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Navy SEALs And The Battle For The SOF Budget
CSC 1992
Title:  Navy SEALs and the Battle for the SOF Budget
Author: Lcdr Richard B. Landolt, United States Navy
Thesis:  Funding for our special operations  forces must, at a
minimum, be maintained at current levels.
Background:  The Navy's SEALs showed a marked improvement  in
personnel and equipment quality through the 1980's and continue to
maintain that, quality. This quality was a result of an increase in
military outlays across the board.  It was not due to an increased
emphasis on maintaining capable SOF forces in an increasingly
multi-polar  world  that  lends  itself  towards  increased Low
Intensity Conflict (LIC).  With the fall of the Soviet bloc and a
deemphasis on a European ground war threat, a review of defense
priorities and force structure is in order and in this review SOFs
must play an increasing role.
Recommendation: The SOF budget must be maintained at current, if
not increased, levels as  threats to U.S. vital interests will be
increasingly on the LIC level.
Thesis Statement:  Funding for our special operations forces must,
at a minimum, be maintained at current levels.
     	A.  	How SEALs Are Organized
     	B.  	SEAL Equipment
     		1.  	Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs)
     		2.  	Dry Deck Shelters (DDSs)
     		3.  	SEAFOX
II.  	Budget Background Overview
     	A.  	The Reagan Administration and the Historical Emphasis on
     		European Defense
     	B.  	The Bush Administration and Increasing World Multi-
III. 	The Evolving SOF Budget Debate
     	A.  	The Four Requirements of the New U.S. Strategy
     	B.  	How SOF Supports The Four Requirements
     	C.  	Current High Level Prospectives On SOF Outlays
     	We live in a world described by some as one of "violent
peace."   A world that is increasingly multi-polar leading to
increased  opportunities  for  low  intensity  conflict  (LICs).
Therefore,  special  operations  forces  (SOFs)  have  taken  on
increasing importance in providing an initial response to these
potential threats to our vital interests.  This rise in LICs will
continue to require a force that can "go anywhere and do anything."
A quick look at the most visible operations involving military
intervention in the past decade show  SOF's a key to our response.
From the attempt at rescuing hostages in Iran in 1980, during the
invasion of Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989 and most recently
during Desert Storm, special forces have been at the cutting edge
of our response.  Therefore, we must   maintain our budgetary and
policy commitment to SOF capabilities despite efforts by some at
enforcing fiscal austerity across our military spectrum.
     	This report will discuss the capabilities and structure
of Navy Sea-Air-Land special forces, otherwise known as SEALs,
showing how this organization grew and benefitted by an across the
board increase in military expenditures  begun during the Reagan
years.    Explored further will be the changing attitudes that
occurred during the Reagan and Bush administrations followed by an
analysis on the direction in which the current debate is heading.
In these more austere times,  the defense budget will continue to
affect special  force readiness and capabilities.  The need to
maintain SOF budgets at no less than their current levels appears
clear. Yet only recently has the Bush administration taken steps to
educate and lead the debate in this direction.
     	Special Operations Forces are considered America's elite
warfighters.    The elite of these elite are  the Navy's SOF's,
their Sea-Air-Land commando forces, more commonly known as SEALs.
The  Marine  Corps  has  special   operations  capable  Marine
Expeditionary Units called  MEU(SOCs) for short.  These units are
considered experts in guerrilla and anti-guerrilla warfare, and in
counter-terrorism  operations.  (6:94)  Their  arduous  training
prepares them for missions in any terrain, in any location.  They
are normally deployed afloat naval vessels ready as a contingency
     	The Navy's SEALS are direct descendants of the "frogmen"
first established in World War II.  They are simply organized. When
a student graduates from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school at
the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California, he is assigned to
either a SEAL Team or Swimmer Delivery Vehicle Team (SDVT).  A SEAL
team consists of a number of operational platoons.  A platoon is
composed of two officers and twelve enlisted men.  The team also
will have a headquarters platoon of six enlisted men working for
the team's commanding and executive officers. Naval Special Warfare
SEAL Teams are now manned at 60 platoons, 30 per coast, 10 per
team. Today there are nearly 2,000 SEALs divided among the six
teams on each coast.  (10) Each of these platoons is assigned
directly to the Commander-in-Chief Special  Operations Command
(USCINCSOC).  From there they are "chopped" to theater commanders
when an operational need for them arises. (11:5)
     	These teams are also components to Navy Special Warfare
Groups of which there are two, one on each coast.   Navy Special
Warfare Group One (NAVSPECWARGRU-ONE) is located on the Naval
Amphibious Base (NAB) in Coronado, California.  It is composed of
the following:
SEAL Teams 1,3 and 5
Swimmer Delivery Vehicle Team One
Special Boat Squadron One, composed of
     	Special Boat Unit 11 (NRF)
     	Special Boat Unit 12
     	Special Boat Unit 13 (NRF)
Navy Special Warfare Unit One, Subic Bay, Philippines (Note 1)
Helicopter Attack Squadron, Light-Five, the Blue Hawks
NAVSPECWARGRU-TWO is located on NAB, Little Creek, Virginia.  It
has the following forces and support units assigned:
SEAL Teams 2, 4 and 8
SEAL Team 6 (administratively -- See Note 2)
Swimmer Delivery Vehicle Team Two
Special Boat Squadron Two, composed of
     	Special Boat Unit 20
     	Special Boat Unit 22 (NRF)
     	Special Boat Unit 24 (NRF)
Navy Special Warfare Unit Two, Machrihanish, United Kingdom
Navy Special Warfare Unit Three, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico
Helicopter Attack Squadron, Light-Four, the Redwolves
Note 1:  To be relocated on Guam upon closure of Subic Bay.
