Navy SEALs - Operational History

Over the years, Navy SEALs have carried a multitude of high risk special operations, from the jungles of South East Asia, to the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq.

(see here for DEVGRU operations)

Navy SEALs - Operations

1963 - Vietnam

info coming soon

1983 - Grenada - Operation Urgent Fury

info coming soon

1989 - Panama - Operation Just Cause

info coming soon

1991 - Persian Gulf - Operation Desert Storm

Navy SEALs carried out special reconnaissance missions along the Kuwaiti coastline in the build up to the ground war. When allied ground operations began, SEALs swam ashore and planted a series of explosive devices. The detonation of these explosives, coupled with machine gun fire from Special Boat Teams, convinced the Iraqi defenders that an amphibious landing was imminent, causing them to commit men to defend the coast. This deception resulted in the USMC thrust, coming over land instead of from the sea, to be met with less troops than it otherwise might have.

SEALs, based on the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, helped enforce sanctions against the Iraqi regime by searching suspicious shipping in the Persian Gulf. One such operation was against a freighter suspected of laying mines.

A 4-man SEAL team was sent in to destroy a Tomahawk cruise missile which had crashed in the desert before reaching its target. The SEALs helocasted off the Kuwaiti coast before coming ashore and meeting up with agents who drove them to the crash site. The SEALs destroyed the Tomahawk with explosives before returning to the sea for pickup by helicopter. (1)

2001 - present - Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom

US Navy SEALs have. carried out a wide range of special operations in Afghanistan. The Teams deployed on numerous Special Reconnaisance missions as well as VBBS operations to prevent the seaborne smuggling of arms into Afghanistan.

Some notable SEAL actions in Afghanistan include:

Airstrip Reconnaissance

November 2001 - A SEAL platoon carried out a special reconnaissance mission regarding an abandoned airstrip strip, in the Registan desert, 190 kilometers southwest of Kandahar. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) planned to establish a forward operating base at the airstrip and were readying a large scale helicopter-borne assault. The task of getting eyes onto the airstrip fell to the SEALs.

The SEAL platoon were airlifted to a desert landing zone (LZ) 10 miles from their target in 2 USAF MC-130 Combat Talons. The SEALs then traveled in 4 modified HMMWVs from the LZ to a pre-planned Laying Up Point (LUP) where they cached the HMMWVs and established a Observation Post (OP) to keep an eye on the airstrip. The SEALs watched for several days as a series of delays pushed back the Marine's arrival. When they finally got word that the MEU were coming in, a number of SEALs, with a pair of USAF Combat Controllers in tow, moved in to secure the airfield and prepare it for the MEU's CH-53 helicopters. The operation went through without a hitch, without a shot fired, carried out with the utmost professionalism. The SEALs had just entered the war on terror.

The captured airstrip was to become a key forward operating base (FOB) that was to become known as Camp Rhino.

Camp Rhino (google earth kmz file)

Task Force K-Bar

SEALs joined Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-South, otherwise known as Task Force K-Bar. TF K-Bar was based at Camp Rhino and commanded by a SEAL captain and consisted of :

TF K-Bar carried out over 40 Special Reconnaissance and Direct Action missions in the South of Afghanistan between October 2001 and March 2002, with the SEALs at the forefront of many operations. Thanks to their particular command structure and standard operating procedures, the SEALs were frequently able to mount operations at shorter notice than the other elements within the Task Force. Successful operations by TF K-Bar invluce:the capture of Taliban leader Mullah Khairullah Kahirkhawa. the discovery of huge caches of weapons in cave complexes in the Zhawar Kili valley. These caches were later destroyed by airstrikes called in by the Task Force.

Operation Redwing

On June 28, 2005, a 4-man SEAL patrol went on a mission in the Kunar Province, to kill or capture a high ranking Taliban leader.

more info : operation redwing

2003 - present - Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom

SEAL participation in 1991's Gulf War I had been relatively small. In March 2003, nearly 250 SEALs and a similar number of SWCCs and other support elements, deployed into the Gulf. This time Naval Special Warfare units were at the vanguard of the invasion.

Al Faw

During the invasion of Iraq, Navy SEALs, working with British Royal Marines, secured the beaches of the Al Faw Peninsula, which served as a major bridgehead for coalition forces. SEALs, supported by Royal Marines, EOD specialists and Air Force CCTs, secured several in-land oil facilities, preventing their destruction by Iraqi forces.

SWCC NSW-RHIBs delivered SEAL and GROM units onto several oil facilities during the opening stages of Operation Iaqi Freedom.
photo : ARLO K. ABRAHAMSON / U.S. Navy

Oil Transfer Terminals

SEAL / SWCC units, working closely with Polish GROM commandos, secured several coastal oil terminals, preventing their destruction by the Iraqis. These vital oil processing facilities were:

  • Mina Al Bakr (MABOT)
    (secured by SWWC / SEALs)
  • Khor Al Amaya (KAAOT)
    (secured by SWWC / GROM)

In both cases, the assault teams were taken into the target area onboard MK V SOC boats, before transferring over to NSW RHIBs for the assault itself. In the case of the MABOT terminal, divers from a SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team had, the night before, performed an underwater recce of the target, verifying the planned access points and gathering other vital info. In the event, both facilities were successfully stormed without shots fired.

Umm Qasr

Once coalition forces had secured the Southern Port Of Umm Qasr, SEALs assisted SWCC and GROM units in searching a string of hulks that littered the port and surrounding waterways.

Mukarayin Dam

The SEAL/GROM relationship was to continue during several operations, including a joint mission to secure the Mukarayin Dam, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. Coalition planners feared that Saddam might order the dam, built on the Euphrates river, to be blown, causing extensive flooding. This large scale operation began with the SEAL/GROM task force being airlifted onto target by 6 USAF MH-53 Pavelow helicopters. Several SEAL DPVs were take along, driving off the helo's rear ramps and setting up blocking positions on the site's access roads while the SEAL/GROM teams searched the Dam complex. As was the case in several other operations, the Iraqi military, seeing the writing on the wall, had chosen to abandon the facility before coalition forces arrived.

Snatch and Grab

Following the initial invasion, SEAL Task Groups went after Baathist leadership figures, carrying out a series of night raids throughout Baghdad. As the old regime was rolled up, similar raids were carried out against the burgeoning insurgency.The SEALs, again working alongside their Polish GROM SOF brothers, arrested suspected bomb makers, insurgent leaders and other targets.

SEALs continue to carry out operations against the Iraqi Insurgency and Al Qaeda in Iraq.

June 2004 - Hostage Rescue

Navy SEALs are flown into action by the 160th SOAR in order to rescue 2 Polish contractors kidnapped in Iraq
more info : Iraq hostage rescue

2009 - Gulf Of Aden - Rescue of Captain Phillips

SEAL snipers free a US Captain held by Somali pirates
more info : Cpt Phillips Freed By SEALs

2009 - Somalia - Operation Celestial Balance

Navy SEALs, operating aboard helicopters from the 160th SOAR, carried out a raid against a terrorist convoy in Somalia.
more info : Operation Celestial Balance

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