5701 Bar Neck Rd
Cambridge, MD 21613

PHONE: 757-572-7203
You are here - Blogs > SEAL Blog. A Comedy of Errors.

Extreme SEAL Experience Blog

SEAL Blog. A Comedy of Errors.

Sunday February 10th 2008 - 12:38 AM EST
Added by: Don Shipley

 I remember a course we did here where I was explaining to the guys how 
SEAL Operations are a "Comedy of Errors" from start to finish. Thirty 
minutes after that, while moving them by boat to their insertion point, we 
ran up on and were stuck on a hidden snag in the river.  Stuck so hard and 
with so much gear we had to transfer guys into another boat and abort that 
method of insertion for another.

Good thing we had a plan B, objective taken, mission complete . . .

There is a mystique out there that makes it seem like SEALs are so good 
that we don’t screw up on missions.  We do, and it seems like we make them 
throughout the mission. The good side of that is they are normally small 
ones and we recover quickly.

Having a plan A, B, C.  The "One is None, Two is One" mentality of 
carrying extra gear in case something breaks, and the never ending "What 
If’s" that are included in every brief.
What If’’s are where we all think of things that can go wrong and what 
we’ll do about it if it does happen.

What If - we’re detected on insertion  What If - we lose a jumper  What 
If - we have a guy wounded Contingency plans are discussed and made from 
all the What If’’s.

When the plan does go bad or when a mistake is made we usually quickly 
recover and drive on with the mission.   All from very complex planning.

No one has a clue what we do on missions,  just no idea the complexities, 
challenges and struggles to accomplishment that mission until you go on 
one.  Take the "Support Guy" for instance.

During an exercise in Alaska we had three missions to do and a 16-man 
platoon to do them. A SEAL platoon has two communicators in it. We needed a third . . .

We travel around with Support Guy’s ( Non-SEALs) who look after gear and 
the like. Their main function is to get SEAL platoons anything we need for 
a mission,  to support us, and they’re very good.

We broke down into three elements and my element would need a communicator 
support guy to handle the radios and comms for the mission.  He was going 
in with us . . .

This operation started going South from the start. The river we inserted 
on did not have enough water for the boat, forget about using the engine. 
On a frigid Alaska night we walked through the middle of the river 
dragging the boat to deeper water a long way down stream.

We had exposure suits on to avoid getting wet but they only work if zipped 
up as the support guy discovered when we made deeper water and he flooded 
out with a big time suit of cold water.

We planned for it with extra clothing and in the middle of the night we 
stripped him down and dressed him back up and continued the mission.

Alaska, with its mountains, is a tough place to make comms. He was unable 
to receive or transmit a single call that night and we had no idea if our 
mission had changed or updates on the intelligence.
We planned for that!

Leaving the river we took a major beating in the open ocean and his 
primary radio flooded out from a wave and not waterproofing the radio well 
enough. We had another though.

As we were moving close to the target our support guy broke out a red-lens 
flashlight and began searching for something. We freaked! WTF Dude! we 
whispered, kill that light  He replied he lost his contact lens in the 
bottom of the wet, sandy boat.  Huh, What!!!

We didn’t know how they knew, but the Bad Guy’s were waiting for us and as 
we approached the beach they opened up on us. Very dark, they could hear 
the engines low hum but could not see us. We dropped  the engine in 
reverse and slowly backed out. Mission over, we blew it.

We blew it all right, and it was going to be a long night as just as 
quickly two Huey Gunships took off from the beach and with powerful search 
lights began looking for us.

They knew where we had come from and concentrated the search in that area. 
Whenever we were hit with the lights we’d stop the motor and lay very 
still and they never saw us.

This went on for over an hour until we stopped the engine too slowly and 
they busted us and gleefully followed us to our extraction under the 
powerful lights with us waving friendly obscenities at them.

Up the river and through the woods we went as day break arrived.  It had 
been one Hell of a night.

After the debrief, the support guy came up to me with a haggard look of a 
hard mission we all had and with a cammie smeared face he said  "I had no 
idea what you guys did on missions and I’ll never bitch when you guys turn 
in a broken radio again,  I just had no idea!"

We later discovered that our Army Aggressors had somehow listened to our 
brief and knew what we were doing. If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t 

Payback came a few days later for us as we bet big with the Army on the 
Super Bowl and lulled them into believing we’d be watching the game.

While most of them had their feet up watching the game we inserted and hit 
them hard with everything we had taking the target and having the last 
laugh... If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.

In the end, most mistakes can be avoided with careful planning. The ones 
that can’t be avoided are usually overcome with careful planning.

Careful planning and What If’s in SEAL Team or any job you do most often
means success.



Comment by: William Abbott
Monday February 18th 2008 - 14:27 AM EST

this reminds me of Mr. Murphy's Law! whatever can go wrong, it will go wrong and fast!

Recent SEAL Blogs +

Navy SEAL Training. The Beginning.

Saturday March 09th 2013

Kick Some Ass, Nick. Thank you, Bro

Saturday March 09th 2013

The Water Fountain Incident

Saturday March 09th 2013

Bottom of the Barrel...

Saturday March 09th 2013

Secure from Hell Week!

Saturday March 09th 2013

R.I.P, Warrior...

Saturday March 09th 2013

Marines only like other Marines...

Saturday March 09th 2013

About 150...

Wednesday April 29th 2009

Website Content © 2024 Extreme SEAL Experience