SEALs make the best heroes #7
Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

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SEALs use handguns such as the 9mm SIG Sauer P226 and the MK23 MOD 0 45-caliber offensive handgun with a suppressor and laser-aiming module.

They use rifles such as the carbine automatic M4A1 5.56 mm and the AK-47. They also use shotguns, machine guns (MK43 and M2HB), and the HK MP5 9mm submachine gun series, among others. Add to that list sniper rifles such as the M88 .50 PIP and the M-14 sniper rifle, along with grenade launchers, mortars and AT4 anti-tank rockets, and SEALs can choose a weapon to fit the specific task at hand.

Each vehicle that Navy SEALs use to transport teams and units to their destination has a specific benefit and utility.

One type of vehicle is the SEAL Delivery Vehicle. These are vehicles that operate below the surface of the water to deliver Navy SEALs and their equipment to their mission area. The crew uses underwater breathing apparatus for life support while navigating the submerged SDV to the destination. Remaining completely submerged the entire time, some models of SDVs can deliver several SEALs with their gear to their mission area, remain in the area while they complete the mission, and then return them to their ship.

There are several primary surface watercraft. They include the CRRC, the SOC-R, the 11-meter RHIB, and the MK V.

The MK V Special Operations Craft (SOC) is the most versatile, high-performance combatant craft in the Naval Special Warfare inventory. It is used primarily in medium-range ocean transport of SEAL combat swimmers in environments where the threat is low-to-medium. It is also used for some coastal patrol and maritime interdiction operations, such as destroying an enemy supply line. The MK V can operate from shore facilities or from specially equipped ships.

SEALs leaving an RHIBSEALs leaving an RHIB
SEALs leaving an RHIB
OFFICIAL U.S. NAVY PHOTO

The NSW Rigid-hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) is an 11-meter, high-speed, high-buoyancy, extreme-weather craft used for moving SEAL tactical elements to and from the ship and beaches. It is large enough to transport an entire SEAL squad.

The Special Operations Craft-Riverine (SOC-R) is Naval Special Warfare’s newest surface craft. It is used in river environments and has a top speed of 42 knots. It holds up to 20,500 lbs (9,300 kg) of personnel and cargo and is well-suited to inland waterways. The SOC-R can be transported by U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft and by helicopter.

The Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) is a 15-foot, heavily reinforced, inflatable rubber boat that is useful on many missions. This is the one trainees are carrying overhead during BUD/S training (it’s often called a Zodiac — Zodiac manufactures the CRRC). In deployment, it is used for over-the-horizon transportation and dropping and retrieving lightly armed SEALS on beaches and in rivers.

SEALs in a CRRCSEALs in a CRRC
SEALs in a CRRC
OFFICIAL U.S. NAVY PHOTO

This boat is easy for the SEALS to move around and can even be launched from the air as a rubber duck, which is a CRRC bound on top of a wooden platform with a parachute attached.

Come back tomorrow for the nest installment

 

SEALs make the best heroes Part #6
Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

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During the Persian Gulf War (a.k.a. Operation Desert Storm, 1991), after a month of air attacks against Iraq, Allied forces were ready to move into Iraq-occupied Kuwait and begin the ground war. With 17,000 Marines in ships off the coast of Kuwait City, the Foxtrot platoon from SEAL Team One had the mission of creating a diversion. The plan was to make the Iraqis believe that Allied forces were planning an amphibious attack.

In the dark of night, the SEAL team approached the Kuwaiti shore in landing boats, stopping about 500 yards out and swimming the rest of the way in. Each SEAL towed a 20-pound case of explosives. Right under enemy noses, they planted the explosives on the Kuwaiti beach and swam back to their boats. The explosives were set to go off at 1 a.m.

As the land explosives went off, the SEALs fired automatic weapons and launched grenades, creating a huge amount of noise that caught the attention of the Iraqis. The noise, combined with the force of Marines seen off the coast, convinced the Iraqis that the attack was coming from the sea. They pulled two divisions from the front line and moved them to the coast, only to find the SEALs and the Marine diversion gone. The ground war began against a much weakened Iraqi force.

Navy SEAL Special Reconnaissance and Direct Action

In Somalia, on December 2, 1992, during Operation Restore Hope, Navy SEALs were needed to clear the path for a Marine landing to secure the Mogadishu airport. SEALs from Team One swam to shore, measuring water depth, shore gradient, and beach composition to create maps and secure the landing. A few days later, they explored the Mogadishu Harbor to determine if an adequate port for supply ships could be found. Unexpected problems came when they found that the water in the harbor was contaminated with raw sewage and other wastes. The SEALs completed their jobs, but some became sick from the mission.