Note 2:  SEAL Team 6 is under Opcon of the Joint Chiefs of
         	   Staff (5:346-347)
     	SEAL training specializes in beach, coastal, and riverine
reconnaissance;  the clearing of beaches and harbors of obstacles;
the destruction of enemy harbor facilities, communication nodes and
facilities;  the disruption of enemy shipping;  and the clandestine
infiltration of enemy territory for direct pre-landing support.
The existence of SEAL Team 6, which is under the operational
control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when ordered into action by
the President or Secretary of Defense, is rarely acknowledged. This
team specializes in counterterrorism activities. (6:90) The three
special warfare units, located in Subic Bay, Philippines, Roosevelt
Roads, Puerto Rico, and Machrihanish, Scotland, are seventeen man
teams specializing in clandestine activities that in event of war
would incite confusion and disruption behind enemy lines. (6:90)
II.  Navy/SEAL Equipment
     	SEALs possess specially designed equipment that aid in
achieving their adventures in stealth.   Routine in a Seal's
inventory of equipment would be scuba equipment designed to contain
its own bubbles;   rubber raiding craft designed for speed and
quiet; hand-held sonar gear;   two-man swimmer-portable sounding
equipment that allows them to conduct pre-assault beach surveys,
special communications equipment;  and an array of handheld and
waterborne equipment that are collectively known as the Battle Area
Surveillance System (BASS). (6:91)
     	Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDV) and Dry Deck Shelters (DDS)
have received great financial support in the last decade.  SDVs are
small, submersible craft designed to propel SEALs further and
faster through the water. Additionally, underwater time is extended
to a SEAL through use of breathing facilities available on board
SDVs thus relieving a SEAL of the need for his own oxygen breathing
apparatus while on board.  There are SDV's designed to carry either
two, four, or six men. (5:284-292)
     	SDVs can be launched from any surface or sub-surface
platform,  proceed  onto  their  targeted  designation  and,  once
completing an assigned mission, return undetected if called for.
They can carry a wide variety of ordnance and/or material that may
be required for the job as well.  They are occasionally described
and used as underwater "pack horses." (5:285)
     	To get SEALs in-theater, the Navy has specially configured
submarines possessing dry deck shelters or DDSs.  A DDS is a pod
shaped cylinder attached to a submarine that allows them to leave
and return to a submerged submarine.  A DDS is also capable of
carrying an SDV.  Navy plans are to have atleast three submarines
configured with DDS on each coast. (5:295)
     	For surface operations, SEALs employ a quiet and stealthy
looking patrol boat vessel known as a Seafox.  It is thirty-six
feet long, can carry up to ten SEALs at speeds up to thirty knots
and is a vessel ideally suited for surveillance, SEAL insertion and
extraction, and interdiction. (6:91)
III. 	Budgetary Overview
     	Despite these austere times, the budget for the SEALs and
remaining special operation  forces will probably not be affected
drastically due to the rising nature of low intensity conflicts.
In fact, SOF's have found themselves expanding their missions.
Particularly with regard to efforts in stemming the flow of drugs
into the country.  For example, SEALs are training Peruvian and
other South American troops in riverine warfare to cut off the
shipment of chemicals necessary for cocaine production. (10)
     	Fortunately, an increased emphasis on readiness continues
towards low intensity conflicts and special operations by both
Congress and the Executive Branch.  However, this emphasis was slow
in coming.  Operation "Just Cause" in Panama showed that troops
trained to fight the Soviets in Europe were not adequate for
smaller  scale  conflicts.    High  civilian  casualty  rates  and
collateral damage  were caused by use of armored units and an
occasional use of excessive firepower. (7:62) Using an army that
was institutionally focused on large scale ground war made these
results predictable.  Some argue that special forces can be used
for "surgical" strikes, but despite those that will argue that
'surgical strikes' are never precise, the aftermath of events in
"Just Caused" proved there is a need for forces to carry out post-
conflict requirements such as pacification missions and restoration
of civil affairs.  These "nation building"  missions are ideally
suited for special forces with their low visibility and small
logistics string.
