CBS has had a lot of success over the years with their military television programs. From Hogan's Heroes in the '60s and '70s to M.A.S.H. in the '70s and '80s to JAG in the '90s and early '00s to NCIS today, the network has almost never been without at least one series depicting soldiers of some sort. That tradition continues with what is arguably the most gung-ho military series of the bunch, SEAL Team, which is part of CBS's new fall lineup for 2017. And since practically everyone is familiar with the concept of a Navy SEAL, some fans are wondering: Is SEAL Team based on a true story?
Not technically, though the series does take a few cues from real life. The Navy SEALs — which stands for Sea, Air, and Land — are very highly-trained special ops teams that expertly conduct missions in all three previously mentioned environments. They, along with other special forces units like the Green Berets and Delta Force, are considered the most elite unit of soldiers in the entire U.S. armed forces. An even further specialized unit of soldiers within the Navy SEALs is SEAL Team Six, also known as DEVGRU, and this the team on which SEAL Team is based.
SEAL Team Six, which was formed in 1980, differs from other Navy SEALs division in that they are more specifically trained in counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and special reconnaissance. Basically, when the U.S. military needs a highly-sensitive job done and done with the utmost precision, SEAL Team Six gets the call. This was never more evident than on May 2, 2011, when a SEAL Team Six group killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden during an early morning raid on his compound in Pakistan. This act thrust the previously little-known group into the national spotlight, where they have since gained wide recognition as the most elite of elite military units. There are 11 other SEAL Teams, but SEAL Team Six is the one at the forefront of pop culture, thanks both to their role in the death of Bin Laden and the mystery that surrounds their unit, since most of their actions are classified.
Although SEAL Team is based on SEAL Team Six, the show's characters and missions are all fictional. The show obviously has lots of leeway with this since not many people know what goes on in SEAL Team Six anyway thanks to it being classified, but the show nonetheless strives for accuracy where it can. As mentioned, the characters and plots aren't based in reality, but the structure of the team and the equipment they use in the show is pretty much right on the money when compared to the real SEAL Team Six. "The show deserves credit for accuracy in terms of gear, equipment, and some pretty impressive shootouts," wrote military veteran publication Task & Purpose's James Clark, who also stated that the series had some help in the accuracy department from consulting producer Tyler Grey, an Army Ranger veteran, along with three other full-time military advisors.
Another cue taken from real life is one character, a decorated and famous war hero, who authors a bestselling book about his experience. According to Task & Purpose, this is a reference to Matt Bissonnette, a former member of SEAL Team Six who took part in the Bin Laden raid and wrote a book about it, No Easy Day, under the pen name Mark Owen.
Although SEAL Team isn't based on a true story, it is still inspired by the real life elite military unit SEAL Team Six, and it's striving to be as accurate as it can in portraying what life is like for the real SEAL Team.