This html article is produced from an uncorrected text file through optical character recognition. Prior to 1940 articles all text has been corrected, but from 1940 to the present most still remain uncorrected. Artifacts of the scans are misspellings, out-of-context footnotes and sidebars, and other inconsistencies. Adjacent to each text file is a PDF of the article, which accurately and fully conveys the content as it appeared in the issue. The uncorrected text files have been included to enhance the searchability of our content, on our site and in search engines, for our membership, the research community and media organizations. We are working now to provide clean text files for the entire collection.
In June 1992 the first designated “Strike Platoon” from SEAL Team Eight cross-decked from the Mediterranean Amphibious Readiness Group and topped in support of the Saratoga carrier battle group. p°r the next four months, that deployment served as a test t0 determine how Naval Special Warfare forces could be best tailored to support the Navy’s new strategic direction as described in . . From the Sea.” The Strike Platoon
Developing the Concept
Prior to June 1992, Naval Special Warfare deployed a SEAL platoon with the Mediterranean Amphibious Readiness Group that was capable of utilizing air, surface, and sub-surface assets of the carrier battle group. As force requirements shifted to meet the uncertainties of the postCold War world, deploying Atlantic Fleet carrier battle group commanders called for an organic Naval Special Warfare capability to support combat search and rescue; helicopter visit, board, search and seizure; and noncombatant evacuation operations. SEAL Team Eight responded to this new operational requirement by developing an ag-
Passed this test with flying colors and fully demonstrated how Naval Special Warfare can significantly enhance the war-fighting capability of the carrier battle group across the entire spectrum of warfare.
Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic, Admiral Paul David Miller, posed the question: “How will we do the job With a smaller fleet?” in an April 1992 Proceedings article. Part of the answer to his question may be found by integrating Naval Special Warfare forces into all future carrier battle group deployments.
SEAL Team Eight members return to a carrier after successfully completing a helicopter (HH-60) visit, board, search-and-seizure (HBVSS) operation.
gressive plan of action: first to support the Saratoga battle group on a case basis, and then the Kennedy battle group for its full deployment, which began in September 1992.
The establishment of a pre-deployment training cycle, geared specifically to operating with each warfighting
element of the carrier battle group and focusing on the specific missions expected to be performed in theater, is key to this initiative. The training has been comprehensive and has resulted in the development of new procedures and techniques for operating successfully with the carrier battle group.
In preparation for the Saratoga deployment, the designated Strike Platoon worked closely with HS-9, the deploying rotary-wing squadron, and conducted extensive in- sertion/extraction and combat search-and-rescue training.
Under the sea, the Strike Platoon completed four underway periods with the Lapon, Batfish, Blue- fish, and Billfish. Operations included lock- out/lock-in training, as well as fair-water planes and surface launches. In addition, particular focus was directed developing a detailed operational loading plan for prestaging Naval Special Warfare specialized equipment for forward deployment on designated submarines.
In the air, a newly developed long-range insertion capability was refined using C-2A aircraft from VRC-40. Launching from the carrier, procedures were honed for simultaneously paradropping two combat rubber raiding craft, followed either by static line or free-fall parachutists.
On land, the Strike Platoon conducted laser and beacon operations with the carrier air wing in Fallon, Nevada, and rehearsed combat search-and-rescue tactics and procedures with the aircrew.
Pre-deployment preparations culminated with the Strike Platoon joining the other warfighting elements for fleet exercises—the final assessment of the carrier battle group’s readiness to deploy. After successfully completing an in- dications-and-warning and combat search-and-rescue fleet- exercise scenario, the Strike Platoon and HS-9 launched from the Saratoga; executed a flawless helicopter visit, board, search-and-seizure demonstration for the Secretary of Defense; and were certified carrier-battle-group ready for deployment. The concept now needed to be tested in theater.
Validating the Concept
Although the Strike Platoon initially deployed with the
Mediterranean Amphibious Readiness Group in May 1992- I Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Eight, Rear Admi' ral Phillip Dur, assumed control of the platoon in early June to exercise the concept of Naval Special Warfare/caf' rier battle group integration. The increase in flexibility and capability that the Strike Platoon added to the carrier battle group arsenal quickly became apparent- and as Rear Admiral Dur commented, “surpassed all expectations.”
During the four months the Strike Platoon spent on
board the Saratoga, tactics and skills were refined in several warfare areas. Five simulated combat search-and-res- cue operations were conducted during the deployment. Each scenario was varied to validate insertion/extraction tactics likely to be used if real-world contingencies. Each scenario revolved around the common denominator staging elements of the Strike Platoon on board a carrier battle group asset during the threat window.
In each operation, the Strike Platoon demonstrated its flexibility and adaptability by successfully utilizing a different carrier battle group asset or combination of assets
Although not traditionally assigned a primary combat search-and-rescue mission, the carrier battle group—with embarked SEALs—now possessed a viable, quick-response capability that capitalized on the strengths of an organie combat search-and-rescue package that routinely trained together.
