Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SEAL Team Six Adds to Legend With Bin Laden Kill

SEAL Team Six is one of those invisible entities that many people like to know is there, but would prefer not to have to think too deeply about how they exist in a free society's parallel world of black ops -- until now.

It isn't even the commando unit's real name, but SEAL Team Six, as they are known, are the rock stars of the U.S. military: They are the guys who got Osama bin Laden.

"When the U.S. Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALS. When the SEALS send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six, the Navy's equivalent to the Army's Delta force -- tasked with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, and occasionally working with the CIA," Howard Wasdin writes in his new book, "SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper."

SEAL Team Six officially is called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DevGru, and its members call themselves "the quiet professionals," according The Guardian of London.

Richard Sisk, a decorated Marine veteran who served in Vietnam and is longtime Pentagon reporter and war correspondent, affectionately calls the SEALs "the snake-eaters," while another ex-Marine officer who served in Vietnam describes them as "guys who like to travel light so they can go in fast and get out even faster."

The unit trained hard and was well-prepared for any contingencies, as the loss of one of their helicopters in the mission demonstrated, the Deseret News notes. They reportedly cheered when they heard it was Bin Laden who they were going after.

SEAL Team Six has hunted several “high-value targets” in Afghanistan (there are around 40 SEALS believed to be in Afghanistan right now) and Iraq, but the fruits of their labor in the Abbottabad mission may well extend beyond the death of the Al Qaeda leader. The intelligence obtained during the 40 minutes the SEALS spent on the ground could offer more opportunities to destroy the remnants of Al Qaeda's evil overloads, an idea  The Chicago Tribune likes.

A team member snapped a photo of Bin Laden after he was dead and uploaded it to commanders for facial recognition and confirmation, The New York Times said.

SEAL Team Six operates clandestinely just along the border of polite modern warfare, as The Nation sharply reminds. The ninja-like existence of SEAL Team Six provides the United States with a lighting quick strike force, along with plausible deniability for its overseers, who sometimes prefer to look the other way.

SEAL Team Six is based out of Virginia Beach, according to The Washington Post. No one can apply to join, reports the The Telegraph of London. They have evolved into the elite unit, The Week details. The weapons and the means by which they deploy are diverse, ABC News reports.

Military scholars and strategists have learned much about deploying commandos like the SEALS and the Army's Delta Force since the failed raid in the desert to rescue the Iran hostages some 30 years ago, the Christian Science Monitor notes.

SEAL Team Six is made up of athletes, quick-thinkers, patient, disciplined and results-oriented sailors. They are trained in the use of  multiple weapons, hand-to-hand combat and the art of interrogation, on the latter, both how to give and how to receive. They swim out of submarines, zip along in rubber landing craft, jump out of planes at both low and high altitudes and they repel or storm out of near-silent helicopters.

They like for folks not to know when they are around, because when they are around, the plan usually calls for them to extract or shoot someone. SEAL Team Six is who the U.S. calls in when the fight is with the bogeyman.

"The guys behind this mission [to capture or kill bin Laden] have never given anyone a reason to doubt that they are trustworthy and very focused," Brandon Tyler Webb, a former SEAL who ran the sniper program at the Navy Special Warfare Command, told CNN. "They are the best of the best."

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