SEAL history can be quickly traced back to World War II. A time of great need in the world for brave, intelligent, creative men to pave the way for the allied landings on enemy soil. Through the conquests and triumphs of the Navy's Underwater Demolitions Teams grew the legends of the "Naked Warriors". The SEALs, by that name, were not commissioned until the early 60s. Spurred by the Kennedy Administrationsapproval of the Green Berets and the need for units with the type of tactical skills that the Green Beret represented prompted the Navy to form their own elite unit. Some people believe that the American unconventional warrior was forged in this era of our history. In fact the United States was liberated from Imperial Rule by a brave and ruthless group of guerilla commandos that we reverently call "Minute Men". In fact one of the Amercian Revolutions greatest battles was a riverine operation at DelawareCrossing near Trenton, New Jersey.
The Naval Commando's roots from the Naval Combat Demolition Units, Underwater Demolition Teams and Scouts & Raiders of WWII. There the Naked warrior emerged to clear the path for the Allied landings at Normandy and in the Pacific.
World War II marks the beginning of the modern day Naval Commandos. The Navy SEALs trace their heritage back to the original Naked Warrior. The Navy Combat Swimmers led the way reconnoiteringand clearing landing beaches of obstacles making possible the Allied Beach landings of World War II. These brave men operated in every theater of the great war and their contribution greatly outweighed their numbers, a trend that will follow them throughout their long and colorful history.
Korea The forgotten war began in 1950 and ended in 1953. The Underwater Demolition Teams fought heroically and with little fanfare during this conflict. The UDT started to employdemolition expertise gained from WWII and adapt it to an offensive role. Continuing the effective use of the water as cover and concealment as well as a method of insertion, the Korean Era UDT targeted bridges, tunnels, fishing nets and other maritime and coastal targets. They also developed a close working relationship with the Republic of Korea (ROK) UDT/SEALs, whom they trained and which continues to this day.
Vietnam was proving ground where the UDTofficially and experientially transformed into the modern day Naval Commandos. It was in Vietnam that the SEALs legendary exploits and awesome combat effectiveness led them to be feared as "Devils with Green Faces" by the Viet Cong. Here the SEALs gained the almost mythical reputation that they have to this day. In early 1962, when America's presence in Vietnam was strictly at the Advisory level, President Kennedy recognized the changeing face of warfare and gave the thumbs up for the services to create thier ownspecial operation detachments. The Navy responded by commissioning two Sea Air Land Teams (SEALs). Initially they gained their numbers from the already diverse UDT. Experienced in explosives and diving, they recieved additional training in such mundane skills as safecracking, lauguages, special weapons and tactics, martial arts and hand to hand combat. Vietnam was their proving ground. We can easily state that the SEALs won their part of that war.
They operate by sea, air, and land, descending fromthe night sky, rising from the ocean depths, striking their targets with deadly efficiency, then vanishing into the darkness from which they emerged.
In January 1962, two Sea, Air, and Land Teams were formed. Called SEALs for short, the teams drew their name from the elements through which they infiltrate, operate, and melt away. Commissioned to operate up to twenty miles inland in enemy territroy, they would act asnaval commandos whose functions were to gather intelligence, raid, ambush, capture prisoners, and create havoc in enemy territory. These two Teams, SEAL Team ONE on the west coast and SEAL Team TWo on the east coast, were the end product of decades of amphibious combat units.
The first naval combat units came to being in May of 1942, when ten men were formed into the Scouts and Raiders. In most of their operations, they were limited to direct support of the amphibious force, guiding marine and armyunits ashore. Later a few of them served with guerrilla units behind enemy lines in China, and many were blended in with the Underwater Demolition Teams involved in the campaign against the Japanese in the Pacific. The Scouts and Raiders participated in Operation Torch in November of 1942, and in many other operations in europe during the war. About a year after the formation of the Scouts and Raiders, the first Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) were formed. These units are generally considered the directancestors of the SEALs. In June of 1943, the NCDUs set up shop in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and began training. Most of the volunteers selected came from the Seabees, the legendary navy construction battalions, and others were recruited from the navy's bomb-disposal units.
In preperation for the Normandy invasion, the NCDUs flew over to Europe and joined with the Scouts and Raiders. This units scouted and cleared the beaches of Normandy so the allied invasion could progree as smoothly as possible. Duringthe invasion these units were hampered by heavy casulties, but still were able to complete the beach clearings. Some of the braver ones even continued inland with the army to help secure the liberation of France.
In the Pacific theater, Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) were being created to assist amphibious landings. These teams participated in the strategy of "island hopping", by clearing beaches and obstacles for the marines who followed. The UDT teams were much greater in size than their NCDUcompadres. These units often contained more than 150 men. The UDT teams helped in almost every major amphibious landing after Tarawa.
After WWII, the UDT units were drastically reduced in size. They served in the Korean War and participated in the Inchom landing and also at Wonsan, Iwon, and Chinnampo. The UDT units were also used as naval gueriilas. Many were sent on commando missions in harbors and on shorelines.
In 1962, JFK, realizing that guerilla warfare was the battle of the future,ordered the Navy to create two SEAL teams. These two teams were the first in a long line of teams to come. Many SEALs started out by serving advisory roles to the ARVN forces in South Vietnam. But as US involvement increased, both SEAL teams as well as UDT teams were sent in as combat units. These performed exceptionally well, with some units having over a 200:1 kill ratio. Vietnam is where the SEALs learned and perfected their tactics and they became they finest fighting force in the world.
In the past twenty years, SEALs have participated in numerous operations. They participated in the invasions of Grenada and Panama. SEALs also played a major role in Operation Desert Storm. In the past year, SEALs assissted the Marines in defending the US embassy in Liberia.
Naval Special Warfare Training - Following basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, IL, and the NSW Preparation Course, Great Lakes, IL, you will begin Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training in Coronado, CA. This six-month course of instruction will focus on physical conditioning, small boat handling, diving physics, basic diving techniques, land warfare, weapons, demolitions, communications, and reconnaissance.
