The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six, is the U.S. Navy component of the Joint Special Operations Command. It is often referred to within JSOC. DEVGRU is administratively supported by Naval Special Warfare Command and operationally commanded by the Joint Special Operations Command. Most information concerning DEVGRU is classified, and details of its activities are not usually commented on by either the Department of Defense or the White House. Despite the official name changes, "SEAL Team Six" remains the unit's widely recognized moniker. It is sometimes referred to in the U.S. media as a Special Mission Unit. Although DEVGRU was created as a maritime counter-terrorism unit targeting high-value targets, it has become a multi-functional special operations unit with several roles that include hostage rescue, special reconnaissance, personal security, and other specialized missions.
DEVGRU's full mission is classified but is thought to include preemptive, pro-active counter-terrorist operations, counter-proliferation, as well as the elimination or recovery of high-value targets (HVTs) from unfriendly nations. DEVGRU is one of a handful of U.S. Special Mission Units authorized the use of preemptive actions against terrorists and their facilities. On certain operations small teams from SEAL Team Six were tasked with covertly infiltrating international high risk areas in order to carry out reconnaissance or security assessments of U.S. military facilities and embassies; and to give advice on improvements in order to prevent casualties in an event of a terrorist attack.
MAERSK ALABAMA HIJACKING:
MV Maersk Alabama, a 508 foot long cargo ship was seized by pirates 240 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, in waters notorious for piracy. After a confrontation with the crew, four of the hijackers fled in the ship's lifeboat, taking Captain Richard Phillips with them as hostage. DEVGRU operators flew non-stop from Virginia to the Horn of Africa, then parachuted into the water, before finally arriving aboard the Bainbridge. Three of the operators, one for each pirate, took up sniper positions on the fantail of the ship, with presidential authorization to use lethal force, if it was required. The leader of the pirate group was lured onto the USS Braindridge under the assumption that his group's leaders were aboard the ship and negotiations were going to be held. However, shortly after boarding the ship, SEALs and Navy personnel disarmed the assailant. At one point, following a struggle between the pirates and Capt. Phillips where shots were fired, the SEALs felt the hostage's life was in imminent danger. When the first opportunity appeared and the heads of all three captors were visible at the same time, all three snipers fired simultaneously, killing all three pirates at once with head-shots. Phillips was then successfully rescued, bringing the stand-off to an end.
OPERATION OCTAVE FUSION:
Operators from DEVGRU Red squadron, successfully rescued American Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Danish Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, who had been detained by Somali bandits in north-central Somalia. The pair had been abducted around the area of Galkayo three months earlier while working as aid workers helping to remove land mines. Officials stated plans for a rescue operation had been under development for weeks, but acted after discovering that Buchanan's health was deteriorating due to an undisclosed illness. DEVGRU was prepared to capture the hostage takers but this proved unfeasible and nine "heavily armed" kidnappers were killed. The SEALs were parachuted in at night before advancing two miles to the enemy compound on foot. After securing the safety of Buchanan and Thisted, the team, who suffered no injuries, were extracted by helicopter.
OPERATION NEPTUNE SPEAR:
DEVGRU's Red Squadron undertook the covert operation under the CIA's authority, and killed Osama bin Laden, leader of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, at his compound in the city of Abbottabad. Bin Laden's adult son, a woman, and two couriers were also killed.
For the operation, President Barack Obama awarded the unit the Presidential Unit Citation.
Scenes from Zero Dark Thirty are used to illustrate Operation Neptune Spear