training in UDTs. Upon making it to a SEAL team, they would undergo a SEAL Basic Indoctrination (SBI) training class at Camp Kerry in the Cuyamaca Mountains. After SBI training class, they would enter a platoon and conduct platoon training.
According to founding SEAL team member Roy Boehm, the SEALs' first missions were directed against communist Cuba. These consisted of deploying from submarines and carrying out beach reconnaissance in a prelude to a proposed US amphibious invasion of the island. On at least one occasion Boehm and another SEAL smuggled a CIA agent ashore to take pictures of Soviet nuclear missiles being unloaded on the dockside.
The Pacific Command recognized Vietnam as a potential hot spot for unconventional forces. At the beginning of , the UDTs started hydrographic surveys and along with other branches of the US Military, the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) was formed. In March , SEALs were deployed to South Vietnam as advisors for the purpose of training Army of the Republic of Vietnamcommandos in the same methods they were trained themselves.
The Central Intelligence Agency began using SEALs in covert operations in early The SEALs were later involved in the CIA sponsored Phoenix Program where it targeted Vietcong (VC) infrastructure and personnel for capture and assassination.
The SEALs were initially deployed in and around Da Nang, training the South Vietnamese in combat diving, demolitions and guerrilla/anti-guerrilla tactics. As the war continued, the SEALs found themselves positioned in the Rung Sat Special Zone where they were to disrupt the enemy supply and troop movements and in the Mekong Delta to fulfill riverine operations, fighting on the inland waterways.
Combat with the VC was direct. Unlike the conventional warfare methods of firing artillery into a coordinate location, the SEALs operated close to their targets. Into the late s, the SEALs were successful in a new style of warfare, effective in anti-guerrilla and guerrilla actions. SEALs brought a personal war to the enemy in a previously safe area. The VC referred to them as "the men with green faces," due to the camouflageface paint the SEALs wore during combat missions.
In February , a small SEAL Team One detachment arrived in South Vietnam to conduct direct action missions. Operating from Nhà Bè Base, near the Rung Sat Special Zone, this detachment signalled the beginning of a SEAL presence that would eventually include 8 SEAL platoons in country on a continuing basis. SEALs also served as advisors for Provincial Reconnaissance Units and the Lein Doc Nguio Nhia, the Vietnamese SEALs.
SEALs continued to make forays into North Vietnam and Laos and covertly into Cambodia, controlled by the Studies and Observations Group. The SEALs from Team Two started a unique deployment of SEAL team members working alone with ARVN Commandos. In , a SEAL unit named Detachment Bravo (Det Bravo) was formed to operate these mixed US and ARVN units.
By , President Richard Nixon initiated a Plan of Vietnamization, which would remove the US from the Vietnam War and return the responsibility of defense back to the South Vietnamese. Conventional forces were being withdrawn; the last SEAL platoon left South Vietnam on 7 December , and the last SEAL advisor left South Vietnam in March The SEALs were among the highest decorated units for their size in the war, receiving by one Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, 42 Silver stars, Bronze Stars, two Legions of Merit, Commendation Medals, and 51 Navy Achievement Medals Later awards would bring the total to three Medals of Honor and five Navy Crosses. SEAL Team One was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations and one Navy Unit Commendation; SEAL Team Two received two Presidential Unit Citations. By the end of the war, 48 SEALs had been killed in Vietnam, but estimates of their kill count are as high as 2, The Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, displays a list of the 48 SEALs who lost their lives in combat during the Vietnam War.
On 1 May , UDT–11 was redesignated as SEAL Team Five, UDT–21 was redesignated as SEAL Team Four, UDT–12 became SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One (SDVT–1), and UDT–22 was redesignated as SDVT SEAL Team Three, was established 1 October in Coronado, California. SEAL Team Eight was established on 1 October at Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia.United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in April and its Naval component, United States Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM), also known as NSWC, was established at the same time.
Main article: United States invasion of Grenada
Both SEAL Team Four and SEAL Team Six, the predecessor to DEVGRU, participated in the US invasion of Grenada. The SEALs' two primary missions were the extraction of Grenada's Governor-General and the capture of Grenada's only radio tower. Neither mission was well briefed or sufficiently supported with timely intelligence and the SEALs ran into trouble from the very beginning. On 24 October , twelve operators from SEAL Team Six and four Air Force Combat Control Team members (CCT) conducted a predawn combat airborne water insertion from C Hercules with Zodiac inflatable rubber boats 40 kilometers north of Point Salines, Grenada. The team inserted with full combat gear in bad weather with low visibility conditions and high winds. Four SEALs drowned and were never recovered. SEALs split into two teams and proceeded to their objectives. After digging in at the Governor's mansion, the SEALs realized they had forgotten to load their cryptographicsatellite phone. As Grenadian and Cuban troops surrounded the team, the SEALs' only radio ran out of battery power, and they used the mansion's land line telephone to call in AC gunship fire support. The SEALs were pinned down in the mansion overnight and were relieved and extracted by a group of Marines the following morning.
The team sent to the radio station also ran into communication problems. As soon as the SEALs reached the radio facility they found themselves unable to raise their command post. After beating back several waves of Grenadian and Cuban troops supported by BTR armored personnel carriers, the SEALs decided that their position at the radio tower was untenable. They destroyed the station and fought their way to the water where they hid from patrolling enemy forces. After the enemy had given up their search the SEALs, some wounded, swam into the open sea where they were extracted several hours later after being spotted by a reconnaissance aircraft.
Main article: Operation Prime Chance
During the closing stages of the Iran–Iraq War the United States Navy began conducting operations in the Persian Gulf to protect US-flagged ships from attack by Iranian naval forces. A secret plan was put in place and dubbed Operation Prime Chance. Navy SEAL Teams 1 and 2 along with several Special Boat Units and EOD techs were deployed on mobile command barges and transported by helicopters from the Army's th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Over the course of the operation SEALs conducted VBSS (Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure) missions to counter Iranian mine-laying boats. The only loss of life occurred during the takedown of the Iran Ajr. Evidence gathered on the Iran Ajr by the SEALs later allowed the US Navy to trace the mines that struck USSSamuel B. Roberts(FFG). This chain of events led to Operation Praying Mantis, the largest US Naval surface engagement since the Second World War.
