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This is a list of operations conducted by the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

Operation Urgent FuryEdit

On 13 March 1979 the People's Revolutionary Army, led by Maurice Bishop, overthrew the newly independent government of the small island of Grenada and established a new regime based on socialist principles. This brought it into continuing conflict with the United States, as the administration of U.S. President Reagan considered the leftist government to be too closely allied to Cuba and the Soviet Union.[1]

On 12 October 1983 a hard-line faction of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Government of Grenada, controlled by former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, took control of the government from Bishop and placed him under house arrest. Within days, Bishop and many of his supporters were dead, and the nation had been placed under martial law. The severity of the violence, coupled with Coard's hard-line Marxism, caused deep concern among neighboring Caribbean nations, as well as in Washington, D.C. Adding to the U.S.' concern was the presence of nearly 1,000 American medical students in Grenada. On 25 October, the United States invaded Grenada, an operation codenamed Operation Urgent Fury.

SEAL Team Six's Assault Group Three was to conduct a static line drop with boats a few miles away from the Grenadian coast.[2] One of two C-130 cargo planes transporting the SEALs to their drop point veered far off course. A rain squall accompanied by high winds broke out just before the SEALs conducted the drop. Four out of the eight SEALs that made the drop drowned and were never seen again.[2] After the disastrous insertion, Assault Group Three was told to stand by and began preparing for the next mission. The next mission was to go to the governor general's mansion and secure Governor-General Paul Scoon, protect him and his family and move them out of the combat area.[3] A second mission was to capture and secure Grenada's only radio station so that it couldn't be used by the local military to incite the population or coordinate military actions.[3] There was almost no intelligence for either of these operations.[2]

Governor-General's mansionEdit

To reach the governor-general's mansion, the SEALs were flown in on Black Hawk helicopters that morning, and fast-roped to the ground while under fire.[2] As they approached from the back of the mansion, the team found Scoon hiding. The SEALs then continued to clear the rest of the house and began to set up a perimeter to ensure security.[2] Soon the mansion started to take fire from men armed with AK-47s and RPGs. As the incoming fire started to increase, Governor-General Scoon and his family were moved to a safer location in the house. After the incoming fire had decreased, three men wearing Cuban uniforms approached the mansion, all of them carrying AK-47s. The SEALs shouted for the three men to stop where they were. When the three men heard the yells, they raised their weapons. The SEALs opened fire on the Cubans and killed them almost instantly.[2]

Soon afterward, two BTR-60PBs rolled up to the mansion's gates. One of the BTRs at the mansion's front gate opened fire. Just as the SEALs were about to fire a LAW anti-tank rocket, the BTR backed off and left with the other BTR.[2] When the SEALs had been inserted into the compound, they left behind their long-range SATCOM radio on a helicopter;[2] the only communications the team had were through MX-360 radios. The team used the radios to communicate with a SEAL command post on the island to call in air strikes. As the radios' batteries started to fade, communications with the SEAL command post became weak. Once all the radios had died, when the SEALs urgently needed air support, they used a regular house phone to call JSOC,[2] which was able to get an AC-130 Spectre gunship to hold station over the SEALs' position to provide air support.

When morning came, a group of Force Recon Marines arrived to escort the SEALs, Governor-General Scoon, and his family to a point from where they were evacuated by helicopter.[2]

Radio stationEdit

BTR-60PB Urgent Fury

A Soviet-made BTR-60PB armored personnel carrier seized by U.S. forces during Operation Urgent Fury

Assault Group Three and another squad from SEAL Team Six flew to the radio station on a Black Hawk helicopter.[4] The helicopter took small-arms fire on the insertion. Once the team unloaded, it overran the radio station compound. The SEALs were told to hold the station until Governor Scoon and a broadcast team could be brought in.[2] After the team took control of the compound, it was not able to make radio contact with the SEAL command post. The SEALs set up a perimeter while they continued to try to make radio contact. As this was happening, a BTR-60 armored personnel carrier arrived, and 20 Grenadian soldiers disguised as station workers got out.[4] The soldiers carried weapons even in disguise.[4] The SEALs ordered the soldiers to drop the weapons. The soldiers opened fire but were shot down.

