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Encyclopedia > Navy SEALs
SEALs in from the water.
U.S. Navy SEALs insignia

Official force name

U.S. Navy SEALs




Chain of Command


Versatile Sea, Air or Land Special Operations Force, trained for Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD) and direct action missions.


Each team can deploy anywhere in the world with 4 hours notice by sea, air, or land.


Conducting Airborne operations, conducting direct action operations, conducting raids, counter-terrorism, hydographic recoinnasance, infiltrating and exfiltrating by sea, air or land, intelligence, recovery of personnel and special equipment, support of general purpose forces (GPF), underwater demolition.


Insertion date

Traced back to 1943, but officially commissioned on April 16, 1987.

Reason of creation

U.S. Navy need for warfare by other means than conventional.

The United States Navy SEALs (SEa-Air-Land) handle classified missions from the sea, air and land with razor–sharp precision, teamwork and cool–headedness. SEALs are considered to be among the leading offensive forces in the world. Their missions include reconnaissance, clandestine operations or unconventional and counter–guerilla warfare.

Each SEAL team specializes in an Area of Operation (AO), such as jungle, arctic, woodland or desert terrain. Special tactics, techniques and equipment apply to each AO — from SEAL Delivery Vehicles and high–speed gunner boats to advanced SCUBA gear and other sophisticated equipment.


Force fact file

The U.S. Navy SEALs are considered to be one of the world's premier Special Operations and counter-terrorism Forces. Though technically specializing in maritime insertion, the SEALs are inserted by Sea Air or Land, hence the acronym. From the jungles of Vietnam, to the shores of Panama, or to the sands of Iraq, SEALs have proven to be one of the most fearsome and effective special opearations/counter-terrorist teams in the world.

Historically, they can trace their history to the first group of volunteers selected from the Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees) in the spring of 1943. These volunteers were organized into special teams called ‘Navy Combat Demolition Units’ (NCDUs). The units were tasked with reconnoitering and clearing beach obstacles for troops going ashore during amphibious landings, and evolved into Combat Swimmer Reconnaissance Units.

The NCDUs distinguished themselves during World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. In 1947, the Navy organized its first underwater offensive strike units. During the Korean Conflict, these Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) took part in the landing at Inchon as well as other missions including demolition raids on bridges and tunnels accessible from the water. They also conducted limited minesweeping operations in harbors and rivers.

During the 1960s, each branch of the armed forces formed its own counterinsurgency force. The Navy utilized UDT personnel to form separate units called SEAL teams. January of 1962 marked the commissioning of SEAL Team ONE in the Pacific Fleet and SEAL Team TWO in the Atlantic Fleet. These teams were developed to conduct unconventional warfare, counter-guerrilla warfare and clandestine operations in both blue water and brown water environments.

Those qualifying to become Navy SEALS are authorized to wear and display the Special Warfare Badge, also known as the SEAL Trident. This badge, commonly called the "trident" or "Budweiser" (for its resemblance to the Budweiser Eagle), serves as the insignia for the SEALs as a whole and is the largest and most recognizable warfare pin in the United States Navy.

SEAL jumps over the side from boat.

Concurrently, Naval Operations Support Groups were formed to aid UDTs, SEALs, and two other unique units —Boat Support and Beach Jumpers— in administration, planning, research, and development. During the Vietnam War, UDTs performed reconnaissance missions and SEALs carried out numerous offensive operations.

In 1967, the Naval Operations Support Groups were renamed ‘Naval Special Warfare Groups’ (NSWGs) as involvement increased in special operations.

In 1983, existing UDTs were re-designated as ‘SEAL teams’ or ‘SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams’ and the requirement for hydrographic reconnaissance and underwater demolition became ‘SEAL missions’.

The Naval Special Warfare Command was commissioned April 16, 1987, at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. Its mission is to prepare Naval Special Warfare forces to carry out their assigned missions and to develop special operations strategy, doctrine, and tactics.

SEALs in woodlands operation.

Navy SEAL Teams and Structure

A Navy SEAL Platoon or "Boat Team" consists of 8 men per platoon. This can be easily split into two 4-man squads for operational purposes. The actual size of each SEAL "Team" is larger, ranging between eight to ten Boat Teams per SEAL Team.

