In 1962, President Kennedy established SEAL Teams ONE and TWO from the existing UDT Teams to develop a Navy Unconventional Warfare capability. The Navy SEAL Teams were designed as the maritime counterpart to the Army Special Forces “Green Berets.” They deployed immediately to Vietnam to operate in the deltas and thousands of rivers and canals in Vietnam, and effectively disrupted the enemy’s maritime lines of communication.
The SEAL Teams’ mission was to conduct counter guerilla warfare and clandestine maritime operations. Initially, SEALs advised and trained Vietnamese forces, such as the LDNN (Vietnamese SEALs). Later in the war, SEALs conducted nighttime Direct Action missions such as ambushes and raids to capture prisoners of high intelligence value.
The SEALs were so effective that the enemy named them, “the men with the green faces.” At the war’s height, eight SEAL platoons were in Vietnam on a continuing rotational basis. The last SEAL platoon departed Vietnam in 1971, and the last SEAL advisor in 1973.