The Navy SEALs have expertise in sea, air, and land operations. This makes the group especially effective for matters of security and tactical importance. The Navy SEALs missions are often highly sensitive operations, so some of their missions are classified. The general type of work that they perform, however, is well known.
Neutralizing Enemy Forces
Navy SEALs are trained to infiltrate civilian and military zones to neutralize enemy forces that present significant threats to the United States and its allies. These operations often include a small number of specially trained sailors who can enter the area and complete a mission quickly.
The death of Osama bin Laden is probably the most famous Navy SEALs operation in recent memory. This operation consisted of 40 Navy SEALs. Only 24, however, were deployed on the ground to find and neutralize the known terrorist organizer.
Special Reconnaissance Missions
The Navy SEALs perform special reconnaissance missions that provide important information so military superiors can make educated decisions that minimize risk while increasing effectiveness.
These missions might include:
- Surveillance of known or suspected military/terrorist groups
- Tracking enemy movement
- Monitoring the activities of civilians and military groups suspected of threatening US security
- Investigating water and beach conditions before landing troops for a mission
Counter Terrorism Missions
Navy SEALs have been almost exclusively used in land operations in the War on Terror. Counter terrorism missions can include a wide variety of activity. Some missions require SEALs to infiltrate groups for capture or military action, such as when they infiltrated Osama bin Laden's camp. Other counter terrorism missions focus on gathering information that could lead to pre-emptive strikes against militarized groups or lead to convictions that puts suspected terrorists behind bars.
Training Foreign Defenses
Given their high level of expertise, Navy SEALs make excellent trainers for foreign internal defense groups. This prepares developing countries that might encounter security problems.
The Navy SEALs were instrumental in training a new military presence in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was removed from power. The SEALs also work as consultants so developing militaries can choose effective security measures. They then train the groups how to use strategies and equipment properly.
This type of foreign defense training is often seen as a peacekeeping operation that prevents other militaries in a region from engaging the country. When a country like Iraq receives training for the Navy's elite group, it can better defend itself from outside and inside security risks. Early defense and the threat of defense is often enough to prevent full-scale military operations.
Training to Become a SEAL
Sailors who wish to become Navy SEALs must undergo rigorous Navy Seal training. Some specialists estimate that the training classes have a 90 percent dropout rate. This number does not include those who attempt to complete the training but do not pass.
SEALs must complete 24 weeks of Basic Underwater Demolition training. They then participate in 28 weeks of SEAL Qualification Training. Depending on what area the sailor wants to specialize in, additional training might be necessary.
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