SEAL Team Six
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), or DEVGRU, is a U.S. Navy component of Joint Special Operations Command. It is often referred to as SEAL Team Six, the name of its predecessor, which was officially disbanded in 1987. DEVGRU is administratively supported by Naval Special Warfare Command and operationally commanded by the Joint Special Operations Command. Most information concerning DEVGRU is classified and details of its activities are not usually commented on by either the White House or the Department of Defense. Despite the official name changes, "SEAL Team Six" remains the unit's widely recognized moniker. It is sometimes referred to in the U.S. media as a Special Mission Unit.
DEVGRU and its Army counterpart, Delta Force, are the United States military's premier counterterrorism units. Although DEVGRU was created as a maritime counterterrorism unit, it has become a multifunctional special operations unit with several roles that include high-risk personnel/hostage extractions and other specialized missions.
The Central Intelligence Agency's highly secretive Special Activities Division (SAD) and more specifically its elite Special Operations Group (SOG) often works with—and recruits—operators from DEVGRU. The combination of these units led ultimately to the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Operation Neptune Spear.
The origins of DEVGRU are in SEAL Team Six, a unit created in the aftermath of Operation Eagle Claw. During the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Richard Marcinko was one of two U.S. Navy representatives for a Joint Chiefs of Staff task force known as the TAT (Terrorist Action Team). The purpose of the TAT was to develop a plan to free the American hostages held in Iran. In the wake of the disaster at the Desert One base in Iran, the Navy saw the need for a full-time counter-terrorist unit, and tasked Marcinko with its design and development.
Marcinko was the first commanding officer of this new unit. At the time there were two SEAL teams. Marcinko named the unit SEAL Team Six in order to confuse Soviet intelligence as to the number of actual SEAL teams in existence. The unit's plankowners were hand-picked by Marcinko from throughout the UDT/SEAL community. SEAL Team Six became the U.S. Navy's premier counter-terrorist unit. It has been compared to the U.S. Army's Delta Force. Marcinko held the command of SEAL Team Six for three years, from 1980 to 1983, instead of the typical two-year command in the Navy at the time. SEAL Team Six was formally created in October 1980, and an intense, progressive work-up training program made the unit mission-ready just six months later. SEAL Team Six started with 75 shooters. According to Marcinko, the annual ammunition training allowance for the command was larger than that of the entire U.S. Marine Corps. The unit has virtually unlimited resources at its disposal.
In 1987 SEAL Team Six was dissolved. A new unit named the "Naval Special Warfare Development Group" was formed, essentially as SEAL Team Six's successor. Reasons for the disbanding are varied, but the name SEAL Team Six is often used in reference to DEVGRU.
Recruitment, selection and training
In the early stages of creating SEAL Team Six, Marcinko was given six months to get ST6 up and running, or the whole project would come to an end. This meant that there was a timing issue and Marcinko had little time to create a proper selection course, similar to that of Delta Force, and as a result hand-picked the first plankowners of the unit after assessing their Navy records and interviewing each man. It has been said that Marcinko regretted not having enough time to set up a proper selection process and course. All applicants came from the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) and East and West Coast SEAL teams. Marcinko's criteria for recruiting applicants was combat experience so he would know they could perform under fire; language skills were vital, as the unit would have a worldwide mandate to communicate with the local population if needed; union skills, to be able to blend in as civilians during an operation; and finally SEAL skills. Members of SEAL Team Six were selected in part because of the different specialist skills of each man.
Candidates must pass three-days of physical and psychological testing that includes a Physical Screening Test (PST) where candidates must exceed the minimum requirements and perform at their highest level possible. Candidates are then interviewed by an oral review board to deem whether the candidate is suitable to undertake the selection phase. Those who pass the stringent recruitment and selection process will be selected to attend a six- to eight-month Operators Training Course. Candidates will screen with the unit's training wing known as "Green Team". The training course attrition rate is high, usually around 50 percent; during one selection course, out of the original 20 candidates, 12 completed the course. All candidates are watched closely by DEVGRU instructors and evaluated on whether they are suitable to join the individual squadrons. Howard E. Wasdin, a former member of SEAL Team Six said in a recent interview that 16 applied for SEAL Team Six selection course and two were accepted. Those who do not pass the selection phase are returned to their previous assignments and are able to try again in the future.
Like all Special Operations Forces units that have an extremely intensive and high-risk training schedule, there can be serious injuries and deaths. SEAL Team Six/DEVGRU has lost several operators during training, including parachute accidents and close-quarters battle training accidents. It is presumed that the unit's assessment process for potential new recruits is different from what a SEAL operator experienced in his previous career, and much of the training tests the candidate's mental capacity rather than his physical condition, as he will have already completed Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL or the Navy EOD training pipeline.