During Operation Desert Shield and Storm, Navy SEALs trained Kuwaiti Special Forces. They set up naval special operations groups in Kuwait, working with the Kuwaiti Navy in exile. Using these new diving, swimming, and combat skills, these commandos took part in combat operations such as the liberation of the capital city.
Main article: United States invasion of Panama
The United States Navy contributed extensive special operations assets to Panama's invasion, codenamed Operation Just Cause. This included SEAL Teams 2 and 4, Naval Special Warfare Unit 8, and Special Boat Unit 26, all falling under Naval Special Warfare Group 2; and the separate Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). DEVGRU fell under Task Force Blue, while Naval Special Warfare Group 2 composed the entirety of Task Force White. Task Force White was tasked with three principal objectives: the destruction of Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) naval assets in Balboa Harbor and the destruction of Manuel Noriega's private jet at Paitilla Airport (collectively known as Operation Nifty Package), as well as isolating PDF forces on Flamenco Island.
The strike on Balboa Harbor by Task Unit Whiskey is notably marked in SEAL history as the first publicly acknowledged combat swimmer mission since the Second World War. Prior to the commencement of the invasion four Navy SEALs swam underwater into the harbor on Draeger LAR-V rebreathers and attached C4 explosives to and destroyed Noriega's personal gunboat the Presidente Porras.
Task Unit Papa was tasked with the seizure of Paitilla airfield and the destruction of Noriega's plane there. Several SEALs were concerned about the nature of the mission assigned to them being that airfield seizure was usually the domain of the Army Rangers. Despite these misgivings and a loss of operational surprise, the SEALs of TU Papa proceeded with their mission. Almost immediately upon landing, the 48 SEALs came under withering fire from the PDF stationed at the airfield. Although Noriega's plane was eventually destroyed, the SEALs suffered four dead, including Chief Petty Officer Donald McFaul, and thirteen wounded.
Persian Gulf War
Main article: Gulf War
In August , SEALs were the first western forces to deploy to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield. They infiltrated Kuwait the capital city within hours of the invasion and gathered intelligence and developed plans to rescue US embassy staff should they become hostages. SEALs were also the first to capture Iraqi Prisoners of War when they assaulted nine Kuwaiti Oil platforms on 19 January On 23 February , a seven-man SEAL team launched a mission to trick the Iraqi military into thinking an amphibious assault on Kuwait by coalition forces was imminent by setting off explosives and placing marking buoys meters off the Kuwaiti coast. The mission was a success and Iraqi forces were diverted east away from the true coalition offensive. The SEALs were first into Kuwait City in their Desert Patrol Vehicles when it was recaptured.
On 6 December , as part of Operation Restore Hope, U.S. Navy SEALs and Special Boat crewmen from Naval Special Warfare Task Unit TRIPOLI began a three-day operation carrying out reconnaissance operations in the vicinity of Mogadishu airport and harbor; ahead of UNITAFs deployment to the country. They suffered only one casualty, who was injured by an IED.
In August a four-person DEVGRU SEAL sniper team was deployed to Mogadishu to work alongside Delta Force as part of Task Force Ranger in the search for Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid. They took part in several operations in support of the CIA and Army culminating in the 3 October 'Battle of Mogadishu' where they were part of the ground convoy raiding the Olympic Hotel. All four SEALs would be later awarded the Silver Star in recognition of their bravery while Navy SEAL Howard E. Wasdin would be awarded a Purple Heart after continuing to fight despite being wounded three times during the battle.
War in Afghanistan
Main article: War in Afghanistan (–present)
Further information on the opening phase of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan: United States invasion of Afghanistan
In the immediate aftermath of the 11 September attacks, Navy SEALs quickly dispatched to Camp Doha, and those already aboard US Naval vessels in the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters began conducting VBSS operations against ships suspected of having ties to or even carrying al Qaeda operatives. SEAL Teams 3 and 8 also began rotating into Oman from the United States and staging on the island of Masirah for operations in Afghanistan. One of the SEALs' immediate concerns was their lack of suitable vehicles to conduct special reconnaissance (SR) missions in the rough, landlocked terrain of Afghanistan. After borrowing and retrofitting Humvees from the Army Rangers also staging on Masirah, the SEALs inserted into Afghanistan to conduct the SR of what would become Camp Rhino, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-A). These early stages of OEF were commanded by a fellow SEAL, Rear AdmiralAlbert Calland.
As part of the CJSOTF (Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force) under the command of General Tommy Franks at CENTCOM, SEALs from DEVGRU were part of Task Force Sword, which was established in early October It was a black SOF (Special Operations Forces) unit under direct command of JSOC. It was a so-called hunter-killer force whose primary objective was to capture or kill senior leadership and HVT within both al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Sword was initially structured around a two-squadron component of operators from Delta Force (Task Force Green) and DEVGRU (Task Force Blue) supported by a Ranger protection force teams (Task Force Red), and ISA signals intercept and surveillance operators (Task Force Orange) and the th SOAR (Task Force Brown). Task Force K-Bar was established on 10 October , it was formed around a Naval Special Warfare Group consisting of SEALs from SEAL Teams 2, 3 and 8 and Green Berets from 1st Battalion, 3rd SFG; the task force was led by SEAL Captain Robert Harward.
The task force's principal task was to conduct SR and SSE missions in the south of the country. Other Coalition SOF-particularly KSK, JTF2 and New Zealand Special Air Service were assigned to the task force. As part of the JIATF-CT (Joint Interagency Task Force-Counterterrorism) – intelligence integration and fusion activity composed of personnel from all of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-A) participating units- SEALs from DEVGRU were part of Task Force Bowie, they were embedded in the task force in AFOs (Advanced Force Operations). The AFOs were man reconnaissances units made up of Delta Force recce specialists augmented by selected SEALs from DEVGRU and supported by ISA's technical experts. The AFOs had been raised to support TF Sword and were tasked with intelligence preparation of the battlefield, working closely with the CIA and reported directly to Task Force Sword. The AFOs conducted covert reconnaissance – sending small 2 or 3-man teams into al-Qaeda 'Backyard' along the border with Pakistan, the AFO operators would deploy observation posts to watch and report enemy movements and numbers as well as environmental reconnaissance; much of the work was done on foot or ATVs.