The following day, when the Marine landing was taking place, SEALs, along with Marine Recon Units, swam ahead of the landing forces as scouts. What they found was media representatives, bright lights, and television cameras in their faces as they emerged from the water and walked onto the beach. The Marine landing went on, televised for all the world to see.

Also in Somalia, a SEAL sniper prevented a group of marines from being shot at by a Somali gunman.

It was reported that a SEAL sniper with an M88 .50 caliber sniper rifle spotted a Somali gunman ducking behind a rock wall. He believed that the gunman was getting his weapon ready to fire at approaching Marines, who were under orders to capture the Somali faction leader, Hussein Mohammed Aideed. The SEAL knew that he could not warn the Marines in time to avoid becoming targets. He fired his rifle, sending the bullet through the rock wall and taking down the gunman behind it.

Come back tomorrow for more.

 

SEAls make the best heroes Part #5
Friday, November 1st, 2019

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New SEALs report immediately to their operational units and begin 12 to 18 months of extensive individual-, platoon-, and squadron-level training in preparation for deployment with their SEAL platoon. This training/deployment cycle is repeated to make sure SEALs are constantly improving and learning new skills that can save lives and help missions succeed.

Let’s take at look at some examples of SEAL missions.

While we may hear about some amazing SEAL missions, most of what they do is off the radar. The few missions that do make the evening news, however, show us just how hard — and how important — the SEALs’ jobs are.

Counterterrorism

On January 6, 2002, during Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2003), SEALs were sent to the landlocked country of Afghanistan in search of Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists hiding in the caves of Zawar Kili. What was supposed to be a 12-hour mission turned into an eight-day mission.

SEALs and other SOCOM (Special Operations Command) operators searched more than 70 caves over a 3-mile-long ravine near the Pakistani border. Their search turned up caches of weapons, ammunition, supplies, and a wealth of intelligence information. They survived the unexpectedly extended mission on supplies they found in the al-Qaeda camps.

In the book Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy SEAL, former SEAL Chuck Pfarrer describes how a mission to protect a U.S. Navy amphibious ship (at an undisclosed location) turned into the capture of would be-terrorists. As leader of his SEAL detachment, Pfarrer was responsible for securing the ship in port while its cargo of ammunition was unloaded.

After searching many fishing boats in the vicinity of the harbor, Pfarrer noticed a fishing boat coming into the area that didn’t look like the others. He became suspicious and jumped into a Zodiac boat with two other SEALs, intending to search the slowly approaching boat. Maneuvering to prevent the boat from having access to the ship, they turned to face the boat head-on in order to force it to stop. Confirming their suspicions, the boat began increasing its speed.

The Zodiac was running side by side with the fishing boat, and Pfarrer was yelling “Halt!” — but the boat’s driver wouldn’t stop. As the Zodiac got closer, one of the men in the boat began reaching under a fishing net for what looked like an AK-47. The Zodiac driver sharply turned and rammed the Zodiac into the fishing boat. Pfarrer pulled out his gun to fire a warning shot across the hull of the boat, but his gun jammed. He jumped into the fishing boat with the men, followed by the other two SEALs.

After a brief struggle, they tied up the men on the fishing boat. Looking beneath the nets, they found two large bundles of Yugoslavian-made TNT taped together with fuses ready, along with two AK-47s. Explosives of this type are designed to punch holes in a ship’s steel hull. The men in the fishing boat were combat swimmers preparing to attach these explosives to the anchored U.S. Navy ship.

SEALs make the best heroes Part #4
Thursday, October 31st, 2019

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BUD/S lasts seven months. The initial indoctrination comprises five weeks of learning the expectations and ways of Navy SEALS. More important, it is a time to prepare physically and mentally for what’s ahead.

Once indoctrination is complete, the remaining time is broken down into eight weeks of basic conditioning, eight weeks of SCUBA training, and nine weeks of land-warfare training. The training takes place at the Naval Amphibious Base at Coronado, CA.

Basic Conditioning is when the going gets rough. This is the phase where most Drops on Request (DOR) happen. For eight weeks, trainees’ days are filled with running, swimming, calisthenics, and learning small-boat operations. One-to-2 mile ocean swims and running the mother of all obstacle courses are daily, and timed, events. A trainee’s time for these exercises must continuously improve.