     	Coming into the 1980's,  defense planners gave short shrift to
contingencies other than those which might happen in Europe.  This
mind set lead to little thought given to defense requirements for
special  contingencies.    The disaster  of  'Desert One",    the
attempted rescue of our Iranian hostages, brought this issue home
by then candidate Ronald Reagan.   After his election,  the Reagan
administration  allocated  significantly  greater  resources  to
military programs whose utility was greater outside of possible
European conflicts.  The most prominent examples of these programs
would have to be the attempted attainment of a 600 ship Navy, and
an increase in funds spent on special operations forces.
     	By the time the Bush administration arrived in office, it was
becoming clear Europe was no longer a number one warfighting
priority.    Additionally,  U.S.  forces  were being  deployed
increasingly elsewhere in the world and there was the emergence of
drug interdiction as a major national security concern.  By late
1990,  with world events  occurring faster  than any  country's
policies could adjust to,  the U.S. defense budget for that  year
was nothing more than a holding operation.  By late 1991, the fall
of the Soviet Union and discussion of our own fiscal problems
amplified by election year politics forced a review of U.S. defense
     	The drug war did receive greater emphasis in the 1990/91
defense budgets.  SEAL force levels increased with the creation of
ten new  SEAL platoons and a new special forces group, however
overall SOF budget totals declined.   But in 1990, no defense
strategy reviews of significance had occurred, the defense budget
was being reduced, and a pattern had emerged whereby budget cuts
were performed without formulating any strategies that might defend
these cuts.  From 1990 to 1991 SOF budget totals declined, from
$3.2  billion  to  $2.75  billion,  again  reflecting  the  Bush
administration's inconsistent approach to determining
requirements. (7:69)
     	Lately, there has been growing debate over the direction the
structure of the military and its base force should go.  In the
Secretary of Defense's Annual Report to Congress for 1992, a more
clearly thought out attempt is made to account for the collapse of
the Soviet empire and the no longer attendant need for focusing on
a global war starting in Europe.  Under this new strategy, the
Secretary of Defense lists four basic requirements supporting the
foundation of U.S. strategy.  First, that an effective strategic
deterrent be maintained.   Second, that a forward presence be
maintained, albeit in diminished numbers, to respond to crisis and
threats to our security interests.   Third, and probably most
important  with  respect  to  SOF  budgets,  that,  "U.S.  based
contingency forces are needed to ensure we can respond rapidly to
crisis that affect our security." (3:vii)  Lastly, to diminish our
base force but only if we are prepared to reconstitute a necessary
force structure to meet global threats that may emerge.
     	In a more detailed section on  SOFs in the report, the
Secretary  gives particulars on how SOF is inherently designed to
support the four tenets of this newly emerging strategy.   On
Strategic Deterrence, he cites SOF, "special reconnaissance and
direct action capabilities that can help to locate and destroy
storage facilities, control nodes and other strategic assets" that
house or support a country's weapons of mass destruction.  (3:100)
Additionally, "SOF can also support compliance with arms control
measures in situations where intrusive verification measures become
necessary." (3:100)  He further declares SOF as, "one of the few
instruments available to precisely apply measured force to deal
with an adversary's  nuclear,  biological,  or chemical  weapons
capabilities." (3:100)
     	With regard to the strategy's second pillar, that of
maintaining  a  forward  presence,  he  repeats  the  deterrent,
stabilizing, and initial response capability of forward deployed
forces.   He also recognizes SOF contributions,   "in achieving
greater regional stability through a wide range of humanitarian and
nation assistance and Foreign Internal Defense activities, which
contribute a de facto forward presence." (3:100)  A  reference to
efforts, like counter-narcotics operations and "nation building"
operations performed in-country.
     	On "Crisis Response,"  SOFs  offer their strongest suit.
Secretary Cheney adds:
     	Designed to be a quick-reaction, high-leverage force, SOF have
     	repeatedly demonstrated their utility both in leading and
     	supporting roles in recent crisis, including Operations DESERT
     	and actions in the Philippines, Liberia, Latin America, and
     	elsewhere. (3:100)
     	Finally with regard to the tenet of "Reconstitution,"  the
U.S. has traditionally drawn down forces after prolonged conflicts,
without considering the consequences of such actions.  The end of
the Cold War represents such a conflict.  Secretary Cheney asserts
that the threat of a short notice global war is less likely than
before but for DOD to reconstitute a significantly larger force if
needed,  SOF can serve as present force multipliers and buy time
while mobilization is in effect.
