The military team that killed Osama Bin Laden is an elite special forces group unofficially called Seal Team 6.
Officially, the team's name is classified and not available to the public, technically there is no team 6. A Tier-One counter-terrorism force similar to the Army's elusive Delta group, Team 6's mission rarely make it to paper much less the newspaper.
It shows how important the publicity about Bin Laden's killing is to the U.S. that this morning, Team 6 is front-page news.
The members of Team 6 are all "black" operatives. They exist outside military protocol, engage in operations that are at the highest level of classification and often outside the boundaries of international law. To maintain plausible deniability in case they are caught, records of black operations are rarely, if ever, kept.
The development of SEAL Team 6 was in direct response to the 1980 attempt to rescue the American hostages held in Iran. The mission was a terrific failure that fell apart at many points and illustrated the need for a dedicated counter-terrorist team capable of operating with the utmost secrecy.
The Team was labeled 6 at the time to confuse Soviet intelligence about the number of SEAL teams in operation at the time. There were only two others.
Team 6 poached the top operatives from other SEAL units and trained them even more intensely from there. Even among proven SEAL's the attrition rate for Team 6 is reported to be nearly half.
There are no names available for current Team 6 members, but the CIA does recruit heavily from their numbers for their Special Operations Group, so it makes sense that they were chosen to work with the CIA on this mission.
Team 6 is normally devoted to missions with maritime authority: ship rescues, oil rigs, naval bases or land bases accessible by water. There are no waterways near Bin Laden's compound.
When a former Navy SEAL was called for a comment about this article all he could say was: "You know I'd love to help you man, but I can't say a word about Team 6. There is no Team 6."
The United States Navy SEa, Air and Land (SEAL) Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and is a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
The unit's acronym ("SEAL") is derived from their capacity to operate at sea, in the air, and on land – but it is their ability to work underwater that separates SEALs from most other military units in the world. The experience gained from operating in the ocean and freshwater battlefields has shaped their identity and, as a result, they are regarded as being amongst the most highly skilled and trained amphibious units in the world. Navy SEALs are trained and have been deployed in a wide variety of missions, including direct action and special reconnaissance operations, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism and other missions. Without exception, all SEALs are male members of either the United States Navy or the United States Coast Guard.
The Navy SEALs originated during the Second World War when the United States Navy recognized the need for soldiers to reconnoiter landing beaches, note obstacles and defenses, and ultimately guide the landing forces in. As a result the Amphibious Scout and Raider School was established in 1942 jointly by the Army and Navy at Fort Pierce, Florida. It was intended to train explosive ordnance disposal personnel and experienced combat swimmers from the Army and Marine Corps, becoming the Naval Combat Demolition Unit, or N.C.D.U.
The NCDU was first employed in Operation Torch during the invasion of North Africa in 1942. This unit became the 'first group' specialized in amphibious raids and tactics in the United States Navy.
By 1943, the Amphibious Scout and Raider School syllabus had expanded to include underwater demolition. Following the invasion of Tarawa in November 1943, when offshore coral reefs and other obstacles in the surf resulted in many of the Marines drowning or being hit by enemy fire because their landing craft could not reach the beach, Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner directed the formation of nine Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) mostly composed of navy personnel from the Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees). These volunteers were organized into special teams and were tasked with reconnoitering and clearing beach obstacles for troops going ashore during amphibious landings, and evolved into Combat Swimmer Reconnaissance Units, becoming the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams.
President John F. Kennedy (a World War II Navy veteran), aware of the situations in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for unconventional warfare and special operations as a measure against guerrilla warfare. In a speech to Congress on May 25, 1961, Kennedy spoke of his deep respect for the United States Army Special Forces. While his announcement of the government's plan to put a man on the moon drew all of the attention, in the same speech he announced his intention to spend over $100 million to strengthen U.S. special operations forces and expand American capabilities in unconventional warfare.
The Navy needed to determine its role within the special operations arena. In March 1961, Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, recommended the establishment of guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units. These units would be able to operate from sea, air or land. This was the beginning of the Navy SEALs. Many SEAL members came from the Navy's Underwater Demolition Team units, who had already gained experience in commando warfare in Korea; however, the Underwater Demolition Teams were still necessary to the Navy's amphibious force.
The first two teams were on both US coasts: Team One at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, in San Diego, California and Team Two at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Men of the newly formed SEAL Teams were trained in such unconventional areas as hand-to-hand combat, high-altitude parachuting, demolitions, and foreign languages. The SEALs attended Underwater Demolition Team replacement training and they spent some time training in UDTs. Upon making it to a SEAL team, they would undergo a SEAL Basic Indoctrination (SBI) training class at Camp Kerry in the Cuyamaca Mountains. After SBI training class, they would enter a platoon and conduct platoon training.
The CIA's highly secretive Special Activities Division (SAD) and more specifically its elite Special Operations Group (SOG) recruits operators from the SEAL Teams.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.
SEAL training is very rigorous, one of the toughest training programs for special operations in the world. The drop out rate for SEAL classes is regularly 80 percent. 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 24-week "A" United States Navy SEAL selection and training course known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) school and then the 28-week SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) program. SQT qualifies all BUD/S graduates in basic SEAL skillsets in MAROPS, Combat Swimmer, Communications, TCCC, Close Quarters Combat, Land Warfare, Staticline/Freefall Parachute Operations, SERE and Combatives. All sailors entering the SEAL training pipeline with the Navy Hospital Corpsman rating or those chosen by Naval Special Warfare Command must also attend the 26 week Special Operations Combat Medic 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 Professional Development/Schools (PRODEV) and Troop unit level training (ULT) before each 6-month deployment. In total, from the time a prospective SEAL enters military service to the time he finishes his first pre-deployment training cycle, it can take as much as 30 months to completely train a Navy SEAL for his first deployment.