WHAT IS A NAVY SEAL OR SWCC
We talk with two senior operators about what it means to be a SEAL or SWCC, what they do, and how they became leaders among America's elite special warfare warriors.
Episode #1 | 4/12/18
Welcome to “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” the official Navy SEAL podcast, a new series brought to you right from the origin of the Navy SEALs in
We created this as an official source of information for anyone who’d like to learn more about Naval Special Warfare. Throughout the series we’ll give you suggestions for on getting into mental and physical condition, navigate the recruitment process, and dive into important aspects of the Special Warfare Ethos.
I’m Daniel Fletcher. Today we start at square one by sitting down with a SWCC Master Chief and a Navy SEAL Senior Chief, to learn the fundamentals of Naval Special Warfare. Today, and throughout this series, active duty operators’ names may be changed for security reasons.
DF: First of all, I’d like to thank you guys for both taking the time to join us. I know you guys are very busy. If you could just start off and introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do, kind of your title, and then we’ll dig in and find out a little bit more about what you’re doing in terms of the details and stuff like that. So, Jack, I’ll let you go ahead and start.
J: How you doing, my name’s Master Chief Jack, and I’m a Special Warfare Combat Craft Crewman, also pronounced SWCC [SPELLS]. I’ve been in the Navy for about 25 years now. I actually started off in the fleet. I was assigned to the USS Nimitz for my first five years of my career, where later, I went through SWCC training with Class 33.
DF: Okay, go ahead, Chad.
C: Yeah, I’m Senior Chief Chad. I came in the Navy in ’96, went through BUDS in ’97 and have been serving just over 21 years now at Team 3, Team 7, have been in overseas tours.
DF: If you could maybe real quickly tell me a little bit about yourself and what brought you to make the decision to become a Special Forces operator, maybe a little bit about your background, that would be great. If you could start, Chad, from the SEAL perspective, that would be great.
C: So, I was, I was in college. It was near completion of my degree, which I did complete before I joined the Navy, but I just had an epiphany on a backpacking trip. And you know, I was studying criminal justice getting my bachelor’s degree, realizing that the, the avenues to actually have a career in criminal justice would probably be with the prison system, which means, you know, as you graduate into the prison system and look at the infrastructure of how you promote there, you’re going to be in an office behind a desk. And any selection of career that I chose within my degree was going to get me behind a desk in an office somewhere. So, I just had an epiphany on a backpacking trip and decided that my career needed to change. My mindset needed to change, and I needed to do something that was going to get me out from behind a desk, ultimately speaking. So, I literally came back off that backpacking trip and went into a recruiting office and told the recruiter I’d like to join the Navy. I thought about being a pilot and went into the room where they show you the videos of all the different things you can, the cool things you can do in the Navy, and the first thing he popped in was the SEAL recruiting video. And so, four hours and 23 seconds later, I walked out of his office, and said, “That’s what I want to do.” I grew up kind of in an elite soccer environment. I was pretty good at soccer, played with the best of the best soccer players in Texas, and what was kind of troubling for me is, you know, even guys with some really great talent that could have been world-renowned soccer players just didn’t have the drive. They didn’t have that mindset, that goal to do the best that they could do. They kind of took their talents for granted. So, that drove me. I wasn’t extremely talented soccer player, but I had endurance, and I wanted to be part of an organization where everybody was like-minded.
DF: Nice. Jack, if you could maybe give us a little bit about your background, that would be great.
