Va. Beach-based SEALs tasked with taking out bin Laden
VIRGINIA BEACH The Virginian Pilot May 3, 2011
The team of highly trained commandos who pulled off one of the most spectacularly successful special operations in modern military history – the killing of Osama bin Laden – was born out of a painful defeat.
An attempted helicopter rescue of 52 Americans being held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, in 1980 ended in failure and resulted in the deaths of eight American servicemen.
Out of that failed mission came the creation of SEAL Team 6, a Virginia Beach-based special-forces unit devoted exclusively to anti-terrorism operations.
It was a group of specially trained operatives from SEAL Team 6 that stormed a secret compound in Pakistan over the weekend and killed the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a daring nighttime raid.
“This is exactly the kind of mission that this kind of unit is maintained for: direct action against a terrorism target,” said Joseph Trevithick, a research associate at GlobalSecurity.org, a Northern Virginia-based think tank.
But don’t expect to see any victory parades or gala homecomings for those SEALs. Team 6 is one of the most secretive outfits in the entire U.S. military, Trevithick said. All of its operations are classified.
Even its name is hard to pin down. Even though it’s still commonly referred to as SEAL Team 6, it is now formally known as Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU for short. It is based at Oceana Naval Air Station’s Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach.
In addition to conducting anti-terrorism operations, DEVGRU also develops new warfighting tactics and tests special-warfare technology.
Navy spokesmen had no comment Monday on the bin Laden mission. SEALs are being told to keep the details to themselves.
The head of the Navy’s Special Warfare Command told his troops Monday that they should be proud but keep quiet about it. In an email message obtained by The Associated Press, Rear Adm. Ed Winters also cautioned that the fight is not over, and sharing too many details could endanger the next operation.
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