As of this writing, there are seven confirmed Navy SEAL Teams. The original SEAL Teams in the Vietnam were seperated between East Coast (Team One) and West Coast (Team Two) SEALs. The "Official" current SEAL Team deployments are from Teams 1 through 5, and 8:

SEAL Team ONE is based in Coronado, CA. Commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5), it has eight operational SEAL platoons and a headquarters element. SEAL Team ONE’s geographic area of concentration is Southeast Asia.

SEAL Team TWO is based at Little Creek, VA. Commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5), it has eight operational platoons and a headquarters element. SEAL Team TWO’s geographic area of concentration is Europe, and is the only SEAL team with an arctic warfare capability.

SEAL Team THREE is based in Coronado, CA. Commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5), it has eight operational platoons and a headquarters element. SEAL Team THREE’s geographic area of concentration is Southwest Asia.

SEAL Team FOUR is based at Little Creek, VA. Commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5), it has ten operational platoons and a headquarters element. SEAL Team FOUR’s geographic area of concentration is Central and South America. SEAL Team FOUR is the only SEAL Team with a viable standing language capability, Spanish.

SEAL Team FIVE is based in Coronado, CA. Commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5), it has eight operational platoons and a headquarters element. SEAL Team FIVE’s geographic area of concentration is the Northern Pacific.

SEAL Team EIGHT is based at Little Creek, VA. Commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5), it has eight operational platoons and a headquarters element. SEAL Team EIGHT's geographic area of concentration is the Caribbean, Africa, and the Mediterranean.

In addition to these is SEAL Team SIX, the SEALs' primary counter-terrorist unit. Although every SEAL team trains in CT SEAL TEAM SIX aka(DEVGRU) specializes in it. Their history can be traced to the failed attempt to rescue hostages from the Iranian embassy by Delta Force, the Army's CT unit. The Navy knew they could do better at CT than the Army and DEVGRU was born.

It is not known or confirmed if there is a SEAL Team SEVEN, though many may presume that the clandestine unit Red Cell answers to that designation.


SEAL teams go through what is considered by some to be the toughest military training in the world. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training is conducted at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado lasting 26 weeks. Students encounter obstacles that develop and test their stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team. On average, a BUD/S class can expect to lose about 70-80% of their initial muster from the beginning to the end of the course. BUD/S, and the SEALs as a whole, are voluntary services, and many BUD/S students find that they do not have the desire to continue to endure the physical and mental abuse, and subsiquently Drop On Request, or DOR, from the course. After BUD/S, the students must then attend Army Jump School at Ft. Benning, GA, a relative breeze compaired to BUD/S, in order to become airborne qualified. Finally, these apprentice warriors must go through SEAL Qualification Training, or SQT, which is a 15 week course, again conducted in and arround the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

BUD/S consists of a five-week "Indoctrination Course," followed by three phases, covering physical conditioning (eight weeks), diving (eight weeks), and land warfare (nine weeks) respectively. After the third phase recruits undergo a three-week Basic Parachute Training course at Fort Benning, followed by the receipt of their Naval Special Warfare Classification (NEC) code. BUD/S is known for Hell Week, a period of several days during First Phase when SEAL trainees are deprived of sleep (they get less than four hours the entire week), and made to do strenuous physical tasks far more difficult than those of any other week during the training cycle. Although SEAL classes typical lose around 75% of their trainees (DORs or injuries sustained during training), far less recruits quit after Hell Week then before. Although completion of BUD/S marks young men (women are not admitted into SEAL training) as standouts, they do not earn their SEAL pin, or Trident, until undergoing the SQT course.

Famous Navy SEALs


G.I. Jane, Tears of the Sun, Navy SEALS, Commando, Predator, The Rock,The Finest Hour.



Related topics

External links

  • U.S. Navy SEALs Information Website (http://www.seal.navy.mil/seal) - official site.
  • U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command Website (http://www.navsoc.navy.mil/seal) - official site.
  • NavySEALs.com (http://www.navyseals.com)
  • SpecialOperations.com: BUD/S Information Page (http://www.specialoperations.com/Schools/BUDS/)
  • SpecialOperations.com: SEALs Information Page (http://www.specialoperations.com/Navy/SEALs/)


  • US Navy. Navy Fact File: Navy SEALs (http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/personnel/seals/seals.html). San Diego, California: Naval Special Warfare Command–Public Affairs Office. March 16, 1996.

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