The SEALs continued trying to make radio contact, then another BTR and three trucks, carrying a dozen soldiers each, were spotted coming towards the station;[4] the soldiers flanked the building and the BTR covered the front entrance with its 14.5 mm KPV heavy machine gun. The incoming fire on the SEALs' position was becoming devastatingly heavy, and they were running out of ammunition: the team knew that their only option was to change their original plan of holding the radio station, and instead destroy the radio transmitter, then head to the water following their pre-planned escape route out behind the station across a broad meadow that led to a path that cut between cliffs and a beach.[4] The meadow was very exposed to Grenadian fire. The team leapfrogged across the exposed ground and took heavy fire, finally reaching the end of the field, cut through a chain-link fence, ran into dense brush, and followed the path to the beach. One SEAL had been wounded in the arm. The Grenadians were still in pursuit, so the SEALs waded into the water and began swimming parallel to the shore until they found cliff ledges in which to hide;[4] once the Grenadians had given up the search they swam out to sea, where they were in the water for nearly six hours until a rescue plane spotted them and vectored a US Navy ship to pick them up.[4]

Operation Gothic SerpentEdit

During Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia, DEVGRU was a part of Task Force Ranger. TF Ranger was made up of operators from Delta Force, the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 160th SOAR, the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, and SEALs from DEVGRU. Eric T. Olson, William Waddell, Howard Wasdin, Homer Nearpass, and Richard Kaiser were the five SEALs that fought in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu during the last mission of Operation Gothic Serpent to capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.[5] Olson would receive the Silver Star for his actions which were cited as "... during combat actions in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. While under withering enemy fire during actions in support of UNOSOM II operations, Captain Olson demonstrated a complete disregard for his own personal safety in the accomplishment of his mission".[6][7] Olson became commander of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group one year later.

NATO intervention in Bosnia, 1992–95Edit

During NATO's intervention in the Bosnian War, the NSWDG operated alongside other members of NATO's Implementation Force, such as its Army counterpart Delta Force and the British SAS. These units were tasked with finding and apprehending persons indicted for war crimes (PIFWC) and returning them to The Hague to stand trial. Some of DEVGRU's PIFWC operations under team leader William Waddell included apprehending Goran Jelisić, Simo Zaric, Milan Simic, Miroslav Tadic, and Radislav Krstić.[8]

Operation Enduring FreedomEdit

In Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), U.S. Special Operations forces played a central role in the fighting. It was also here they began to specialize in counter-terrorist tactics and information.[9]

During the crucial Battle of Takur Ghar part of Operation Anaconda a small team of DEVGRU assigned to an Advanced Force Operations task force were tasked with establishing observation positions (OPs) on the high ground above the proposed landing zones of U.S. conventional forces. It was one of the most violent battles of Operation Anaconda. Late at night on 2 March 2002 a MH-47 Chinook helicopter piloted by the 160th SOAR was carrying a team from DEVGRU. The original plan was that DEVGRU would be inserted at a point 4,300 feet (1,300 m) east of the peak, but circumstances led the SEALs to choose the summit of Takur Ghar itself as the insertion point. As the helicopter was nearing its landing zone both the pilots and the men in the back observed fresh tracks in the snow, goatskins, and other signs of recent human activity. As the pilots and team discussed a mission abort, an RPG struck the side of the aircraft, wounding one crewman as machine gun bullets ripped through the fuselage, cutting hydraulic and oil lines. Fluid spewed about the ramp area of the helicopter. As the pilot struggled to get the helicopter away Neil C. Roberts, a DEVGRU SEAL in the ramp area of the aircraft, was hit and slipped on the oil as the helicopter took off. He fell approximately 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3.0 m) to the snowy ground below. Roberts immediately engaged enemy forces with his weapons including an M249 light machine gun, SIG Sauer 9mm pistol and grenades. He survived at least 30 minutes before he was shot and killed at close range.[10]

