The highly covert U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six recently became the toast of the nation after they killed global terrorist Osama bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan. But many dont realize theres a South Mississippi connection to elite Naval forces.
Between 200 and 300 Navy SEALs from several different teams are trained each year at Naval Special Warfare Group 4s Western Maneuver Area joint training facility at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, said Darian Wilson, public affairs officer with the Navys training operations at Stennis.
Its unclear whether Team Six has ever trained in South Mississippi, as the Navy doesnt talk about the covert group. Team Six is part of a network of covert personnel with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known as DevGru and based in Dam Neck, Va.
Elite fighting force
President John F. Kennedy wanted U.S. forces to have an unconventional-warfare group, so SEAL teams 1 and 2 were created in January 1962. The versatile group goes by an acronym for Sea, Air, Land and takes on missions in any terrain, worldwide.
Today, there are about 2,500 SEALs, making up nine active-duty teams.
There are also two reserve SEAL teams. Though they train in California, Alaska, Illinois and at Stennis, among other places, no SEAL team is based at the Space Center.
Of those 1,000 or so Navy men each year who are given an opportunity to try SEAL training, only about 250 will ever become SEALs.
Training takes at least a year and half, and once officially a SEAL, they typically take on another year or more of preparations before the first deployment.
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