3 May 2011

The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six (ST6), is one of the United States' two secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units (SMUs); the other such group is 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force).

The vast majority of information surrounding DEVGRU is highly classified and details of its activities are not commented on by either the White House or the Department of Defense. While DEVGRU is administratively supported by the Naval Special Warfare Command like the other SEAL Teams, it is operationally commanded by the Joint Special Operations Command.


The origins of ST6 can be traced to the aftermath of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed 1980 attempt to rescue American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.During the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, Richard Marcinko was one of two Navy representatives for a Joint Chiefs of Staff task force known as the TAT (Terrorist Action Team). The purpose of the TAT was to develop a plan to free the American hostages held in Iran, which culminated in Operation Eagle Claw. In the wake of the operation's disaster at Desert One, the U.S. Navy saw the need for a full-time dedicated Counter-Terrorist Team and tasked Marcinko with its design and development.

Marcinko was the first commanding officer of this new unit that he named SEAL Team Six. At the time, the US Navy had only two SEAL teams. Marcinko purportedly named the unit Team Six in order to confuse the Soviet intelligence as to the number of SEAL Teams in operation. It became officially operational in 1981.The men in the unit were handpicked by Marcinko himself from across the U.S. Navy's Special Operations personnel. SEAL Team Six would be known as the U.S. Navy's premier counter-terrorist unit. It has also been compared to the US Army's Delta Force.Marcinko held the command of SEAL Team Six for three years from 1980–1983 instead of what was typically a two-year command in the Navy at the time.SEAL Team Six was formally created in October 1980, and an intense, progressive work-up training program made the unit mission-ready six months later. Prior to this, the existing SEAL teams had already begun counter-terrorism training, including 12 platoons in SEAL Team One on the West Coast. On the West Coast, elements of the SEAL Team One had taken the issue one step further. They formed a dedicated two-platoon group known as "MOB Six" (Mobility Six) in anticipation of a maritime scenario requiring a counter-terrorism response and had begun training to that end.
Richard Marcinko, founder of SEAL Team Six, and its first C.O.

In 1987, a new unit was formed, given the official title of "Naval Special Warfare Development Group" (abbreviated to NAVSPECWARDEVGRU, or DEVGRU) after SEAL Team Six was dissolved. Reasons for the disbanding are varied.But the name SEAL Team Six is often used in reference to DEVGRU because of their similarities as a maritime counter-terrorism unit.
[edit] Recent renaming

In a recent article, Marc Ambinder wrote that DEVGRU's designation had been changed by the Defense Department to a new name. However, the new name is currently classified. This has also been the case for Delta Force, which was originally designated 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, and is now known as Army Compartmented Elements," or "ACE."

Recruitment, selection, and training

In the early stages of creating SEAL Team Six, Marcinko had been given only six months to get ST6 up and running. This meant that there was a timing issue and Marcinko had little time to create a proper selection course, similar to that of Delta Force, and as a result hand-picked the first plankowners of the unit himself after assessing their Navy records and personally interviewing each man. It has been said that Marcinko regretted not having enough time to set up a proper selection process/course. All applicants came from the UDTs and East and West Coast SEAL teams. Marcinko's criteria for recruiting applicants was combat experience due to the fact that he would know they could perform under fire; language skills were vital, as the unit would have a worldwide mandate to be able to communicate with the local population if needed; union skills, in order to be able to blend in as civilians during an operation; and finally SEAL skills. Each member of SEAL Team Six was selected in part because of the different specialty skills each man brought with him to the unit.

The training schedule was intense. The claim had been made by one former Team member that in one year SEAL Team Six fired more rounds of ammunition than the entire U.S. Marine Corps.The emphasis was on shooting skills, range firing, close-quarters battle (CQB), and stress shooting in a variety of conditions.

As with most aspects of the unit being highly classified, information regarding the process of recruitment and selection for the NSWDG ("DEVGRU") is also scarce, but what is speculated and is known is that the selection and training for the unit hasn't changed dramatically since its creation. All applicants come from the "regular" SEAL teams and the Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal units, unless applying for support positions (in which there have been open advertisements on the web for support personnel).

It can be inferred from the quality of their pool of applicants that those considered are in peak physical condition, maintain an excellent reputation as an operator within the Naval Special Warfare community, and have done operational deployments with a SEAL Team where an operator will have picked up invaluable experience. As a result, the candidate will usually be in his 30s. As ST6 was recruiting the best and brightest SEALs/UDTs from the regular teams, this created animosity between the unit and the "regular" teams that their best SEALs were being poached for the unit.

Those who pass the stringent recruitment and selection process will be selected to attend a six- to seven-month Operators Training Course. Candidates will join the unit's training wing known as "Green Team." The training course attrition rate is extremely high; at least half the class will fail the course. During one selection course, out of the original 20 candidates, only 12 completed the course. All candidates are watched closely by DEVGRU instructors and evaluated on whether they were suitable to join the individual squadrons.

Like all Special Operations Forces units that have an extremely intensive and high-risk training schedule, serious injuries or death among operators can result. SEAL Team Six/DEVGRU has lost several operators during training, including parachute accidents and close-quarters battle training accidents. It is presumed that the unit's assessment process for potential new recruits is different from what a SEAL operator experienced in his previous career, and much of the training tests the candidate's mental capacity rather than his physical condition, as he will have already completed Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL training.

Candidates will be put through a variety of advanced training courses that can include courses led by civilian and/or military instructors. These can include free-climbing, advanced unarmed combat techniques, defensive and offensive driving, advanced diving, and "survival, evasion, resistance, and escape" (SERE) training. All candidates must perform at the top level during selection, and the unit instructors evaluate the candidate during the training process. Any candidate not performing to the highest level will be returned to his previous unit.

Once a candidate has been selected, he will be assigned to one of the Tactical Development and Evaluation Squadrons.

Roles and responsibilities

When SEAL Team Six was first created it was devoted exclusively to counter-terrorism with a worldwide maritime responsibility; its objectives typically included targets such as ships, oil rigs, naval bases, or other civilian or military bases that were accessible from the sea or inland waterways.

SEAL Team Six was originally also tasked with covertly infiltrating international hot spots in order to carry out reconnaissance or security assessments of U.S. military bases and U.S. Embassies.

Although the unit was created as a maritime counter-terrorism unit, it has become a multi-functional Special Operations unit with multiple roles that include high-risk personnel/hostage extractions. Such operations include the failed rescue of Linda Norgrove, the successful rescue of an American businessman, and in 1991 the successful recovery of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family during a coup that deposed him.

After SEAL Team Six was disbanded and renamed, the official mission of the currently operating NSWDG is to test, evaluate, and develop technology and maritime, ground, and airborne tactics applicable to Naval Special Warfare forces such as Navy SEALs; however, this is presumed this is only a small part of the group's work assignment.

DEVGRU's full mission is classified but is thought to include preemptive, pro-active counterterrorist operations, counter-proliferation (efforts to prevent the spread of both conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction), as well as assassination or recovery of high-value targets (HVTs) from unfriendly nations.DEVGRU is one of only a handful of U.S. special mission units authorized to use preemptive actions against terrorists and their facilities.

DEVGRU and the Army's Delta Force train together and deploy together on counter-terrorist missions usually as part of a joint special operations task force (JSOTF).

The CIA's highly secretive Special Activities Division (SAD) and more specifically its elite Special Operations Group (SOG) recruits operators from SEAL Team Six. Joint Navy SEALs and CIA operations go back to the famed MACV-SOG group during the Vietnam War. This cooperation still exists today and is seen in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SOURCE: Wikipedia



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