First Phase (Basic Conditioning) - 7 weeks - First Phase trains, develops, and assesses SEAL candidates in physical conditioning, water competency, teamwork, and mental tenacity. This phase is eight weeks long. Physical conditioning with running, swimming, and calisthenics grows harder and harder as the weeks progress. You will participate in weekly four mile timed runs in boots, timed obstacle courses, swim distances up to two miles wearing fins in the ocean, and learn small boat seamanship.
The first three weeks of First Phase will
prepare you for the fourth week, better known as "Hell Week." During this
week, you will participate in five and one-half days of continuous training,
with a maximum of four hours sleep total. This week is designed as the
ultimate test of one's physical and mental motivation while in First
Phase. Hell Week proves to those who make it that the human body can do
ten times the amount of work the average man thinks possible. During Hell
Week, you will learn the value of cool headedness, perseverance, and above all,
TEAMWORK. The remaining four weeks are devoted to teaching various methods
of conducting hydrographic surveys and how to create a hydrographic chart.
Second Phase (Diving) - 8 weeks - Diving Phase trains, develops, and qualifies SEAL candidates as competent basic combat swimmers. This phase is eight weeks long. During this period, physical training continues and becomes even more intensive. Second Phase concentrates on combat SCUBA. You will learn two types of SCUBA: open circuit (compressed air) and closed circuit (100% oxygen). Emphasis is placed on long distance underwater dives with the goal of training students to become basic combat divers, using swimming and diving techniques as a means of transportation from their launch point to their combat objective. This is a skill that separates SEALs from all other Special Operations forces.
Third Phase (Land Warfare) - 9 weeks - Third Phase trains, develops, and qualifies SEAL candidates in basic weapons, demolition, and small unit tactics. This phase of training is nine weeks in length. Physical training continues to become more strenuous as the run distance increases and the minimum passing times are lowered for the runs, swims, and obstacle course. Third Phase concentrates on teaching land navigation, small-unit tactics, patrolling techniques, rappelling, marksmanship, and military explosives. The final three and a half weeks of Third Phase are spent on San Clemente Island, where students apply all the techniques they have acquired during training.
BUD/S Training Timeline
First Phase is nine weeks in length. Continued physicalconditioning in the areas of running swimming, and calisthenics grow harder and harder as the weeks progress. Students will participate in weekly four mile timed runs in boots, timed obstacle courses, swim distances up to two miles wearing fins in the ocean, and learn small boat seamanship.
The first five weeks of First Phase prepare you for the sixth week, better known as "Hell Week." During this week, students participate in five and one half days of continuous training, with a maximum of fourhours of sleep. This week is designed as the ultimate test of one's physical and mental motivation while in First Phase. Hell Week proves to those who make it that the human body can do ten times the amount of work the average man thinks possible. During Hell Week, you will learn the value of coolheadedness, perseverance, and above all, TEAMWORK. The remaining three weeks are devoted to teaching various methods of conducting hydrographic surveys and how to conduct a hydrographic chart.
After you have completed First Phase, you have proven to the instructor staff that you are motivated to continue more in-depth training. The diving Phase is seven weeks in length. During this period, physical training continues, but the times are lowered for the four mile runs, two mile swims, and obstacle course. Second Phase concentrates on combat SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Students are taught two types of SCUBA: open circuit (compressedair) and closed circuit (100% oxygen). Emphasis is placed on long distance underwater dives with the goal of training students to become basic combat divers, using swimming and diving techniques as a means of transportation from their launch point to their combat objective. This is a skill that separates SEALS from all other Special Operations forces.
The demolitions, reconnaissance, and land warfare phase is nine weeks in length. Physicaltraining continues to become more strenuous as the run distances increase and the minimum passing times are lowered for the runs, swims, and obstacle course. Third Phase concentrates on teaching land navigation, small-unit tactics, patrolling techniques, rappelling, infantry tactics, and military explosives. The final five weeks of Third Phase are spent on San Clemente Island, where students apply techniques acquired throughout training in a practical environment.
BUD/S graduates receive three weeks basic parachute training at the Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Georgia, prior to reporting to their first Naval Special Warfare Command. Navy corpsmen who complete BUD/S and Basic Airborne Training also attend two weeks of Special Operations Technician Training at the Naval Special Warfare Center, Coronado. During this course, they participate in an intense course of instruction in diving medicine and medical skills called 18-D (Special Operations MedicalSergeant Course) . It is a 30-week course where students receive training in burns, gunshot wounds, and trauma.
After assignment to a Team and successfully completing a six-month probationary period, qualified personnel are awarded a SEAL Naval Enlisted Classification (NEC) Code and the Naval Special Warfare Insignia. New combat swimmers serve the remainder of their first enlistment (2 1/2 - 3 years) in either an SDV or SEAL Team. Upon reenlistment, members may be ordered to additional trainingand another SDV or SEAL Command, where they will complete the remainder of a five- year sea tour. Advanced courses include SDV training, Diving Supervisor, language training, and NAVSPECWAR communications. Shore duty opportunities are available in research and development, instructor duty, and overseas assignments. In addition to normal pay allowances, Naval Special Warfare personnel currently receive $175/month dive pay and $l10/month hazardous duty pay.
Like many things in the military, theend comes before the beginning here. Fourth Phase of training varies in length depending upon when you go through training and when you check in. For many classes Fourth Phase was seven weeks inlength and was a time to get physically and mentally prepared to START training! Currently it is two weeks in length - just long enough to find out which students are prepared to train and which are not. Those not prepared are sent back to the fleet to try their luck again at a later date. The length of Fourth Phaseis at the whim of the Commanding Officer du Jour who wants to make his mark on the training of new recruits. Basically, though, Fourth Phase is a time to get your feet on the ground and get to know the basic nuts and bolts of how BUD/S training operates. The trainees swim, pt, run and get dogged pretty hard - but you still know that training has yet to begin. During Fourth Phase, or indoctrination phase, the instructors decide who is ready to "class up" for the next BUD/S class. Prior to classing up - orcommencing training, a class-up party is held at Gator Beach on the Coronado Strand where trainees paint helmets the First Phase green and shave their heads to prepare for the intensity of the ensuing 25 weeks of training.
First Phase of BUD/S is referred to as the the basic conditioning phase and is nine weeks long. Physical training occurs continuously throughout each day with a few classes sprinkled in for your enjoyment.
