Seal Team Six, is a deadly, talented, and effective tier-one unit of the United States military that performs complex, classified, and dangerous missions throughout the entire world.
What is publicly known about this highly secretive unit? What are they all about? Let’s dive into what there is to know about Seal Team 6.
The Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known in short as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six, is the United States Navy’s tier-one unit in the Joint Special Operations Command. This is where the best of the best Navy Seals end up.
Most people know what a SEAL is capable of. Most people know what it takes to become a Navy SEAL. But a SEAL Team Six operator? That’s on a whole other level.
History of DEVGRU
So why SEAL Team Six? While it’s not officially called SEAL Team Six anymore and is known as DevGru, SEAL Team Six was created back when there were only two other SEAL Teams.
After the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, during which 53 members of the US embassy in Tehran were taken hostage, there arose a direct need to form a unit like SEAL Team 6.
A Special Forces Unit that could respond more directly to the ever-changing threat landscape while having more novel capabilities in war zones, a unit that the government could resort to whenever they were out on their last straw.
SOCOM and JSOC directly started restructuring the Special Operations organization, looking out for increased coordination between the several scattered units of the US military branches.
Richard Marcinko was tasked with designing and implementing a unit capable of responding to counter-terrorist operations. This unit would later be known as SEAL Team 6.
Despite the name, at the time of its formation, there were only two active SEAL Teams, Teams One and Two.
He chose the name SEAL Team 6 to intentionally overinflate the numbers and trick the Russian intelligence agencies into thinking there were more SEAL Teams than there actually were.
During its inception in 1980, SEAL Team Six had 76 founding members, called plank owners.
With Richard Marcinko as the unit’s founder, he handpicked every single member from the SEAL community.
Plank Owners refers to a ship’s crew during its first commissioning, or otherwise, the founding crew members in this case.
In 1987 SEAL Team Six was dissolved and rebranded as the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, DEVGRU.
The public is also more aware of SEAL Team Six compared to the other tier-one units, most likely because of the widely publicized coverage of Operation Neptune Spear, where Osama bin Laden was neutralized.
Many books have also been written by former Navy SEALs and DEVGRU operators alike.
SEAL Team 6 Roles and Capabilities
But let’s move on to what SEAL Team Six does and is capable of. SEAL Team Six keeps us safe in the sea, air, and on land.
Don’t get it twisted. SEAL Team 6 can do more than just maritime operations. They’re utilized in the full spectrum of operations JSOC would ask of any capable tier-one unit.
- JSOC, or the Joint Special Operations Command, is a component command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
DEVGRU specializes in counterterrorism, direct action, hostage rescue, high-value target extraction, counter-proliferation, special reconnaissance, and a whole slew of other things.
Table 1: SEAL Team Six Role Summary
|Counterterrorism||Neutralizing terrorist threats|
|Direct action||Immediate response to hostile activities|
|Hostage rescue||Rescue operations in hostile situations|
|High-value target extraction||Extracting high-value targets in any environment|
|Counterproliferation||Preventing the spread of dangerous weapons|
|Special reconnaissance||Collecting critical tactical and strategic intelligence|
SEAL Team 6 operators are all proficiently trained in close-quarters combat, marksmanship, and parachute and diving operations.
DEVGRU SEAL Team 6 Funding
The amount of funding this unit gets is also insane.
While we don’t know the exact amount, SEAL Team Six gets the best gear and equipment out there and pretty much has a blank check when it comes to training.
To give you an idea of just how much resource is allotted to them, Richard Marcinko, the founder of Team Six, stated in one of his books that back in the day, when they only had 75 shooters, their budget for ammunition was more than the entire Marine Corps.
Just put that into perspective.
Who makes up SEAL Team Six?
So who makes up SEAL Team Six? Besides Navy SEALs, of course.
There’s a decent mix of communities within the unit, but just keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of members, both operators and support personnel, are recruited from the Navy.
There are select Navy SWCCs, Navy EOD techs, Navy SARCs, Air Force PJs, and CCTs that work closely with the operators.
And to stress this, we can’t forget about the support personnel. Support personnel are a vital component of any special operations force, and this is no different from the other tier-one units.
DEVGRU screens its support personnel, obviously to a different degree than the operators, to ensure that they get the best and most motivated people for mission success.
