Defense & National Security

SEALs: Noble Beats Nobel

[Editor’s note: The Nobel Peace Prize is supposed to recognize and reward contributions to world peace. But, for decades, the Prize Committee has made the award a tool of left-wing politics and UN chicanery, risibly awarding the prize to recipients including the late Yassir Arafat, a terrorist, global warmist Al Gore and now President Obama, in recognition of what they believe are Obama’s good intentions and not for anything he has accomplished to date.

HUMAN EVENTS believes there are people who actually do contribute to our nation’s peace and prosperity far more than the Nobel recipients.  From this year forward, we will recognize those who actually accomplish great tasks in the cause of peace, and do so to contrast vividly their achievements to those of the Nobelists.

In recognition of their accomplishments -- achieved with skill, bravery and often at the risk of their lives -- we award our first Noble Peace Prize to the U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare Command and its SEALs.  We believe this is most appropriate at a time when their honor is being challenged in the most unjustified disciplinary action in recent memory.]

Navy SEALs, like the ones who secretly captured the alleged Fallujah, Iraq atrocity mastermind, have played a critical behind the scenes role in the eight-year war against Islamic extremists.

To SEAL enthusiasts, they are unique among the ranks of special operations forces. As their name (sea, air, land) signals, they are clandestine multi-taskers on all battlefields. They can drop in from 90,000 feet (HALO: high altitude, low opening); penetrate an enemy harbor in special underwater vehicles, and, in the Fallujah case, hunt down a most-wanted terrorist on land.

From the moment recruits arrive at Coronado, Calif., for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, SEALs put a tremendous amount of emphasis on esprit de corps and physical fitness. 70 percent of a class typically fail due to injury, flunking endurance tests or just plan quitting.

Other soldiers and special operations troops who serve with them say they have never fought with a group whose physical prowess dominates the culture and cements the teams, platoons and squadrons.

"They are tough and physical, more than just about any other force I have ever seen," said a Marine officer who served with them.

It was the capture of the suspected Fallujah henchman, Ahmed Hashim Abed, that provided a rare glimpse of dangerous SEAL missions in the war on terror.

The sailors snatched Abed, code-named Objective Amber, after intelligence identified him as the planner of the infamous 2004 Fallujah murders of four Blackwater security guards. There were many risk in a night-time mission among Anbar’s deadly insurgents. But they carried it out flawlessly, without a shot fired. They now face court-martial after Abd claimed one of them punched him while in custody.

Military sources tell HUMAN EVENTS SEAL teams, and their smaller platoons and squadrons, have run scores of such man-hunt missions in al Anbar, the once restive Sunni insurgent stronghold that is now relatively calm.

In Afghanistan, they work in joint intelligence-special operations teams that hunt Taliban and al Qaeda kingpins, especially along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

One of the best selling non-fiction war books, Lone Survivor, was written by a SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, describing what goes on in that cesspool of murderers.

His unit was hunting Taliban big-shot Mohammed Ismail in 2005, when its position was betrayed by a wandering goat herder. A fire fight against more than 100 Taliban resulted in the deaths of all sailors but Luttrell. His team leader, Lt. Michael Murphy, was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Fast forward to 2009. Somali pirates were playing havoc with international shipping. They had a simple strategy. Board and seize commercial freighters. Threaten to kill the crew unless the shipper pays a handsome sum.

Last April, pirates commandeered the American-flagged Maersk Alabama. Captain Richard Phillips negotiated the freedom of his crew. He stayed as the lone hostage and was moved to a life boat.

The destroyer USS Bainbridge, carrying elite SEAL sharpshooters, approached the boat. The ship’s captain began negotiating with the pirates. Sensing Phillips was in danger, he okayed an assault. In reportedly-simultaneous shots, SEAL snipers killed three pirates, signaling other SEALs to board the boat. Phillips was rescued.