Second Phase is Dive Phase. Lasting seven weeks in length, students learn both open and closed circuit combat diving - with an emphasis place on long distance underwater transit dives utilizing a depth guage, compass and dive watch for navigating. If you thought First Phase was wet - stand by!.
Third Phase is Land Warfare Phase. Although SEAL's embrace the water as a home away from home, a good portion of the training and missions take place on terra- firma (dry land).
KABOOOOOOOM! From the south side of the strand came the deafening noise of artillery fire. Machine guns ratatatated. Sirens blared. Piercing screams. KABOOOOOM! More artillery fire, machine-gun fire, screams. Dessert forks dropped at the Hotel Del. South along the strand, the Naval Special Warfare Center, ringed with barbed-wire-topped fences and NO TRESPASSING signs, had erupted into a mock battle zone. It signaled the start of the most physically demanding - and carefully choreographed - week oftraining in the US military. Hell Week for the Navy SEALs, Sea-Air-Land commandos.
The SEALs, along with Army Green Berets, Air Force commandos and Delta Force operatives, are part of the US Special Operations command, 46,000 - strong, headquartered in Tampa, Fla. These forces launched clandestine operations and fought behind enemy lines during the Desert Storm war. But they are misunderstood warriors, their unconventionaltactics often distrusted by conventional commanders.
Perhaps nothing better demonstrates what separates special operations commandos from regular soldiers than Hell Week, which Navy men must endure to become SEALs. The most ferocious warriors in the American military, SEALs specialize in commando assaults, unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency operations and dangerous reconnaissance or intelligence collection missions that other units turn down. Their roots are in the Navy frogmen of World WarII. Their forte is waterborne operations: scuba diving, underwater demolitions, coastal raids, river combat.
Part of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training course, Hell Week is a sacred rite of passage for becoming a SEAL warrior. SEALs believe that a man driven to the limits of his endurance during Hell Week - no women are allowed in the force -can withstand the rigors and horrors of SEAL combat. These who quit during Hell Week - and often, more than half do - are the ones Navy SEALs believe would quit on their real-world missions. Hell Week teaches a commando to turn off pain and focus on his mission.
The large black asphalt courtyard of the SEALs' Special Warfare Center, nicknamed the "grinder" because students spend countless hours there each day exercising, had been transformed into what looked like a Hollywood set for a war movie. Astring of glowing green chemical sticks lined the yard. At the south end, two barrels ringed with sandbags served as grenade pits into which a hundred artillery simulators were dropped, one after another, detonating with the whistling of an incoming round then an earsplitting explosion that sent plumes of smoke high into the dark blue sky.
From the southern two corners of the grinder, fog machines like the ones used in rock concerts belched out billowing smoke that filled the courtyard with alayer of ground haze that smelled sickeningly sweet, like a tropical fruit punch. A SEAL instructor whom the students had nicknamed "Wild Country," raced around the grinder screaming at the top of his lungs, firing blanks into the air from an M-60 machine gun on his hip. He seemed almost psychotic during Hell Week. It was all an act, soft spoken and shy off duty, it took the 31-year-old Connecticut native almost an hour of psyching himself up before his shift began to become the maniacal character he wanted toportray.
Atop a podium at the north end of the grinder stood SEAL instructor hells "On your belly! On your feet! On your backs!" He barked out commands through a megaphone so fast that the students had no hope of keeping up.
The instructors pretended to be enraged. One had a laugh box attached to his bullhorn that blared out a fiendish chuckle. Other trainers carried M-60 machine guns, spewing blanks into the air.
The students were ordered back to their barracks just outside the courtyard. "Strip off your fatigue shirts. Leave your undershirts on. Be back in five seconds. "Move!"
Thirty seconds later the students raced back into the grinder out of breath. But one galloped in without his "swim buddy," and the instructors were all over him. From the beginning of their training, students had been drilled never to leave the partner they'd been assigned as a swim buddy. There was a reason: in 30years, Navy SEALs have never left a fellow SEAL behind in combat- dead, wounded or alive. A Navy SEAL has never been taken prisoner. Never.
If an instructor blew his whistle once, BUDS students had to dive to the ground, cover the back of their heads with their hands, keep their mouths open, and cross their legs to simulate the position they would take with an incoming artillery round. After two blows of the whistle, the students would begin crawling to whoever wastooting it. Three blows of the whistle, they would stand.
Class 183 had started with 104 officers and enlisted men. Now, after five weeks of grueling training before Hell Week, almost half had dropped out or been rolled back for physical ailments.
It was getting old fast. His knees ached from running in the sand. His lips were chapped, and his eyelids drooped over brown eyes bleary from too many exhausting days and sleepless nights. His hands were swollen and rough from clawing over obstaclecourses. His voice was gravelly from shouting "Hoo- yahs"-the cheer BUDS students yell to show that an exercise hasn't beaten them down.
At the shoreline, the 57 students of Class 183 lined up in the push-up position facing the Pacific ocean. Instructors began shooting flares into the clear black sky, lighting up the shoreline and ocean and casting eerie shadows over the students.
Instructor grabbed a bullhorn. "Surf torture," he announced.
From the push-up position, the studentswere ordered to begin a "bear crawl" to the edge of the water, where the temperature was 63 degrees. They lumbered forward, bent over on their hands and feet. At the shoreline they were ordered to halt. They stood up. Arm in arm, they marched slowly out to the crashing waves. The first cold wave hit them. It took their breath away. The students staggered back briefly, but continued to march.
Instructor ordered them to halt and sit. More waves knocked them back. With their arms linked, their legsflew up in the air, like Rockettes doing high kicks as the flares above spotlighted them.
A man could quickly freeze to death in truly icy water. At least it would be a quick death: no more than 15 to 20 minutes of painful gasping, he would become giddy and blank out. The longer, more painful torture is to be immersed for extended periods in water that is simply cold. A man wouldn't necessarily die in cold water- not quickly, at least - yet the misery and discomfort ofbeing not just cold, but cold and wet, could almost drive him insane.
The instructors weren't being sadistic. When the students who made it through the training finally got to SEAL units, they would find themselves swimming for hours in frigid waters off Korea or in liquid ice off Alaska. Hell Week was supposed to teach them at least to cope with the madness of cold water.
