Navy SEALs live by an unspoken code.
“Be a quiet professional,” says Chris Heben, a former SEAL with 10 years of experience carrying out missions in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“There is no room for braggarts in the SEALs,” he said. “Talking hurts missions and gets people killed.”
Members of the special team sent to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday may never talk about their role in the raid that ended a decade-long manhunt.
But there’s no doubt an allegiance to secrecy played a critical role in maintaining the surprise factor necessary for success in the high-stakes gamble that was closely held even among officials in Washington.
Former SEALs interviewed by CNN were cautious about describing how Team Six or other special teams within the SEALs work. Generally, SEALs chosen for such a special mission would be tapped by superiors because of a skill that sets them apart, yet they must also be able to jump into another member’s job should that man be hurt or killed, they said.
“They need to go far beyond just being a skilled warrior,” said Brandon Tyler Webb, a former SEAL who ran the sniper program at the Navy Special Warfare Command and was part of combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Getting on a special team means you’ve established yourself as a mature and steady operator with a real world track record of high-stakes, sensitive missions,” said Webb, who authored the book “The 21st Century Sniper.”
“The guys behind this mission [to capture or kill bin Laden] have never given anyone a reason to doubt that they are trustworthy and very focused,” he said. “They are the best of the best.”
The image of the SEAL belly crawling his way through the jungle is just a bunch of Hollywood nonsense, Heben said.
“The guys who don’t make it through SEAL training are the Rambo wannabes,” he said. “If you cannot work in a team format, but also function autonomously, you won’t last for very long.”
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