Operation Iraqi Freedom, a military campaign began on 20th March, 2003 and is being managed by the US and UK Military. Apart from the Army and Air Force personnel’s, US Military deployed 250 Navy SEALs, which is the largest deployment since the Vietnam War. According to Military sources, around 500 naval special-warfare personnel’s were deployed and this included special crewmen for transporting the SEAL Teams, intelligence teams, and communication specialists.
An Insight into Navy SEAL Missions
The first major mission in Iraq for Navy SEALs was capturing the Mukarayin Dam in Northern Iraq with the help of US Air Force and Polish Commandoes.
In another simultaneous attack mission on the first night of the war, Navy SEALs used helicopters and high-speed boats to capture 2 off shore oil terminals of Iraq. These high speed boats were operated by crewmen from Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado. The SEALs with the help of Groms also captured a pipeline, 2 valve stations, and an onshore pumping facility. The vital oil facilities captured by SEALs and Polish Commandoes include:
• Mina Al Bakr (MABOT): secured by SWWC / SEALs
• Khor Al Amaya (KAAOT): secured by SWWC / GROM
SWCC or Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmembers played an all-important role with SEALs in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The next task was to clear the waterways for cargo vessels and warships to enter Iraqi waters. SEAL teams used high-speed Mark 5 crafts and 35-feet long inflatable boats for this mission. SEAL teams also captured vessels that were loaded with mines including the highly deceptive and effective Italian Mantra mines.
Most of the operations carried out by SEAL Teams in Iraq were special reconnaissance missions and creating over-watch positions. One of the important missions was Al Faw. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Navy SEALs worked with the British Royal Marines to secure beaches adjacent to the Al Faw Peninsula. This was a major capture and it cleared the road ahead for coalition forces.
The Southern port of Umm Qasr was secured by the coalition forces. Once the port was secure, SEALs and GROM’s assisted by SWCC went around searching for hulks, which had littered the port as well as the surrounding waterways. This helped in cleaning and clearing the waterway so that more coalition forces could enter Iraq through the waterways.
Snatch and Grab Mission: After the initial invasion and recon SEALs missions, they were deployed for bigger and more difficult tasks. SEAL Task Groups were deployed in Iraq for snatch and grab missions under which they carried out several night raids in Baghdad targeting Baathist leadership figures. During these missions, the SEAL Teams worked with Polish Commandoes to arrest suspect insurgents, bomb makers, terrorist leaders and several other influential targets.
Even today, SEAL Teams carry out different types of operations against the Iraqi Insurgents as well as Al Qaeda in and around Iraq. The truth is that in spite of the tough conditions, unknown terrain, and hostile territory, the Navy SEAL’s have lived up to their reputation of being the best in what they do!
This Article is written by James Kara Murat