SEALs were present at the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi in November alongside their counterparts from the British SBS. Chief Petty Officer Stephen Bass was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the battle.
Before the US Marines landed at Camp Rhino in November , a SEAL recce team from SEAL Team 8 conducted reconnaissance of the area, they were mistakenly engaged by orbiting AH-1W attack helicopters, but the SEALs managed to get a message through to the Marines before they suffered casualties. The SR mission in the region of Camp Rhino lasted for four days, after which two United States Air Force Combat Control Teams made a nighttime HALO jump to assist the SEALs in guiding in Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit who seized control of the area and established a Forward operating base.
In January , following the Battle of Tora Bora, another series of caves was discovered in Zhawar Kili, just south of Tora Bora; airstrikes hit the sites before SOF teams were inserted into the area. A SEAL platoon from SEAL Team 3, including several of their Desert Patrol Vehicles, accompanied by a German KSK element, a Norwegian SOF team and JTF2 reconnaissance teams spent some nine days conducting extensive SSE, clearing an estimated 70 caves and 60 structures in the area, recovering a huge amount of both intelligence and munitions, but they didn't encounter any al-Qaeda fighters. Subsequent SEAL operations during the invasion of Afghanistan were conducted within Task Force K-Bar, a joint special operations unit of Army Special Forces, United States Air Force Special Tactics Teams, and special operations forces from Norway, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Denmark. Task Force K-Bar conducted combat operations in the massive cave complexes near the city of Kandahar and surrounding territory, the town of Prata Ghar and hundreds of miles of rough terrain in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Over the course of six months, Task Force K-Bar killed or captured over Taliban and al Qaeda fighters and destroyed tens of thousands of pounds of weapons and ordnance.
In February , while at Camp Rhino, the CIA passed on intelligence from a Predator drone operating in the Paktia province that Taliban Mullah Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa was spotted leaving a building by vehicle convoy. SEALs and Danish Jægerkorpset commandos boarded Air Force Pave Low helicopters and seized Khairkhwa on the road less than two hours later. The SEALs continued to perform reconnaissance operations for the Marines until leaving after having spent 45 days on the ground.
In March , SEALs from DEVGRU, SEAL Team 2, 3 and 8 participated extensively in Operation Anaconda. During what would become known as the Battle of Takur Ghar, whilst inserting from an MHE Chinook, PO1 Neil Roberts from DEVGRU, was thrown from his helicopter when it took fire from entrenched al Qaeda fighters. Roberts was subsequently killed after engaging and fighting dozens of enemies for almost an hour. Several SEALs were wounded in a rescue attempt and their Air Force Combat Controller, Technical Sergeant John Chapman, was killed. Attempts to rescue the stranded SEAL also led to the deaths of several US Army Rangers and an Air Force Pararescueman acting as a Quick Reaction Force.
Later in , CJSOFT became a single integrated command under the broader CJTF that commanded all US forces assigned to OEF-A, it was built around an Army Special Forces Group (composed of soldiers from National Guard units) and SEAL teams. A small JSOC element (formerly Task Force Sword/11) not under direct CTJF command – embedded within CJSOFT, it consisted of a joint SEAL and Ranger element that rotated command, and was not under direct ISAF command, although it operated in support of NATO operations.
In June , Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after his four-man reconnaissance counterinsurgency team was almost wiped out during Operation Red Wings. After the four-man team lost Danny Dietz, he put himself in open view to call in the QRF. He soon after died from injuries sustained. Matthew Axelson also died on this operation. The QRF never reached the scene; it was struck by an RPG killing eight Navy SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers. Marcus Luttrell was the only survivor from this operation.
In early , Brigadier General Scott Miller took command of CJSOTF-Afghanistan and assigned virtually all SOF in the theatre to a new counterinsurgency role that would become known as the ALP/VSO Program (Afghan Local Police/Village Stability Operations), the SOF in Afghanistan were organized into battalion level SOTF (Special Operations Task Forces) each with a geographic area of responsibility-the SEALs were given southeast Afghanistan. To increase security of their assigned VSO village, a SEAL Platoon in Chora District, Uruzgan Province built a wall constructed of metres (yd) of HESCO barriers to divert insurgent movements away, this proved successful and eventually the Afghan villagers took ownership of it. SEALs and other SOTF still conducted Direct Action missions, but now partnered with Afghan forces.
On 6 August , seventeen U.S. Navy SEALs were killed when their CH Chinook helicopter was shot down by an RPG fired by Taliban militants. The SEALs were en route to support U.S. Army Rangers who were taking fire while attempting to capture a senior Taliban leader in the Tangi Valley. Fifteen of the SEALs belonged to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. Two others were SEALs assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit. A total of 30 Americans and eight Afghans were killed in the crash, making it the single largest loss of U.S. lives in the Global War on Terrorism.
On 16 August , SEALs in Uruzgan Province conducted a joint operation into the Shah Wali Kot Valley where they suffered the loss of a Black Hawk helicopter when it was struck by an insurgent RPG, the crash killed 11 servicemen (seven US and four Afghan).
In December , SEALs from DEVGRU rescued a US doctor who had been kidnapped a few days earlier. However, during the operation the unit suffered a fatality, Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque. Senior Chief Edward Byers, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during this mission.
In May , Rear Admiral Sean Pybus, commander of Navy Special Warfare stated that the unit would cut in half the number of SEAL platoons in Afghanistan by the end of Pybus also added that the unit is already "undergoing a transition back to its maritime roots" by placing more emphasis on sea-based missions after being involved in mostly landlocked missions since 
Main article: Iraq War
For the invasion of Iraq, a squadron from DEVGRU operated as part of Task Force Their role was to conduct heliborne direct action raids, particularly against HVTs. The Naval Special Operations Task Group was assigned to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was built around a core of SEAL Teams 8 and 10, Polish GROM, Royal Marines from 40 and 42 Commando under the command of 3 Commando Brigade and attached US Psy Ops and civil affairs teams. The Naval Task Group was principally tasked with the capture of the port of Umm Qasr, Iraq's only deep-water port; the oil pipeline facilities of the Al-Faw Peninsula; and the two off-shore platforms the pipelines fed. Once these initial target sets were secured, the Task Group would support conventional forces in the south, conducting reconnaissance and raiding activities. Aviation support was provided by both Marine air of the 15th MEU and 20th Special Operations Squadron.
