A comparison of U.S. Navy Sea Air Land (SEAL) Teams and U.S. Army Special Forces
Kapusta, Philip E.
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Navy Sea Air Land (SEAL) Teams and Army Special Forces (SF) are distinct organizations that often compete for the same missions, and this thesis provides a comparison of the two organizations. Others have provided detailed accounts of both the operational and political backgrounds that resulted in SEALs and SF being placed under the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). This thesis provides a narrative of the relevant operational and political events that influenced the present organizational cultures of the SF and SEALs. Most notably, both units had their origins in World War II. SF were most heavily influenced by the unconventional warfare (UW) experiences in Europe, and the SEALs were most heavily influenced by the experiences of "frogmen" who prepared beaches for opposed amphibious landings. Both SF and SEALs faced an uncertain existence until the creation of SOCOM, and they willingly branched into additional mission areas. The material presented can be used as a framework to understand the friction that is sometimes present between conventional and special operations units. It can also be employed as a template for assessing how future actions will fit within the SF and SEAL organizational cultures.
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