When 15 minutes were up the enlisted shift chief for the evening instructors, ordered the class to stand, turn aroundand walk out of the surf. The students began to shake from the cold. Their olive-drab uniforms and caps were now dark green and sagged on their bodies from being soaked for so long. Their pants had filled with sand that now trickled down from their legs. Their faces seemed drained of blood. They looked like ghosts, biting their lips, clenching their fists to control the shivering.
One of four Navy doctors monitoring the class around the clock, walked down the line of students with a flashlight. Hestopped before each man and shined the light in his face, searching for signs of hypothermia: short-term memory loss, slurred speech, clumsiness, a far away look.
Their allotted five minutes out of the water were up. It seemed to the students like just five seconds.
Instructor ordered them back to the surf. They turned around. Arms locked, they marched again into the crashing waves.
"You're wet and you're cold now," Instructor said through his bullhorn. "You're going to be wet andcold for one whole week. I want to see some laughing."
The students started laughing. "Keep it up!" The students howled like hyenas. "The more you laugh, the more heat you expend," Instructor said. The students went silent. The waves came crashing over them. Some students groaned as the cold became unbearable. Some students began urinating in their pants, hoping the warm liquid would bring temporary relief from the cold. "Remember, this isn't for everybody, gents," Instructor saidpolitely over his bullhorn. "It's voluntary. This is exactly what every day on a SEAL team is like." It was too much. A student wiggled his arms free from the two men holding them on each side and stood up in the water. The instructor knew immediately what was happening and lunged to grab him. Other students did the same. Too late, he broke free.
The student was sent to the instructor, "Are you going to wake up tomorrow and regret what you've done?" Instructor asked him gently. "Yes," the youngman said, shaking uncontrollably and nearly in tears. "But I can't take five days of the cold." "Go back to the barracks," instructor quietly told him.
A hemorrhage erupted. A second student broke free from the line in the water. This one was an officer. Not a good sign. A third student quit. Then a fourth. A fifth. The instructors became worried. Panic set in along the line of students as they frantically tried to hold back the quitters.
The studentsnow faced something even more fearsome. The night shift.
The evening instructors were all noise and cold and push-ups, yet, at least so far, it had been short and bearable. But the long dark night awaited the students. And the night belonged to the nocturnal SEALs who now stood outside the barracks with their arms folded.
The students stood at rigid attention by their rubber rafts - or as rigid as they couldwith the shivers lingering from the surf torture. The night - shift instructors stalked them silently - like Darth Vaders, growling out commands occasionally, swarming around boat crews that showed the slightest signs of weakness, snarling at them, then dropping them for push-ups, the menacing glares never leaving their faces.
One of the instructors on the night shift, was the first to grab a bullhorn. the instructor who would try to break the students' morale with soft words and veiled threatsand grueling "evolutions." (The training schedule was divided into evolutions, the term used for each event.)
Before the students could begin their next evolution, they faced another painful exercise: walking out of the Special Warfare Center, across Silver Strand Highway, to the Naval Amphibious Base on the other side. The challenge: they had to carry their 150 - pound rubber rafts on top of their heads with all the ropes and their wooden paddles inside. During BUDS training, the students performedspecial neck exercises so they could withstand the constant bouncing of the heavy rafts on their heads. But it still felt like a jackhammer was pounding the tops of their skulls. Instructors had seen students with bald spots on their heads from the constant bouncing and scraping of the rafts. Walking was made more difficult because the pace could never be coordinated among the half dozen men under the raft. They looked like crippled crabs.
Dawn broke. The push-upand whistle drills stopped. The students walked to the mess hall for their first meal in nine hours of Hell Week - the rafts, of course, atop their heads as they walked.
The instructors fed the students four times a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and a midnight ration called mid-rats. The meals were heavy, loaded with carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The students were urged to eat as much as they wanted. Food meant energy. Food compensated for lack of sleep. Food replaced warmth. The studentswere ravenous. They heaped the plates on their trays with scrambled eggs, stacks of pancakes, sausage, bacon, grits, cereal. Every free space of every tray was covered with food, the sides lined with mugs of milk and hot coffee and cocoa.
Back at the barracksthe night-shift officer, huddled over his Hell Week log with the officer in charge of the morning shift. The morning shift had the most dreaded combination of instructors in all of Hell Week.
Themorning shift's enlisted chief. He was 31, and his biceps and shoulders bulged from 11 years in the SEALs. On long marches over beaches and berms he could run students into the ground without breaking a sweat himself. Soaked and shivering again from the surf, the students ran back to the barracks. Instructors stood motionless with their legs spread, hands on their hips and scowls on their faces. It was time to go to work.
Whistle drills. Up. Down. Crawl. Up. Down. Crawl.
Instructors began "sugarcookie drills," a combination of surf torture and whistle drills that left the trainees with sand over every inch of their bodies. It was all preparation - if you could call it that - for the new evolution: the four-mile run up and down the beach.
The instructor hopped into an ambulance as the students began their run and followed them. He hooked his bullhorn to the side mirror and attached a laugh box to it to harangue them along the way.The shift's medic, also used the ride to look at each mancarefully to spot injuries. He pulled the ambulance up beside one boat crew running together and reached for his bullhorn. A 26-year-old Chicagoan and the boat crew's leader, was limping as he ran. "One man's going to slow the whole boat crew down," instructor taunted. "You can't lead from the rearThere's no such thing as a bad team, just a bad leader."
Instructor tried to talk the crew into running ahead and abandoning him. The crew refused, even though it was falling farther behind thepack. His face was covered with sand and sweat. His eyes squinted. He gritted his teeth. The pain in his leg was becoming unbearable. His crew mates formed a cocoon around him as they ran to protect him from instructors taunts.
Instructor was impressed. He must be popular among his crew members. If they didn't like him they would have dumped him. Still, the instructor had to pull him aside to the ambulance to check his leg. He would be sent to the doctor. In a rage, he slammed his fist against theside of the ambulance. He would not return. The doctors found that his leg had a stress fracture. He would be on crutches.