Several days before the beginning of the invasion, two SDV teams were launched from Mark V Special Operations Craft in the Persian Gulf. Their objectives were the hydrographic reconnaissance of the Al Basrah (MABOT) and Khawr Al Amaya (KAAOT) Oil Terminals. After swimming under the terminals and securing their Mark 8 mod 1s, the SDV SEALs spent several hours taking pictures and surveying Iraqi activity on both platforms before returning to their boats. On 20 March , SEALs from SEAL Team 8 and 10 (31 SEALs, 2 Navy EOD a USAF combat controller and several Iraqi interpreters) moved to seize the MABOT oil terminal whilst GROM operators assaulted the KAAOT Oil Terminals. The terminals were quickly seized with no casualties, and explosives which were found on the terminals were made safe by GROM operators.
The shore-based pumping stations (known as MMS-Monitoring and Meter Stations) and their pipelines on the Al-Faw Peninsula were seized by 12 SEALS from SEAL Team 3, who were mounted in DPVs. They took off from Kuwait and were inserted under Iraqi anti-aircraft fire by MH helicopters. The target area was 'softened up' by JDAM bombs dropped from Bs on Iraqi bunkers, trenches and dugouts around the oil facilities. After a brief firefight in which the SEALs killed 1 Iraqi soldier and captured 13, the SEALs secured the MMS and the pipelines and were relieved by Royal Marines from 40 Commando. The SEALs advised the Marines, helping coordinate AC Spectres fire support onto Iraqi forces. The other shore-based pumping station at Umm Qasr was secured by SEALs and Royal Marines; before they landed, AC Spectres and AAs engaged a nearby SAM installation and a responding Iraqi mechanized unit. The SEALs secured the facility itself whilst the Royal Marines cleared Iraqi bunkers, killing several Iraqi soldiers.
Other Naval Task Group operations included elements of three SEAL platoons in GMV trucks and DPVs seizing the al Zubayr MMS, whilst I MEF attacked the Rumaylah Oil Fields north of al-Faw. SEALs and Special Boat teams helped secure the Khawr Abd Allah and Khawr Az Zubyar waterways, which enabled humanitarian supplies to be delivered to the port of Umm Qasr. SEALs from the unit that secured the al-Faw MMS also conducted reconnaissance on the Shat Al Arab waterway, which was later secured by British forces. SEALs were also involved in various VBSS missions with British and Australian forces to seize Iraqi craft carrying seaborne mines.
Coalition military planners were concerned that retreating Iraqi forces would destroy the Mukatayin hydroelectric dam, located 57 miles northeast of Baghdad, in an attempt to slow advancing US troops. In addition to restricting the manoeuvre of Coalition forces, the destruction of the dam would deny critical power needs to the surrounding area, as well as cause massive flooding and loss of Iraqi civilian life. A mixed team of SEALs from SEAL Team 5 and Polish GROM was called in to seize the dam. This force was flown several hours by six US Air Force MHJ Pave Lows; the force consisted of 20 SEALs (with an extra six SEAL snipers in one helicopter carrying the SEAL command and control element) and two EOD operators along with 35 GROM operators to the dam. The SEALs employed DPVs into blocking positions to defend against counter-attack and roving bands of Iranian bandits that had been crossing the border and raiding Iraqi towns. As in Al Faw, the SEALs found their DPVs (the SEAL unit at the al-Faw MMS lost all but two DPVs when they were bogged down in the oily mud) to be ineffective and this marked the last time they would employ them in Iraq. The SEALs and GROM on foot fast-roped out of their helicopters and immediately stormed the dam. The minimal[clarification needed] Iraqi troops guarding the dam surrendered without a fight, and with the exception of a GROM soldier who broke an ankle during the insertion, no casualties were sustained in the operation. After several hours of searching the dam for remaining hostile forces or any explosives, the SEALs secured the dam and held it for five days until they were relieved by advancing elements of the US Army.
During the Battle of Basra, SEALs along with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force and Assault Squadron RM attempted a waterborne approach to Basra via the Shatt al-Arab waterway but were intercepted by Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol craft and did not want to engage them so they withdrew. On 6 April , after relocating further up the waterway they successfully infiltrated via the waterway, using SEAL UAVs they called in "show-of-force" and an airstrike by a USMC harrier on Iraqi troops, the SEALs then headed to "Chemical Ali's" house with SSE teams to find traces of chemical weapons. SEALs carried out missions around Nasiriyah, carrying out reconnaissance on surrounding villages and engaging enemy strong points bypassed by the US Marine advance. Charlie Platoon, SEAL Team 3, later operated ahead of the Marine advance carrying out similar missions. SEAL and GROM units continued to cooperate throughout the rest of the invasion phase, with raids and anti-sniper missions in Baghdad.
Following the invasion, SEAL platoons rotated through Iraq, conducting overwatch for US and Iraqi patrols and directly mentoring local Iraqi forces; they also conducted surveillance and sniping missions into known trouble spots. In September , a SEAL sniper element was tasked with establishing an overwatch and surveillance position overlooking Haifa Street, they were inserted by Bradley IFVs from a unit of the 9th Cavalry Regiment, however they were spotted and engaged by insurgents. The SEALs notified the Bradleys, they drove back, fired on the insurgents and set up a cordon for the SEALs to be extracted, one Bradley was destroyed by a car bomb, there were no casualties and the SEALs were extracted.
