As Big Navy continues to work to bring the SEALs back into the conventional fleet fold after decades of largely autonomous special operations, a SEAL team recently took part in an Arctic exercise to showcase a role they could potentially play in the next conflict.

The effort came during Operation Polar Dagger, an exercise that took part in the frigid environment off Alaska in the Bering Sea, the Navy said in a release earlier this month.

There, East Coast-based SEALs, assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2, worked with the amphibious transport dock John P. Murtha, to defend critical infrastructure in the region.

SEALs deployed from the well deck of Murtha in combatant craft assault boats, cutting their way through the Bering Sea to Shemya Island in the Aleutian archipelago, 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska.

There, they conducted an “over-the-beach” patrol and then left the scene via helicopter, showcasing how the SEALs could team up with the conventional fleet in frigid environments half a world away from Iraq or Afghanistan.

The operation is a nod to the increasing importance of the Arctic as well.

The defense tech site War Zone reported earlier this month that the operation also featured the kitted-out MH-60M Black Hawk helicopters of the Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and that those birds ferried the SEALs from their island mission.

In recent years, the Navy has worked to fold the SEALs back into the conventional fleet’s activities, and, in 2021, a SEAL team took part in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group’s composite unit training exercise, or COMPTUEX, for the first time in years.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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