Afghanistan: The SEALs Get Ready to Go Back

The Navy is seeking outside help -- complete with fake mullahs and warlords -- to train them

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Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Kaily Brown

Navy SEALs carry casualties to a helicopter in 2011 after they were wounded by enemy fire in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

For the past year, the U.S. military’s wholesale pullout from Afghanistan after 12 years of war – the current U.S. combat mission ends in 16 months — has been big news.

But it’s not a one-way street: elements of SEAL Team 2 are heading back.

But they need some practice, first. So, despite more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, the SEALs are seeking outside help for 10 days of training next month, including:

– Execution of scripted scenarios to include Key Leader Engagements, Casualty Evacuations, Troops in Contact, Improvised Explosive Devices, and tribal disputes.

– Subject Matter Experts shall coordinate Role Players, Opposing Force (OPFOR) activities, and other activities required to support SEAL Team 2 and Naval Special Warfare Group 2 objectives.

– Provide ethnic Afghan Role Players to simulate three (3) Afghan Villages in support of the Village Stability Operations training.

– The numbers of role players shall not exceed 35 personnel and be conversant in Pashtu and English.

– Role players shall be able to fulfill the following roles: interpreters, Mullahs, Maliks, Elders, Chief of Police, Afghan Local Police, and female Pashto speakers.

– The Subject Matter Experts shall observe all Key Leader Engagements and provide instruction and insight based on personal experience regarding cultural issues, tribal dynamics, working with interpreters, and dealing with Afghan Maliks, Elders, or Warlords.

– Provide Opposing Force (OPFOR) leadership, to include organizing, coordinating, and leading Government provided OPFOR personnel in conducting simulated night attacks or other simulated events on Village Stability Operations sites.

The SEALs obviously aren’t seeking plain-vanilla military training. “Training support shall include Subject Matter Experts with extensive knowledge of Special Operations Forces and Naval Special Warfare operations, and Village Stability Operations doctrine associated with VSO operations,” the contract solicitation says. If you find the notion of ocean-swimming SEALs stabilizing villages in land-locked Afghanistan to be a little strange, it’s important to remember that the “L” in SEAL stands for “land”.

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Google/Battleland

The anti-insurgency training is slated to take place Sept, 12-21 on Fort Pickett’s sprawling 42,000 acres, deep in the Virginia piedmont (an ideal site, seeing as it’s named for an American insurgent, Civil War Confederate Major General George Pickett, leader of Gettyburg’s “Pickett’s charge” disaster.)

The requirement to hire contractors to training U.S. special-operations forces after more than a decade of war highlights the Pentagon’s growing reliance on outside help. And the SEALs have done it before: “Relevant past performance is performance under contracts or efforts within the past three years prior to the solicitation closing date that is the same as or similar to, the scope and magnitude of the work described by this solicitation,” the SEALs say.

The U.S. military prefers to keep publicity about these kinds of efforts to a minimum, labeling everything associated with such contracts “Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)”. It forbids contractors from releasing “any unclassified information, regardless of medium (e.g., film, tape, document, contractor’s external website, newspaper, magazine, journal, corporate annual report, etc.), pertaining to any part of this contract or any program related to this contract, unless the Contracting Officer has given prior written approval.”

And don’t think you can slap the U.S. Special Operations Command’s logo on your annual report just because you’ve been hired by the snake-eaters. U.S. law, the solicitation warns, “specifically prohibits the use of the USSOCOM emblem or logo in any medium (e.g., corporate website, marketing brochure, news paper, magazine, etc.) unless authorized in writing by USSOCOM.”

Of course, contractors might take all these For Your Eyes Only orders more seriously if the details of what the SEALs want done under this contract were held more tightly. But they’re openly posted on an official U.S. government website for all to see, despite the FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY designation at the top of each page spelling out what it wants to be done.

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