J: when I first came in the Navy, I was 17 years old, and I was assigned, I did a 2-year program in the Navy, was going to do a quick two years and get out. I was assigned to the USS Nimitz, and I really took to being a boatswain’s mate. It’s a job in the Navy, you guys are driving the ships, painting the ships, you know, doing all the, all the stuff around there to keep the boat looking good and driving in the right direction, on top of that, operating small boats. Eventually, I decided to give it another couple years there on the ship, and I gained a couple ranks there, got promoted, and I was actually assigned to be Lifeboat Coxswain, eventually a Captain’s Gig Coxswain. Each ship usually has a boat that’s called a Captain’s gig, and you would be responsible for driving the Captain around whenever he hit a foreign port. So, I had a little introduction, had some good mentors. Top of that, I had a Chief who was assigned to Special Boat Unit 12 back in the ‘80s, and he used to always talk about the SWCC thing. You know, I thought, “Wow, if I like driving boats, why not, you know, maybe look at that,” but I wasn’t totally sold yet. 1996, we actually pulled into San Diego, the carrier, and we were told that we were going to do this force protection drill, and I was actually the Duty Lifeboat Coxswain that day. We had an oil boom around us, and we had a gunners mate with a M-14 on the bow, no actual live weapons here or live rounds because it was a drill, but we actually, we had some SBU-12 guys come in, and they came in harassing us …
DF: What is SBU-12?
J: SB, Special Boat Unit, okay, so precursors to Special Boat teams. In 2002, prior to that, we were known as Special Boat Units versus Special Boat teams.
DF: Right, so this is your first exposure to the SWCC.
J: Yes, so it was Special Boat Unit 12 at the time, and the operators on some craft came in, they were shooting at us, and they were doing all these drills to kind of harass us to see how the ship security force would react to it. We were helpless as a crew because, you know, they’re coming in with their M-60s, with their 50-cal blanks, just laying us down, and we’ve got one guy who’s hunkered down with M-14, not doing anything other than just sitting there, you know. But I really saw exactly what Chief at the time was talking about, the SB 12. So, later on, as I got off the ship, I decided to put in a package and, and to go through SWCC training and I came in. The SWCC community is actually unique in the fact that all enlisted guys run it. That also interested me, and I wanted to be a part of that. So, I actually, I went through training in 2000 right here, and sure enough, my first command was Special Boat Unit 12.
DF: Nice, well, the reason we’re talking to you today is to paint a more accurate picture for the lay person what the SWCC and the SEAL job entails and what it even is. Not everybody is completely familiar with the responsibilities and roles that you guys do. So, Jack, I’ll start with you because the term SWCC is new to a lot of people. If you could just take a minute and kind of describe what your job is and what your responsibilities are, kind of in an overarching way.
J: SWCC is also known as a Special Boat operator. Going through SWCC training, you are selected, trained and qualified to run all maritime craft for NSW, Naval Special Warfare, and Special Operations forces. So, each operator is trained with a unique shoot, move, communicate skills all, on craft. SWCC are not limited to conventional maritime craft. They can also operate on, on other civilian vessels if, if need be.
DF: I think that’s a good starting point. Chad, if you could go ahead and tell the audience what a SEAL is.
C: Okay, so through the spectrum of Spec Operations, you have foreign internal defense, counterterrorism, our primacy, within the SOCOM umbrella is the maritime domain, our main focus for the primacy of the spectrum of Spec Operations is counterterrorism, so that’s basically the focus of our community.
DF: So, is it fair to say you guys are, are doing things that are, require maybe more specialized training, or maybe it might be more classified, or is there any really simple distinction between the Special Forces and let’s say the Big Navy?
J: In all conventional forces, whether it be Navy, whether it be Army, Air Force, they are streamlined specialized jobs, rates, all kinds of different occupations within those services, whereas Special Operations are limited to specific, direct action, foreign internal defense, Security Force assistance, a few mission sets that all Special Forces under the umbrella of Special Operations command operate within.
C: The thing that sets Special Operations apart, other than the missions, is the fact that we have selection. We have a very stringent selection process, so we take regular Navy folks or people off the streets that join the Navy to come into this program, and they go through a very intense selection process…So, for like general Navy terms, you sign up, you pass the ASVAB, you come to the Navy, go to boot camp, get assigned a job, go to that job selection and then go do that job. For us, it’s trained to be equipped to do Special Operations, and it starts with the selection.
DF: So, how is the selection process, I guess I’ll ask this to you, Jack, how is the selection process unique in terms compared to the Big Navy?
