Inside SEAL Team Six

My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors


By Don Mann

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The Inside Story of America’s Ultimate Warriors

When Osama bin Laden was assassinated, the entire world was fascinated by the men who had completed the seemingly impossible mission that had dogged the U.S. government for over a decade. SEAL Team 6 became synonymous with heroism, duty, and justice. Only a handful of the elite men who make up the SEALs, the US Navy’s best and bravest, survive the legendary and grueling selection process that leads to becoming a member of Team 6, a group so classified it technically does not even exist. There are no better warriors on Earth.

Don Mann knows what it takes to be a brother in this ultra-selective fraternity. As a member of Seal Team Six for over eight years and a SEAL for over seventeen years, he worked in countless covert operations, operating from land, sea, and air, and facing shootings, decapitations, and stabbings. He was captured by the enemy and lived to tell the tale, and he participated in highly classified missions all over the globe, including Somalia, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. As a coordinator for several civilian SEAL training programs, and as a former Training Officer of SEAL Team Six, he was directly responsible for shaping the bodies and minds of SEALs who carried out the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

But to become a SEAL, Mann had to overcome his own troubled childhood and push his body to its breaking point — and beyond. Inside Seal Team 6 is a high octane narrative of physical and mental toughness, giving unprecedented insight to the inner workings of the training and secret missions of the world’s most respected and feared combat unit.


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The day after SEAL Team Six captured and killed Osama bin Laden, my phone started ringing off the hook. One call after the other came from reporters all wanting to know the same thing: "You were on ST-6. You were the ST-6 training officer. How did they train for this op?"

I answered, "They trained harder than anybody else in the world. They trained for the insertion, actions on the objective, lots of shooting in the shooting house, breaching, emergency medicine, commo, contingencies, hostage handling, intel searches, and for the extraction."

And as I spoke I felt a strong sense of affirmation. Now fifty-three years old, and a veteran of many ops, scrapes with death, broken bones, and ruined marriages, I knew that every minute of my time with the SEALs had been worth it.

from the Introduction


Virginia, May 1, 2011


Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

—President Barack Obama


It was a quiet Sunday night, and I'd just returned from a long weekend of SEAL training at Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I poured myself a glass of wine and was watching an egret rise from the marshland behind my house when my cell phone rang.

Reading my wife Dawn's number on the LED screen, I answered. "Hey, honey, what's up?"

"Don, where are you?" she asked. She sounded excited. Almost out of breath.

"I just got home. Why?"

"You need to turn the TV on. Tune it to CNN."

"How come?"

"Just do it. You are not going to believe what just happened!"

As soon as the TV screen lit up I saw a photo of Osama bin Laden—similar to the one I'd been using for dry shooting practice in my basement. Underneath ran a banner: BIN LADEN KILLED IN PAKISTAN.

I leaned forward. Adrenaline started pumping through my veins. I'd been in a program to try to nail the bastard. And I had never really gotten over the horror and embarrassment of the attacks on 9/11.

Could it be true that we had finally taken out public enemy number one—the hated and greatly feared leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist group?

Dozens of questions started running through my head, including: How was he killed? Did he put up a fight? Who ran the op? Then I heard Wolf Blitzer mention SEAL Team Six. I couldn't believe my ears.

Then Wolf Blitzer mentioned the name again.

Even though I was stationed at SEAL Team Six from 1985 to 1989 and 1995 to 1998, I'd rarely heard its name uttered in public. Maybe once or twice when the ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ appeared on TV. But besides that, almost never, not even by guys on the teams.

Officially, there was no SEAL Team Six (ST-6). ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​

Unofficially, ST-6 was the most highly trained warfare unit on the planet.

Now Wolf Blitzer was announcing to the world that ST-6■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ 


Many of the active-duty SEALs on Team Six were guys I had taught how to shoot and ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ and trained in ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ as well as in ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​x). I knew how they thought, how they trained, and how they were selected.

A couple months earlier, I'd attended an ST-6 reunion in the building where I had worked for many years, and many of the active-duty guys were serving us beer and liquor. The current SEALs kept pictures of the SEALs I'd served with on the walls.

I spoke with an an active-duty guy who was a member of Blue Team, one of ST-6's assault teams. "During the eighties and nineties we trained and trained and trained but had only the occasional op. Now you guys are conducting missions back to back. With two wars going on, how the heck do you have time to serve us drinks?"

He answered humbly and respectfully. "Yes, but you're the guys who paved the way. We're extremely grateful to all of you."

Later this young, professional, soft-spoken SEAL with a fresh scar across his face took me to his cage and showed me his gear. My attention was drawn to the three-■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ silencer that he kept in the lower left pocket of his ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​.

"Is that for your MP5?" I asked. The MP5 I was referring to was actually an MP5■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​>;■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​

"Sure is."

I said, ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​

He nodded. "Yeah, I like it. A couple of months ago during a raid, we made a silent entry and I entered this room and used it to kill four known terrorists. It worked so well that a couple other terrorists from the same cell remained sleeping in a room down the hall. I killed them too. They never knew what hit 'em." He said this matter-of-factly. He was a professional: killing terrorists was part of his job.

One of the members of ST-6 who went on the raid ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​ told me later that he'd been on more than seventy raids over the last couple of years. The pace of combat was intense, and important commendations such as Silver Stars and Bronze Stars were handed out so often that the team no longer had time for medal ceremonies. Instead, the Silver and Bronze Stars were sent in the mail.

I listened as Wolf Blitzer on CNN described how the SEAL team had been flown in by Black Hawks from Afghanistan and attacked the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, right under the noses of the Pak army. He said that one specially modified Black Hawk helicopter had gone down hard and hit a wall, which had made it impossible for the SEALs to fast-rope into the compound as planned.

But SEALs were trained to prepare for all kinds of contingencies. Something always went wrong. You did your best to "plan your dive and dive your plan."

I knew that there had been hundreds of raids against bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders that had come up empty. Dry holes, we called them. Missions that the American public never heard about.

Given that, the SEALs sitting in the two Black Hawks must have had doubts that Osama bin Laden—known as UBL in military parlance—was even in Abbottabad. But some of those misgivings would have evaporated within minutes, after they breached the wall and took fire from the guesthouse. The threats shooting at them were protecting someone. Who?

Adrenaline slammed through their veins as they entered the main house. They were dressed in ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​;■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ They held their M4s and MP5s at the ready as they scanned the rooms looking for immediate threats. They encountered wives and children, people SEALs generally refer to as nonthreats or, sometimes, unknowns—because you can never be sure. The SEALs focused on hands first, because hands hold weapons.

They were also looking for suicide vests and booby traps of any kind.

■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​

■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​

They were equipped with ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​  ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​ ■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​■​

Masters of CQB, the SEALs moved quickly from room to room. Every man had a specialized job and knew what he was supposed to do. They were


On Sale
Nov 28, 2011
Page Count
304 pages

Don Mann

About the Author

Don Mann (CWO3, USN) is the author of the national bestseller Inside SEAL Team Six and a former Navy SEAL. He lives in Virginia.

Ralph Pezzullo is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning playwright, screenwriter and journalist. His books include Jawbreaker (with CIA operative Gary Berntsen) and Zero Footprint (with military contractor Simon Chase).

Learn more about this author