In the interim between the First Battle of Fallujah and Second Battle of Fallujah, insurgents in Fallujah knew that the coalition assault was inevitable and under the guidance of the influx of foreign fighters, began to build defensive networks throughout the city-ranging from fortified buildings, trench lines, berms, strategically placed car bombs and IEDs. In preparations for the second battle, SEALs conducted reconnaissance near the berms and tested out reports that the insurgents were equipped with night-vision equipment, they proved this by throwing an infra-red chemical light into the street which drew small arms fire. SEALs along with the 5th SFG, Marine Force Recon and Det One and other JSOC elements were heavily involved in shaping operations prior to 7 November D-DAY when coalition forces entered the city. The SOF shaping included sophisticated feints to mislead the insurgents as to the direction of the final assault, close target reconnaissance and direct-action missions where a logistics node or IED factory was targeted. When the offensive on the insurgents in the city began, many of the US Marine companies had SEAL sniper teams attached to them, mainly from SEAL Teams 3, 5 and
From , SEALs were heavily committed to western Iraq in Al Anbar Governorate, AQI terrorists who escaped Fallujah had relocated to Ramadi. A SEAL Task Unit was co-located with the Marines at Al Asad Airbase and sent elements to Ramadi and Habbaniyah, the SEALs were initially tasked with target development for the Marines and providing sniper overwatch for their patrols. The SEALs were already training an Iraqi Army unit in Habbaniyah, although FID was their main focus until later that year. A SEAL Task Unit generally comprised two individual SEAL Platoons: each Platoon was made up of seven-man squad elements commanded by a junior officer, three of these Task Units (although a fourth was often added) along with a Special Boat Team detachment and a Headquarters Team (including integral intelligence, targeting and EOD personnel) made up a Naval Special Warfare Squadron. According to Dick Couch, the SEALs began FID with two Iraqi units-the Army Scouts who conducted conventional reconnaissance missions, and the SMP (Special Missions Platoon), a locally formed unit that would later fight alongside the SEALs. Despite several challenges, the SEALs were soon conducted operations with partnered units, particularly in Special Reconnaissance, focusing on the surveillance aspect, whilst conventional US Army or Marines would conduct raids and arrests. The typical loadout of the SEALs in Ramadi included the M4 carbine, optimized for close quarter battle with a inch barrel equipped with a 6-inch sound suppressor, Surefire flashlight and EOTech sight, short barrel and foregrip and seven magazines.
As the SEALs were beginning to make headway in Ramadi, AQI was starting to infiltrate the area by targeting local Sheikhs and convincing them to allow jihadists to marry into local tribes, thus cementing their powerbase and Sheikhs that resisted these advances were met with typical AQI brutality. Al-Qaeda's efforts to install a Sharia-style shadow government in Ramadi led to AQI's downfall-when in the first half of , in the run-up to the Second Battle of Ramadi SEALs, increasingly partnered with conventional forces of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division which was planning the offensive. SEALs along with the Scouts and SMP, would conduct reconnaissance, surveillance and sniper overwatch tasks; with their own targeting cell, they also began conducting raids on local insurgent leaders. The 1st BCT began the concerted offensive to clear Ramadi of AQI fighters; on 29 September , whilst at a rooftop overwatch position, Petty Officer Michael A. Monsoor died after leaping upon an enemy grenade during a rooftop firefight, two SEALs on the roof were badly wounded from the grenade fragments and their local Iraqi Scouts ran back into the cover of the building, a fourth SEAL (only lightly wounded), managed to radio his colleagues and get the Scouts to return fire. A SEAL element in a second overwatch position immediately ran through heavy fire to reach Monsoor (whom later died from his wounds in the back of a Bradley IFV) and the wounded SEALs, Monsoor was later awarded the Medal of Honor and the Silver Star. The advances by conventional forces and the SEALs in Ramadi, combined with the brutal tactics of AQI, helped to increase recruitment in a local police initiative-the programme was designed to bring the local Sheikhs' militias into the Iraqi Security Forces. These volunteers would serve locally in their communities to defend them against al-Qaeda, a month after the kidnapping and murder of Sheikh Khalid by AQI (which proved to be the tipping point), the Sheikhs signed a declaration agreeing to fight AQI and by the closing of , even former insurgents were joining the local police (later known as the Anbar Awakening) by the end of the battle, some 1, terrorists were killed.
In Fallujah, the SEAL Task Unit were also heavily involved in fighting. In one joint operation to capture an AQI leader, they entered the target building and were engaged resulting in an Iraqi Scout being killed and a SEAL severely wounded, two SEALs returned fire and entered the building, both SEALs entered different rooms, in one room the SEAL encountered three insurgents who opened fired at close range, another SEAL across the hallway was struck in the head and killed, the SEAL in the room with the insurgents killed all three.
In September , in a nighttime raid in Fallujah, SEALs captured Ahmad Hashim Abd al-Isawi (nicknamed the "Butcher of Fallujah"), a prominent al-Qaeda terrorist who was the mastermind behind the Fallujah ambush. Al-Isawai made accusations of mistreatment while in custody, and testified in April at the ensuing courts-martial against three SEALs (all of whom were acquitted). Iraqi authorities later tried and executed al-Isawi by hanging at some point before November 
SEALS remained employed throughout the Iraqi Campaign as Task Units or Task Elements until its close in
Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines
Main article: Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines
OEF-P was established in to conduct long-term partnered operations with both Philippine Army special operations and intelligence units, as well as police units, to counter the threat posed by the ASG and JI terrorist groups. Much of this work has been assigned to 1st SFG; SEALs and USAF Special Operations who have also had a long-term presence in the Philippines. There are few confirmed operational details about the SEALs and Green Berets conducting partnered operations, although elements are partnered with Philippine Army and SOF; there have been mentions of Green Berets and SEALs wounded. On 21 June , SEALs in RIBs supported the Philippine Naval Special Operations Group in the operation that killed Abu Sabaya, a senior leader in the ASG. A US Predator UAV marked the HVT with an infrared laser as he tried to escape in a smugglers boat; the MHEs from the th SOAR used search lights mounted on their helicopters to pinpoint the target's boat while operators from the Philippine Naval Special Operations Group opened fire on the boat killing the terrorist leader and capturing four other terrorists with him.
Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa
Main article: Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa
As part of OEF-HOA, Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 are deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, under the command of SOCCE-HOA (Special Operations Command and Control Element-Horn of Africa) which commands all SOCOM units assigned to training or operational missions in the region. Special operations carried out in Somalia are conducted under the codename: Operation Octave Dune, as part of the overall effort in Somalia, which is known as Operation Octave Shield.
