SEAL Team Six established after disastrous 1980 raid

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SEAL Team Six, which is actually called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, is one of a small handful of military detachments deployed to conduct the kind of kinetic counter-terrorism raid the unit pulled off in Pakistan over the weekend, resulting in the death of Osama bin Laden.

Based in Virginia, the unit was established in the wake of the Iran hostage rescue disaster in 198,0 and the unit now probably includes around 200 highly trained sailors. The first commander was Dick Marcinko, who later went to federal prison for charges defrauding the government over the price of contractor acquisitions.

The folks over at list some of the unit’s deployments prior to the mission over the weekend:

1983 – SEAL Team Six members were also responsible for the rescue and evacuation of Governor Sir Paul Scoon from Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury. Four SEALs were lost to drowning during helicopter insertion offshore. Other aspect of the operation included the securing of a radio transmitter which resulted in heavy contact with Grenadian forces.

1985 – Six deployed to the site of the Achille Lauro hijacking in anticipation of a possible assault on the vessel.

1989 – The unit took part in Operation Just Cause as part of Task Force White, which included SEAL Team Two. Their primary task, along with Delta Force, was the location and securing of Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

1990 – They again operated in Panama as part of a secret operation code-named “Pokeweed” which had as its goal the apprehension of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The mission was unsuccessful due to poor pre-assault intelligence. By some accounts, Six was deployed from the US aircraft carrier USS Forrestal offshore, although other sources dispute this claim [the ship’s summary history discloses no operations in Panamanian waters during 1990].

1991 – SEAL Team Six reportedly recovered Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide under cover of darkness following the coup which deposed him.

1991 – Six was also part of contingency planning for the shooting down Saddam Hussein’s personal helicopter with Stinger missiles, although this operation never got beyond the planning stage.

1996 – The unit reportedly deployed to Atlanta, Georgia as part of a large US counterterrorist contingency plan for the 1996 Summer Olympics. (NOTE: The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hostage Rescue Team [HRT] is responsible for domestic CT and was the primary response unit).