.*** SWCC Lifestyle Questions

Pengu

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I messaged @Arf yesterday asking him if I could shoot him some questions I had about SWCC, and he suggested that I post something to the board so this information could be utilized by other people.
Please let me know if I stepped out of line by posting these, I have done a fairly substantial amount of online research, and while these questions have been somewhat addressed, they haven’t been fully answered to my knowledge.


Here are the questions:

1. I’ve heard many people say that SWCCs also operate on land, not just in the water. What exactly do they do? I understand that they are capable of running convoys, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of information on this subject.

2. I saw some people claim that SWCC can be sort of a “dead end career” in the sense that it’s unlikely for an operator to “advance past E6”. To what extent does this hold true? Would a 20 year career in the Boat Teams be truly feasible?

3. Since SWCC doesn’t have Officers, I was curious as to how many WOs serve in the Boat Teams. How likely is it that someone could become a WO in SWCC?

4. From my understanding, SWCC operators harbor different roles within their teams. Say someone wanted to become a SWCC medic, how likely would it be for their request to be approved?

5. I seen it mentioned several times that a life in the Boat Teams can take a toll on a man’s body, especially his back. How serious are these injuries? Arf mentioned that most operators eventually need back surgery. Could any of these back injuries be “career ending”? If so, how common are they?

I fully understand and accept that someone like me should be focused on the 25m target.
However, I’d like to make a career in the Navy, and I would like to sort of know what I’m getting myself into.

Thanks again!
 
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Pengu

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Apologies, seems that numbering the questions in Google docs doesn't transfer in numerical order over here, my bad.
 

Arf

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Please let me know if I stepped out of line by posting these, I have done a fairly substantial amount of online research, and while these questions have been somewhat addressed, they haven’t been fully answered to my knowledge.

There is barely any info available for SWCC and what life is like so I will not give you a hard time for this. The SEALSWCC.com website isn’t even correct and updated, so it is very frustrating.


1. I’ve heard many people say that SWCCs also operate on land, not just in the water. What exactly do they do? I understand that they are capable of running convoys, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of information on this subject.


SWCC is a relatively new rate. There are older SWCC who were grandfathered in without having gone through a selection, and then there are your modern day graduates who go through Basic Crewman Selection that is similar to BUD/S FIRST PHASE.

That being said, we are still in a role where we are trying to find our place. Our lineage comes from the sailors who operated the small boats in WWII and Vietnam but we have come a long way since that point.
In Vietnam the SEALs and other Special Operators needed to use small boats to conduct their missions, and we needed to make an elite group of sailors that could fulfill that role.

At one point SEALs tried to fill this role themselves, but they realized needed a group that specialized in operating small boats in the Special Operations Community.

Slowly but surely we are getting more and more capabilities as we establish ourselves in the Special Operations Community.

The best way I can explain it is that we are in a role where we could easily be cut off from any outside help, and we need to be able to fight, survive and succeed in any situation like any other Special Operations unit.

Now that I’ve given you a long history lesson, my answer is: yes, we can operate on land.

There are two things that make us special apart from any other part of the military:

1. Our ablility to operate high speed, heavily armed boats in ANY condition at night. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, or how rough the sea state is, we are going to f*#%ing go there and hit them where they least expect it, because no one expects that anyone is crazy enough to operate in that environment.

2. No one operates mounted machine guns and mounted automatic grenade launchers like we do. (Edited my prior statement)
Each SWCC is taught to operate mounted guns alone without help, and no one else shoots at night in rough sea states the way we can.

If we are conducting a mission with other special operators, we are always the ones on the mounted guns. That commonly happens during convoys but that isn’t always the case.
Most of our missions are on the water, with the boats. It doesn’t always work out that way though.



Our second phase of training is called Basic Crewman Training (it used to be the first phase). BCT is all on land. We learn small arms (Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns), heavy weapons on land and Ground Skills. It is a shortened version that focuses on withdrawing however and most of your ground skills will be taught when you get to a Special Boat Team. All of Close Quarters Combat will be taught at the team.
 
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Arf

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2. I saw some people claim that SWCC can be sort of a “dead end career” in the sense that it’s unlikely for an operator to “advance past E6”. To what extent does this hold true? Would a 20 year career in the Boat Teams be truly feasible?

3. Since SWCC doesn’t have Officers, I was curious as to how many WOs serve in the Boat Teams. How likely is it that someone could become a WO in SWCC?