J: To start off, the Navy I would say does not really have a selection process when actually going to each internal occupation, or as we call ratings, within the Navy. So, the, from the very get go, we have preparatory courses, and we have what we call orientation courses to even begin a selection course within Naval Special Warfare specifically. The, the object there is to actually select mentally and physically. We’re looking for individuals that have physical and mental traits that are associated with a Special Operator. And the difference I think between the Navy and Special Forces is the fact that we are actually putting guys under pressure. We are testing the limits of everybody, and we’re going above and beyond to ensure that our Special Forces are ready to go.
DF: All right, I think that’s a pretty good distinction. Do you have anything to add to that?
C: Within the Naval Special Warfare community, we pick the cream of the crop out of the Navy based off the minimum criteria, you know, the PT standards. For us, it’s the physical standards test. And the other one is the ASVAB.
DF: What is the ASVAB?
J: It’s the basic test that everybody takes through all services in order to get into the military in general. You have to meet certain requirement of knowledge to be able to even get into the military.
C: It’s basic, basic vocabulary, skills, battery kind of test. We have some math in it, our minimum on the ASVAB is 50 to come in. So, that gives us a more quality person screen just to join the pipeline and then come through the selection process, so I think that’s a key aspect to the program.
DF: Okay, so after you guys have been selected and brought to the team, maybe if you could, if you could start, Jack, by telling us a little bit about the, the boat life, the SWCC lifestyle or the rating in general or the job, that would be great.
J: To begin with, when SWCC operators graduate the basic pipeline of SWCC training, they become SWCC basics. A SWCC basic is your operator that can get on a boat, essentially be a crewman. He can shoot, he can use communications, and he can navigate, and he can maneuver his way around the boat. When he gets assigned to the boat team, he will be embedded or actually attached to a detachment. Once he gets into a detachment, what he’ll be doing is he’ll be assigned for either weapons, communications, navigations. He’ll get assigned a certain cell. That cell becomes a part of a bigger mission if you will or a bigger responsibility within the detachment. So, whenever the detachments get assigned to go conduct a mission, he is responsible for ensuring that his portion of the cell is completed to be a part of the, of the bigger picture if you will.
As SWCCs progress within a couple of deployments, they will also look to get further qualifications such as boat captain, also called SWCC Senior. The boat captain is responsible for running his craft and his crew. So, now, not only is he looking for just himself and what he has to do as part of the mission, he’s making sure that his guys in the crew understand and are doing what they need to do as a part of the larger mission. Further on down the road within a few more deployments, possibly three, four, maybe even five deployments, SWCCs will actually attain another qualification called Patrol Officer. And a Patrol Officer qualification is also a SWCC Master, usually a Chief or above, and that Chief is responsible for essentially the overall patrol when going out in the mission. A detachment is usually two boats plus about 8 to 10, 8 to 12 individuals that will go out and conduct missions, and the SWCC Master essentially is assigned to actually work with say his SEAL counterpart, a SEAL Lieutenant (or) Chief that actually runs a SEAL platoon, and normally that makes the larger picture or the larger portion of the mission.
DF: Can you just describe a little bit about some of the daily responsibilities, whether it’s leading up to a mission or when you’re on mission. Could you maybe talk a little bit about some of the individual responsibilities, the things you’re doing with your hands when you’re on these boats?
J: Yeah, definitely. If he’s a weapons cell representative, for example, he’s essentially getting all the detachment’s weapons. That includes pistols, rifles, 50-calibre machine guns, 240 machine guns, Mark 19 grenade launchers, and he’s responsible for actually making sure that they are all in safe working condition and getting them ready to mount all over the boat to make sure that they can go out. If you are a navigator, you will actually be doing chart work, pulling out a chart and doing what we call writing out, plotting courses, doing calculations for navigation on the water to get to certain areas of operation. If you’re a communicator, you will be prepping your radios, getting your radios ready and making sure that they’re tested in the boat prior to going out. The unique thing about SWCC operators, too, is that there’s a big maintenance piece behind the platforms.
