SEALs, SWCCs welcome new commander

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SEALs, SWCCs welcome new commander




By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jun 13, 2007 5:44:31 EDT
http://www.navytimes.com/news/2007/06/navy_SEALcommander_070613/
SAN DIEGO — The Navy’s commando force welcomed a new leader Tuesday as Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan succeeded Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire at the helm of the Naval Special Warfare Command.
Kernan, the deputy commander, takes over a growing and heavily deployed community of 5,800, including 2,300 Navy SEALs and 600 special warfare combatant craft crewmen. Maguire, who has served as the commander since March 2004, heads to Washington, where he has been nominated to serve as the deputy director for Strategic Operational Planning Directorate at the National Counter-Terrorism Center and to receive the third star of a vice admiral.
The military’s top commando officer, Army Gen. Bryan “Doug” Brown, attended the ceremony outside NSW’s beachside headquarters before a crowd of several hundred, including current and former SEALs and SEAL team commanders.
Brown, who heads U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., praised the work of naval special warfare operators who have fought and operated in combat zones in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to hunt down terrorists.
“Naval special warfare prowess on the battlefield goes without saying,” he said, adding that some of the successes “we can’t talk about.”
The combat performance of Navy SEALs and special warfare operators “has never been better as they fight today’s unconventional warfare,” he said, noting that unconventional warfare “is precisely the type of warfare that John F. Kennedy commissioned the teams to do in 1962.”
Brown presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Maguire and also gave his wife, Kathleen Maguire, the Superior Public Service Award for her work in family support programs.
Maguire, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., has commanded SEAL Team 2 and Naval Special Warfare Center, whose courses include the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL and Basic Crewmen Training courses.
In his three years in command, Maguire oversaw a major growth spurt in the SEAL community, which is proceeding with a mandate to grow its eight SEAL teams and is expanding the capabilities of its naval special warfare groups to support deployed operators.
Several initiatives continue to broaden the reach of NSW recruiting to get more qualified and fit men who can succeed through the rigorous selection and training process, and these already are seeing results with higher reporting and graduation rates at BUD/S. In October, the Navy unveiled new and separate ratings for SEALs and SWCCs as special warfare operators (SO) and special warfare boat operators (SB), respectively. Last year also saw the creation of the Center for SEAL and SWCC in Coronado and the NSW Advanced Training Command in nearby Imperial Beach. And in recent years, more SEALs than ever are opting to stay in uniform and serve. The latest 90 percent retention rate “is remarkable,” Maguire told the audience.
“When sailors re-enlist today, they know full well what they are doing,” he added. “They are going into combat and they are risking their lives for their country.”
It’s those risks and sacrifices that strike closest to Maguire, who has seen off his men to war zones and has presided over memorial services and funerals for the fallen SEALs and SWCCs killed in the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. He praised the bravery and service to country of his men within NSW, which he often referred to as “a community at war.”
“We’ve captured or killed thousands of extremists, taking the fight to where they live,” he added.
That dedication remains strong even though some in the nation might question the fight, Maguire said.
“The enemy is counting on us to falter,” he said. “You, my teammates, are the ones ensuring our success.”
Kernan has commanded SEAL Team 2 and Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and he’s served as operations director of the Joint Special Operation Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.
In brief remarks, he praised Maguire’s work and promised to “devote every ounce of energy to the recruiting, training, health and well-being” of the NSW community. He also made a commitment to the men.
“You speak by your actions,” he said. “You all stoically face danger and challenges.”
The NSW community has been awarded three separate Presidential Unit Citations in recent years. One cited their actions and battles against Taliban militia and al-Qaida networks in Afghanistan and another recognized their contributions during the initial invasion and combat operations in Iraq. Details about the third PUC awarded are classified and has not been publicly announced.
 
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