Post written by Lieutenant James McLay (DOG PAO)
While most everything else about Navy SEAL class 277 will look the same – haircuts, insignias, steely-eyed expressions – one thing will stand out at today’s graduation at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado … two U.S. Coast Guard tropical blue uniforms.
Two Coast Guardsmen will be joining this elite fraternity of warriors, marking the first time in the history of naval special warfare members from another military service have completed SEAL qualification training and been assigned to operational SEAL teams.
For more than a year and a half, these Coast Guardsmen endured what many consider to be the most difficult training available in the Armed Forces. This includes, among other things, training in combat diving, demolitions, marksmanship, patrolling, cold weather survival, land warfare and parachute operations.
The two members – whose names are being withheld for security reasons – attended training as part of an historic Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2008 by the Commandant of the Coast Guard, the Chief of Naval Operations, and U.S. Special Operations Command. The MOU is scheduled to last for the next seven years, with the option to extend indefinitely if both services find value in the arrangement.
The primary impetus behind the MOU is to contribute Coast Guard forces to the global war on terror. There are, however, secondary benefits to such an agreement.
It builds upon existing inter-service training opportunities between the nation’s sea services, and ‘operationalizes’ the national maritime strategy signed in 2007 by the Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps. For the Coast Guard, it is also a valuable investment in the future – potentially providing counter-insurgency subject-matter experts to help develop counter-terrorism programs and training.
The newly commissioned SEALs will be assigned to operational SEAL teams for the next five years, where they will serve at least two operational tours before they have the option to return to the Coast Guard. This time will most likely include combat duty.
Three Coast Guardsmen are currently in the SEAL training pipeline. One recently completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) and has advanced on to more specialized aspects of SEAL training; one will begin BUD/S this month; and the third is preparing to begin training at the BUD/S preparatory school in Great Lakes, Michigan. The Coast Guard still has one seat yet to fill for 2010.
Those interested in applying for the Coast Guard SEAL accession program should click here to research the requirements. A message is released every spring by Personnel Service Command on the Coast Guard Message Board (CGMS) with details on how to apply.