DF: What do you mean by platforms?
J: We call our craft platforms.
J: Everybody’s responsible for making sure their portions of the, of the boat systems actually work, are up and running in order to get there. At the end of the day, the people are what make the mission happen, but without the boats, we’re not going to get from point A to point B, so everybody has to make sure their systems on that boat itself are ready to go.
DF: Nice, I think that paints a pretty accurate picture. So, maybe I’ll just summarize real briefly. You’re part of the team that will put the SEALs where they need to be and maintain the equipment that gets them there. Chad, maybe you could spend a little bit of time in describing what a SEAL is and what they do in a little bit more detail like Jack did.
C: Okay, So, upon graduation from SEAL qualification training, the guys check into a SEAL team. The cycle of the SEAL team is in four six-month blocks, so it’s a two-year cycle. The first six months at a SEAL team, you’ll go through individual PRODEV, professional development. When a member comes to a SEAL team, he gets assigned to a platoon, and within that platoon, the platoon Chief, will assign that guy a role, whether he’s the air rep, he’s the dive rep, he’s the engineering rep. We’re talking parachutes, we’re talking, you know, the Mark 5 dive rigs. So, he’ll get assigned a department within the platoon, but then along with the qualifications that are necessary for a SEAL platoon to deploy and go overseas and be ready to go overseas, they’ll be specific skillsets that we’ll need. We’ll need breachers, we’ll need snipers, we’ll need, free-fall [parachuting] specialists. So, we’ll have these skillsets that are all necessary, and during that professional development cycle, that new SEAL will get assigned a job, and his skills will be laid out to him based on the requirements of the platoon. The platoon construct is also important because you have different aspects of experience and qualifications already, and the new guys coming in will have a mentor in some capacity, whether it’s, joint tactical air controller or the sniper, they’ll have a senior guy that’ll become the mentor for, for those skillsets. So, that’s the pro dev cycle, which leads us into unit level training. So, within a platoon construct, you have about two to three platoons underneath a troop, and there’s about three troops at a team.
DF: Could you maybe walk through just the numbers of people in those areas?
C: Sure, so we’re roughly talking18 guys per platoon, you know, 50 to 55 guys per troop, and then three troops at a team. Along with that, you also have some support staff at the team, you know. We can’t function without support staff. You have our ITs, we have our engineering reps that, that are the experts for fixing boats and motors. So, every construct of a team has the support staff to essentially everything that the platoon needs to get them overseas and continue operating overseas. That’s the backside support or combat service support as we call it. So, that’s kind of the basic construct of a SEAL team. Like I said, our core focus is typically counterterrorism, so within that we have three basic blocks of training. You have maritime operations, which encompasses over the beach, we have diving, then you have close quarters combat, then we have land warfare training.
DF: What was that part?
C: Land warfare training, so land warfare is our basic open terrain, shoot, move, communicate block of training, probably the most rigorous, hardest block of training from the physical standpoint. So they really push the limits out there on everything we need to be able to go conduct a mission in open terrain to take down a complex or a building. We’ll have role players that provide a lot of positive and negative feedback for us to train to the hardest level possible to get us ready to go overseas. So, that’s the basic three building blocks of training that we go through during unit level training. So, once we get through unit level training, we start task group integration training, which now we get all of our EOD components, and we have more work with our SWCC counterparts, and we’re getting ready for deployment.
DF: So, you’re talking about interfacing with other parts of the Navy?
C: So, our team becomes a task group once we get through our unit level training. We have all the counterparts that we’re going to be deploying with overseas starting to work together and integrate up to battle staff training, running a full mission profile from, from tasking from a higher authority, and the team is tasked with a series of mission sets, and we divide and conquer this through, it’s called a final battle problem basically. That’s kind of our final test that we’re ready to deploy as a team.
DF: Well, that’s a lot of training. It seems like it doesn’t really stop for you guys, which is a good thing. So, as SEALs are kind of progressing through this training pathway, the SWCC group is also doing the same thing. At what point do you start co-training or training together? Maybe you could answer that, Jack.
