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.

SEALs make the best heroes Part 2
Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

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The SEAL acronym stands for Sea, Air, and Land, which identifies the elements in which they operate. SEALs work in small units — often one to two men, but sometimes in a platoon comprised of up to 16. They are trained to perform specific tasks under any type of circumstance and in any environment. Their training takes place in the desert, the jungle, in extreme hot and cold weather, and in urban areas.

SEAL mis­sions require detailed planning and precise execution. SEALs are trained to perform missions that fall into five main categories:

  • 190529-N-XD935-010
    ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 29, 2019) Sailors assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 conduct military dive operations off the East Coast of the United States. U.S. Navy SEALs engage in a continuous training cycle to improve and further specialize skills needed during deployments across the globe. SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct missions from sea, air, and land. Naval Special Warfare (NSW) has more than 1,000 special operators and support personnel deployed to more than 35 countries, addressing security threats, assuring partners and strengthening alliances while supporting Joint and combined campaigns. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jayme Pastoric/Released)

    Unconventional Warfare (UW) – Using guerilla warfare tactics in battle. Guerilla warfare is characterized by small, mobile combat groups that operate using often “unorthodox” battle methods like destroying enemy supplies, creating diversions, ambushing small enemy units, demolitions, and other “hit and run” types of operations.

  • Foreign Internal Defense (FID) – Training given to foreign nationals in order to build relationships. During Operation Desert Storm, Navy SEALs trained 13 Kuwaiti operators in maritime infiltration techniques in order to set up a secret meeting with local resistance contacts within Iraq-occupied Kuwait City.
  • Direct Action (DA) – Moving against an enemy target. This may include assaults on land- or water-based targets, hostage rescues, ambushes, etc.
  • Counterterrorism (CT) – Includes direct action against terrorist operations, antiterrorist actions for preventing terrorist acts, and protecting citizens and troops.
  • Special Reconnaissance (SR) – Includes conducting preliminary surveys to gather information, manning observation posts, and other types of surveillance, both overt and covert, where the goal is to gather information.This may include gathering hydrographic data (beach and water surveys) for landings or following an enemy unit and reporting its position.

When SEALs aren’t deployed, they’re in constant training, both to hone basic skills and to learn new skills and techniques that will make a difference when they are deployed.

The above categories overlap when it comes to actual missions, but these are the basis of SEAL training: to be expert in the skills required to perform these various tasks.

 

  • Only about 25 percent of trainees make it through training to become SEALs.
  • A SEAL has never been left behind on a mission.
  • A SEAL has never been taken prisoner.
  • There are currently about 2,290 active-duty SEALs.
  • Stay tuned for more!

SEALs make the best heroes
Monday, October 28th, 2019

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Protecting Amy, Desperate Deception or SEAL Undercover.

You will read about me saying that a lot in the future, as my new series, HEROES RISING, hits both the print and virtual stands. Book One, DESPERATE DECEPTION, is already out and has received an incredible reception. Here are just a few of the quotes from reviews:

“Desperate Deception is a fantastic romantic suspense by Desiree Holt. Ms. Holt has once more delivered a well-written book populated with outstanding characters that readers won’t be able to put down.”

“Great chemistry with some steam and plenty of action. This was a wonderful story! Loved it!!”

“So intriguing, I had to keep reading until the last page. Sex scenes were excellent and more than inspiring. Would definitely recommend!”

“My heart is still racing from the ending!”

“As always, Desiree keeps the actions slamming at you hard and fast ride along with the Romance. Could not put it down! Do not miss this one!!!”

But this is only the beginning. In addition to my Defenders series there will be several more books in the Heroes Rising series?

Why do I chose to write abut SEALs? I don’t mean to disrespect any other branch of the service, especially in Special Forces, but to me SEALs sit at the top of the ladder. Those I have had the privilege of meeting and in some cases becoming friends with epitomize the mean of true heroism as well as being incredible people. In these times of uncertainty, the one thing you can be sure of is that SEALs will also protect and defend,d will serve their country with honor, and will dedicate themselves to the saving and protecting of live. I wanted to do something to honor, even in some small way, their contribution to the safety of this country and the sacrifices they make.

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. The Navy SEALs were created by John F. Kennedy on 1 January 1962. Among the SEALs main functions are conducting small-unit unconventional special operation missions in maritime, jungle, urban, arctic, mountainous, and desert environments. SEALs are primarily tasked with capturing or if necessary, eliminating high level targets, or gathering intelligence behind enemy lines for future military actions. They are often referred to as “The cream of the crop”.

Any place where there are currently U.S. troops, you’ll find that SEALs are either there now or were there first. The role that Navy SEAL teams play rev­olves around getting in and out quickly and without being seen, gathering intelligence, destroying targets, and performing rescues, among other things.

What does it take to become a Navy SEAL? Even SEAL instructors can’t predict who will make it all the way. The common trait instructors see in future SEALs can’t really be defined, they just call it “fire in the gut.” You either have it or you don’t.

 

Want to learn more about SEALs? Follow the blog, with a new post each day.