The afternoon began at the Warfare Center's obstacle course, one of the toughest in the US military. The instructors strictly forbade any friends or relatives from hanging around the students
Sitting at the long mess-hall tables, the students struggled to keep their eyes open through the meal.They fumbled with their forks because their hands were too stiff to form a fist. They rolled their aching necks to bring some circulation to them. They stared vacantly. If they waited too long between bites, they nodded off. On it he had chipped beef on toast, scrambled eggs, French toast, two bowls of cereal, toast, grits, a chocolate doughnut, cocoa, grape juice and a glass of water. He polished it all off in a half hour.
Everything about Hell Week seemed to be getting worse for them. They werebecoming more irritated. The painkillers weren't helping. The raft was feeling heavier. The mile and a quarter walk to the mess hall was now a death march.
Shortly before 10 a.m., the instructors lined the students around the bottom of a mud pit. Their bodies were immersed in the water and their heads were sprouting out and resting on the muddy bank.The instructor laid four bullhorns down on the upper rim of the pit and tuned them all to different pitches of a loud, high whine. It was like being inthe middle of an air raid. The students' first sleep period had begun, part of only four hours they would be allowed all week. The instructors wanted to test the students' ability to steal it under the worst conditions. It was a skill SEALs and other special operators must learn. Hell Week students jumped immediately into what the instructors called "instant REM" sleep with its jerky eyeball movements, body twitches and irregular heart rates and breathing.
The students were crammed into a stuffy, first-floor classroom off the grinder. Walking in, a visitor was almost knocked over by the odor. The room smelled like the bottom of a swamp. The combination of three days of body sweat, open sores, grimy, mildewed uniforms soaked in sea water 24 hours a day, plus urine from the students to keep warm, was overpowering.
The instructor stood at the front of the class trying to hold his breath because of the smell and gamely gave a safety class on the nextevolution, the most dangerous in Hell Week: "rock portage." One of the skills a SEAL must learn was to land his raft anywhere, including jagged rocks off a coast. That type of landing, called rock portage, was the most difficult of all. Crashing waves would whipsaw the rafts into the rocks, breaking bones and even crushing backs if the paddlers weren't careful. At night - the only time the SEALs ever infiltrate onto a coast - the ride in could be terrifying, with the almost deafening noise of the wavesslamming against the rocks and with the boat crew being hurled at breakneck speeds as if on a roller coaster.
The rocks the SEALs use for training during BUDS and Hell Week were the black behemoths in front of the Hotel Del. The sharp-edged boulders stood 50 feet high and protruded out some 75 feet from the shore. The joke among the students: it used to be one big rock at the Del, but it was broken up onto boulders bysuccessive BUDS classes slamming against it.
"You people are groggy and you may not be thinking straight," instructor warned in a loud voice. "It's time to pull your head out of your ass now or you won't be in Hell Week long." It was no idle threat. The instructors expected injuries from rock portage.
Two hours later, the first boat went speeding to instructor's position. Each paddler kept one leg hung over the lip of the rubber raft as he stroked furiously to control the vessel in the fast currentapproaching the rocks. A wave tossed the boat high into the air. The paddlers yanked up their legs as the wave sent the boat crashing against the rocks. A second wave beat the boat against a low rock another time. The man at the front clutching a bowline attached to the raft leaped for the rock, clawing at its slippery surface to climb up.
The trick for the man leaping with the bowline was not to get caught between a rock and the l50-pound raft. A wave could come in and crush him. In real SEALoperations the boats would be loaded down with weapons and equipment and would weigh even more.
A crowd of curious spectators from the Hotel Del had gathered at the rocks to watch all the commotion at sea.
Hell Week was becoming weird for the students. Their eyes were playingtricks on him. Shiny objects suddenly had intricate designs like crystals. The cold was driving them all batty. Some now began shivering just at the thought of going into the ocean.
Shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, the students launched their boats from Foxtrot Beach at the Naval Amphibious Base and paddled northwest up San Diego Bay under the tall bridge connecting San Diego to Coronado. The water was peaceful. But full of demons. Sailors at sea on lonely night watches sometimes see them.Apparitions. Mirages. The sea at night can play tricks with sleepy eyes. Hell Week students, by midweek, would hallucinate even more in the ocean. Some saw Indian totem poles sticking up out of the water. Others saw automobiles on top of rubber boats.
The students lined up naked in the barracks for their third and final hygiene inspection. It was almost impossible now for the students to function individually. Arms were slung over one another's shoulders forsupport. A student's good leg became a crutch for another's bad leg. It was as if each boat crew was pooling the parts of each body that still worked.
There was no use hiding injuries at this point; by now their symptoms were too pronounced and the doctors could easily spot them. Blisters had become ulcers. Necks and shoulder blades were rubbed raw from the life vests. Chafing had inflamed testicles. Limbs swelled with cellulitis, which occurred when the skin became severely infected by cuts and gashes.The question the medical team now had to answer for each student: could he make it for another day of Hell Week without doing serious damage to his body?
The students dragged their boats out to the surf for the last paddle. The surf was rough. The weak students barely made it past the breakers. A swift current ran against them. An hour later they had made little headway up the coast. Instructor signaled them to return to shore. The students would have totravel on land, where the slightest step, every movement, was painful. Instructor ordered boats on heads. He moved out at a mercifully slow pace. Some now hung on to the boat straps, letting their crew mates drag him along. "You're not pulling your load," Instructor's told him.
A mile down the beach, the boat and crew were ordered to peel off from the line. instructor ordered them to the surf, then 10 more push-ups. They took several steps. He stopped them. "Do you think you can catch upwith the rest of the men?" instructor asked. "No" was all they could manage to say, pointing to one of the crew mates leg. "Okay," instructor said with a smile. "You guys are secure."
The words took a while to be processed by their brains. "Secure" meant their Hell Week had ended - successfully. Slowly the six men hobbled together and wrapped their arms around one another in a giant hug, like survivors of a shipwreck rejoicing to be found alive.
Thirty-eight students from Class 183 hadmade it. The next week, five of them would be laid up with post-Hell Week injuries that delayed their graduation. The remaining 33 members of class 183 had really just begun their SEAL training. They had 10 more weeks of physical training and scuba-diving instruction. Then they would head to nearby San Clemente Island for nine weeks of light-infantry tactics and commando training. Afterward, they would be packed off to the Army for parachute training and Ranger school. The instructors said the Navy would belucky if just 24 students from Class 183 completed all the training the first time around and didn't have to drop out or be recycled.
