“Navy seals” of the 2nd special-purpose group in the exercise, 2019
The Special Operations Forces, which are directly subordinate to the US Navy Special Operations Command, are inferior in size to the Army Special Forces and Air Force Special Forces. The total number of naval special forces personnel is estimated at about 10 thousand people, of which about a tenth are civilian personnel. The main striking force of the naval special forces are the “seals”, or “seals”, special reconnaissance and sabotage detachments of SEAL, including combat swimmers.
United States Navy Special Operations Command
The United States Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) in its present form was formed on April 16, 1987. Since its inception, the headquarters of the command has been at the Coronado Naval Base in San Diego (California). The same base is used by the US Navy amphibious assault forces on the Pacific coast. The command carries out operational leadership, planning and combat leadership of special forces units within the Navy. The US Navy’s Special Operations Command is currently led by Rear Admiral Colleen Patrick Green.
The backbone of the NSWC is made up of teams of “SEALs”, which are the main combat units and line units, ready to engage in contact with the enemy. This is followed by special boat teams (SWCC) – fighters from the crews of landing boats, ships and special landing craft, which are responsible for the direct delivery of the SEAL units to the operation site. They can provide support to SEAL units and other US Special Forces units. They are also trained in parachute landing along with their boats. Separately, we can distinguish two divisions of underwater carriers SDVT-1 and SDVT-2, which assembled special equipment for the underwater delivery of “fur seals”, including the underwater vehicles SDV MK8.
United States Navy Special Operations Command emblem
The third component of the Naval Special Operations Command is the support, or support personnel, ENABLERS. Unlike the two categories of naval special forces listed above, it is not a direct action tool. First of all, highly qualified technical specialists in various fields are gathered here: communications, cryptology, mine work, etc. Directly subordinate to the US Navy Special Operations Command are also educational institutions for the training of naval special forces and combat swimmers: a school for special forces of the Navy, advanced training courses for special forces and the postgraduate research institute of the Navy.
The elite of the US Navy Special Forces are undoubtedly the SEALs. For them, the state is trying to provide the most comfortable level of social guarantees. Salaries of recruits, according to the official website of the Special Operations Command of the Navy, start at 60 thousand dollars per year (4,250,000 rubles at the current rate), excluding bonuses for advanced training. Also, special forces are provided with additional payments for diving and parachuting, guaranteed 30-day annual leave, repayment of loans for college education, retirement in 20 years, medical insurance for the fighter and his family members and other benefits, including tax benefits.
SEAL is an abbreviation for Sea – sea, Air – air, Land – land, from English SEALs translates as “seals”, but in Russian another definition is firmly entrenched – “seals”. These are the main tactical units of the US Navy Special Forces. Despite the fact that the special forces are directly related to the fleet, as you might guess from the abbreviation itself, they are able to successfully operate not only at sea and can solve various problems. Like many other units of the American special forces, Hollywood did not ignore their activities. Classic in this regard is the 1990 action movie “Navy Seals” with Charlie Sheen in the title role.
“SEALs” practice actions in winter conditions
SEALs are often recruited for covert missions and delicate tasks that do not require noise or publicity. They can infiltrate operational areas using helicopters and aircraft, naval surface and submarine ships, and ground vehicles. These are multipurpose combat units, trained to operate in any conditions, they can be deployed anywhere in the world. SEAL special forces regularly went on business trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, where they always had work. Seal units also took part in Operation Desert Storm. According to official figures, from 1990 to March 2018, these elite special forces units lost 98 people during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the war on terrorism.
The main purpose of the SEALs is to carry out special, reconnaissance and sabotage operations in the interests of the fleet, as well as to conduct search and rescue operations. Units are able to operate autonomously, solving combat missions independently, or in close cooperation with other units of the US Special Forces. In addition to reconnaissance and sabotage and assault operations, SEAL units can solve other tasks: covering the main forces, demining and laying mines of ships, bases, terrain, adjusting artillery fire, combating naval terrorism and modern piracy, combating illegal crossing of state borders at sea and etc.
Organizationally, SEALs are organized into 10 teams, which are part of three special naval groups. The 1st and 2nd groups, which in the Russian press are often referred to simply as the 1st and 2nd special forces regiments of the Navy, are 4 SEAL teams each. The 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th teams are part of the 1st group and are based at the Coronado naval base, they are focused on reconnaissance and sabotage operations in the Pacific Ocean. The 2nd, 4th, 8th and 10th teams are part of the 2nd Special Naval Group, this group is stationed at the Little Creek Base in Virginia Beach (Virginia) and is focused on action in the Atlantic Ocean. Two more SEAL teams, the 17th and 18th, form the 5th Naval Special Forces Group, which is a reserve. The unit is also based at the Coronado Naval Base in San Diego, California.
The total number of personnel of 8 line teams of “navy seals” is about three thousand fighters, including up to 600 people in the crews of landing boats and underwater delivery vehicles. Another 325 people are in reserve as part of the 17th and 18th teams of the truncated composition, as well as approximately 125 combat crew members of landing boats and special delivery equipment, and up to 775 reserve personnel from the US Navy Special Forces Logistics Regiment.
A curious feature of training teams of “SEALs” is that each of them has a specialization in a certain theater of military operations. So part of the detachments is focused on operations in the jungles of South America and Indochina, part on the Middle East theater of operations and operations in the desert. At the same time, some of the teams are currently undergoing retraining for combat operations in the Arctic.
Special Boat Crews (SWCC)
The most important part of the US Navy Special Operations Command are special boat teams (SWCC, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen). They are responsible for the operation of small vessels, which are used to deliver commandos to the shore. They provide combat operations in shallow water areas that are inaccessible to large ships, including along the coastline, on rivers and lakes. In addition to delivering “fur seals” to the shore, they can perform reconnaissance, patrolling tasks, and are involved in search and rescue operations.
SWCC fighters from a boat fire from an automatic grenade launcher Mk19
In addition to direct training for boat control and combat training, the fighters of a special boat team are prepared for parachuting along with their boats. Also, the teams have trained medical workers who are ready to provide first aid to the wounded and injured in combat conditions or during evacuation, and are also ready to carry out emergency operations. Usually these are the leading medics of the squad. At the same time, all SWCC fighters, without exception, undergo constant repetitive training in providing first medical and trauma care.
All SWCC fighters are united in three flotillas: 4th, 20th and 22nd as part of the 4th group of special landing craft. Special boat crews use small boats and landing craft, including simple semi-rigid inflatable boats of the RIB-36 type. Also in service are up to 20 Mark V SOC (Special Operations Craft) patrol boats with a displacement of 57 tons, 20 high-speed river boats SOCR and light PCA boats, for a total of about 240 boats and boats.