     	The SECDEF further states important reasons why SOF
budgets should at least be maintained as is. He states:
     	SOF are among the most difficult units to reconstitute because
     	of the high demands on both individuals and units, especially
     	the long lead-times required to develop mature operational
     	experience, language skills, and regional orientation. (3:100)
     	Clearly, this year's Annual Report to Congress showed a more
mature and enlightened attitude and can help lead the way toward
continued and sustained SOF support. Recognized by both Executive
and  Congressional  leadership  is  that  during  these  times  of
diminishing resources,  SOF  missions are increasing and some of
these missions SOF can support are preventative in nature.  For
instance, efforts in the conducting of nation building and civil
affairs programs can prevent potential destabilizing elements from
introducing themselves and leading to larger conflicts.  If even
current budget levels can be maintained, as they have been, this
shows an improved learning curve by both Congress and the Executive
Branch and bodes well for the future of SOF.
     	The SECDEF and many SOF warfare leaders and specialists are
optimistic about maintaining budget levels as well.   According to
a recent interview held with Admiral George  Worthington, head of
the Navy's Special Warfare Command in NAB Coronado, he states, "I
don't anticipate any (budget) cuts.  I think the numbers will be
about the same for the next decade." (10) This prediction comes
after a decade of steady growth in the SOF community.   Having the
same "numbers"   over the next decade does not worry officials
either. According to a Heritage Foundation scholar,  "Smallness of
the force is one important ingredient."  He further adds, ".. the
problem with growth of special operations is it can only take a
certain amount before you start diluting quality." (10) The type of
personal attention that maintains a desired quality in a small,
elite organization maybe jeopardized if growth were forced upon it
too quickly due to the law of diminishing returns.
     	In conclusion, it would appear self-evident that a need for a
healthy SOF community will remain crucial to our defense for the
foreseeable future. Ideally, we must strive for a cut in total
force levels in a manner that provides the best hedge against near
term uncertainties.  If qualitative and quantitative  force draw
downs occur, America's ability to respond to unanticipated events
affectively also will decrease.  However, America must not make the
mistake of drawing down forces such as which occurred after World
War II.  There is and will remain the temptation to demobilize
however, it is far easier to demobilize a military than it is to
rebuild  one.  We must prevent election year politics, to include
the demagoguery which surrounds the inaccurate notion of savings
with regard to the term "peace dividend,"  from leading us down a
road of short sighted policy that may produce long term disaster.
We must therefore continuously review our SOF needs and fully
support them.
1.   	Bosiljevac, T.L.,  SEALs:UDT/SEAL Operations in Viet Nam, New York, 
Ivy Books, 1990.
2.   	Cheney, Dick,  Annual Report to the President and the Congress FY-92,
Washington, D.C., GPO, 1991.
3.   	Cheney, Dick,  Annual Report to the President and the Congress FY-93,
Washington, D.C., GPO, 1992.
4.   	Collins, John M., Green Berets, SEALs, and Spetsnaz:  U.S. and Soviet
Special Military Operations, Washington, D.C., Pergamon-Brassey Books, 1986.
5.   	Dockery, Kevin, SEALs In Action, New York, Avon Books, 1991.
6.   	Goose, Stephen D., Low Intensity Warfare: The Warriors and Their Weapons,"
In Low Intensity Warfare: Counterinsurgency  Proinsurgency, and Antiterrorism In
The Eighties. Ed. Michael T. Klare and Peter Kornbluh,  New York, Pantheon Books,
1988, pp. 80-111.
7.   	Kruzel, Joseph, American Defense Annual 1990-1991,  Lexington, Mass.,
Lexington Books, 1990.
8.   	Locher, James R.,  "Low Intensity Conflict: Challenge Of The 1990's,"
Defense Magazine July/August 1991, pp 17-19.
9.   	U.S. Marine Corps,  Marine Corps Combat Development Command, FMFM 8-1,
Special Operations,  Washington, D.C., GPO, 1984.
10.  	Worthington, G.R., RADM, "SEALs To Slip By Navy Cutbacks Unscathed,"
The San Diego Union-Tribune,  13 Feb, 1992, cols. 1-4.
11.  	Worthington, G.R., RADM, Letter, Armed Forces Journal International,
February 1992, pg. 5.
12.  	Young, Darryl, The Element of Surprise:Navy SEALs In Viet Nam, New
York, Ballantine Books, 1990

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