Picture yourself standing in the side door of a C-141 cargo aircraft traveling at 120 knots. The windblast is deafoning. Your stomach is churning as you contemplate leaping out the door into the sky 1500 feet above the ground. Many things could go wrong -you could trip and hit your head on the door, your static line could break, or, heaven forbid, your parachute could malfunction. Jump, two, three, four, five - check canpoy, look for other jumpers, uh oh, got a tear the size of the grand canyon and you are coming down fast. Through 1,000 feet, seconds tick away as the terror of the moment grips you. Finally, the three weeks of Airborne training kick in and you remember instinctively your points of performance in this situation. Reserve deployment. Look,reach, grab and pull the reserve handle. Watch as it cuts away your main chute and deploys your reserve -1B parachute. 500 feet, not much room to spare as you drift to the ground preparing to do a PLF (Parachute Landing Fall) or land on your fifth point of performance (your butt). Grab your chute and report into the Army instructor - Congratulations! You have completed your first Airborne jump at Basic Airborne training in Fort Benning, Ga. Four more to go and you can pin on the lead wings and report in to yourSEAL Team for STT.
Airborne school is meant to teach you how to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, at night with a full combat load. In the old days the teams spent three days to teach this same skill - but as safety concerns overode the Team's old ways, the Army was assigned basic jump training and they work hard to pack three days of training into three weeks! So prepare to be repetitious - because repetition is the mother of perfection. At the end of three weeks of ground school, towertraining, and jumping from or bouncing in every type of contraption you could imagine, the students finally get to jump out of a REAL Airplane. It's a hairy experience - expect a few butterflies on your first jump. The standing joke is that your first jump will be a night water jump - because your eyes will be closed and you will pee your pants! However, most SEAL Airborne students learn to enjoy jumping and are eager to get to Free Fall school when in the Teams. Accruing over 1,000 free fall jumps and 50- 100 static line jumps is not uncommon during a career in the Teams.
Deep in a tropical rain forest, invisible men from SEAL Team ONE creep through the foliage, blending with their surroundings and silently signalling their movements through the ranks. Dressed in jungle fatigues, carrying CAR 15's with M-203 grenade launchers, two M-60's and a shotgun for close-in work, these SEALs are right at home.
Across the world in a different time zone, a SEAL Team TWOsniper team sets up on a ridge in Eastern Europe to observe the movement of Rebel troops in Bosnia. Clad in cold weather gear and arctic overwhites, they carry high powered satellite communications gear, spotter scopes, GPS, and the SASR .50 calibre sniper rifle. The men work silently and efficiently - oblivious to the sub-zero tempurature.
Across the ocean in the Sahara Desert, a squad from SEAL Team THREE clad in desert cammies move out on a downed pilot rescue mission in their two Desert PatrolVehicle dune buggies. Equipped with an M-60, .50 cal Machine Gun, MK-19 20mm gatling gun and two AT-4 rockets each, the DPV can pack a mean punch if need be. This mission calls for speed and concealment though, as an American's life hangs in the balance.
SEALS operate in all climates and all terrains. Each Team specializes in a particular region of the world - their "AO, or Area of Operations". Special tactics, techniques and gear have been developed over the years to enable the SEALs to excell inany environment - Jungle, Arctic, Woodland or Desert. Here we will outline all the unclassified equipment loadouts for the teams in the various locations these items are needed.
The purvue of SEAL Teams THREE (Centcom) and EIGHT (Mediterranian and Africa). The SEALs proved themselves in this climate during the Gulf war an in Somolia. Overcoming the heat and arid climate poses special challenges. Mobility is a key factor, and Special Warfare relies on theDesert Humvee and the Desert Patrol Vehicle to move over long distances in the desert. Cammouflage is also a challenge as the desert provides little cover and concealment. Cammouflage Netting is a must, as well as observation posts and a strong communications plan.
SEAL Team TWO is responsible for Eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union. SEAL Team FIVE on the West Coast is responsible for the Northern Pacific regions - like North Korea and China. Both teamsrequire a high degree of winter warfare training and are quite adept at operating in this forbidding environment.
SEAL Team FOUR on the East Coast has the South and Central America AO - full of Jungle and mountainous woodland terrain. Team ONE's AO is the Southern Pacific region - including most of Asia (minus China, North Korea and Japan).
With the growing threats of terrorism and urban crisis,SEALs from all the Teams, and from the counter-terrorist unit of SEAL Team SIX in particular, are prepared for rapid responce with highly surgicly and efficient Close Quarter Battle tactics and equipment.
Regardless of where SEAL's find themselves operating, their ability to navigate and traverse adverse terrain is a key to mission success. SEAL's are well versed in the equipment and techniques for mountain climbing and orienteering in all climates.
Water is the most demanding and unforgiving element to work in or on. A Navy commando needs to be physically and mentally prepared to face the unpredictable twists and turns that Mother Nature and Murphy conspire to throw at him. They also require durable and proven equipment to enable them to project power and their unique talents from a launch platform onto enemy land or harbors. SEALs depend on a large inventory of surface craft to transport them to their target. Theyalso have at their disposal subsurface SEAL Delivery Vehicles that are launched from Dry Deck Shelters. Dry Deck Shelters large shelters that piggy-backed on specially configured SSN submarines from which a SEAL platoon launches a submerged SDV operation or CRRC raid.
Surface craft of all sizes and for all sorts of missions - from littoral warfare to SEAL insertion - maintained by NSW Combatant Craft crewmen. Rubber zodiacs used for overthe hoizon infiltration by SEAL platoons are several other tools of the trade.
When the UDT finally embraced Lambertsen's Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU) they did so with gusto. The U.S. Navy SEALs have taken this role and swum with it. They are credited with extensive testing and experimentation in the use of dive gear in a combat role. Their members were the subjects for the early Experimental Dive Unit tests to develop the U.S. Navy Dive tables forboth open and closed circuit diving. In conjunction with their French counterparts, the SEALs developed the tactics and skills for combat diving and underwater navigation that have been adopted as the "industry standard" by Naval Commandoes from around the world. The SEAL Delivery Vehicles are used by the British Special Boat Squadron, the elite Naval component to the legendary Special Air Service (SAS). These vehicles are so versatile and sturdy that they have been almost unchanged since their developmentin the early eighties. This year they underwent a major upgrade, particularly in the navigation, propulsion and sonar systems.