SEAL teams fall under the Naval Special Warfare Command based in Coronado, and are dispatched as needed by U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. The Navy command has about 5,400 active-duty sailors, including 2,450 SEALs and 600 combat crewmen. All SEALs must complete the grueling six-month BUD/S training, then go on to learn specialized skills, such as high-tech communications and intercepts, and sharp-shooting.

The SEALs operating unit is a "team" headed by a commander and divided into platoons. The SEALs charged in the Abed capture belong to SEAL Team 10 at Little Creek, Va. There are three other teams there, and four based at Coronado.

The warfare command describes its mission this way:

"Special Operations is characterized by the use of small units with unique ability to conduct military actions that are beyond the capability of conventional military forces.

"SWCC [Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen] units are superbly trained in all environments, and are the master’s of maritime Special Operations. SWCC units are required to utilize a combination of specialized training, equipment, and tactics in completion of Special Operation missions worldwide."

And the SEALs:

"A tactical force with strategic impact, NSW [Navy Special Warfare] mission areas include unconventional warfare, direct action, combating terrorism, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, personnel recovery and hydrographic reconnaissance. Although NSW personnel comprise less than one percent of U.S. Navy personnel, they offer big dividends on a small investment. SWCC units’ proven ability to operate across the spectrum of conflict and in operations other than war in a controlled manner, and their ability to provide real time intelligence and eyes on target, offer decision makers immediate and virtually unlimited options in the face of rapidly changing crises around the world."

SEAL Team 10 and other units have focused on counter-terrorism since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The unit most renowned for man-hunting is the formerly called SEAL Team Six, and now labeled the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, at Dam Neck, Va.. It is part of the super-secret Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. JSOC also includes Army Delta Force, and special intelligence technicians skilled in penetrating computer networks and intercepting communications.

A retired officer knowledgeable about SEAL operations told HUMAN EVENTS the developmental group is largely responsible for secret operations in Afghanistan.

"They are responsible for all deep reconnaissance and direct action against high value targets," the source said.

That reconnaissance has also included communications intercepts. SEALs have been inserted into Taliban-infested areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border. They use mobile receivers to intercept chatter from suspected Taliban-al Qaeda camps in Pakistan and relay the signals to U.S. National Security Agency field offices for translation and distribution. Some of the targets include mosques, which the terrorists use for training and planning.

The developmental team also made it a priority to avenge the deaths of Luttrell’s shipmates and capture or kill Mullah Ishmail. Pakistan police beat them to the punch. They killed the Taliban commander in 2008 when he tried to run a check point while holding a hostage.

President John F. Kennedy formally created the SEALs in 1962 as an elite force able to perform combat at sea, on rivers and coastlines, and amid swamps and deltas.  His action brought together varied groups of combat sailors found under the category of "demolition" or "beach reconnaissance." They showcased their skills during World War II in both theaters. Thirty-four early-day SEALs arrived in England in 1944 and did reconn and demolition to prepare for Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of Normandy.

In Vietnam, SEALs deployed in riverine operations to combat the Viet Cong. They lost 46 sailors from 1965 to 1972.

A history on the website Navyseals.com states:

"The SEAL teams experienced this war like no others. Combat with the VC was very close and personal. Unlike the conventional warfare methods of firing artillery into a coordinate location, or dropping bombs from 30,000 feet, the SEALs operated within inches of their targets. SEALs had to kill at short range and respond without hesitation or be killed. Into the late sixties, the SEALs made great headway with this new style of warfare. Theirs were the most effective anti-guerrilla and guerrilla actions in the war."

By the late 1980s, SEALs won their own command within the Navy as President Reagan consolidated special operations forces into a single overall command reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense.

Today, SEALs are equality adept on land as on the oceans and rivers, as three SEALs showed on September 3, 2009 when they captured Ahmed Hashim Abed.

Editor’s Note: There are a number of legal defense funds which are raising money to pay the attorneys’ fees for those SEALs now facing court-marshal over the charges of prisoner abuse by Abed. HUMAN EVENTS does not endorse any particular fund.  You may get information about some of the funds here.

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