Where Were You When You Heard About Seal Team 6?
Seal Team 6
Have you heard the story of a special operations team that can zip across the planet on notice by the President, to take out a single target? They're trained to handle any weapon imaginable, including hand-to-hand combat, and can execute from sea, air and land with laser precision.
The team was instrumental in taking out the leader of the most hostile terrorist group in the world using state of the art silenced rifles, demolitions, advanced tactics on the targets fortified stronghold, linguistics, medical training, and they flew into the compound on stealth helicopters designed and built at the illustrious Area 51.
On top of it all, one of the choppers crashed, and the not only was the mission a success, but not a single member of the team was killed or injured. What channel is this amazing TV show on, you'd say?
Photo Credit: Flikr Creative Commons Photo by carlos r guerra
Death of Osama bin Laden
Like most Americans, on May 2, 2011, I sat in front of my television, and listened as President Obama explained that Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, had been killed. I felt relief, I suppose, but to be honest, I can't really put my finger on my feelings, because the time between 9/11 until then seemed so far in between that I couldn't get too over-joyed, really.
However, what I do remember, is driving to work in the days following, and hearing about a special missions group that flew in on stealth choppers, with some of the most advanced weaponry, and the most elite training of any military unit ever. Now, I'm not going to lie, I was a twelve-year-old boy once who group up on G.I. Joe, Batman, Rambo, James Bond and ninjas, so hearing that there actually were men out there training in special underground bunkers, in secret, with all kinds of gadgets and armor had me almost giggling with excitement.
Knowledge of the team had surfaced a day after the raid at an awards banquet, when Vice President Joe Biden was speaking at the podium, and he commended the work done by Admiral James Stavridis and his Seals. This was immediately attributed to Seal Team 6.
After hearing about these guys, I felt enamored with the idea that there actually were these super soldiers out there, looking out for us. So, I researched them veraciously.
President Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden
Joe Biden exposes the Seal Team.
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How did you feel at the news of Osama bin Laden's death?
Operation Neptune Spear - Books and movies on the Death of Osama bin Laden
This book accounts the career and missions leading up to the killing of Osama bin Laden of member of Seal Team 6, who was there on the third floor to witness the Al-Qaeda leader's last breath.
A fantastic movie that highlights the CIA's 10-year interrogation and intelligence process leading up to the raid on bin Laden's compound.
This is an account of a Seal Team 6 trainer. He was a veteran of the elite team, and trained many of the men on the operation to maneuver and shoot.
Background of Seal Team 6 (DEVGRU)
Seal Team 6 was created in 1980, in lew of the Iran Hostage disaster. Richard Marcinko was tasked with putting together a dedicated maritime terrorist action team. The original Seal Team 6 was disbanded in 1987, and replaced by DEVGRU.
DEVGRU, along with the Army's Delta Force, is one of the country's specialized anti-terrorist forces, and more recently, they are the ones called on for such missions. They are capable of handling any terrain and any circumstances. They are masters of movement, weapons, linguistics, learning and they have access to the most advanced equipment necessary.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Lwp Lommunikacio
DEVGRU specializes in Close Quarter Combat, which pits small forces versus enemies in less than 30-meter ranges, with either hand-to-hand weapons or small fire-arms. They train with live fire, and it's said, during training, they fire more rounds of ammunition per year than the entire U.S. Marine corps.
They also specialize in helicopter drops, high-altitude parachuting, can handle any weapon found on the battle field, and many are knowledgeable enough that learning to defuse a nuclear weapon over night is not out of the question.
If all of that wasn't enough, all prospective Seals must pass an intense training regiment called BUD/S, which stands for Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL. This means Seals must not just be capable of waging war in the air and on land, but on and under water, as well. During this test their tasked with becoming proficient at combat diving.
One of the most intense portions of the combat diving test is a 20-minutes fist fight with an instructor at the bottom of a 20-foot pool, in which the candidate has nothing but a rebreather, but the instructor never allows the candidate to get a full breath of air. Imagine being 20-feet under water, blind, pummeled for 20-straight minutes, all the while never being able to get more than an ounce of air into your lungs. Can you imagine that? Ya, me neither.
Navy Seal Training For Mental and Physical Toughness
Chinook Helicopter Disaster
Just over three months after the leader of Al-Qaeda had been killed, on August 6, 2011, a Chinook Helicopter carrying 38-soldiers was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. A total of 15 of those soldiers were members of DEVGRU. They weren't the same members involved in the bin Laden raid, but they were members of the same team. It was the largest single loss ever suffered by the Seals.
Shortly after the incident occurred, a member of the Taliban took to the internet to claim responsibility. The claim reported, specifically, that they had taken out members of Seal Team 6.
Chinook Helicopter Investigation
Since the Chinook helicopter disaster, the family members of the lost servicemen have raised red flags with the military and the government, saying that someone needs to explain certain facts about what may have happened. Many things about the incident appear out of place.
The members of DEVGRU, along with several other military personal, were flying in to intercept Taliban forces, in a dangerous location. The only chopper made available to them was a 1967 Chinook helicopter. These are the same guys, who just a few months earlier were given the keys to the most advanced helicopters in existence. Now, the only thing they could get their hands one was a machine built during the Vietnam War.
Also, after the crash, the black box was reported missing, due to a flash flood, and the bodies were immediately cremated, without asking permission from the parents, because, as the military stated, the rocket-propelled grenade had burned all of the bodies to an unrecognizable crisp. The military's claim is, there was nothing else they could do.
The final piece out of place includes the fact that there were seven Afghan soldiers on board the helicopter. The soldiers named to be on board, were not the actual ones that boarded the Chinook, however, which begs the question, who actually boarded the chopper?
Some more resources on the investigation
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What strikes you as most odd about the incident?
Navy Seals - Find out more from the guys who've been there
These are the amazing accounts of Richard Marcinko, the creator, and first commanding officer of Seal Team 6.
Stars Mark Wahlberg as elite Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan.
Lt. Murphy was the commander of a Seal Team in Afghanistan, who battled fearlessly against all odds. Even after Murphy was mortally wounded, he continued to command his team.
There's been a lot of talk about whether or not the Seals were set up to take the fall, and that our government had handed them over to the Taliban as some kind of revenge gesture in an attempt to settle the debt of killing bin Laden. It's all a bit sketchy. But the most important detail in all of this is, as interesting as it was to hear about Seal Team 6, a force so secret they weren't even supposed to exist, why would Vice President Biden announce them to the world, as being responsible for executing the raid on bin Laden in the first place?
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Photo by kPluto
Initially, I was excited to learn as much as I could about Seal Team 6, but there's a reason why these types of things are kept secret. It's not the movies, and it's certainly not romantic--it's real life and death. I am grateful to the men and women who serve this country, and I'm glad they're doing their jobs to keep me and my family safe. But I don't need to know the special forces teams. All I need to know is they're out there somewhere doing their jobs, and to them, whoever they are, I'd like to say, thank you.