Candidates are put through a variety of advanced training courses led by civilian or military instructors. These can include free-climbing, land warfare, communications, advanced unarmed combat techniques, defensive and offensive driving, advanced diving, and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training. All candidates must perform at the top level during selection, and the unit instructors evaluate the candidate during the training process. Selected candidates are assigned to one of the Tactical Development and Evaluation Squadrons; the others are returned to their previous units. Unlike the other regular SEAL Teams, SEAL Team Six operators were able to go to almost any of the best schools anywhere and train in whatever they wanted depending on the unit's requirements.
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DEVGRU members are granted significant freedom to tailor their weapons to their preferences. As such, barrel lengths, rifle furniture, optics and other accessories can vary between individual rifles. It is also not abnormal for one DEVGRU member to have duplicates of one type of rifle, each configured for a different mission role.
The following is also a general list. DEVGRU has a large number of weapons in its armories, some of which are not officially adopted by the US military in any significant numbers.
- Heckler & Koch HK416 — chambered in 5.56mm, the primary assault rifle used by DEVGRU, used during Operation Neptune Spear.
- Heckler & Koch HK417 — a 7.62mm battle rifle that can be fitted with a multitude of barrels for different purposes, generally used by DEVGRU instead of the Mk 17 Mod 0.
- FN SCAR-H — a 7.62mm battle rifle, designated as Mk 17 Mod 0, used in unknown numbers.
- Mk 14 EBR — 7.62mm battle rifles which are highly modified variants of the M14 rifle, with both Mod 0 and Mod 1 variants being fielded. Select fire capability is retained.
- Colt M4A1 — the former primary arm of DEVGRU, replaced by the HK416. Still in use with other SEAL teams as well as some DEVGRU support personnel.
- Heckler & Koch MP7A1 — a personal defense weapon (PDW) known to be used by DEVGRU operators when missions require a very compact and potent weapon.
- Heckler & Koch MP5 — only MP5N (Navy) variants are used, with the Navy models being developed specifically for the SEALs by H&K. Has been phased out in favor of the MP7 but remains in inventory.
- SIG Sauer P226 — chosen over the M9 by the SEALs as their sidearm. Navy models are made of all stainless steel as opposed to normal SIG pistols which have alloy frames. Navy models have been produced both with and without rails, and with both stamped and milled slides. Currently designated the Mk. 25 by the US Navy.
- SIG Sauer P239 — sub-compact pistol, used as a concealed-carry weapon on undercover missions.
- Heckler & Koch Mk 23 Mod 0 — a pistol developed by Heckler & Koch in response to a request for an "offensive" handgun, the weapon was determined to be too heavy and awkward to be useful to the SEALs, despite its exceptional accuracy. Retained in armories, but rarely fielded if at all.
- Heckler & Koch HK45CT — being procured as a replacement for the Mk. 23 Mod 0 as of 2010, appropriately designated Mk. 24 Mod 0. The Mk. 24 Mod. 0 is to be issued with a suppressor like the Mk. 23.
- M870 MCS — used primarily in its short-barreled "breacher" configuration.
- M1014 Joint Combat Shotgun — used in unknown numbers.
- Mk 46 Mod 1 — a lighter weight, modified version of the M249 SAW.
- Mk 48 Mod 1 — a 7.62mm belt-fed machine gun based on the Mk 46 Mod 0.
- Mk 43 Mod 1 — a modified and updated version of the M60 GPMG. No longer in widespread use.
Designated Marksman/Sniper/Anti-Materiel Rifles:
- KAC Mk 11 Mod 0 — a 7.62mm designated marksman rifle and sniper rifle.
- FN Mk 20 Mod 0 Sniper Support Rifle — a modified version of the SCAR-H, used as a sniper rifle/designated marksman rifle.
- Mk 13 Mod 5 sniper rifle — a .300 Winchester Magnum bolt-action sniper rifle based on the Remington Model 700.
- McMillan Tac-338 — a .338 Lapua Magnum bolt-action sniper rifle.
- McMillan Tac-50 — Designated the Mk 15 Mod 0 SASR (Special Applications Sniper Rifle). A .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO) bolt-action anti-materiel rifle.
- M203 — a single-shot 40mm underbarrel grenade launcher.
- M320 — a single-shot 40mm underbarrel or stand alone grenade launcher.
- M79 — used by DEVGRU for special applications, sometimes cut down to have a very short barrel and no shoulder stock; then called the "Pirate Gun".
- Mk 13 Mod 0 — used mounted on the FN SCAR-H rifles.
- M72 LAW — a 66mm anti-armor/tank weapon.
- Saab M136 AT4 CS — an 84mm anti-armor/tank weapon.