J: Yes, once we finish our, our work up, and I’ll have to say that the professional development phase, the unit level training phase, and until we get to the, building that task group level is usually the same. Once we finish what we call our final battle problem as well for the SWCC side of the house, we then will chop over if you will to the SEAL team or the Naval Special Warfare Task group. We may be preparing to go to one area of the world, so what we’ll concentrate on is focusing on those mission set that applies to there. So, if it is jumping into a boat or craft in the water all the team, then that’s exactly what we’ll do.
DF: So, whenever you guys are preparing for a deployment physically, how close are, are the SEAL teams and the SWCC boat crews? Are you housed together, are you guys kind of, what’s the camaraderie like, or are you guys separated and then kind of brought together just for training? Can you maybe talk to that a little bit, Chad?
C: Well, I think it’s come a long way, that’s for sure. So, we, you know, in the history of SEAL and SWCC, we’re now merged pretty closely. That wasn’t the case when I first came in, so I think from a camaraderie standpoint, there’s, there’s mutual respect there, but, so, yeah, typically, it depends on where we’re deployed and what kind of space we have. Like I can just allude to my first deployment. We were on a Naval ship deployed as a contingency package, like if something happened in the world, and we’re at sea with the ship, then…we have a package there that can action it and where we’re co-located and co-berthed with our SWCC buddies, you know, we all share the same berthing. So, we have a lot of cross-pollination, and it’s actually really healthy because like our, our guys work, they, our boat guys work not just for the 8-hour, 12-hour mission that we’re on. They work for about four to six hours before, they get their boats ready to put in the water, and for about four to six hours afterwards, so any way we can help with that workload gets them to bed sooner, and we’re all better for it.
DF: So, maybe you guys could both answer this. What percentage of time is spent on mission as a, as a SEAL and a SWCC operator versus prep, training, continued education and stuff like that? Jack, maybe you can start.
J: I would say dependent on what mission we’re talking about. But, when we were doing the maritime intervention operations, we were boarding Iraqi ships for, you know, smugglers for oil, for different types of contraband. That was a nightly thing that was happening every night. I would say the mission there was happening six, seven days a week of constant work and trying to figure out how to rotate both SEAL platoons and the boat detachments so that you can have blue and gold if you will or like an A and B crew. So, I guess it depends where you’re at.
C: It depends on whether or not you have the golden deployment. The golden deployment is you’re operating every night. That’s what we want.
DF: That’s funny cause the first thing I think is the golden deployment, you guys are just hanging out on lawn chairs.
C: No, the golden deployment is where we’re working every day. You know, work is what we want to do that’s why we train hard…
J: And I will concur with that. That’s really what we’re looking for. We’re looking for constant work all the time, whether it happens or doesn’t happen, it’s just a matter of where you’re deployed to.
C: Yeah, it’s, the golden deployment would be working every night, five, six nights a week at a minimum, or you go two weeks of every night and then get a 72-hour period off, but ideally, we want a 50/50 ratio on the deployment of work and, and not missions. You know, we’re still doing work. We’re doing prep work, we’re doing all that stuff, but when it comes to a mission, we want to be on mission, so it depends, it depends on perspective and deployment location as well. So, yeah, I would say 10 to 15% on, on average would be probably accurate.
DF: Nice, so, Jack, if you can for a moment. Can you spend a little bit of time describing the primary vessel, the primary boat that, that you guys are working on? Maybe not everyone has seen pictures or knows the capacity or what this thing can do. Maybe from an elementary standpoint, that would be a great place to get a little bit more information.
J: So, within the Naval Special Warfare inventory of all our craft, there are different types of craft. You got a combatant craft assault, about 40, 40-foot long, primary mission, ship takedowns or boarding vessels, but you can also do insert-extract of all Special Operations Forces, and for us, primarily, our brothers, the SEALS. I think anything you can think of when it comes to direct action, when it comes to…
DF: What do you mean by direct action?
