Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How I Figured Out WTF Is Up With Seal Team Six

So apparently it's all over the news now that "Seal Team Six" was responsible for "Operation Geronimo", the raid to take down Osama Bin Laden's compound. I first learned about ST 6 while reading Richard Marcinko's biography, "Rogue Warrior". Marcinko was the Commander who established ST6 as the Navy's specialized counter-terror force, and created "Red Cell", the Navy's specialized faux-enemy infiltration unit, created to test US Naval facilities' ability to defend against elite hostile penetration teams.

So apparently things have changed a lot since the last time I did some digging. Here's the Wikipedia article on the US Navy SEALs, their history and organization. Notice that "Seal Team Six" isn't part of the organizational chart anymore; instead, it has been formally replaced by the US Navy Special Warfare Development Group.

"DEVGRU" is one of two "Tier One" Joint Special Operations Command operational units, the other being the more famous 1st Special Operations Detachment - Delta, aka, "Delta Force". Here's the article detailing the Tier One / Tier Two breakdown; I don't know if this is a truly formal designation or just a naming convention that gets used to separate the Black Ops forces from the more public special operations units.

So to me, it appears now that ST6 / DEVGRU stands apart from the conventional SEAL teams in the same way that Delta stands apart from the other Green Berets - members are recruited from those parent units, and are still ostensibly part of those units, (i.e., a ST6 member is still a "Navy Seal" and a Delta operator is still a "Green Beret") but operationally, and I imagine to some extent culturally, they stand apart. I knew this was the case for Delta, but I wasn't aware that ST6 had moved so far away from its association with the other Teams.

EDIT: See Jack Murphy's comment below regarding Delta membership. Thanks dude!

So, there we go. This is what we learn when we're bored at work and haven't been doing our SOCOM homework lately...

11 comments:

reflexivefire said...

One thing to understand is that the Tier system is simply to denote the amount of funding a unit gets. People get hyped up about it without really know what it means.

You don't have to be a Green Beret to be in Delta. Most come from Ranger Battalion, many from the Green Berets, and a few even come from the Big Army. Individual operators wear whichever color beret they had in their previous unit. Green for Special Forces, Tan for Rangers, Black for Big Army.

As far as I know you do have to be a SEAL in order to be in SEAL Team Six, but I am not positive about that.

Jack Badelaire said...

No way dude, Tier One denotes how much money the video game spends to promote your brand of FPS...duh!

Thanks for filling in the bits about Delta membership. I always assumed they came from the GBs - maybe that's more how it was done in the Beckwith days when it was formed? That's what I've read about the most.

Jack Badelaire said...

Also, I believe Tier One gets to wear the more expensive Oakleys. And you should have more badass tattoos. And a forked goatee.

But the Oakleys are critical.

Machine Trooper said...

This is a shocker to me, Jack. Back in my days at Bragg, Delta did draw exclusively from SF, so far as I knew.

Looks like I had better update my elite forces pages.

reflexivefire said...

There have always been lots of Special Forces troops finding their way to Delta but I don't think that that was ever a source that the unit drew from exclusively. For instance, Eric Haney, who wrote his memoirs "Inside Delta Force" was a founding member. He was in Ranger Battalion not SF.

Now back in the day, I think that being in Delta used to automatically entitle operator to wear the Greet Beret and Special Forces Tab...however, I don't believe this is the case any longer. Today, I think that if a Delta Operator chooses, he can go through an abbreviated form of the Q-Course (the MOS training portion) and then be awarded a Greet hat and SF tab for his efforts.

I was laughing about that video game that had TIER ONE all over the posters and ads for it. You can be a admin clerk in a Tier One unit, big deal...

Jack Badelaire said...

But do they issue you Oakleys???

Yeah, CoD Black Ops is pretty ridiculous in it's promotion of "Tier One Operators".

But it looks so friggin' cool...

Ahem, yes. I'm all right now, sorry about that..

Thanks for the Haney ref - I need to go back and flip through his bio (read it a number of years ago).

reflexivefire said...

They issue Oakley boots and sunglasses in Tier Two units. In Tier One they burn off your fingerprints like in Men in Black!

Machine Trooper said...

By the time you went in, Jack, were they letting every pogue in the Green Machine wear a beret and blouse their Class As?

That still kinda' chaps my hiney. Granted, untabbed REMFs wore the green beret before that, but only in SF.

reflexivefire said...

When I joined up I think the Big Army was wearing that silly black beret. Thankfully, I never wore one. It killed me that I had to wear a maroon beret when I went to the E-5 Board in the Q-Course though. I wasn't a Ranger anymore and hadn't earned the Green Beret yet...

If the black beret thing upset you than be glad that you were not around for ACU's. That was just like a blanket admission that the Army is a giant admin machine that wants nothing to do with combat. Total leg BS.

Jack Badelaire said...

But those Mandarin collars are so snazzy!

The gang I paintball with on a semi-regular basis has been through a number of camouflage cycles over the last few years. I still roll with Cold War era BDUs, but others have used ACUs, USMC MARPAT, and Digican patterns. If I get another set of fatigues, it'll probably be the MARPATs.

Darkwing said...

From what I've heard, soldiers have been complaining about the ACU's color palette, not the cut.

@reflexivefire: I'm curious to hear what you think about other camo patterns like Multicam, Desert and Woodland MARPAT, and A-TACS.