A Typical Day in the Life of a US Navy SEAL
First of all, no two days in the teams are alike. Every day and every week of every year varies according to the current world situation, and the cycle a particular team is in – for example, deployed on a mission, pre-deployment, post deployment, Team training, Special Skills training or leave.
When you’re in the team compound, the focus of everyone there is on the mission the team is preparing for next. SEALs are always keenly aware of how much time they have to prepare and rehearse for a mission before deployment.
SEALs (Sea Air and Land) are experts in inserting and extracting from sea, air or land.
Before planning for a mission, SEALs have to answer many important questions. Is it a water insert/extraction, or will the team conduct a night water parachute into the target area? Will they skydive into the target, or will they conduct an over-the beach (OTB) landing? Will they land/ exfil via small rubber craft or larger boats? Or is the mission a ship takedown on the high seas, which will require the SEALs to chase down a ship in their own high-speed boats and board the ship at night?
Or, will it be an airborne operation? Will the team enter the target area by helicopter, fast rope in, rappel in or land the helos? Maybe the insertion is going to be a HAHO (high altitude high opening) mission, where the team has to jump at night at altitudes up to 30,000 feet with supplemental oxygen.
If it a land insertion/extraction, on the other hand, the SEALs will hump in (hike), or inset by an indigenous vehicle, modified dune buggies, or HumVees.
The insertion / extraction aspect of a mission is typically complex, because the teams generally insert, conduct the mission and extract undetected, and always at night.
Once on target, the actions at the objective (what the SEALs actually do on target) depend on the mission. Missions vary from hostage rescues, to taking out terrorists on the terrorist watch list, to scout or recon missions. Regardless of the type of mission, you can be sure that SEALs have practiced it many times.
When the type of mission has been specified, SEALs discuss and plan the specifics of the target, also known the floor plan, or in most cases, an unknown floor plan. They talk about the about the size and capability of the enemy reactionary force and how long it is likely to take them to react. This will determine how much time the SEALs will they have on target before they have to to exfil (get out).
All contingencies, or “what ifs,” are discussed and briefed. These might include what to do if you lose a boat on the night water jump insertion, or what do if you lose a helo. They have to know how many casualties they can take and still complete the mission, and what will happen if, during parachute jump, the SEALs land too far from target. They also have to understand what they’re going to do if SEALs are compromised (caught) before the mission takes place.
When SEALs are preparing for a mission, their days are filled with physical training. These might include soft sand beach runs, two-mile ocean swims, weight workouts, obstacle course runs, PT, or skills training — which means parachute, dive or weapons training.
SEALs do a lot of shooting as part of their training. They practice shooting, shooting and moving, shooting in buildings and from vehicles and boats. In the early days of ST 6, when we had just over 125 shooters, we shot more live ammo in a year than the entire U.S. Marine Corps.
All SEALs have specialties and every SEAL has the responsibility to keep “his tools sharp”. As a lead climber I would often go climb mountains, ships, oil rigs, or buildings. As SEAL team medic, I worked at hospital in the ER and OR practicing medical trauma skills, suturing, performing ICs, placing chest tubes, and treating gun shoot wounds and other trauma-related injuries.
On those weeks when SEALs complete their training early, they compete in what we call “Monster Mashes”. These events usually occur on Friday afternoons and are extremely grueling, and whole a lot of fun. They encompass gut-wrenching physical training (PT) but also involve skills training. A SEAL Monster Mash might involve teams of four competing against one another in the following activities:
· Start with a two-mile open ocean swim
· Run down the beach for six miles in the soft sand
· Run through all of the obstacles on the obstacle course, wearing gas masks, carrying a 200 lb dummy
· Perform emergency medical care on a simulated casualty who has been wounded by a roadside bomb
· Assemble a radio and make communications with HQ requesting back-up support
· Assemble a sniper rifle and take a 2000 meter shot
· Finally, run to the shooting area and conduct a four-person counter terrorist raid, free the hostage and exfil out on sea, air or land.
Monster Mashes generally last about four hours. Afterwards, we open up some beers and are thankful that we’re all in the SEAL Team together.