Navy's top SEAL says he's reviewing training and ethics amid murder and drug allegations in special ops

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SAN DIEGO — The commander of Naval Special Warfare said Wednesday that he recently commissioned a 90-day review of recruiting, selection, training, and leadership development in his command amid allegations of drug use, murder, and other ethical lapses within the SEAL community.


"We are looking hard as a learning organization to self assess to see, are we assessing and selecting the right people? Are we holding them accountable to standards of honor, courage, and commitment?" Rear Adm. Collin Green told the audience at the West 2019 conference, in response to a question from Task & Purpose.

Green was part of a panel discussion focused on restoring readiness and "[building] a more lethal force" when he was asked about what steps he was taking to address problems in the SEAL community. Among the issues cited by Task & Purpose were the nearly dozen SEALs booted from the service after testing positive for drugs last year, as well as others being investigated or brought to trial on murder charges.

As Navy Times' reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz notes, other SEALs have been charged with allegedly abusing prisoners in Afghanistan; another was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison for producing images of child sexual abuse in Feb. 2018.

The panel moderator, retired Vice Adm. James Zortman, initially tried to shut down the question as not having anything to do with readiness, but Task & Purpose pushed back, saying that SEALs under investigation are not ready to deploy. Indeed, special operations forces, as a rule, cannot be mass produced, so taking a small number of them out of the fight can have a deep impact on a community numbering in the thousands.

Green, to his credit, took the question head on and agreed that criminal and ethical issues in the command "does affect readiness."

Green said he picked an unnamed Navy captain who just returned from Iraq to study "what we're doing in the schoolhouse, what we're not doing, what we're doing relative to leader development and hard ethical decisions. Combat ethics, to see if we're addressing that through our inter deployment training cycle."

The study was commissioned on Jan. 1, according to NSW spokeswoman Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, and is expected to be submitted to Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of Special Operations Command, sometime in March. Green ordered the study after Thomas sent a memo to all special operators in November addressing a "deeper challenge of a disordered view of the team and the individual in our SOF culture."

"I'm gonna get the results ... and we will address those [issues]," Green said. "We've been at war for 17 years and those are the things that we are looking... So we are on it."

SEE ALSO: The Pentagon Wants To Know Why Special Operations Forces Keep Doing Horrible Sh*t

File photo: Navy SEALs in Mosul (Photo: CNN/screenshot)
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The prosecution rested its case against Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher on Tuesday after a week of testimony from members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon, medical and forensic experts, and NCIS agents.

The focus of Tuesday was on the investigative steps taken by the lead agent, Joseph Warpinski, 34, in addition to jurors being shown text messages sent by Gallagher to fellow SEALs with photos of a dead ISIS fighter that prosecutors characterized as "trophy shots."

Gallagher, 40, is accused of stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter and firing a sniper rifle at civilians in Iraq. He has pleaded not guilty.

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(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."

"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.

"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."

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(Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse)

Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.

Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.

No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

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Taran Tactical Innovations

John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.

With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.

Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.

And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.

But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.

As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.

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The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.

That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.

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