Maersk Alabama hijacking and rescue, 12 April 2009Edit

MV Maersk Alabama, a 508 foot long cargo ship carrying 17,000 tons of humanitarian aid supplies, was seized by pirates 240 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, in waters notorious for piracy. After a confrontation with the crew, four of the hi-jackers fled in the ship's lifeboat, taking Captain Richard Phillips with them as hostage and resulting in a stand-off with a group US Navy warships including, USS Bainbridge, USS Halyburton and USS Boxer. DEVGRU operators flew non-stop from Virginia to the Horn of Africa, then parachuted into the water, before finally arriving aboard the Bainbridge. Three of the operators, one for each pirate, took up sniper positions on the fantail of the ship, with presidential authorization to use lethal force, if it was required. At one point, following a struggle between the pirates and Capt. Phillips where shots were fired, the SEALs felt the hostage's life was in imminent danger. When the first opportunity appeared and the heads of all three captors were visible at the same time, all three snipers fired simultaneously, killing all three pirates at once with head-shots. Phillips was then successfully rescued, bringing the stand-off to an end.[11]

Death of Linda Norgrove, 8 October 2010Edit

Linda Norgrove, a Scottish aid worker, and three Afghan colleagues were kidnapped by members of the Taliban in Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan, on 26 September 2010. The three Afghan aid workers were released on 3 October 2010 while negotiations over Norgrove's release were ongoing. As a result of concerns that Norgrove might be killed or moved by her captors, 20 operators from NSWDG and 24 Rangers conducted a pre-dawn rescue attempt on a Taliban mountain hideout on 8 October 2010 during which she was killed.

A joint official investigation by United Kingdom and United States concluded that Norgrove had died from a grenade thrown by one of the SEAL rescuers. A coroner's narrative verdict was recorded in February 2011 that stated Norgrove had died during a failed rescue attempt.

Operation Neptune SpearEdit

On 1–2 May 2011 DEVGRU's Red Squadron undertook the covert operation codenamed Operation Neptune Spear,[12] under the CIA's authority, and killed Osama bin Laden, leader of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, at his compound 34°11′15.3882″N 73°14′33.3954″E / 34.187607833°N 73.242609833°E / 34.187607833; 73.242609833 in the city of Abbottabad, 113 kilometres (70 mi) from Islamabad, the Federal capital of Pakistan.[13][14][15] The attack itself lasted 38 minutes. Bin Laden's adult son, a woman, and two couriers were also killed.[16] There were no casualties to the team. They had practiced the mission "on both American coasts" and in a segregated section of Camp Alpha at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in early April 2011, using a 1 acre (0.40 ha) replica of bin Laden's compound.[17][18][19] Modified MH-60 helicopters from the U.S. Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment carried DEVGRU operators and paramilitary operatives from the CIA's Special Activities Division. Other personnel supported with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers from Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan.[20]

Because of its covert nature, the raid was a CIA operation with DEVGRU being transferred under CIA authority for its duration.[21][22] A 1 May memo from CIA Director Leon Panetta thanked the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, whose mapping and pattern-recognition software was likely used to determine that there was "high probability" that Bin Laden lived in the compound. Members of these agencies were paired with JSOC units in forward-deployed fusion cells to "exploit and analyze" battlefield data instantly using biometrics, facial recognition systems, voice print databases, and predictive models of insurgent behavior based on surveillance and computer-based pattern analysis.[23] The operation was a result of years of intelligence work that included the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM),[24] the tracking of the courier to the Abbottabad compound by CIA paramilitary operatives, and the establishing of a CIA safe house that provided critical ground intelligence.[25][26][26] On the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden the Combatting Terrorism Center released documents seized from Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad home.[27] The Associated Press reported that the troops had been trained to search for documents, computer files and "pocket litter" "that might produce leads to other terrorists".

In popular culture, several books have tried to capture the events of the mission. The first of which was the 2011 graphic novel published by IDW Publishing, Code Word: Geronimo, written by retired Marine Corps Captain Dale Dye and Julia Dye, and illustrated by former U.S. Army combat medic Gerry Kissell. Later, the controversial book Seal Target Geronimo, by Chuck Pfarrer, a former Navy SEAL, that disputed the accounts by the DoD of how the events occurred the night of the raid on the compound. Finally, in 2012, the book No Easy Day was released. The book was written by a DEVGRU Red Squadron operator writing under the pseudonym "Mark Owen", who was part of Operation Neptune Spear and claimed to be one of the two operators who engaged Bin Laden. Then, in 2012, a film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal was released called Zero Dark Thirty. The film portrayed the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the raid performed by DEVGRU. Another film, Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden, depicting the events of Operation Neptune Spear, was also released in 2012. The events in the film have neither been "confirmed nor denied" by White House officials.[citation needed]

