“Frankly, I didn’t even want to use you guys, with your dip and velcro and all your gear bullshit. I wanted to drop a bomb. But people didn’t believe in this lead enough to drop a bomb. So they’re using you guys as canaries. And, in theory, if bin Laden isn’t there, you can sneak away and no one will be the wiser. But Bin Laden is there. And you’re going to kill him for me.”
– Maya (Zero Dark Thirty)
Back in my day (Vietnam era) we did not wear or carry ANY identification, nor any patches, badges, or other icons which might identify us. One man (who is now deceased) had a small tattoo of “GOD BLESS AMERICA” beneath a small American flag. Located on his left upper arm (actually at the point of his shoulder).
When he was selected for an operation requiring “sterile” uniforms, the use of ‘foreign’ weapons, and even skin dye… the people in charge determined that his tattoo had to go. A quick spray with some “super freeze” stuff, four shallow slices with a scalpel, and it was peeled off. He wore a green combat bandage over the spot on the operation and it eventually healed.
The scar area was about the size of the palm of your hand, and for years he told people that he’d cut the tattoo off himself… with his KABAR knife… without anesthetic of any kind. Most believed him. It was a great story… and still is.
No one knew who we were. Often not even the “good guys” know who we were. For the first several years of involvement in Vietnam, the SEALs were known as “the men with the green faces and black guns”. The Teams had the M16 3 years before the Army made them standard issue. Now… everyone has patches and tabs and face scarves and tattoos over half their bodies. There’s no such thing as anonymity anymore and in my opinion, it needs to go back to what it once was… about 45 years ago.
That said, here are a few team patches I have aquired over the years (I have since added the SPEAR battle frog patch to my collection right along my Russian Spetznaz patch), I’ve got more, but most are mine from my years in Coronado, and still attached to uniform items.
Up next is my Secret Squirrel patch (can’t tell you the unit THAT one represents… or I’d have to kill you! LOL).
The term “Secret Squirrel” is most commonly used by REAL TGs and REAL SF/DELTA/MARSOC to refer to the poser wannabes. I bought two of these patches and sent one to Don Shipley so that he could scan it and “throw it down” online whenever he encountered a poser. He hasn’t done that too much yet, but I’m doing it every time I encounter a BS artist.
The “I’d have to kill you if I told you” line is one that also mimics the posers’ BS storyline. The real truth is that if something is tagged as so secretive that it shouldn’t be discussed, then the guys who have the clearance won’t even mention that they have the clearance.
One of my SEAL Teammates (15 years younger than me and a veteran of DEVGRU before becoming a private “contractor”) was discussing this specific matter with me when he came for a visit last year. He was reluctant to discuss ANYTHING with me, despite knowing what I do, what I did, the security clearances I have held (an EXTREMELY high level of clearance and access when I was working as a defense contractor/analyst during the Cold War years), and the sure and certain knowledge that all I was trying to do was learn about how the gov’t was currently handling “non-disclosure” contracts and ‘security agreement‘ paperwork. I did get the general information eventually, but no hard specifics. The truth is that even discussing the fact that there is something to discuss is viewed as disclosure and will result in some unbelievably harsh prosecution, fines, and incarceration.
So if someone says “I can’t tell you because it’s classified… and my records are sealed in the interest of national security“, then those words alone would be sufficient to have them fined, jailed, and blacklisted from ever working with classified documents or programs. The real deal guys NEVER offer that BS line about “if I told you I’d have to kill you“, so when someone says that, it’s time to piss in their Wheaties!
Real guys who really hold such clearances and work on such programs just stare at you… very pointedly… without saying anything… and you very quickly realize that you’ve just pissed in your own bathwater if you ask any further questions.
So… that’s why we call the BS artists “secret squirrels”… and that’s why the patch is such a joke.
I recently heard someone refer to this next patch as the “Red Cell Patch” …
Red Cell ended decades ago, they never wore a patch or a uniform. All of the Red Cell operations were conducted by SEALs who wore civilian clothing and attempted to breach security on base operations, installations, or ships/subs.
That’s why they got into trouble and got shut down… they played too rough, too realistically, and too aggressively… and they made too many high ranking officers look shabby with regard to security. Red Cell forced a lot of folks to reexamine unit security and to establish (or RE-establish) standards which were lacking, and to upgrade even the most “secure” procedures. The operators involved in Red Cell most certainly never advertised their unit by wearing a patch or badge.
(Above, a photo of DEVGRU Red Team member, Matt Bissonette’s helmet from his book, No Easy Day)
It is actually the patch of the “RED MEN”… the Red Team at DEVGRU. There are different teams on DEVGRU. The GREEN men are the newest men, going through training and evaluation. Then there are the RED men, the GOLD men, and the BLUE men. I “think” there is also a BLACK element now… but can’t be sure. It isn’t the sort of thing I talk about with currently active operators. RED CELL (post Vietnam era) did not have any identification patch.
(above, DEVRU Gold Team member, Matt Mills shown wearing a Gold Knights Patch)
The Navy’s colors are “BLUE AND GOLD”… so those were the two teams initially broken out at ST6 (later DEVGRU). Then they added GREEN for the “newbies” being trained. They were operating on a “port and starboard” rotation… i.e. one team was on call, while the other was training, and then they would swap places. That’s damned tough duty… a rough rotation for anyone who has a life at all outside of his bunk and the muster room… so they added the RED unit to make it a three team rotation. Like I said, I think they might have added a black team, too.
Steve “Moose” Robinson
RM2(SEAL) BUD/S Class 59 (Feb 1971)
SEAL Team ONE