The special forces team that swept into Somalia last night to rescue two rescue workers is an elite military group called SEAL Team 6.
Officially, the team's name is classified and not available to the public — technically there is no team 6.
A Tier-One counter-terrorism force similar to the Army's elusive Delta group, Team 6's missions rarely make it to paper much less the newspaper.
Of course, all that changed following the May 2 raid at Osama bin Laden's compound when Team 6 became front page news.
The members of Team 6 are all "black" operatives. They exist outside military protocol, engage in operations at the highest level of classification and often outside the boundaries of international law.
To maintain plausible deniability when things go wrong records of black operations are rarely if ever kept.
The development of SEAL Team 6 was in response to the 1980 rescue attempt of the American hostages held in Iran. A monumental failure, the mission fell apart but illustrated the need for a dedicated counter-terrorist team capable of sucess, combined with the utmost secrecy.
The Team was labeled '6' to confuse Soviet intelligence about the number of SEAL teams in operation at the time. There were only two others.
Team 6 poached the top operatives from other SEAL units and trained them even more intensely from there. Even among proven SEALs the attrition rate for Team 6 is reported to be nearly half.
There are no names available for current Team 6 members, but the CIA recruits heavily from their numbers for their Special Operations Group, so Team 6 is often chosen to work with the CIA on top secret missions like those operating in Somalia.
Team 6 is traditionally devoted to missions with maritime authority: ship rescues, oil rigs, naval bases or land bases accessible by water.
When a former Navy SEAL was called for a comment about Team 6 all he could say was: "You know I'd love to help you man, but I can't say a word about Team 6. There is no Team 6."
Robert Johnson is the military, defense, and features reporter for the main page of Business Insider.
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