A significant naval policy change occurred in January 1962 when the Navy recommissioned Underwater Demolition Team 22 and commissioned SEAL (SEaAirLand) Teams ONE and TWO. This reversed the process of reducing the Navy’s UDT and SEAL combat swimmer commands from a high of 30 commissioned teams in 1945, to a low of three commissioned teams from 1956 until 1962. The Department of Defense granted the Navy a rare ceiling increase—37 officers and 201 enlisted men—to commission these commands.
What had changed drastically enough to cause one small part of the amphibious force practically to be doubled at one time? Undoubtedly several factors contributed to this expansion. First, both the Atlantic and Pacific UDTs were generally overcommitted and definitely undermanned if they were to contribute significantly to the Navy’s amphibious capabilities with regard to brushfire wars. Second, there was a new awareness of the potential capabilities of combat swimmers because of recent technological advances. Finally, the continuing necessity to assist training similar teams in the navies of our lesser-developed allies apparently was recognized. But the primary reason for the increase in combat swimmer commands is that, in addition to the traditional missions with the amphibious forces, UDT and SEAL teams are, as the late Admiral Claude Ricketts observed, “part of the foundation upon which the counter-insurgency program is being built.”
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