Takes on a whole new meaning in the SEAL Teams. When SEALs Jock up for a mission the fat lady is singing. Special operations require special equipment to do the job right and do the job well. Navy SEALs train constantly with the tools of the trade, whichbecome an extension of themselves. Each peice of equipment or vehicle is tested rigorously in training and proven on the field of combat. The SEALs rely on this specialized equipment for their own lives and the lives of their Teammates.
Water is the SEAL's primary element. As soon as training commences the sea becomes home away from home for the remainder of their military careers. SEALs rarely have the opportunity to work in a warm, cozy and dry office - preferring insteadto spend evenings on a cold, wet beach or riding the high seas in a zodiac. The SEALS are trained to operate in a riverine or coastal environment. They depend on the water for cover, concealment and means of insertion and extraction. All SEALs are well aware of the protective quality the open water lends them. When trouble brews they instinctually make for the open water. Very few adversaries would be foolish enough to follow a Navy SEAL into the water.
Surface craft, Submersibles, Open and Closedcurcuit underwater breathing apparatus are just a few of the specialized craft and equipment that the SEALs use to perform their waterborne missions. Not only do they have to be in top physical condition, but trained to a high enough level to utilize some very complex and technologically advanced equipment. The image of the Special Operations soldier as a PHd in commando gear fits the Navy SEALs
Parachuting is a versatile and highly effective method ofinsertion for the commando. The SEALs use this skill in all of its many manifestations: Low altitude static line jumps, High Altitude/Low Opening Freefall (HALO), High Altitude/High Opening Freefall (HAHO), as well as fastropeing, rapelling, SPIE rig (Special Insertion/Extraction Rig), and numerous other tricks of the trade. The air drop was first considered in 1962 when the SEALs were commissioned from the Navy UDTs. The acomplishments in this area are second to no other military service. Many SEALs boast over1,000 freefall jumps. The Navy LeapFrogs is a demonstration parachute team comprised soley of experienced SEAL parachutists. The Navy SEALs truly earn the jump wings worn below the trident on their chest and embody the term "Death from Above".
Operating in the world's deserts, jungles, mountains and arctic regions require specialized training and equipment. The SEAL Teams operate with skill in all environments. Though they seek the familar comfort of the ocean, a vastmajority of SEAL missions have their targets on land near a body of water or river. Thus SEALs must train in all the requisite land warfare skills and utilize dependable equipment to help them do their job. Land navigation, mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, Desert Patrol Vehicle operations as well as skiing, snow-shoeing and other tactics for guerilla/anti guerilla warfare demand an extensive array of high quality equipment to enhance the SEAL's land capability.
SEALs arrive by sea, land or air, and they pack a potent punch when they get there. Upon arrival the Operators use a variety of weapons and munitions to complete their tasks.
The following is a list of standard SEAL weapons. These compose the base of a SEAL platoon's firepower. The SEALs are also trained in some unconventional pieces of weaponry and are the masters ofimprovision.
Designated by the Marines as the M1911A. This design has proven itself as a standard issue side arm since WWII with its predecessor seeing service in WWI. The large calibre gives it the stopping punch that will fall the most determined assailant, a big plus in the trenches. Although it has being phased outin favor of the P226, this hand cannon is still a favorite among the SEAL Teams.
A 9mm pistol that is superblyengineered, accurate and incredibly reliable.
The SEAL handgun for the future. A 9mm automatic utilizing the H7K roller-delayed blowback. This is the same system H & K utilizes in their assault rifles and submachine guns. A full inch shorter than the colt, and half a pound lighter, this gun is rapidly gaining popularity amoung the military forces including the SEALs.
Revolver/pocket artilery. Although nolonger a military issue item the S&W 357 is still used by the special forces when that immediate stopping power is required. This heavy revolver is garenteed to fall any assailant with a hit to any part of the body (ouch!). SEAL operators like this weapon for it's stainless construction, which prevents rusting if submerged (a common occurance in the Teams!)
Since Vietnam the M16 has been the mainstay of military firepower for the soldier on foot.
Called the "CAR 15" this 5.56 mm assault rifle is a shortende version of the M-16 with a collapsible stock . At 30 inches it is a full 9 inches shorter than the M16.
Combining the fire power of the m16 assault rifle with the 44mm grenade launcher. The M203 clips under the barrel and forgrip of the M14, M16 or Colt 727.
The compact submachine gun is used by many elite units around the worldincluding the SAS, GSG 9, GEO and the US Navy SEALs. Firing the parabellum 9mm round at 800 rounds per minute. What turns the tide on this automatic machine gun is the unique roller-delayed blowback system wich operates the weapon in a fully locked breach position. Where other auto systems rely on the weight and velocity of the returning breach to seal the chamber the MP5 uses a series of locks and cams to seal off the chamber. This means that the first round is fired from a locked chamber. This gives the userthe accuracy on the first shot that can mean the difference between life or death. Capable of single shot fire, Three round bursts, or full automatic at 800 rounds per minute. The MP5 is used various purposes in the Teams, but mostly for Close Quarters Combat.
7.62 mm - at 23 pounds this gun was designed as a tripod mounted weapon for three man operation. The SEALs consider this ahand held platoon level fire support weapon operated by a single Team member. With two of these per eight man squad it is easy to see why many opposing forces claimed to have engaged a much larger force when in a firefight wiht an eight man SEAL squad.
.50 caliber. This is a deck mounted turret gun used on SEAL watercraft and the Desert Patrol Vehicle. The rat patrol take on a whole new meaning.
40mm grenadelauncher fires upwards to 320 rounds per minute. Realistic substained rate of 60 rounds per minute. Provides heavy firepower from a tripod or vehicle mounted weapon.
40mm greanade launcher single shot breach loading gives the SEALs the ability to lay a explosive device within a 380 yard range.
Busier than ever, America's amphibious commandos bristle with ferocious new vehicles and firepower.