Before Djibouti became the epicentre for counter terrorism operations in Africa, unilateral operations were launched from temporary forward locations in friendly nations such as Kenya, or from US Navy Ships. The earliest known operation in Somalia was known as Operation Cobalt Blue: In , SEALs using SEAL Delivery Vehicles swam ashore along the Somali coastline and emplaced covert surveillance cameras. Known as cardinals, the cameras were designed to watch likely target locations for wanted terrorists as al-Qaeda and its affiliates began to regroup in the country, however the cameras only took one image a day and captured very little.
CJSOTF-HOA (Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Horn of Africa) developed a rescue plan called Operation Mystic Talon, in case any CIA SAD or ISA operators were captured in the region, the plan required a SEAL platoon with Air Force Special Operations assets that, if necessary, would fight their way into Somalia, recover the hostage and fight their way out, should a mission need to be launched before a dedicated JSOC task force could be deployed to the region.
Maersk Alabama hijacking
Main article: Maersk Alabama hijacking
On 12 April , in response to a hostage taking incident off the coast of Somalia by Somalian pirates, three Navy SEALs from DEVGRU simultaneously engaged and killed the three pirates who were closely holding the hostage, Captain Richard Phillips, of the freighter ship Maersk Alabama. The pirates and their hostage were being towed in a lifeboat approximately yards behind USSBainbridge when each of the pirates were killed by a different DEVGRU sniper with a single shot to the head.
Death of Osama bin Laden
Main article: Death of Osama bin Laden
In the early morning of 2 May local time, a team of Navy SEALs of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), previously called "SEAL Team 6", along with a Belgian MalinoisMilitary Working Dog (named "Cairo"), supported by Special Activities Division officers on the ground, killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan about 35 miles (56km) from Islamabad in a CIA operation. President Barack Obama later confirmed the death of bin Laden, but did not directly mention the involvement of DEVGRU, saying only that a "small team" of Americans undertook the operation to bring down bin Laden. The unprecedented media coverage raised the public profile of the SEAL community, particularly the counter-terrorism specialists commonly known as SEAL Team 6. The Walt Disney Company tried unsuccessfully to trademark the name "SEAL Team 6" the day after the raid. The official name of the military operation was Operation Neptune Spear. The model of the compound used in the 60 Minutes documentary was donated by CBS to the Navy SEAL Museum.
Morning Glory oil tanker
On 16 March , thirty U.S. Navy SEALs from SEAL Team 2 took control of MVMorning Glory, a tanker full of oil loaded from a rebel-held port in Libya. The raid by Navy SEALs took place in international waters off the coast of Cyprus; the raid was a success, preventing a Libyan splinter militia group selling nationalized Libyan oil on the black market.
Operation Inherent Resolve
Main article: Operation Inherent Resolve
As part of Operation Inherent Resolve's Iraq Campaign, there are at least SEALs as part of a Special Operations advise and assist mission to Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces in combating ISIS. The Navy SEAL operation in northern Iraq is called Task Force Trident. On 3 May , Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Keating IV was killed by ISIS small arms fire near the town of Tel Skuf during an ISIS assault on a Peshmerga position. He was a member of a man Quick Reaction Force (QRF) sent to rescue a dozen U.S. advisors at the position and temporarily assist the Peshmerga. Keating IV was awarded the Navy Cross, posthumously, for his actions.
Selection and training
Main article: United States Navy SEAL selection and training
Before getting accepted into Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, a prospective candidate must pass a certain number of both mental and physical requirements. These tests include: Pre-enlistment medical screening, ASVAB, AFQT, C-SORT, and PST. Then, the candidate must get a SEAL contract by passing the SEAL Physical Screening Test: yard swim in , 50 push-ups in 2 minutes, 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes, 10 consecutive pull-ups in 2 minutes, and a mile run in Candidates receiving a passing score may then be admitted into training to become Navy SEALs. SEAL training is extremely rigorous. The attrition rate fluctuates, but averages at about 80 percent.
The average candidate spends over a year in a series of formal training courses before being awarded the Special Warfare Operator Naval Rating and the Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) Combatant Swimmer (SEAL) or, in the case of commissioned naval officers, the designation Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) Officer.
Navy SEAL training pipeline:
- 8-week Naval Recruit Training
- 8-week Naval Special Warfare Prep School (Pre-BUD/S)
- 3-Week BUD/S Orientation
- week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S)
- 5-week Parachute Jump School
- week SEAL Qualification Training (SQT)
Upon graduation from SQT, trainees receive the U.S. Navy SEAL Trident, designating them as Navy SEALs. They are subsequently assigned to a SEAL Team or SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team and begin months of predeployment training before they are considered deployable. This training consists of:
- 6-month Professional Development – Individual Specialty Training (ProDev)
- 6-month Unit Level Training (ULT). ULT is unit training conducted by each Groups Training Detachment. Core unit training blocks are Air Operations, Land Warfare, Maritime, Urban and Special Reconnaissance.
- 6-month Squadron Integration Training (SIT)
Those enlisted SEALs with a medical rating will first attend the Special Operations Combat Medic Course for 6 months in Fort Bragg, North Carolina before joining a team in order to become a SEAL/Special Operator Corpsman. Those pursuing Officer positions first attend the Junior Officer Training Course (JOTC) to learn about operations planning and how to perform team briefings. In total it can take over years to completely train a Navy SEAL for his first deployment.
For broader coverage of this topic, see Women in the United States Navy.
Until December , female sailors were barred from becoming Navy SEALs by naval regulation; however, this prohibition no longer exists. As early as August , it was reported that the "Navy is planning to open its elite SEAL teams to women who can pass the grueling training regimen." In that same month, Admiral Jon Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations at the time, said that "he and the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Admiral Brian Losey, believe that if women can pass the legendary six-month Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, they should be allowed to serve." On 3 December , it was announced that there are now "no exceptions" to all military roles in the U.S., and women can become U.S. Navy SEALs.
The Washington Examiner reported on 10 August "A woman aiming to become the first female Navy SEAL officer quit about a week into the initial training".
In the Navy announced that an unnamed female officer was the first to successfully complete the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection program (SOAS). She was a one of a group of five female candidates to enter the program. She opted not to become a SEAL afterward though, instead choosing another assignment in the Navy.
