In America's battle against al-Qaeda and their allies, the goal of the Navy SEALs is to be the best guns in the fight-stealthy, effective, professional, and lethal. Here for the first time is a SEAL insider's battle history of these Special Operations warriors in the war on terrorism."Down range" is what SEALs in Afghanistan and Iraq call their area of operations. In this new mode of warfare, "down range" can refer to anything from tracking roving bands of al-Qaeda on a remote mountain trail in Afghanistan to taking down an armed compound in Tikrit and rousting holdouts from Saddam Hussein's regime. It could mean interdicting insurgents smuggling car-bomb explosives over the Iraqi-Syrian border or silently boarding a freighter on the high seas at night to enforce an embargo. In other words, "down range" could be anywhere, anytime, under any conditions. In Down Range, author Dick Couch, himself a former Navy SEAL and CIA case officer, uses his unprecedented access to bring the reader firsthand accounts from the warriors in combat during key missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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Three Rivers Press
July 17, 2005
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Excerpt from Down Range by Dick Couch
Basic and Advanced Skills
Navy SEALs are a curious breed of warriors. They are special, but what makes them so How do they get that way Before delving into the specifics of SEAL operations, we need to look at the organization that projects this force and puts them in the fight ' how they are organized and trained, and how they are deployed around the world for operational taskings. Because the battle is different today than in the past, the lengthy process that prepares SEALs for battle dramatically changed in the last few years.
If you have read my prior works on the Navy SEALs, The Warrior Elite and The Finishing School, you already have a good idea of how SEALs are made. You have to understand the animal and his training before you can understand how he hunts and moves in a hostile environment. SEAL training today is the culmination of an ongoing, evolutionary process of testing and training that in the end produces a unique warrior, one who can trace his roots to the Navy frogmen in World War II. Those hastily trained volunteers went ashore in Sicily, Normandy, and the beaches of the western Pacific Ocean ahead of the amphibious landing forces. On Omaha Beach alone, more than half of the men who preceded the invasion force were killed or wounded. Two key philosophies have endured from the days of making Navy frogmen to the current practice in the making of Navy SEALs ' doctrines that are unique in military training and other special operations training.
The first is a philosophy of selection. Those aspiring to become Navy SEALs are put through a harsh and efficient process that quickly reveals the right kind of men for this work-men who would rather die than quit. In the early days, volunteers were immediately thrust into a week of intense physical hardship and virtually denied any sleep. Those who survived were trained in demolitions and hydrographics, formed into teams, and sent ashore to recon and clear the landing beaches. This philosophy of "train the best, discard the rest" became the cornerstone of Navy frogman training, and, later, SEAL training. This Indoctrination Week quickly became known as Hell Week, or, during times of political correctness, Motivation Week. It survives in much of its original format to this day. The frogmen who trained for clearing beaches at Saipan and Iwo Jima can swap similar Hell Week stories with SEALs coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. In many ways, it is a rite of passage. Early in SEAL training, candidates must not only survive, but perform continuously as a team, for five days with no more than five hours of sleep. During these brutal five days, they are cold, wet, and sandy the entire time. Most who begin this challenging week do not finish it. They simply quit. Those who do make it through are candidates to become Navy SEALs.
The second legacy from the frogman days of World War II is the belief that officers and enlisted men should train side by side. The pain, cold water, and lack of sleep are shared equally. The only distinction is that officers and senior enlisted petty officers are held to a higher standard of leadership.