After spending the better part of the past two decades supporting small wars in the desert, the Navy is starting to bring the SEALs back into the fold as it faces threats from major powers such as China and Russia.
The Navy is incorporating their elite special warfare teams into their strategic calculations for every potential major power combat scenario, from China and Russia to Iran and North Korea, said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran in a round-table with reporters at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.
The movement toward reconnecting with the “blue water” force (the Navy’s regular ships, aircraft and submarine forces) started under former Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Brian Losey who retired in 2016 and has continued to grow under subsequent commanders, said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran in a round-table with reporters at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.
“It’s to the point now where we include them in all of our exercises, our war games, our tabletops – because as much as it is their chance to ‘re-blue,’ it’s our chance to reconnect from the blue side.
There have been indications that the SEALs are looking at operating more in environments similar to those in the South China Sea. A recent environmental assessment obtained by the Honolulu Star Advertiser revealed that the SEALs were looking to triple the amount of training time they spend in the Hawaiian islands, expanding from Oahu and Hawaii island to Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
At the same time, there are indicators that the SEALs heavy deployment schedule has taken a toll on the force, with concerns ranging from drug use in the force and suicides to war crimes committed downrange.
Moran acknowledged the concerns about the health of the SEAL force, and said it was something top Navy SEAL Rear Adm. Collin Green was working to address.