Nobody Asked Me
SEALS Need Better
Support from Naval Intelligence
By Chief Warrant Officer 2 J. Dayton Higday,
Proceedings, August 2004
such as these special warfare operators in the Philippines deploy
overseas, they deserve dedicated intelligence personnel with the
added depth provided by training at the Army’s Military Intelligence
School. (Photo by T. B. Surbridge, U.S Navy)
I recently spent six months training and deploying with one group of
SEALs. I was allowed access to how and where they train, and also to
how they are supported by naval intelligence. My mission as an Army
military intelligence officer was to brief the members of Naval Special
Warfare Group Two and supporting units on how to use specific Army intelligence
assets. I did not just talk, but also listened to how the SEALs felt
about “Big Green,” the support they would like from the Army, and, interestingly,
the lack of proper support they receive from the naval intelligence
The key to success in the war on terror is good actionable intelligence,
which requires highly trained intelligence personnel who can provide
war fighters with the best intelligence available for the mission. The
future success of naval special warfare demands a complete overhaul
of the way naval intelligence deploys and trains its assets, as well
as an increase in the lengths of tours for intelligence specialists
within the naval special warfare community.
First, the naval intelligence community must provide a team that meets
and discusses with SEAL team commanders what support they need during
the 12-month training period prior to deployment and during deployment,
and what additional training they believe their intelligence specialists
need to meet the new challenges of the war on terror.
Second, the naval intelligence community must change how it deploys
its personnel. Short tours to punch a ticket are not the way to go.
Naval intelligence specialists should remain within the special warfare
community for at least 10 years—20 would be even better. Naval intelligence
officers should remain for at least two back-to-back tours of duty.
Third, and most important, changes must be made to training. Naval
intelligence specialists assigned to special warfare currently attend
the Naval Special Warfare Intelligence course. This brief program provides
the intelligence specialist with an overview, but it does not go into
as much depth as does the Army’s Military Intelligence School’s Basic
Intelligence Analyst Course. Prior to deploying with SEAL teams, all
naval intelligence specialists should attend the Army’s 96B10 Basic
Intelligence Analyst Course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. This 14-week
course will take the Navy intelligence specialist deeper into the understanding
of the “ground” picture. Over the course of their careers they also
should attend the Army’s Intelligence School 96B20 Basic Noncommissioned
Officer Course Phase II, and those who move into the rank of chief should
take the 96B30 Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course Phase II. Naval
special warfare intelligence officers should attend the Army’s Military
Intelligence Officer Basic Course, which is roughly four-and-a-half
months in length.
How many intelligence specialists should be assigned to a SEAL squadron?
I recommend the following structure: one intelligence officer (lieutenant
[junior grade] or lieutenant); one senior chief; one chief; and up to
six petty officers. This structure provides at least one intelligence
specialist for each platoon and allows for senior enlisted positions.
When a SEAL squadron deploys as a complete force package, this structure
will give SEAL squadron commanders complete intelligence teams. These
intelligence teams also should be paired with the same SEAL teams/squadrons
for at least three years. Building an intelligence team when a SEAL
squadron returns from deployment is the best answer. The Navy should
pick a team prior to the redeployment of a squadron and send all personnel
to school together.
The Army is almost always going to be in charge of large ground operations.
Introducing naval special warfare intelligence personnel to Army training
will allow them to speak the same language as Army intelligence assets,
which will lead to better cooperation between services and increased
opportunities for victory.
Chief Warrant Officer Higday recently completed 22 months of active-duty
service in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and
Noble Eagle. He also has served with the Third Army G-2 Counter Terrorism
Crisis Action Team and the former Sixth Army Counter Drug Task Force.