January 23, 2012
Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs
The Naval Special Warfare community celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Navy SEAL teams Jan. 1.
In the late 1950s and early 1960, Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy determined a need for developing an unconventional warfare capability to counter a menacing Soviet threat, turmoil in places like Indonesia and Malaysia, and rising insurgency problems in South Vietnam.
History of SEALs establishment
In response to the demand for a maritime special operator, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Arleigh A. Burke authorized the creation of the first two SEAL teams Jan, 1, 1962. SEAL Team 1 was established in San Diego, Calif. to support the Pacific Fleet. The team was established under the command of Lt. David Del Giudice. SEAL Team 2 was established in Little Creek, Va., to support the Atlantic Fleet. SEAL 2 was under the command of Lt. John Callahan. These first two SEAL teams were commissioned with a complement of 10 officers and 50 enlisted men taken from the ranks of the Navy’s Underwater Demolition teams who made their mark in World War II and Korea investigating and removing all obstacles, both natural and manmade from beach landing locations.
Shortly after establishment of the teams, the inaugural class of Navy SEALs took to the jungles of Vietnam for reconnaissance, ambush, captures, raids, POW recovery, and other innovative and offensive efforts to disrupt Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army operations and infrastructure. The teams were among the most decorated units in the Vietnam War.
While the character and mission U.S. Navy SEALs carried out then and now have not changed significantly, SEALs today have matured their tactical skills and capabilities from the days of KA-BARs, M-16s and PRC-77s. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles is paying huge dividends in intelligence gathering and target tracking. Navy SEALs communicate intra-sound and across the world in real-time, and with video. Navy SEAL armories carry fearsome, hand-held weapons for every environment and situation. From the Mekong Delta to the Hindu Kush, deep at sea or far into the desert, SEALs have conducted some of our nation’s most critical missions and are as relevant today, as they were when they were first created.
In spite of radical changes in technology and the times, the Navy SEAL of 2012 has the same dogged determination and exceptional toughness the 1962 “plank owner” possessed. Navy SEAL teams have an impressive battle field record, having earned every significant military award, including five Medals of Honor. Those successes do not come without countless acts of heroism and profound sacrifice. ‘Never quit’ and ‘always win’ are qualities that define the teams and its members vow to never compromise.
In his remarks to the force Jan. 10, Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, emphasized the importance of continuing the Navy SEAL legacy.
“I would ask you to look at the future, make a point to continue our successful legacy and keep our force relevant, continue to develop yourself personally, professionally, get education, get experience and look to the future and make sure that we continue to be successful and relevant for our Navy, for the Special Operations Command and for our nation,” Pybus said.