Navy SEAL teams and structures
Naval Special Warfare Groups
Naval Special Warfare Command is organized into the following configuration:
- Naval Special Warfare Group 1: SEAL Teams 1, 3, 5, 7
- Naval Special Warfare Group 2: SEAL Teams 2, 4, 8, 10
- Naval Special Warfare Group 3: SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2
- Naval Special Warfare Group 4: Special Boat Teams 12, 20, 22
- Naval Special Warfare Group NSW Support Activity One, NSW Support Activity Two, Mission Support Center ("organize, train, educate, equip, deploy and sustain specialized intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and preparation-of-the-environment capabilities")
- Naval Special Warfare Group SEAL Teams 17, 18 (formerly Operational Support Teams 1, 2)
- Naval Special Warfare Development Group: Assigned operationally to JSOC (formerly SEAL Team 6)
The total number of personnel, including SEALs and SWCCs assigned to Naval Special Warfare Command is approximately 8, out of a total 8, military staff, and 10, including civilian support staff.
The original SEAL Teams were separated between West Coast (Team One) and East Coast (Team Two) SEALs. Likewise current SEAL Teams are organized into two groups: Naval Special Warfare Group One (West Coast) and Naval Special Warfare Group Two (East Coast), both of which come under the command of Naval Special Warfare Command at NAB Coronado, California. As of , there are eight confirmed Navy SEAL Teams. The current SEAL Team deployments include Teams 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and The most recent active-duty teams are SEAL Team 7 and SEAL Team 10, which were formed in March and April , respectively. However, two reservist support teams were reorganized into SEAL teams in 
The Teams deploy as Naval Special Warfare Squadrons or Special Operations Task Forces and can deploy anywhere in the world. Squadrons will normally be deployed and fall under a Joint Task Force (JTF) or a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) as a Special Operations Task Force (SOTF).
Each SEAL Team (or "squadron") is commanded by a Navy commander (O-5), and has eight operational SEAL platoons and a headquarters element. Operationally, the "Team" is divided into two to four man "task units" (or "troops"). Each task unit consists of a headquarters element consisting of a task unit commander, typically a lieutenant commander (O-4), a task unit senior enlisted (E-8), a targeting/operations officer (O-2/3) and a targeting/operations leading/chief petty officer (E-6/7). Under the HQ element are two to four SEAL platoons of 16 men (two officers and 14 enlisted SEALs, and sometimes assigned non-NSW support personnel); a company-sized combat service support (CSS) and/or combat support (CS) consisting of staff N-codes (the Army and Marine Corps use S-codes); N1 Administrative support, N2 Intelligence, N3 Operations, N4 Logistics, N5 Plans and Targeting, N6 Communications, N7 Training, and N8 Air/Medical.
Each man platoon can be task organized for operational purposes into two eight-man squads, four four-man fire teams, or eight two-man sniper/reconnaissance teams. The size of each SEAL "Team", or "squadron", with two to four task units (containing a total of eight platoons) and support staff is approximately personnel. The typical SEAL platoon has an OIC (officer in charge), usually a lieutenant (O-3), a platoon chief (E-7/E-8), and two squads commanded by a LTJG (O-2) and a squad leader (E-6). The remaining members of the squad are operators (E-4 to E-6) with their specialty skills in ordinance, communications, diving, and medical. The core leadership in the troop and platoon are the commander/OIC and the senior enlisted NCO (Senior Chief/chief).
Platoon core skills consist of: Sniper, Breacher, Communicator, Maritime/Engineering, Close Air Support, Corpsman, Point-man/Navigator, Primary Driver/Navigator (Rural/Urban/Protective Security), Heavy Weapons Operator, Sensitive Site Exploitation, Air Operations Master, Lead Climber, Lead Diver/Navigator, Interrogator, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Technical Surveillance, and Advanced Special Operations.
Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, a naval base in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is home to SEAL Teams 2, 4, DEVGRU, 8, 10, and Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, a naval base in Coronado, California, is home to SEAL Teams 1, 3, 5, 7, and There are also two SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) units, SDVT-1 and SDVT-2, located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Little Creek, Virginia, respectively. SDV Teams are SEAL teams with an added underwater delivery capability. An SDV platoon consists of 12–15 SEALs. Declassified locations:
|Insignia||Team||Deployment||Number of platoons||HQ||Notes|
|SEAL Team 1||Worldwide||8 platoons||Coronado, California|
|SEAL Team 2||Worldwide||8 platoons||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|SEAL Team 3||Middle East||8 platoons||Coronado, California|
|SEAL Team 4||Worldwide||8 platoons||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|SEAL Team 5||Worldwide||8 platoons||Coronado, California|
|Naval Special Warfare Development Group|
(SEAL Team 6)
|Worldwide||Classified||Virginia Beach, Virginia||SEAL Team 6 was dissolved in The Navy then established the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as DEVGRU. While DEVGRU is administratively supported by Naval Special Warfare Command, they are operationally under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command.|
|SEAL Team 7||Worldwide||8 platoons||Coronado, California|
|SEAL Team 8||Worldwide||8 platoons||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|SEAL Team 10||Middle East||8 platoons||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|SEAL Team 17||Worldwide|
|2 platoons||Coronado, California||Formerly Operational Support Team 1|
|SEAL Team 18||Worldwide|
|2 platoons||Virginia Beach, Virginia||Formerly Operational Support Team 2|
|SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1||Indian and Pacific Oceans, Middle East||4 platoons||Pearl Harbor, Hawaii|
|SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2||Atlantic Ocean, Europe and the Americas||4 platoons||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
Special warfare ratings
Main article: List of United States Navy enlisted rates
The Special Warfare Operator rating (SO) and Special Warfare Boat Operator rating (SB), were established in  Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) and Special Warfare Boat Operators (SWCCs) are no longer required to maintain the original rating they qualified in upon joining the Navy.