The expanded menu of combat capabilities that the Strike Platoon brought to the Saratoga carrier battle group also included visit, board, search-and-seizure operations- With SEALs on board, the carrier battle group commander could now detect, track, and board a contact of interest regardless of the vessel’s willingness to comply. During the four months that the Strike Platoon was on board> five full-scenario boarding and search-and-seizure exercises were conducted against various ships. Working unison with HS-9, they choreographed the coordination required for underway fast-rope insertions and became a polished team. As was the case with combat search-and- rescue operations, the key to success was having the opportunity to train routinely with the same aircrew tha1 would support them during actual missions.
The Strike Platoon also maintained proficiency in sub-
Marine operations and land-warfare skills, including mountaineering. They similarly conducted satellite-communications exercises from the shore to the carrier battle 8r°up as part of noncombatant evacuation contingency
. The Strike Platoon’s combined ability to support career battle group power projection, interdict maritime Movement, and conduct independent operations clearly demonstrated to the carrier battle group commander the value of having ready access to an organic Naval Special Warfare capability.
The four-month test of the SEAL platoon as a force Multiplier for the carrier battle group was a success and validated the benefits of integration as part of an adaptive aud flexible force package. The groundwork for future tailored deployments had been solidly laid.
Gilding on Lessons Learned
The integration outlined above continued in September '992 with the full-time deployment of a SEAL Strike Pla- t()on with the John F. Kennedy carrier battle group. Build- Mg on the lessons learned from the Saratoga deployment, Strike Platoon on board the JFK has further demonstrated the value of having a Naval Special Warfare capability organic to the carrier battle group.
The attack squadrons now practice close air support and ^acon bombing with the same platoon that will support them during contingency operations. Aircrews are beaming familiar with Strike Platoon personnel and their Procedures. They receive ready-room briefings on the SEALs’ combat search-and-rescue capabilities and learn wbat to expect and what is expected of them. In addition, with SEALs on board to discuss tactics and limitations, they now can be more effectively integrated into real-world contingencies to conduct such missions as special-reconnaissance and direct-action operations.
To better support the integrated operations, several tech- n°logical packages have been integrated as well. SOCRATES (Special Operations Command, Research, Analysis and Threat Evaluation System) has been installed °u the Kennedy, and USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command) is currently coordinating efforts to eusure that all future Naval Special Warfare/carrier battle group deployments enjoy the same capability. Also, integrated communications interoperability shortfalls have been identified and solutions are being coordinated for tests during the Theodore Roosevelt carrier battle group deployment that began in March 1993.
With each carrier battle group deployment, the Strike Platoon has become more flexible and adaptive to better respond to the changes taking place in the world. This process of change and continuous improvement will form the basis for readying the next such platoon for deployment with the America carrier battle group in the summer of 1993 and for later deployments.
A Flexible and Versatile Force Option
As the United States withdraws from overseas bases and force levels decline, unified commanders-in-chief will increasingly perform their missions using alternative force packages. Future carrier battle group deployments will likely have to cover the same amount of ocean with fewer assets to respond to a growing number of nontraditional missions.
“. . . From the Sea” proposes that, “Responding to crises in the future will require great flexibility and new ways to employ our forces.” Naval Special Warfare forces have proved to be a flexible and versatile combat force multiplier. They can extend and enhance the carrier battle group commander’s ability to achieve battle- space dominance. When combined with the speed and firepower of a carrier, Naval Special Warfare adds a wide range of specialized options for successfully meeting future crises requiring innovative and highly capable force packages.
This integration is an important part of the answer to Admiral Miller’s question about how the Navy will function with a smaller fleet. It is a dynamic and new force- employment option that is custom tailored for the uncertain times ahead.
As the Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Eight, Commander Katana has spearheaded recent efforts to integrate Naval Special Warfare into Atlantic Fleet Carrier Battle Group deployments. He is also a licensed attorney and recent graduate of Georgetown University’s National Security Affairs Post-Graduate Studies Program.
Close Shave and a Haircut
After a week of strenuous training, a destroyer was returning to the port of Long Beach. The captain had the conn and the division commander was on the bridge. The night was black, the air damp, and patches of fog kept closing in. To make matters worse, the early morning fishing fleet was active in the channel. But worst of all, the quartermaster had reported upon entering the breakwater that the master gyro was erratic. Nevertheless, with superb seamanship, the CO maneuvered through the harbor and finally tied her up outboard an almost inaccessible nest of DDs, with the bow only about 50 feet clear of shoal water.
All during this time, the division commander was on the bridge observing without comment. When the last command had been given and the engines secured, he turned to the CO and said before going below, “Bill, I hate to say this, but you need a haircut.”
Walter M. Ousey