SEAL Team 6
SEAL Team 6: U.S. military's elite group rescued American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, who were held hostage by the Somali pirates for three months. Wiki Commons

It was the daredevil act of killing al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden right under the nose of the Pakistan Army in Abbottabad in May 2011 that made them known to the world.

In a similar daring act, the elite team of the US military, "SEAL Team 6," rescued two aid workers who were in the custody of Somali pirates for the last three months. The pre-dawn operation on Wednesday, January 25, was authorised by President Barack Obama.

American Jessica Buchanan and her Danish colleague Poul Hagen Thisted, were working for the Danish Deming Group when they were taken hostage by the Somali pirates.

Though the US authorities confirmed that it was a Navy SEAL team that carried out the operation, Pentagon stopped short of confirming it as the "SEAL team 6," the same unit that killed Osama Bin Laden, citing security reasons.

Here are some little-known facts about the elite commando group, SEAL Team 6:

1. The name SEAL stands for "Sea, Air, Land," and specialises in missions involving reconnaissance and sea-borne assaults. Often missions are concentrated on naval bases or land bases including ship rescues and oil rigs rescue operations.

2. The SEALS were formed as a dedicated, specialised wing for counter-terrorism in the aftermath of a failed rescue mission of American hostages in Iran in 1980.

3. In the 1980s, there were only about 90 members in SEAL Team 6 but its strength was raised to nearly 300 post-September 11.

4. The elite commando group operates with utmost secrecy, such that technically there is no "SEAL Team 6," group in the US military. Their missions were classified and never made public.

5. Generally, the operations involve about 30 cammandos in two groups.

6. The team was believed to be involved in the rescue missions of an American captain of the container ship Maersk Alabama, off Somalia in 2009 and the rescue of Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan. However Linda was killed during the operation.

7. In 1987 the official designation of the team was changed to DEVGRU, the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

8. Seventeen US Navy SEALS were killed in Afghanistan when a Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban on August 6, 2011. Most of the soldiers were believed to have been part of Team 6 which was involved in the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.

9. SEAL Team 6 is a Tier-One counter-terrorism group which has its counterparts in Delta Force and Green Berets in Iraq and other battlefields.

10. Team 6 is the elite of the elite and technically the group is not acknowledged by U.S. military authorities. Their missions are classified and never officially acknowledged.