Why are SEALS in the US Navy?
Im writing this article to ask why NOT the Marine Corps? Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this discussion let me give you some background on where I am coming from before folks begin to argue and get off topic. I spent my enitre military career in the US Army and almost all of that time in the Special Forces. I am not asking this question as a "Green Beret" rather as a tax payer. To me, a tax payer, Navy SEALS don't make any sense, however Marine Corps SEALs resonate with me.
Im a terrible author with a terrible public education so you should expect this article will be poorly constructed, get over it.
I also want to point out first that I have nothing but POSITIVE things to say about Navy SEALs, as individual operators AND as a fighting force. Few organizations can compare to the dedication and professionalism that the SEALs have demonstrated to me personally on the battlefield and on the global stage. Simply put: I like them, I really do. This question isn't to challenge them or their teams into yet another apples and oranges debate over whose better at being SOF, rather why the Navy?
As with any organization we have to begin with the history and evolution of the USN SEAL program. Having their roots based in the tradition and acheivements of the Navys Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) we can find a direct link to their Naval heritage and on its face that makes sense. But upon further examination we can see a few "gaps" in the link to link from this group to that. What I mean; the history of the SEALs back to the UDTs of WW2 reads more like 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon, rather than this is how they started and this is where they ended up. By comparison Green Berets can directly trace their lineage back to the OSS (no gaps), and even then they stayed in their respective GROUND based branch.
I'm not going to dissect SEAL history, you can research that on your own here: Click to read more
Ulmitimately the real question at large is why does Americas boat branch have a ground based force today? Why is the Navy conducting ground operations in a land locked country? More importantly, why aren't the Marines doing it since they are in fact, the Infantry Force for the Navy? I can understand why Marines are inland as part of Americas ability to project force, but why sailors? If I stripped away the title SEAL and listed out their job description and tasking, in my eyes I see Marine Corps Special Operations (MARSOC), not Navy. I have NO DOUBT the USMC is capable of boarding a ship. At best, their mission statements and skill sets are so similar we have to ask, why both? Because submarines...on land?
It feels redundant, but the DoD was commanded to break one of the cardinal rules of SOF (Cant mass produce SOF) by then SECDEF Rumsfield by requiring all SOF to grow and additional 25% and to create MARSOC....just cause. I not going to get into the roll of the DoD growth requirement, im just stating it had a role to play on how we got here.
With the formation of MARSOC, the reason for having a NAVSWC (Naval Special Warfare) seems less and less plausible. But the SEALs, because of their hard earned reputation of excellence seem to be beyond this logical and fiscally responsible line of Questioning from taxpayers.
Frankly, we could even argue that SOF as a whole could and should be yanked from their conventional parent branches, and placed into their own innusalted DoD branch. I realize their parent branches will have nothing to do with that but we could call it US SOF, why not? Anyway, im supremely confident in the management and leadership of the USMC and I would'nt have a single reservation about giving them control of the SEALs.
I do know that when I hear about how bad ass the SEALs it feels like bragging about the best Aircraft carrier in the Army. Good people doing good things but owned by the wrong master. I doubt a SEAL would be interested in a branch transfer, after all who the hell on a boat could challenge the operational ongoings of ground operation? This red headed step child status complete with seperate congressional funding gives the SEALs unparralelled autonomy. That autonomy is in large part responsible for the success that SEALs have enjoyed over the years with few inside the Navy qaulified to interfere with their operations. After all, why would a general chime in on a naval battle despite the fact the admirals now somehow know how to patrol ranger school style.
[Below, a side by side of a MARSOC and SEAL operator]
[Above: Whats the difference?]
Here are a few questions this brings up:
1. Is a gound force in the Navy considered mission creep into USMC turf? Would we accept an Infantry Unit in the Airforce? The 82nd Airborne belongs to the Army despite their use of USAF lift assets.
2. If the mission creep doesnt matter because of "legacy" then how do we continue to justify the primary divisions of the DoD like the Army, Navy, USMC, and Airforce? Why not just a Defense Force Israel style?
3. With the formation of MARSOC is NAVSWC obsolete? If not, then why did we create MARSOC? What do each organization bring to the table? How are they different?
MARSOC makes sense to me and in my personal opinion, I think the SEALs should belong to MARSOC.
For now I'm just asking the question not making a statement, I'm retired now and could frankly care less what they do BUT I have never heard a satisfactory answer as to why the Navy? There is so much mission creep going on its hard to tell at all who does what and why, other than simply killing mooj (which needs to be done). I realize this topic at a command level boils down to who gets what money for a particular mission, afterall we all want to be the tip of the spear. Its just that as a taxpayer I'm not sure I would support the Army purchasing a new battleship, regardless how much it makes sense to have your own gun boat. If the Army needs a boat, then ask the Navy!
Anyway, just a thought, I'd love to hear your opinions.