A Timeline from the small beginning of UDT to U.S Navy SEALs. First an effective reaction force builded by true men of honor but then one of the most feared Special Operations Forces in the world. With experience from The Second World War, The Cold War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, The Battle of Mogadishu, War on Terror etc.
Comment’s and statesment givin’ by former UDT/SEALs, Navy SEALs, an author and a former SWCC officer.
The modern day U.S. Navy SEALs can trace their roots to World War II. The United States Navy recognized the need for the covert reconnaissance of landing beaches and coastal defenses.
On 7 May 1943, Lieutenant Commander Draper L. Kauffman, “The Father of Naval Combat Demolition,” was directed to set up a school and train people to eliminate obstacles on an enemy-held beach prior to an invasion. On 6 June 1943, LCDR Kauffman established Naval Combat Demolition Unit training at Fort Pierce. Most of Kauffman’s volunteers came from the navy’s engineering and construction battalions. Training commenced with a gruelling week designed to filter out under-performing candidates. On 6 June 1944, in the face of great adversity, the NCDUs at Omaha Beach managed to blow eight complete gaps and two partial gaps in the German defenses. The NCDUs suffered 31 killed and 60 wounded, a casualty rate of 52%. Meanwhile, the NCDUs at Utah Beach met less intense enemy fire. They cleared 700 yards of beach in two hours, another 900 yards by the afternoon.
Some of the earliest World War II predecessors of the SEALs were the Operational Swimmers of the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS. Many current SEAL missions were first assigned to them. OSS specialized in special operations, dropping operatives behind enemy lines to engage in organized guerrilla warfare as well as to gather information on such things as enemy resources and troop movements.
On 23 November 1943, the U.S. Marines landing on Tarawa Atoll emphasized the need for hydrographic reconnaissance and underwater demolition of obstacles prior to any amphibious landing. The islands in this area have unpredictable tide changes and shallow reefs preventing the naval transport vessels from progressing. The first wave crossed the reef in Amtracs, but the second in Higgins boats were not as successful. They got stuck on a reef due to low tide. The Marines were forced to unload and wade to shore. This proved to be a daunting task and many Marines were killed or drowned before reaching the beach. Without support from the second wave the Marines in Amtracs were slaughtered on the beach. This was a valuable lesson that the Navy did not want to be repeated. After the Tarawa landing, Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner directed the formation of nine Underwater Demolition Teams. Thirty officers and 150 enlisted men were moved to the Waimānalo Amphibious Training Base to form the nucleus of a demolition training program. This group became Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) ONE and TWO.
The Navy needed to determine its role within the special operations arena. In March 1961, Admiral Arleigh Burke, the Chief of Naval Operations, recommended the establishment of guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units. These units would be able to operate from sea, air or land. This was the beginning of the Navy SEALs. All SEALs came from the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams, who had already gained extensive experience in commando warfare in Korea; however, the Underwater Demolition Teams were still necessary to the Navy’s amphibious force.
The SEALs were initially deployed in and around Da Nang, training the South Vietnamese in combat diving, demolitions, and guerrilla/anti-guerrilla tactics. As the war continued, the SEALs found themselves positioned in the Rung Sat Special Zone where they were to disrupt the enemy supply and troop movements and in the Mekong Delta to fulfill riverine operations, fighting on the inland waterways.
Into the late 1960s, the SEALs were successful in a new style of warfare, effective in anti-guerrilla and guerrilla actions. SEALs brought a personal war to the enemy in a previously safe area. The Viet Cong referred to them as “the men with green faces,” due to the camouflage face paint the SEALs wore during combat missions.