J: Going out and assaulting the target, going out and specifically going after a specific target with those craft, that’s essentially taking an assault element with a boat crew, going and taking down a vessel. That means putting climbers on board, that could mean helicopters coming in, guys fast roping at the same time, all for one mission, and that’s to take down that vessel itself, right. The SWCC side of it, what we’d be doing is essentially, initially, you know, send security, and then once all we have all assaulters on board, they’re just standing by and protecting the area surrounding the target that we’ve just secured or respond in any contingencies that may have happened on board. That’s our primary mission, and that’s what the combatant craft assault would look like. You also have the combatant craft medium. It’s a 62-foot long boat roughly, and its mission is to basically penetrate areas, go a little farther than the combat craft assault. It has longer legs on it. What I mean by longer legs is it can travel longer distances, which means that you can take an assault force, you can take different boats that will fit on the craft itself in order to insert guys, get them off the boat so they can extend their legs, and they will go in and conduct the missions. The idea isn’t to really go out under the cover of darkness necessarily all the time to, to go look for those targets that I mentioned, but it’s also to conduct clandestine operations so where we do things undetected if you will, and that’s a primary thing. We do have what we call the combat craft heavy as well, or Sea Lion, and the Sea Lion is designed to do the same thing. It’s about 70 to 70-foot long, and it’s designed to do just that, remain undetected and remain just kind of low key. We do have the Special Operations craft Riverine located down in Special Boat Team 22. Now, that one is probably one of the mostly wide-known boats that we have in inventory because you may have seen them in movies such as Act of Valor…
DF: And this kind of what the “Fast Boat” is you’re talking about?
J: Fast boat yeah, it’s about 30, 36-feet long, and it actually operates in the rivers. And these are heavily gunned or heavily armed boats that can operate in the rivers and include the GAU or the Mini-Gun, and that Mini-Gun can just spit up thousands of rounds on a target if, if it needs to, you know, to protect itself or to protect any units that it’s extracting or inserting.
DF: So, there’s a variety of different craft. Are your teams or you guys responsible for maintaining these motors on all these boats? I’m sure that this kind of probably a bigger part of the job than people might realize.
J: Absolutely, so each of these, each of these craft to include the combatant craft assault, I’d say they are using high-performance engines and to maintain them, you know, you’re looking at precise maintenance that has to be conducted on each one. They, they are a part of a larger craft, obviously, which has different various systems on it. Some of these systems on the boat itself, whether it be the electrical, whether it be any communications, they become part of the more technical package, and, you know, we’re looking for those guys that can actually be mechanically inclined to fix these high-performance engines on top of being able to operate electrical and communications and electronic type of equipment as well. It’s important that SWCC operators have the ability to do that.
DF: Chad, maybe you could talk a little bit about some of the, I guess tools and techniques that SEALs use on a day-to-day basis. Now, obviously, you guys are capable of doing a wide range of tasks or missions, but maybe to be the kind of counter voice to Jack’s environment as a boat operator, maybe you can paint a picture of the typical SEAL operation and kind of gear or outfit so to speak.
C: So every SEAL operator is issued gear to be able to do that job, and it ranges from, you know, socks to uniforms to belts to the heavy equipment that we need to use, body armor, helmet, everything else. So, within, within our clothing if you will, we’re outfitted up to probably about $11,000 worth of gear, you know, to include all environments from hot and dry to cold and wet. It’s full spectrum operations, so we’re outfitted pretty well in that department. When it comes to equipment, weapons, communications, everything else, each platoon will have its own inventory of weapons. And within the weapons inventory, you’ll have specific weapons for the snipers, you’ll have the general weapon for all SEALs, which is the M-4, and then, then you have automatic weapons, gunners that’ll carry the bigger guns like the Mark 48 on a, you know, automatic or assault rifle. You know, we have a very specific radio, handheld, and it’s generally about the bulk of how we are loaded out. We have our own, our own little boat, CRRC, combat rubber rating craft. You’ll see them on a lot of movies as well, just a, you know, a little rubber boat with about a 55-horse power engine on it, which we can also rig up, double stacked to jump out of an airplane with
DF: So, is there any gear so to speak specifically that you’re personally responsible for, or is there someone’s sole responsibility to maintain weaponry, or does that change when you’re deployed.