In the before times SWCC wasn’t a closed rate. What that means is that people were selected from the fleet and put on a temporary assignment to what was then called a Special Boat Unit.

At one point it became a permanent position but people still had their prior rate. It was similar in the SEAL community.

Someone would be an Engineman 1st class (SWCC) or a Quatermaster Chief (SEAL). What this meant is that to advance, they would have to test and advance within their old job in the navy. That is not the case anymore. Now SEAL and SWCC have their own rates. Special Warfare Operator(SO) and Special Warfare Boat Operator(SB). To advance, we advance within our own community.

This is important for two reasons. We aren’t competing for advancement with anyone outside of the teams, and the tests we take for advancement are tests on our specific SO or SB rate.

The Navy advancement system is different than the other branches, and I’m struggling to articulate this in a way that others can relate to, but it will make more sense once you are in and see how difficult it is for someone like a Corpsman to advance, and how easy it is for us to advance.

In current times It is much much much easier for us to make rank in NSW than it is in the fleet. The possibility of you making rank above E-6 is very high. When you graduate from the SWCC school house you make E-4, and the advancement rate to E-5 is about 75% once you do the required time in service.

I can’t give numbers at this point in my career, but there are a lot of Warrant Officers because we are an entirely enlisted community. Yet there are a lot of SEAL officers who are in command.

There are only about 800 active duty SWCC right now so if you do your job well and don’t get into trouble, the chances of you making E-7 and above are high.
 
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Arf

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4. From my understanding, SWCC operators harbor different roles within their teams. Say someone wanted to become a SWCC medic, how likely would it be for their request to be approved?
There are a lot of schools we can go to.
SWCC can go to Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) school and be the guy that calls in air strikes, you can be a Puma Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) operator, you can be the Comms guy, or the Navigator and the list goes on. You can go to as many of these schools as your Team allows, and just because you are the Navigator doesn’t mean that you can’t also be the medic.

Medic school is unique though. If you just graduated from SEAL or SWCC school and you want to be a medic, usually they will send you right from the school house before you even get to your first team.

See my post here:
SEAL questions


We can’t ever dive, go to K-9 handler school or sniper school though. The closest we can get is Designated Marksman school. The best way I can think to describe DM is that they are the midpoint between the riflemen and the sniper.
 
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Arf

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5. I seen it mentioned several times that a life in the Boat Teams can take a toll on a man’s body, especially his back. How serious are these injuries? Arf mentioned that most operators eventually need back surgery. Could any of these back injuries be “career ending”? If so, how common are they?
Being on a small boat in a rough sea state is bad. Really bad. It’s fun for maybe an hour and then it hurts. It’s not uncommon to be on an operation in a rough sea state that lasts for over 12 hours. If you nose dive off of a big wave and smash everyone, you still have to get the mission done and go all the way home even though everyone has broken ribs and legs.

The injuries that you get from this can be career ending. Back surgery is common. After a long rough night it is not uncommon to see us walking like we just got out of a car accident. The higher you go in rank though, the less you will be out in the field. This happens because we need the leadership skills in an administration roll, and because our bodies don’t last forever.

To combat this, the only thing you can do is stay in exceptional shape. We have excellent medical care, physical therapy and personal trainers that are available to us.

Everyone’s bodies are going to take some wear, but people do 20+ years in the boat teams. If they don’t stay, they can also transition to an officer slot in the fleet. I see a few doctors with SWCC pins on their chest around.
 
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Pengu

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@Arf Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! This information is invaluable and very enlightening. I really appreciate it.
 
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Arf

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Arf mentioned that most operators eventually need back surgery.

I think the word “most” is not quite accurate. Common, yes, but I wouldn’t say that most of us are going to get back surgery.

The community is awesome though, and the Navy Seal Foundation also extends to us and our families. I would still highly recommend it even though my last post about injuries is a possibility. I just want you to know what you are getting yourself into.

That being said, every Operator will get their body rocked. The waves are rough, but I guarantee you that most or all of our guys here on this forum are in some pain from their injuries.
 

Arf

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I’ve heard many people say that SWCCs also operate on land, not just in the water.

I want to make one more point on this.

The question was “can you operate on land”.
Yes.
Do we?
Not very often. You can get more time on land by augmenting with other SOF as a JTAC, UAV Operator or Special Operations Tactical Medic(SOTM), but with a SWCC team you won’t do it often.
 
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