Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Walls Jr. argues in his essay, which won the Naval Postgraduate School Essay Contest, that Naval Special Warfare (NSW) can play a significant role in supporting fleet functions, particularly in the context of littoral and fleet engagements. Despite being traditionally absent from discussions of naval tactics, NSW can assist in a variety of fleet functions such as scouting and antiscouting; command and control; and firepower and counterforce. Special operations units, including SEAL teams and special reconnaissance teams, can contribute valuable reconnaissance, surveillance, and firepower support in naval operations. However, the integration of NSW and fleet tactics requires improvement, including the training, understanding, and cooperation between these two factions.
- Lieutenant Commander Walls suggests that Naval Special Warfare (NSW), which comprises SEAL teams, special reconnaissance teams, and special boat teams, can contribute significantly to various fleet functions like scouting and antiscouting; command and control; and firepower and counterforce, particularly in littoral and fleet engagements.
- NSW has invested heavily in unmanned assets and tactics, which could provide valuable tools for littoral scouting and reconnaissance, and act as decoy and deception platforms without risking human life or significant financial loss.
- The essay highlights that a properly equipped SEAL element could cause chaos among enemy defense networks by targeting communication infrastructure or disrupting transportation, thereby providing fleet commanders another method to achieve a decisive, early advantage in battle.
- The article notes that despite the effective use of NSW at the tactical level over the past two decades, bureaucratic processes have resulted in a growing gap between NSW and the Navy, affecting training and operational efficiency.
- Despite the potential benefits of integrating NSW into naval tactics, there are risks associated with these operations. To maximize their effectiveness, both fleet and NSW commanders need to understand these risks and be willing to commit resources to training and rehearsals to mitigate them.