Since September 11,
2001, the Navy has
carried out various
activities that often
'blurred the traditional
lines between soldier
and spy,' states the
The American Spark
U.S. Navy Conducting Spy Activites, Says Report
By Cliff Montgomery - July 31st, 2018
Most people understand the importance of keeping a leash on U.S. intelligence organizations like the C.I.A.
Few would think of keeping a similar control on the Navy.
Yet “in the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Navy has carried out a variety of
Irregular Warfare (IW) and Counter-Terrorism (CT) activities” that often “blurred the traditional lines between
soldier and spy,” according to an eye-opening study recently released by the Congressional Research
The extreme secrecy of the Navy’s clandestine activities “makes it impossible to fully assess its record and
the consequences of its actions, [which include] civilian casualties [and] the deep resentment inside the
countries where its members operate,” added the CRS report.
Below, the American Spark offers its readers some of the most interesting points from this study:
“In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Navy has carried out a variety of
Irregular Warfare (IW) and Counter-Terrorism (CT) activities.
“Among the most readily visible of these were operations carried out by Navy sailors serving ashore in the
Middle East and Afghanistan, and the May 1-2, 2011, U.S. military operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that
killed Osama bin Laden.
“During these years, the Navy took certain actions intended to improve its IW capabilities.” [...]
“The Navy’s current IW and CT activities pose a number of potential oversight issues for Congress, including
how much emphasis to place on IW and CT activities in Navy budgets - particularly in a context of constraints
on Navy budgets - and Navy desires to devote resources to developing ‘high end’ combat capabilities for
countering improved conventional military capabilities of countries such as China and Russia.” [...]
Role of Naval Special Warfare Development Group (Seal Team 6)
“Another potential oversight issue for Congress concerns the role of Seal Team 6 in Navy CT and IW
“A June 6, 2015, [New York Times] press report states the following:
‘They have plotted deadly missions from secret bases in the badlands of Somalia.
‘In Afghanistan, they have engaged in combat so intimate that they have emerged soaked in blood that
was not their own.
‘On clandestine raids in the dead of the night, their weapons of choice have ranged from customized
carbines to primeval tomahawks.
‘Around the world, they have run spying stations disguised as commercial boats, [or]posed as civilian
employees of front companies and operated undercover at embassies as male-female pairs,
tracking those the United States wants to kill or capture.
‘Those operations are part of the hidden history of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, one of the nation’s ... most
secretive and least scrutinized military organizations.
‘Once a small group reserved for specialized but rare missions, the unit [currently is] best known
for killing Osama bin Laden.
‘[But Navy SEAL Team 6] has been transformed by more than a decade of combat into a global
‘[In] America’s new way of war, ... conflict is distinguished not by battlefield wins and losses, but by the
relentless killing of suspected militants.
‘Almost everything about SEAL Team 6, a classified Special Operations unit, is shrouded in secrecy—
the Pentagon does not even publicly acknowledge that name.’ [...]
‘While fighting grinding wars of attrition in Afghanistan and Iraq, Team 6 performed missions
elsewhere that blurred the traditional lines between soldier and spy.
‘[For example] the team’s sniper unit was remade to carry out clandestine intelligence operations,
and the SEALs joined Central Intelligence Agency operatives in an initiative called the Omega
‘[Though] Team 6 has successfully carried out thousands of dangerous raids, ... its activities have
also spurred recurring concerns about excessive killing and civilian deaths....
‘When suspicions have been raised about misconduct, outside oversight has been limited.’ [...]
‘Even the military’s civilian overseers do not regularly examine the unit’s operations.
‘ “This is an area where Congress notoriously doesn’t want to know too much,” said Harold
Koh, the State Department’s former top legal adviser, [who counseled] the Obama Administration on
‘Like the C.I.A.’s campaign of drone strikes, Special Operations missions offer policy makers an
alternative to costly wars of occupation.
‘But the bulwark of secrecy around Team 6 makes it impossible to fully assess its record and the
consequences of its actions, [which include] civilian casualties [and] the deep resentment inside
the countries where its members operate.
‘[These] missions have become embedded in American combat with little public discussion or
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