- M3 MAAWS — an 84mm anti-armor/tank weapon,
DEVGRU is divided into color-coded line squadrons. DEVGRU Det. MacDill
- Red Squadron (Assault Team)
- Gold Squadron (Assault Team)
- Blue Squadron (Assault Team)
- Silver Squadron (Assault Team)
- Black Squadron (Reconnaissance & Surveillance Team)
- Gray Squadron (Mobility Squadron, Transportation/Divers)
- EOD Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
- Technical Support Squadron (Intel, cryptologic, Electronic Warfare, etc.)
- Green Squadron (Selection/Training)
Each assault squadron is divided into three troops (commanded by lieutenant commanders) and these troops are divided into smaller teams. Each line squadron has a specific nickname. Examples being Gold-Knights, Red-Indians, Blue-Pirates.
Command of DEVGRU is a Captain's billet. Ranks listed are the most recent if the officer is still on active duty.
- Commander Richard Marcinko – Nov 1980 to July 1983
- Captain Robert A. Gormly – July 1983 to 1986
- Captain Thomas E. Murphy – 1986 to 1987
- Captain Richard T.P. Woolard – 1987 to 1990
- Captain Ronald E. Yeaw – 1990 to 1992
- Captain Thomas G. Moser – 1992 to 1994
- Admiral Eric T. Olson – 1994 to 1997
- Vice Admiral Albert M. Calland III – June 1997 to June 1999
- Vice Admiral Joseph D. Kernan – June 1999 to Aug 2003
- Rear Admiral Edward G. Winters, III – Aug 2003 to 2005 
- Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey – 2005 to 2007
- Rear Admiral Scott P. Moore – 2007 to 2009
- Captain Perry F. Van Hooser 
Roles and responsibilities
When SEAL Team Six was first created it was devoted exclusively to counter-terrorism with a worldwide maritime responsibility; its objectives typically included targets such as ships, oil rigs, naval bases, coastal embassies, and other civilian or military bases that were accessible from the sea or inland waterways.
On certain operations small teams from SEAL Team Six were tasked with covertly infiltrating international high risk areas in order to carry out reconnaissance or security assessments of U.S. military facilities and embassies; and to give advice on improvements in order to prevent casualties in an event of a terrorist attack.
Although the unit was created as a maritime counter-terrorism unit, it has become a multi-functional special operations unit with multiple roles that include high-risk personnel/hostage extractions. Such operations include the successful rescue of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, the attempted rescue of Linda Norgrove, the successful rescue of American doctor Dilip Joseph and in 1991 the successful recovery of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family during a coup that deposed him.
After SEAL Team Six was disbanded and renamed, the official mission of the currently operating Naval Special Warfare Development Group mission is "to provide centralized management for the test, evaluation, and development of equipment technology and TTP for NSW." 
DEVGRU's full mission is classified but is thought to include pre-emptive, pro-active counter-terrorist operations, counter-proliferation (efforts to prevent the spread of both conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction), as well as the elimination or recovery of high-value targets (HVTs) from unfriendly nations. DEVGRU is one of a handful of U.S. Special Mission Units authorized to use pre-emptive actions against terrorists and their facilities.
- Joint Special Operations Command
- Delta Force
- 24th Special Tactics Squadron
- Navy SEALs in popular culture
- List of Navy SEALs
- List of special forces units
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NSWDG is located in Virginia Beach, and is a type two sea duty cno priority one major command. The command is an elite counter terrorism unit that conducts research, and develops, tests, and evaluates current and emerging technology. This technology is related to special operations tactics and joint warfare to improve Special Forces war fighting capabilities. ... While at NSWDG, support personnel could have opportunities to earn many special qualifications, their expeditionary warfare specialist (EXW) pin, and Combat Service Support and Combat Support Naval Education Codes (NEC). Special qualifications include parachuting and fast roping, among many others. NSWDG support personnel receive special duty pay, and have some of the highest promotion rates in the Navy.
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In one year, the operators of SEAL Six fire more bullets than entire USMC.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group.|
- ShadowSpear.com Special Operations
- Naval Special Warfare Development Group at GlobalSecurity.org
- Mark Mazetti, Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew, Serge F. Kowalski, Seasn D. Naylor and John Ismay (June 6, 2015). "SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines". The New York Times (The New York Times). According to the New York Times the article probed "the culture of a secretive Special Operations unit, which often acts with limited oversight, and situated it in the context of how today’s wars are fought. It implicated the team in troubling failures, like the killing of a British aid worker it was trying to rescue from the Taliban or the deaths of innocent civilians, one a young, unarmed Afghan girl. The article also spotlighted the unit’s triumphs apart from the Osama bin Laden raid, such as rescuing Pfc. Jessica Lynch in Iraq, or saving Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates"
- "Inside SEAL Team 6" - An undated New York Times article describing the identity, missions, training and dangers of SEAL Team Six.