Afghanistan helicopter crash, 6 August 2011Edit

Fifteen members of DEVGRU's Gold Squadron were among the 38 killed on Saturday, 6 August 2011 in Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan, when a Chinook helicopter flown by B Company, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, was shot down by a Taliban-fired rocket-propelled grenade; the crash wiped out an entire troop. The personnel killed in the helicopter crash are said to have belonged to an "immediate reaction force" that were en route to intercept a group of Taliban who were escaping the area following an operation by United States Army Rangers.[28][29][30] It was the largest single loss of U.S. life since the beginning of the 2001 Afghan War, and is the largest single loss ever suffered by the SEALs.[31][32]

Rescue of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen ThistedEdit

In a mission codenamed Octave Fusion, on 24 January 2012, DEVGRU operators successfully rescued American Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, who had been detained by Somali bandits in north-central Somalia. The pair had been abducted around the area of Galkayo three months earlier while working as aid workers helping to remove land mines. Officials stated plans for a rescue operation had been under development for weeks, but acted after discovering that Buchanan's health was deteriorating due to an undisclosed illness.[33] DEVGRU was prepared to capture the hostage takers but this proved unfeasible and nine "heavily armed" kidnappers were killed.[34] The SEALs were parachuted in at night before advancing two miles to the enemy compound on foot. After securing the safety of Buchanan and Thisted, the team, who suffered no injuries, were extracted by helicopter.[35]

Rescue of British-Afghan Aid Workers, 28 May 2012Edit

On Tuesday 28 May 2012, a joint British SAS and DEVGRU operation rescued British aid worker Helen Johnston and three colleagues held captive by the Taliban in Badakhshan, Eastern Afghanistan. The hostages had been held in separate caves in a forest in a mountainous valley in Badakhshan, north-east Afghanistan. After concern for the aid worker's safety intelligence assets managed to locate the hostages and a rescue operation was initiated. The Joint Special Operations team flew to a pre-arranged rendezvous about two miles from where the hostages were being held and patrolled two miles through thick forest, moving into assault positions around the caves. The SAS team and SEALs assaulted the locations simultaneously rescuing all hostages successfully and killed a number of Taliban insurgents. There were no casualties amongst the rescue team.[36]

Rescue of Dr. Dilip Joseph, 8 December 2012Edit

On 8 December 2012, DEVGRU rescued Dilip Joseph, an American doctor held captive by the Taliban in Eastern Afghanistan. Dr. Joseph, who was working for an aid organization, was kidnapped along with two Afghan colleagues at a road block by armed men and were moved to a compound in Laghma Province. The two Afghans were later released after negotiations. When intelligence indicated Dr. Joseph was in imminent danger a rescue operation was mounted. During the operation at least six of his Taliban captors were killed and two Taliban captured. A DEVGRU member involved in the rescue, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Checque, was also killed. Checque was a highly decorated combat veteran awarded with the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart, among many others.[37]

Operation against Al-Shabaab in Barawa, 5 October 2013Edit

On October 5, 2013, United States Navy SEAL Team Six launched a raid against a beachside house to capture (to gain intelligence) a key member of Al-Shabaab, called Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir but known as "Ikrima". The SEALs approached the beach from several small boats. 20 SEALs then moved inland, roughly 200 metres towards a two story building which was confirmed the location of the Al Shabaab commander. The SEALs split into two teams, six SEALs then entered the house while the rest stayed outside to provide a security perimeter. During this time, an Al Shabaab fighter walked out for a cigarette and spotted them and a firefight broke out. SEALs inside the house killed one fighter but chose to withdrawal without capturing Ikrima due to an increased number of women and children in the immediate area.[38]

