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Training, Travel, and MTTs
TRAINING WAS SOMETHING WE DID on almost a constant basis at the SEAL Teams, or to us just "the Teams." Learning the wide variety of skills and knowledge needed by the SEALs in order to complete their missions was something that was never-ending. Team members would constantly be attending different classes, developing skills that had never officially been part of the Navy before, and then bringing their new knowledge back to the Teams for testing and evaluation. If a class was determined to be valuable enough, it was officially incorporated into the Team's schedule. Other skills would be considered either not useful enough to be worth the time, or better able to be taught to the Team by teammates rather than by sending men to a formal school or course.
It has long been known that the best way to learn a skill completely is to have to teach it to others. SEALs who attended a particular school would share what they knew with the rest of the Team, so that additional men didn't have to be sent to the regular school. This worked very well in some situations, especially those where the knowledge could be taught in the field in a hands-on way, which was called OJT or "on-the-job training" in military parlance. After attending Army Ranger School, I felt that this was an example of a course that had valuable information of use to the SEALs, but some thing that could be better taught within the Teams by a number of SEALs who were well trained in the subject.
The Teams would sometimes send groups of SEALs and UDT men to other countries in order to teach their naval forces how to operate in, and under, the water. After the SEALs were commissioned, thisbecame an important part of the overall SEAL mission, All of the services' Special Forces units had been ordered by President John Kennedy to be able to fight in a guerrilla-style war, as demanded by the cold war. They were also to be able to teach indigenous (native) forces how to conduct their own antiguerrilla campaigns.
The Army Special Forces were the premiere military unit tasked with the instruction of foreign services. A basic Green Beret A-Team, is officially a twelve-man unit trained and equipped to raise an eighteen-hundred-man guerrilla organization behind enemy lines during time of war. In actual operations at firebases in Vietnam I never met an A-Team that had more than six guys, only one being an officeran example of the difference between "the book" and the real world.
In spite of the strong protestations from the Army that we were "encroaching on their territory," the SEALs' part in this type of training was spelled out in Naval Warfare Information Publication (NWIP) 29-1, published in December 1962. NWIP 29-1 stated what our mission was during "direct conflict with an enemy" (read that as during a flat-out war); it also described what the SEALs' antiguerrilla mission was going to be in the dirtier world of the cold war.
Only recently declassified, a condensed version of what NWIP 29-1 stated as part of the SEAL mission is as follows:
To accomplish limited counterinsurgency civic action tasks that are normally incidental to counterguerrilla operations. Possibilities include medical aid, elementary civil engineering activities, boat operations and maintenance and basic education of the indigenous population.
To organize, train, assist, and advise the United States, Allied, and other friendly military or paramilitary forces in the conduct of any of the above tasks.
To follow these directives of NWIP 29-1, the SEALs assigned MTTs, or Mobile Training Teams, to undertake the training of foreign forces in their own countries. The SEAL Teams had MTTs in Vietnam within a few months of their commissioning, teaching the South Vietnamese clandestine maritime operations. Both SEAL Team One and Team Two had people operating in Vietnam, and the Teams also sent MTTs to other parts of the world to conduct training with our allies.
On January 8, 1963, a year to the day after the formation of SEAL Team Two, a group of us left for Ankara, Turkey, as MTT 1-63. As part of the Joint U.S. Military Mission for Aid to Turkey (JUSMMAT), we would be training a group of Turkish naval ratings in UDT and SEAL operations. After we helped establish a solid cadre of trained Turkish naval personnel, the Turks would run their own UDT training program and operate as part of the NATO forces in the eastern Mediterranean. This was going to be my first major opportunity to act as a UDT/SEAL instructor and I was looking forward to it.
The whole mission was a super secret one, and none of us knew where exactly we were heading before we took off on the trip. Bob "the Eagle" Gallagher, who was the leading petty officer of the MTT, had already left for Turkey some time before the rest of us.
Bob acted as the advance party to set up transportation, pick training sites, and generally make everything ready for us to begin training as soon as we arrived incountry.
The whole UDT/SEAL training idea for the Turkish mission was under the control of a mustang lieutenant (an officer who had come up from the enlisted ranks) in Ankara, Turkey, but none of us plain workingmen knew anything about that. What we did know was that we couldn't tell anyone about where we were going on our mission, not our families or even our teammates. We found out later on that another MTT had gone over to Greece at about the same time and was training Greek Special Forces soldiers in roughly the same skills we were teaching the Turksall of this shortly before Cyprus exploded in civil war between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in December 1963. This explained the need for secrecy.
Along with Jose Taylor, as the officer in charge (OIC), five of usDon Wayne "Wayno" Boles, Doc "Leg" Martin, Bob Stamey, John Tegg, and myselfall left on a civilian aircraft to begin our trip to Turkey. Jose was an officer but had come up through the ranks as a mustang and was just one of the guys. Our gear had been shipped to Bob Gallagher at JUSMMAT and we were taking our personal clothes and materials. We were traveling under a Class II priority, which made it easy for us to get whatever seats might b available, and our orders allowed us sixty-five pounds of baggage each and authorized an additional two hundred pounds of excess baggage if we needed it. However, as sailors and SEALs, we knew how to travel light and fast. Our orders really started making the trip worthwhile right at the start.
The travel orders we had were pretty open, to say the least. "On or about 10 January, 1963 [we were to] proceed to Ankara, Turkey . . . and such other places as may be necessary in the execution of these orders in connection with naval matters.... You are authorized to vary the order of any visit, or re-visit such places as may be necessary in the execution of these orders." The orders were signed by J. F. Callahan, Jr. (the first commanding officer of SEAL Team Two).
In addition to what was a free ticket to the world in the form of our orders, we were also authorized to draw an advance per diem of thirty days at fifteen dollars per day for expenses. This was traveling SEAL style, a privilege that we never abused, though we did take advantage of it.
It did take us a while to get to Ankara, at least a few days, maybe a week. Stopovers in London and Frankfurt were made in accordance with our orders, solely for us to get the lay of the land and understand the natives better. Later on we learned that some Navy captain in Ankara was getting just a little nervous about our taking so long to get to Turkey.
"Where are the men?" he asked Bob Gallagher. "Just where are the men? They were supposed to be here yesterday! You and your detachment are supposed to be getting down to Arzuz and setting up your training program. Do you have their itinerary? Do you have any idea when they're getting here?"
Bob wasn't quite as worried about our taking so long as the Navy officer: he'd seen the orders and noticed the plush European locations that were on our list of stopovers. "Shit, sir," he said, "you'll see those guys when they run out of per diem. "
Copyright ) 1997 by Bill Fawcett & Associates