Special Warfare

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Job Description:

To some people, comfort is a warm spot under the covers. To Special Warfare Officers, it’s parachuting 500 feet into the frigid ocean, overseeing the disposal of an ocean-borne mine, traveling silently underwater in a SEAL Delivery Vehicle, or scurrying through a dense jungle in a combat situation. Only the most physically fit, strategically thinking team players qualify to orchestrate operations among this elite community. SEAL Officers are the experts and leaders in unconventional warfare. They quietly and efficiently destroy enemy targets and collect information on enemy operations.

What Will You Do?

As an Officer in the SEAL community, you may be called upon at a moment’s notice to perform covert reconnaissance missions or conduct antiterrorist missions. SEAL Officers may be trained to jump from airplanes with high-altitude parachutes or operate stealthy watercraft, inflatable boats, or scuba gear. As an Officer in Special Warfare, you might:

  • Assist the United States Secret Service in protecting dignitaries
  • Direct and perform parachute/helicopter insertions
  • Collect information about enemy military installations in coastal areas

Special Pay/Bonuses

SEAL Officers receive normal pay and allowances, plus incentive pay for special skills and assignments, such as $175/month dive pay, $300/month SDV pay, $225/month HALO (jump) pay, $110/month special duty assignment pay, and $50–100 a month for second-language proficiency.

Training/Commissioning

To become a Special Warfare (SEAL) Officer, a candidate must meet the physical prerequisites, volunteer for hazardous duty, and report to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training after gaining a commission as a Navy Officer. BUD/S Training is a seven-month course that is specifically designed to provide the necessary basic physical, mental, and technical skills needed by a Special Warfare operator and its requirements are demanding enough that only those who are highly motivated will complete the course.

BUD/S Phases are as follows:

  • Indoctrination: Gives students an introduction to required BUD/S techniques and performances
  • First Phase (Basic Conditioning): Includes continuous physical conditioning. Students also study small boat seamanship and hydrographic surveys and charts
  • Second Phase (Diving): Covers SCUBA skills. Students learn open- and closed-circuit combat diving and how to complete long-distance underwater transit dives
  • Third Phase (Land Warfare): Includes land navigation, small-unit tactics, rappelling, military land and underwater explosives, and weapons training
  • Post-BUD/S Training: BUD/S graduates attend several more courses before they are assigned to a team:
    • Basic parachute training at Army Airborne School
    • Special Operations Technicians training at the Naval Special Warfare Center
    • Diving medicine and medical skills training in the Special Operations Medical Sergeant Course (for those with a medical rating)

Once all courses are completed, graduates are assigned to a SEALS or Special Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Team for six to 12 months of on-the-job training. Successful candidates are awarded a SEAL designation and the SEAL Trident.

Advanced SEAL Training

Training, physical conditioning, and drills are part of the SEAL lifestyle. Once you’ve received SEAL classification, you can go even further with advanced training that could include sniper school, dive supervisor, language training, SEAL tactical communications, and more.

Career Outlook

Although the Officer careers in Special Warfare have few civilian counterparts outside of medical emergency and law enforcement, the leadership, tenacity, and combat strategy skills you will acquire are highly respected by any employer.