See alsoEdit


  1. Smith, Michael (2007). Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team. New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-36272-2. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Chalker, Dennis; Dockery, Kevin (2002). One Perfect Op: Navy Seal Special Warfare Teams. New York: Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-80920-6. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pfarrer, Chuck. Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy Seal. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-89141-863-6. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Couch, Dick (October 2001). The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228. Crown. ISBN 0-609-60710-3. 
  5. Bowden, Mark (2001). Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Signet. ISBN 0-451-20393-3. 
  6. "SOF Transformer" ( – Scholar search). 13 July 2004. [dead link]
  7. "Valor Awards for Eric Thor Olson". Military Times. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  8. Smith, Michael (2008). Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team. Macmillan. pp. 201–202. ISBN 978-0-312-37826-4. 
  9. Shanker, Thom; Risen, James (12 August 2002). "Rumsfeld weighs new covert acts by military units". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  10. MacPherson, Malcolm (2006). Roberts Ridge: A Story of Courage and Sacrifice on Takur Ghar Mountain, Afghanistan. Random House. ISBN 978-0-553-58680-0. 
  11. Axe, David (17 October 2012). "8,000 Miles, 96 Hours, 3 Dead Pirates: Inside a Navy SEAL Rescue". Wired. 
  12. Jake Tapper (2 May 2011). "Osama Bin Laden Operation Ended With Coded Message 'Geronimo-E KIA'". ABC News. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  13. Harnden, Toby (2 May 2011). "Osama bin Laden killed: how the deadly U.S. raid unfolded". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  14. "Osama bin Laden killed in CIA operation". The Washington Post. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  15. "Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead – Barack Obama". BBC News. 2 May 2011. "On Sunday, U.S. forces said to be from the elite Navy SEAL Team Six undertook the operation in Abbottabad, 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Islamabad." 
  16. Oliver Tree (17 May 2011). "Osama Bin Laden dead: Who are Obama's Navy SEALS Team 6?". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  17. "Some White Knuckle Moments for Elite Navy SEALs Team – ABC News". 2 May 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  18. "The Secret Team That Killed Osama bin Laden – Marc Ambinder – Politics". The Atlantic. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  19. Mazzetti, Mark; Cooper, Helene; Baker, Peter (2 May 2011). "Clues Gradually Led to the Location of Osama bin Laden". The New York Times. 
  20. "US forces kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan". MSNBC. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  21. Dilanian, Ken (2 May 2011). "CIA led U.S. special forces mission against Osama bin Laden". Los Angeles Times.,0,6466214.story?track=rss. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  22. [1][dead link]
  23. Marc Ambinder (2 May 2011). "The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden". National Journal. 
  24. By Gloria Borger, CNN Senior Political Analyst (20 May 2011). "Debate rages about role of torture". CNN. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  25. Mazzetti, Mark; Cooper, Helene; Baker, Peter (2 May 2011). "Clues Gradually Led to the Location of Osama bin Laden". The New York Times. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 Greenberg, Joel (11 September 2001). "CIA spied on bin Laden from safe house". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  27. "Bin Laden troubled by crumbling Muslim trust: Al-Qaeda leader's final letters from Pakistan compound are released by U.S.". CBC News. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012. ""The end of the raid in Abbottabad was the beginning of a massive analytical effort," it said." 
  28. SEAL Team 6 members among 38 killed in Afghanistan. Los Angeles Times 6 August 2011.
  29. Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan Reportedly Kills Members of SEAL Team 6. Fox News, 6 August 2011.
  30. NATO Crash: Communities Mourn Loss of Troops Killed in Afghanistan. ABC News, 6 August 2011.
  31. "US special forces killed in Afghanistan crash". Al Jazeera English. 6 August 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  32. "NSW source: Crash ‘worst day in our history’". 6 August 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  33. "U.S. forces rescue kidnapped aid workers Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted in Somalia" The Washington Post Retrieved 25 January 2012
  34. Abdi Sheikh, "U.S. commandos free two hostages in daring Somalia raid" Reuters 25 January 2012
  35. Greg Jaffe, "SEAL Team Six parachuted into Somalia on raid" The Washington Post 25 January 2012
  36. Sean Rayment,"How the British hostages were rescued in Afghanistan" The Telegraph 03 June 2012
  37. Qadir Sediqi,"U.S. Navy SEAL killed in operation to rescue American doctor in Afghanistan" CNN 10 December 2012
  38. How the US raid on al-Shabaab in Somalia went wrong

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