It's well after dark, and only aglimmer shines from chemical light sticks attached to the masks and left hands of 21 men in scuba gear. We're riding with them aboard a patrol launch that sweeps in parallel to an unlit coastline. Lashed to its seaward side, a small rubber craft bounces along. Lt. Michael Massa barks a command, and the men tumble into the rubber craft. One by one, at 25-yd. intervals, they roll out again into the sea spray. At the end of the run, the green lights glow in a long, straight line.
Massa raises his voice to be heardover the engine roar. "We train these men to regard the water as the only safe area there is. Everybody else in the military trains to regard the water as a danger area -- even the Marines. The advantage for us is that if we are pursued, or tracked, or chased or being shot at and we retreat into the water at night, the bad guys aren't going to follow us."
BUD/S Class 231 complete its eighth week of phase-one training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California. Squatting on the boat'stransom, the men are exhilarated. They're getting their first taste of combat tactics. Of the original 120 students who entered the program, only these 21 have made it this far. Each has months of further training before the coveted SEAL trident emblem is pinned to his uniform. But they've already learned the meaning behind the SEAL motto: "The only easy day was yesterday."
Indeed, as the Cold War becomes yesterday's news, the SEALs -- special-warfare commandos of sea, air and land -- have stepped up toheightened responsibilities. In today's military climate of hair-trigger instability, special-operations personnel are being called upon more than ever before.
SEALs-to-be through a brutal physical-training class of his own devising. But he marvels at the quality of individuals who apply for SEAL training. Competition is fierce just to sign up for the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, or BUD/S, program. BUD/S includes the infamous Hell Week, during which students train continuously for six days with a totalof 4 hours of sleep. After nine weeks of conditioning, BUD/S students focus on diving and land-warfare techniques. BUD/S graduates attend the 3-week Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. They then join a SEAL team for another six to 12 months of on-the-job training.
This training stresses insertion and extraction, critical routines that SEAL teams practice relentlessly. Off the California coast, we watch from a safety boat as SEAL Team Five conducts aerialcast and recovery with a CH-46 Sea Knight. Slowing to 5 mph, the big naval helicopter stoops low as SEALs launch a small rubber boat out of its rear cargo door. The commandos then hurl themselves into the water.
The CH-46 soon wheels in a wide circle, and the recovery drill begins. From the rear ramp trails a rope caving ladder. Each SEAL must grab the ladder and quickly clamber into the cargo bay. The operation is hair-raising, as prop-wash water sprays our boat and a 6-ton assault chopper looms 5 ft.above the waves. Yet this is actually one of the gentlest ways to move SEALs in and out of the water.
Besides commercial climbing gear, team members utilize a Spie rope with integral ring attachments that can hoist up to 10 men at a time. In addition, SEALs have discarded older rappel lines in favor of a thicker so-called fast rope. Describing aerial insertion with these 50- or 90-ft. cables
SEALs must master parachute insertion as well. Standard static-line jump operations are conducted with the MC1-1B35-ft.-dia. round parachute. For drops from higher altitudes, SEALs free fall with the MT1XS rig, a 370-sq.-ft. chute oversized to buoy an extra 60 to 120 pounds of gear. Jumps from above 13,000 ft. require the use of the Twin-53 oxygen bottle.
Once they hit the water, of course, SEALs are in their element. SEAL frogmen are famous for the LAR V rebreathing apparatus that allows them to swim without leaving surface bubbles. For missions below 30 ft., divers strap on a mixed-gas rebreather.
Combat swimmers get a ride on SEAL Delivery Vehicle Mark VIII. Currently, mixed-gas operations are taught only at SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) units. The SDV Mark VIII-known to SEALs as the Eight Boat -- is a submersible that carries combat swimmers and their cargo inside a fully flooded compartment. The vehicles launch and return to dry-deck shelters installed on host submarines. Inside an Eight Boat, the only vision comes from obstacle-avoidance sonar and standard Doppler radar. Meanwhile, free-swimming frogmencarry a so-called Tac Board, which combines compass, depth gauge and watch. SEALs will soon navigate with the MUGR, a Miniature Underwater GPS Receiver with a floating antenna.
As they rest between insertion drills, members of SEAL Team Five tell us about their weapons -- the perfect mix of high firepower in low-profile packages. Compact enough to facilitate underwater movement, the 9mm MP5N submachine gun is a popular weapon. Although one of the older rifles in the inventory, the M14 also winspraise from SEALs for its long-range accuracy. Some covert scenarios require the use of the Chinese Communist Type 56-2 assault rifle, characterized by team members as a "great over-the-beach gun," if also "a spray-and-pray weapon." SEALs also carry a variety of pistols, soon to include the .45-cal. Offensive Handgun System (see Tech Update, page 31, June '94). SEALs view handguns as secondary weapons, however. "To be realistic," says one member, "if you're in a combat environment where people are out therewith assault rifles and heavy machine guns, your [stuff] is pretty weak if you're out there with a handgun. A handgun would typically be used for escape and evasion, which means that everything's gone to hell."
For close-quarter battle, SEALs often rely on the Remington 870 pump shotgun, firing 2 3/4- and 3-in. magnum shells. When targets lie at longer range, sniper operations call for such weapons as the McMillan M88 (left), a single-shot rifle that fires a huge 700-grain projectile -- with a muzzlevelocity near 3000 fps.
This 2x4 Chenowth vehicle carries three. Powered by a 2165-cc gasoline engine, it can reach 80 mph. Gussets and bracing on the frame, coupled with high wheel travel, provide a surprisingly smooth cross-country ride. Three weapons stations--two forward and one rear--can accept the Mk.19 grenade launcher, M2 .50-cal. machine gun and the M60 7.62mm gun. In addition, two AT-4 anti-armor missiles are carried on the upper cage,while side baskets provide space to hold Stinger surface-to-air missiles.
As the DPVs of SEAL Team Three snarl across the sands, they seem to capture the aggression, enthusiasm and fearlessness that mark Naval Special Warfare Command. These land vehicles also symbolize the SEALs' expanded range of tasks and capabilities. "There's more to being a Navy SEAL nowadays than just being a great combat swimmer," says Smith. "It's no longer like it was years ago. Special Operations-the Green Berets and theRangers and us--are held to a higher standard." One they seem to be meeting.