C: No, it’s pretty standard. We’ll have our armory, which contains all of our guns, and all of the weapons are stored in there so that the, the ordinance rep can do monthly inventories and have accountability for all, it’s all very sensitive equipment, along with our communications. So, it’s not like I’m assigned my M-4, and I keep it my whole career. It’s assigned to me while I’m at that team so to speak, and you can kind of tweak it out according to whether or not, you know, whether you want a specific set on there, whether it’s, an aim point site or a site that’s actually got magnification on it. So, yeah, you can tweak it according to what’s in the inventory for the platoon, but it’s, when you leave that platoon, that gun stays with the platoon, so it’s only your gun for that time period. As far as individual equipment we’re issued, you know, body armor, helmet and everything that kind of falls under our person, but when it comes to the bigger equipment like the boats, the motors, coms and all that stuff, that falls within a department and stays within that department of the team.
C: I just want to make a quick note about how we train, right, before we deploy, I think a key note of how we train is we train to failure, right. So, we constantly in training push ourselves to the limits of failure, right, cause we learn best when we make mistakes. And so, that aspect of how we train is what makes us really good because when we have, once we get on deployment, and we have a mission, and it actually seems very easy in a lot of ways cause, cause we’re trained to that failure point, and it just makes us sharper. It hones those edges to be exact
DF: Cause you’re training so hard.
C: Cause not only are we training to failure, but we’re doing it night after night in training. So, if we do get overseas, and we get tasked with a mission that’s 12 hours away, we’ve already trained to that, and the framework for that mission, it’s just like we’ve trained, so I think that’s an important aspect of the mission itself. It makes it a lot easier.
C: But from a day-to-day, you know, we’re always mission ready on deployment, we’re ready. The reality is we get a mission tasking, the first thing I identify is what assets we need. You know, we need boats, we need, and that brings everybody into play that we need to do this mission. So, we identify from Big Navy across the board what we need to complete this mission.
DF: So, you guys could be coming in on the water, you could be jumping out of the plane across the land, hit the target, and then it could be any number of ways to get back out.
C: So, our insertion could be, you know, the boats jump out, get them ready, we jump, jump into the water, the boats pick us up, and then that’s our insert, and that’s an airplane, that’s hours of rigging the boats up, you know, to be able to put parachutes on them. I mean that’s a lot of work before we even get to, to jumping out of the airplane. There’s, that’s hours and hours and hours of work. And then, you know, kind of the easy part is the fall out of the air. I mean falling to the ground with something to slow you down a little bit so you don’t splat. That’s kind of the easy part although there’s a lot of planning and safety considerations. And then, and then these guys, you know, they rock it on the navigation. We’re passengers at this point, and they’re taking care of our security, they’re taking care of getting us there, the SWCC side of the house, our brothers there, and then they get us through the objective, whether it’s now we’re getting out of the boats and into the water to swim and touch land, or maybe we’re, you know, you know, throwing something up the side of a ship to climb up and take over the vessel.
DF: What responsibilities do you guys have maybe to protect members of the other, the other parts of this machine if you will?
C: Like I said, it’s about how you work as a team, you know. I think when it boils down to, when you’re that mission focused, we’re talking all the way back from the guy that’s typing up an email to send out a notification, and everybody is synchronized. Everybody’s working together because the most important thing is that we get this mission complete. When you’re working at that level, everybody’s pitching in. Every single person is helping in one way or another, pick up slack where it needs to be done, and that’s the environment that we actually all strive to get to. We call it getting to the X. We’re all, we all have input and energy…to get to the mission complete, mission success. You know, mission failure is not an option. You hear all these terms, but that’s the mentality. That’s the mentality of all the training from day one all the way through our careers. That’s what we’re focused on, and it’s both, in both our, our ethos, you know, the SEAL and SWCC ethos. It’s all, that’s, that’s what all that means, is we’re all working together for mission success.