Support personnel can range from boatswain’s mates to intelligence specialists, master-at-arms, CTs, logistics specialists, Navy divers, and Seabees.
- Boatswain’s Mates: Vessel Maintenance
- Intelligence Specialists: Information Analysis
- Master-at-Arms: Security personnel
- CTs (Cryptologic Technicians): Signals intelligence
- Logistics Specialists: Supply Chain Management
- Navy Divers: Underwater Operations
- Seabees: Military Construction
Table 2: Who makes up SEAL Team Six
|Navy Seals||Frontline Operators|
|Navy SWCCs||Special Boat Teams|
|Navy EOD techs||Explosive Ordnance Disposal|
|Navy SARCs||Special Amphibious Reconnaissance|
|Air Force PJs||Pararescue Jumpers|
|Air Force CCTs||Combat Control Teams|
|Support Personnel||Vital non-combat roles|
Above is a picture of the rates that can apply to DevGru, according to the Navy. You can pause the screen to take a longer look. These billets are typically for E5 and above, but they do accept people at lower ranks on a case-by-case basis.
So yeah, you can serve in DevGru and play an integral part in Special Operations Forces (SOF) missions without being an operator.
SEAL Team Six Structure
Now let’s move on to the structure of SEAL Team 6.
There are six squadrons within Team Six, each with its own purpose and specialty.
SEAL Team Six Squadrons:
- Red Squadron
- Blue Squadron
- Silver Squadron
- Gold Squadron
- Gray Squadron (Support Squadron)
- Black Squadron (Support Squadron)
Four out of the six squadrons are assault squadrons, which is where the Seal operators are placed.
For the assault squadrons, there’s the Red Squadron, known as the Tribe or Red Men; the Blue Squadron, known as the Pirates; the Silver Squadron, which uses a mix of other squadrons’ insignias; and the Gold Squadron, known as the Knights or Crusaders.
Each of these squadrons is typically led by a commander and is divided into three troops of enlisted Seals.
The troops are led by Lieutenant Commanders.
These troops are divided into smaller teams, led by Senior Chiefs or Chiefs.
Each Seal Team 6 operator plays a specific role in these teams.
The last two squadrons are the Gray and Black Squadrons. These are the support squadrons.
The Gray Squadron, known as the Vikings, consists of divers and personnel trained to drive the custom vehicles utilized by SEAL Team 6.
The Black Squadron conducts reconnaissance, surveillance, espionage, and advanced force operations.
Table: SEAL Team Six Squadron Structure
|Red Squadron||The Tribe/Red Men||Assault||Consists of the primary operators|
|Blue Squadron||The Pirates||Assault||Consists of the primary operators|
|Silver Squadron||–||Assault||Uses a mix of other squadrons’ insignias|
|Gold Squadron||The Knights/Crusaders||Assault||Consists of the primary operators|
|Gray Squadron||The Vikings||Support||Consists of divers and personnel trained to drive custom vehicles.|
|Black Squadron||–||Support||Conducts reconnaissance, surveillance, espionage, and advanced force operations.|
Now that you have an idea of how SEAL Team 6 is structured, let’s move on to how they select their operators.
DEVGRU Selection Process
The selection process for DevGru is known as Green Team. Only the top-performing team guys who are in peak physical condition get invited to try out for SEAL Team 6.
Typically, they will have multiple deployments under their belt and over five years of experience in the teams.
The Green Team’s selection process happens once a year and lasts around six months.
These candidates, who, I’ll remind you, have already passed one of the hardest military selection processes in the entire world, are put through yet another challenging and arduous selection.
They’re constantly observed, scrutinized, and evaluated by the DEVGRU instructors. Being put under immense pressure, roughly 50% make it through the Green Team and onto SEAL Team Six.
So if you’re interested in serving in SEAL Team Six one day, whether as an operator or support personnel, just know that a lot more will be expected of you and you will be held to a higher standard.
If you’re not in the military yet, set this ambition to the side and focus on getting in first, one step at a time.
If you’re considering being a Navy SEAL or just Special Operations Forces (SOF) in general, we recommend reading SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper by Howard Wasden and Steven Templin.
It takes you deep inside the world of Navy SEALs and lets you experience SEAL Team Six selection and operations.
If you’re not a fan of reading, you can get it for free on Audible with a 30-day free trial.
Well, that is the down-and-dirty story of SEAL Team 6.