Another important part of basic conditioning is drown-proofing. In this evolution, trainees must learn to swim with both their hands and their feet bound. To pass drown-proofing, trainees enter a 9-foot-deep pool and complete the following steps with their hands and feet tied.

The fourth week of Basic Conditioning is known as Hell Week. This is when students train for five days and five nights solid with a maximum total of four hours of sleep. Hell Week begins at sundown on Sunday and ends at the end of Friday. During this time, trainees face continuous training evolutions. During Hell Week, trainees get four meals a day — sometimes MREs, but usually hot meals of unlimited quantities. Eating hot food is a substitute for being warm and dry. It gives a needed psychological boost to tired trainees, many of whom are nearly sleeping while they eat.

Pretty much every evolution during Hell Week involves the team (or boat crew) carrying their boat — inflatable rubber Zodiacs — over their heads. Timed exercises, runs, and crawling through mud flats are interspersed throughout the five-and-a-half days. The largest number of trainees drops out during Hell Week. This extreme training is critical, though. SEALs on missions must be able to operate efficiently, oblivious to sub-zero temperatures and their own physical comfort. Their lives, as well as the lives of others, may depend on it.

During land-warfare training, SEALs train for nine weeks in intelligence-gathering and structure penetration, long-range reconnaissance and patrolling, and close-quarters battle. They are also trained to react to sniper attacks and to use “edged” weapons such as knives and other blades. SEALs must be able to drive any vehicle and be skilled in high-speed and evasive driving techniques. Hand-to-hand combat is also taught during this phase of training.

To be prepared for anything, they are taught the tactics small units must use, including handling explosives, infiltrating enemy lines, recovery (snatch-and-grab) techniques, and proper handling of prisoners. SEALs must also be able to survive in extreme environments and provide medical treatment (field medicine).

Come back tomorrow for Part #5

SEALs make the best heroes Part 3
Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

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How did they start, this honored group of men who serve with such intensity??

In the 1960s, the Soviet Union’s ally, North Vietnam, was fighting against a U.S. ally, South Vietnam. President Kennedy wanted to send in small teams of guerrilla fighters to help South Vietnam. With the Army’s Green Beret unit already set up, it was time for the Navy to create its own Special Operations unit. Building on the training of the UDTs, the Navy SEALs (an acronym for Sea, Air, and Land) were created. Their training readied them for the work ahead in the jungles, coasts, and rivers of Vietnam. Their task was to go behind enemy lines and raid enemy camps, sabotage supplies, cut off enemy communications, and destroy stored ammunition. They were very successful in their missions.

With the Vietnam War ending without victory, many cuts were made in military spending, and the number of Special Forces units were in many cases cut in half. The success of the SEALs in Vietnam, however, proved their value.

Hooyah! — the war cry of the Navy SEALs — becomes an automatic response for SEALs during the torturous SEAL training. While there may be other variations in meaning, “hooyah” generally means “yes,” “understood,” and “I’m not letting this evolution get the best of me.” (Evolution is the term used for each event in the training schedule.)

SEAL training is brutal. It takes over 30 months to train a Navy SEAL to the point at which he will be ready for deployment. The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task they could be called on to perform, including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit both mentally and physically in order to weed out those who may not be able to successfully complete the demanding missions and operations with which SEALs are faced. The types of stresses they endure during BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) are the same stresses they will endure as SEALs. If they can’t withstand it when lives aren’t on the line, chances are good they won’t be able to withstand it when lives are at stake.

Entering training to become a Navy SEAL is voluntary. Anyone can volunteer, and officers and enlisted men train side by side. In order to enter SEAL training, however, they do have to meet certain requirements. Those wishing to volunteer for SEAL training have to:

  • be an active-duty member of the U.S. Navy
  • be a man (women aren’t allowed to be Navy SEALs)
  • be 28 or younger (although waivers for 29- and 30-year-olds are possible)
  • have good vision — at least 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other (corrective surgery is also possible)
  • be a U.S. citizen
  • pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • Pass a stringent physical screening test that includes the following procedure: swim 500 yards in 12.5 minutes or less, followed by a 10-minute rest; do 42 push-ups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest; do 50 sit-ups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest; do six pull-ups, followed by a 10-minute rest; run 1.5 miles in boots and long pants in less than 11.5 minutes

Once a potential SEAL qualifies for training, the real fun starts.

Come back tomorrow for the next part.