Navy SEALs Team 6: Super-secret, drinkers of snake venom, known for the ‘double tap’


Outdoor Army-Navy store owner Bill Hyland displays the U.S. Navy Seal Team Six patch available at his store on Main Avenue in Ashtabula, Ohio. (William A. West/AP)

Only a few pieces of information were known Monday about Team 6, the super-secret and elite Navy SEALs team that gunned down Osama bin Laden.

U.S. officials announced that this particular team had come from Virginia Beach. It was known that the unit Team 6 was formed after the Iran hostage crisis, and operated outside the boundaries of international law. And that Team 6 can’t talk about being on Team 6. Ever. Because there is no Team 6.

Yet Tuesday more information about the covert group has emerged, about their storied history, their superhuman training practices, and their legendary braggadocio. If that’s not enough to satisfy, a Navy Seal memoir is being rushed into print by the middle of next week.

Team 6, technically named the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DevGru), consists of the nation’s quietest, most delicate killers, called SEALS because of their discreet work by Sea, Air or Land.

Some Navy SEALs have bragged that they drink snake venom, according to MSNBC. They sometimes punctuate their kills with a kiss on the cheek. They crash through doors and “double tap” their enemy’s face, as they did to Osama bin Laden, to ensure he was dead.

The men of Team 6 undergo agonizing training, with two years of a combination of brain and brutal brawn work. The training includes five days of “Hell Week,” in which they face simulated battle stress through bullets, bombs, and extreme endurance tests. The men can ring a bell to quit at any moment, and many do. (There’s only a 31 percent success rate, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.)

There are currently 2,500 SEALs on active duty. Almost all of them shrouded in secrecy. Of those 2,500, the best of the best are chosen for SEAL Team 6.

Early history of Team 6 is far from perfect, according to History.com. In 1983, four Team 6 operators died during a Grenada invasion. In 1993, on Operation Pokeweed (who comes up with these names?), they went to Panama to apprehend the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who had fled there. The operation failed because of bad intelligence.

Several Team 6 members were present at the Battle of Mogadishu, a U.S.-led mission to capture a Somali warlord that was seen as a shocking failure and became well-known because of the book and film “Black Hawk Down.”

But Team 6 has had important public victories since then. The team has picked off numerous al-Qaeda and Taliban figures associated with ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. They’ve killed three Somali pirates from 100 yards on rough seas. Sunday, they killed the world’s most-wanted man.

Alden Mills, a former active duty SEAL, told The Washington Post that the reaction to bin Laden’s death among his former SEAL buddies was “Hooyah!”

“That’s SEAL speak for ‘fired up,” he said.

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