No, they don't. They operate para-militarily. They do have their own special operations division, but those men are not members of the US armed forces. They work for CIA and CIA alone. Mike Spann, the first American to die in combat in Afghanistan after 9/11 was just such a CIA operator. While he was former US special forces officer, as virtually all operators are, he was no longer in uniform service.
"Righteeyo boss... lessee, there was this war in Vietnam? And this program called Phoenix? And before and since then... let me count the ways... LOL... "
Right, and after that strange bout of nervous laughter, you might want to educate yourself before someone takes you for a moron. I didn't get a chance to go to one of them fancy public schools, but I'm pretty sure the Vietnam Conflict and operation Phoenix came after 1986. Why is 1986 important? Well, 1986 is the year Congress passed and Reagan signed the Goldwater-Nichols Act.
'But hey, don't let me slow you down - the show is great!"
The only that was put on in this exchange was from you - it was an unequivocally showing that you don't know what you're talking about. Just saying. Leon Panetta is not part of the military chain of command, by design of federal law. He cannot, by law, issue orders to anyone in a unified combatant commands, like the US Navy Seals, who are all part of (for this particular mission) JSOC, and are normally part of NSWC which, like JSOC, is an element of USSOCOM.
I think it flies over the heads of many when the media reports that the operational control of the SEALS was given over to CIA. Which is actually not accurate.
That oversimplified what actually happened. In truth, Panetta couldn’t have given the order without first negotiating the “on order” part of the Op Order. Panetta was nothing more than a trigger that caused SOCCOM to release the execute order, and CENTCOM to release the execute order for all other supporting units.
The media still believes this was a 40-man SEAL mission. Yeah. Right.