The following ratings are specific to Navy SEALs:
United States Navy Parachute Team "Leap Frogs"
The primary mission of the Navy Parachute Team (NPT) is to support Naval Special Warfare recruiting by gaining access and exposure to appropriate candidates through aerial parachuting demonstrations. The U.S. Navy Parachute Team is a fifteen-man team composed of U.S. Navy SEALs. Each member comes to the team for a three-year tour from one of the two Naval Special Warfare Groups located on the east and west coasts. On completion of the tour, members return to operational units. The parachute team began in when Navy SEALs and Frogmen volunteered to perform at weekend air shows. The Team initially consisted of five jumpers: LCDR Olson, PHC Gagliardi, SK2 "Herky" Hertenstein, PR1 Al Schmiz and PH2
United States Navy sailor
Kevin "Dauber" Lacz (born December 26, ) is a United States Navy SEAL veteran who served two tours in the Iraq War. His platoon's deployment to Ramadi has been discussed in several books, including Dick Couch's The Sheriff of Ramadi, Jim DeFelice's Code Name: Johnny Walker, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin's Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win and Chris Kyle's New York Times best-selling autobiography, American Sniper. Lacz's presence in the book led to his involvement in the production of and eventual casting in the Clint Eastwood-directed Oscar-winning biopic of the same name (starring Bradley Cooper).
Lacz was born in Meriden, Connecticut, where he lived until the age of 12, at which point he moved to Middlefield, Connecticut. He attended Xavier High School in Middletown, Connecticut, an all-male private Catholic school, graduating in He enrolled at James Madison University in to pursue a career in medicine.
When the terrorist attacks of September 11, claimed the life of a friend's father, Lacz decided to leave school in favor of the military. A SEALs poster on the wall at a navy recruiter's office inspired Lacz to enlist in the United States Navy with orders for Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school (BUD/S).
Lacz started BUD/S Class , but suffered a back injury that forced him to roll back to the next class. He went on to graduate with BUD/S Class in As a Hospital Corpsman, Lacz also attended D Special Operations Combat Medic School at Fort Bragg before checking into SEAL Team 3 in Coronado, California. Soon after, he attended Army Sniper School and returned to Charlie Platoon where he began preparing for his deployment with Chris Kyle, Jonny Kim, Marc Alan Lee, Ryan Job, Jocko Willink and Mike Monsoor (who was in the same Task Unit, but from Delta Platoon).
In , Lacz deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, with Charlie Platoon, Task Unit Bruiser. The work he did as a platoon sniper and medic contributed to his task unit becoming the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War. Lacz personally conducted numerous sniper overwatches, direct action missions, raids, and tribal engagements in support of the effort to halt the spread of violence through Ramadi. For his actions on his deployment, including acquiring numerous enemy kills and braving enemy fire to carry a fallen comrade to safety, Lacz was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with a Combat 'V.'
In , Lacz returned to Iraq, this time as a member of Delta Platoon. Joining Chris Kyle for another deployment, his focus was the Iraqi border with Syria and the interception of foreign fighters trying to infiltrate the country.
As a SEAL, Lacz gained extensive experience in Special Operations Combat Medicine (SOCM), Special Operations Dive Chamber Medicine, Military Free-Fall HALO and HAHO Operations, Long-Range Target Interdiction Sniper work, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) Training, Battlefield Interrogations, Close Quarters Combat (CQC), Counter-Terrorism Operations, and Naval Special Warfare Lead Breaching Operations.
In addition to his Bronze Star Medal, Lacz was awarded two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, among other awards.
Upon completing his enlistment, Lacz was honorably discharged from the Navy. He returned to Connecticut and enrolled at the University of Connecticut with the intention of continuing his career in medicine. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in political science in and began the application process for physician assistant school. In , Lacz moved his family to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to pursue his Masters of Medical Sciences at Wake Forest University. He graduated in August 
Because of his close working and personal relationship with Chris Kyle, Lacz was asked to contribute to his autobiography, American Sniper, through interviews. Kyle also discussed Lacz frequently when referencing the and deployments (as "Dauber"), laying the groundwork for Lacz's involvement in the production. He was hired to provide SEAL technical advising for the film. Bradley Cooper also convinced Clint Eastwood to allow Lacz to audition for the role of "Dauber," after which he was cast to play himself.
Lacz is the spokesperson for Hunting for Healing, a (c)(3) charitable organization he founded with his wife, Lindsey. After taking a trip to Africa together in May , the couple decided to launch a charity with a mission to take service-disabled veterans and their spouses on hunting, fishing, and outdoor excursions.
Lacz was appointed by Governor Rick Scott of Florida to the District Board of Trustees for Pensacola State College in  Lacz is also a professional speaker represented by Greater Talent Network (GTN). His memoir about his deployment to Ramadi, The Last Punisher, was published on July 12, 
Currently, Lacz works as a physician assistant in northwest Florida and southeastern Alabama, where he is co-owner of Regenesis, a lifestyle and performance medicine medical practice. His past military service influences him greatly as he also seeks to actively support service members and veterans by tending to their medical needs.
- ^ abcdefGecan, Alex (April 1, ). "Middlefield native, Navy SEAL playing himself in Eastwood's 'American Sniper'". The Middletown Press. Retrieved June 15,
- ^ abcKevin Lacz, Ethan E. Rocke & Lindsey Lacz (July ). The Last Punisher. Threshold Editions. ISBN.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- ^ abStern, Marlow. "The 'American Sniper' I Knew: Kevin Lacz on Fellow Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and Movie Criticisms". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 15 June
- ^Feloni, Richard. "A former Navy SEAL officer reveals the point checklist he used to prepare for combat". Business Insider. Retrieved 16 June
- ^"Kevin Lacz Biography". IMDb. Retrieved 16 June
- ^Ross, Dalton. "UConn Graduate Kevin Lacz Plays Himself in "American Sniper"". WHUS Radio. Retrieved 16 June
- ^""American Sniper" Actor: PA Grad and Former Navy SEAL". Wake Forest School of Medicine. Retrieved 16 June
- ^Kyle, Chris; McEwen, Scott; DeFelice, Chris (February 5, ). American Sniper. Harper Collins. ISBN.
- ^Tedder, Michael. "Bradley Cooper on 'American Sniper': Training Was Basically A Science Experiment". Variety. Retrieved 16 June
- ^"Who We Are". Hunting for Healing. Retrieved 16 June
- ^"Governor Rick Scott Appoints Two to Pensacola State College District Board of Trustees". Rick Scott, 45th Governor of Florida.
- ^"Why Kevin Lacz Is Captivating Audiences". Greater Talent Network.
- ^"Regenesis". iLifestyle Gulf Coast. Retrieved 16 June
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