Birth of the Navy SEALs
The U.S. Navy SEALs were established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 as a small, elite maritime military force to conduct Unconventional Warfare. They carry out the types of clandestine, small-unit, high-impact missions that large
forces with high-profile platforms (such as ships, tanks, jets and submarines) cannot. SEALs also conduct essential on-the-ground Special Reconnaissance of critical targets for imminent strikes by larger conventional forces.
SEALs are U.S. Special Operations Command’s force-of-choice among Navy, Army and Air Force Special Operations Forces (SOF) to conduct small-unit maritime military operations which originate from, and return to a river, ocean, swamp, delta or coastline. This littoral capability is more important now than ever in our history, as half the world’s infrastructure and population is located within one mile of an ocean or river. Of crucial importance, SEALs can negotiate shallow water areas such as the Persian Gulf coastline, where large ships and submarines are limited by depth.
The Navy SEALs are trained to operate in all the environments (Sea, Air and Land) for which they are named. SEALs are also prepared to operate in climate extremes of scorching desert, freezing Arctic, and humid jungle. The SEALs’ current pursuit of elusive, dangerous and high-priority terrorist targets has them operating in remote, mountainous regions of Afghanistan, and in cities torn by factional violence, such as Baghdad, Iraq. Historically, SEALs have always had “one foot in the water.” The reality today, however, is that they initiate lethal Direct Action strikes equally well from air and land.
The average Navy SEAL spends over a year in a series of formal training environments before being awarded the Special Warfare Operator Naval Rating and the Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) 5326 Combatant Swimmer (SEAL) or, in the case of commissioned naval officers, the designation Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) Officer. All Navy SEALs must attend and graduate from their rating’s 18-week “A” School known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) school, a basic parachutist course and then the 18-week SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) program. All sailors entering the SEAL training pipeline with the Hospital Corpsman rating or those chosen by Naval Special Warfare Command must also attend the 57-week United States Army Special Forces Medical Sergeant course and subsequently earn the NEC SO-5392 Naval Special Warfare Medic before joining an operational Team. Once outside the formal schooling environment SEALs entering a new Team at the beginning of an operational rotation can expect 18 months of training interspersed with leave and other time off before each 6-month deployment