The Special Operations Forces of the US Navy, none other than the Navy SEALs, were first formed on 1961 specifically to address a growing need in the United States’ military forces for troops trained in unconventional warfare. Since its official inception, the Navy SEALs have been deployed to conduct sensitive missions that earned them a reputation for bravery, courage and efficiency in the field.
Even though the official date of the formation of the Navy SEALs is pegged on 1961, these elite forces can trace their beginnings to as early as the Second World War. In WWII, the predecessors of the Navy SEALs have been performing dangerous missions that nonetheless led to the strategic placements of troops in the European and Pacific theaters and helped secure the victory of Allied forces during the war.
The US Navy and Operation Torch
By the end of 1941, the momentum of WWII was in the hands of the Axis Powers. Germany and Italy had Europe in their grasp while Japan is busy spreading its forces over Asia. The Allied Forces needed to turn the tide against the Axis Powers in order to win the war.
One of the measures that were formulated to address this need was Operation Torch. The main objective of this operation was to capture the French coasts of North Africa and secure it to ease the pressure of the German forces against the Soviet Union. It was recognized that beach reconnaissance forces were necessary to the success of this operation.
To attain this, personnel from the US Navy and US Army were selected to undergo training as Amphibious Scouts and Raiders. These special troops were supposed to reconnoiter the designated beaches, hold their positions there prior to any landing, and then support the assault waves on these beaches.
The first group that came out from this training was sent to the North African coast in 1942. The successful invasion of the North African coast with the use of the Navy SEALs’ predecessors paved the way for the later invasion of Normandy.
Amphibious WWII Offensive in the Pacific Region
The predecessors of the Navy SEALs also saw action in the Asia-Pacific region. Because the targeted areas as delineated by the “Granite Plan” were coral atolls, it became clear that amphibious offensive forces are necessary for the plan to succeed. This led to the formation of Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs). As the name suggests, these teams are to demolish any underwater obstacle to a successful landing of Allied Forces in targeted islands.
These UDTs were first used during the Operation Flintlock of 1944, where the Allied Forces moved to occupy the Marshall Islands. The initial success that the Allied Forces met in using UDTs paved the way for the deployment of 34 additional UDTs in various locations in the Asia-Pacific region. They eventually made the landing of various US Navy and Army forces in targeted islands and strengthen the presence of the Allied Forces in the area.
This Article is written by James Kara Murat