Naval special warfare: identifying and prioritizing core attributes of the profession
Teti, Jeremiah J.
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Since 1944, naval special warfare (NSW) commanders and staffs have led battalion (O-5, U.S. Navy commander) and brigade (O-6, U.S. Navy captain) echelon task forces charged with conducting conventional and irregular warfare. History reveals that these duties often come with little or no notice, as experienced in Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. For more than a decade following Enduring Freedom, these requirements increased in frequency and scope. Now NSW routinely provides senior leadership to joint, inter-agency, inter-governmental, and multinational task forces. Yet current development efforts focus on building world-class individual operators and small units as opposed to senior leaders. This research employs a systems approach to analyze NSW’s professional development program. The project commenced by reviewing pertinent historical, doctrinal, and academic contributions. Next, a survey tapped into the experience of senior SEALs—leaders who ran deployed task forces (e.g., NSW task groups and task forces). Participants assessed the current system, prioritized aspects of the profession, and made recommendations to enhance development. Feedback revealed consensus regarding the desire to enhance development through institutional courses designed to prepare SEALs for senior assignments. The data help to define the NSW profession by better identifying and prioritizing the practical skills required by SEAL leaders today.
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