J: I would say to, to kind of piggyback on that cause they do have, I think there are situations where they’re definitely looking out for us, and they’re definitely taking care of us. I think the ship takedown or the maritime interdiction operations is a great example. You know, we get them there safely, get them on the boat so they can take down the ship or craft or whatever it is, and, you know, I’ve been in a couple scenarios to where, hey, you’re getting a call from the helicopter. We have SEAL snipers in the helicopter. “Hey, look in this direction. You have some vessels coming your way right now. You may want, you know, take a look at that.” And something we may not see based on our look angle from we’re sitting a little lower, they’re a little higher, absolutely covering our six if you will and letting us go respond to it. I think there are parts of the mission where it’s just by nature, it’s what we do is we look out for each other.
DF: If you were to have the ear of a kid who wants to maybe become a Special Forces operator, what would you tell them in terms of what they should expect, or what pieces of advice maybe would you give them?
J: I would say that you would have to, for one, I think what you imagine your friend as a brother, you kind of, the good qualities that comes with that with knowing, I mean if you actually have a brother, right, if you actually have a best friend, knowing what qualities are good in that and surrounding yourself with nothing but those types of guys that you know will have your back, that you know will, will go through the hard times with you, the good times with you, they’ll do everything with you. I think that’s an important aspect of who you’re getting involved with. I think the community itself, from what I’ve seen, it is exactly that. The individuals that you go through training with, the individuals that you end up being assigned with in a boat detachment, or in his part, I’m sure a SEAL platoon, right, are those guys that you can go through bad times and good times with. There’s many times where I found myself cold, wet like we all do, cold, wet and hurting on the boats per say. They can actually, the boats can be unforgiving at times. You know, I’ve been in 12-foot seas, and it doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but when you’re traveling, you know, 30 knots over 12-foot seas at night with night vision on, body armor on, the hits you take, the pain you take sometimes could be a little overwhelming. But at the end of the day, when you come down, and you take a hit, you come off that wave, being able to look at the guy next to you and just smile and laugh about it, knowing that you’re all together, you’re all doing the same thing together is what it’s about. By the way, that’s even before you get to the mission, you know, you run into that type of stuff, knowing that you still have hours and hours of time ahead of you. Those are the kinds of guys that, that make this job worth it.
DF: And Chad, how about from you from the SEAL perspective, what kinds of words of wisdom would you, would you give to a person who’s looking to have a career like this?
C: Well, I just want to kind of talk to the, and you can edit this if you want to, but the whole podcast thing. You know, when we came in back in, I joined the Navy in ’96, and the Internet didn’t hit until like 2003, and there was nothing. I mean we went through training, and there was zero other than word of mouth from, from here to there. So, there’s a lot of information out there on the, you know, Naval Special Warfare pipeline, and I think in a lot of ways, it kind of sets people up for failure cause you come in with false expectations, so that would be my biggest piece of advice, is don’t come in with expectations. Expect it to be hard, expect it to push you beyond what you ever thought you would ever expect, and I think you’ll do a lot better in that aspect, but if you try and game the system, the system will crush you. I’m just talking about the normal training pipeline. And then there’s the guys that you want to be mentored by. And you want to find that guy, and you’ll find him very quickly in the platoon. He’s probably going to be your LPO, like your leading, your leading enlisted guy below the Chief, right, or your fire team leader. But make sure that’s the guy that you want to be, become, and you’ll have good examples of that through training, through, you know, first phase, second phase and third phase and then the SQT, Qualification Training. So, pick the guy that you want to be, and become that guy, and make sure it’s the guy that’s going to take you to the top and not to the bottom, so that would be my biggest piece of advice, and there’s plenty of, of the right guys to choose from in that community.
DF: Well, thank you guys for giving us a lot of great words of wisdom, a lot of knowledge, a lot of information, and thanks again for taking the time to do that for us.