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Top SEAL says the service's special operations community has 'drifted from our Navy core values'
After a string of high profile incidents, the commander overseeing the Navy SEALs released an all hands memo stating that the elite Naval Special Warfare community has a discipline problem, and pinned the blame on those who place loyalty to their teammates over the Navy and the nation they serve.
In the Aug. 20 memo, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Colin Green wrote that "our force has drifted from our Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment ... due to a lack of action at all levels of leadership."
"We have found that a portion of this force is ethically misaligned with our culture," Green wrote in the memo, which was provided to Task & Purpose by Naval Special Warfare Command. "The root of our problem begins with members who fail to correct this behavior within their sphere of leadership and prioritize this misalignment over the loyalty to Navy and nation. This erodes the foundation of trust we have earned with our leaders and the American people."
"This drift ends now," Green added.
The scathing indictment of the Navy's elite special operations community comes after a string of public incidents involving SEALs, and nearly a month after Green sent a letter to commanders stating that the SEALs — which number less than 2,500 personnel, just a fraction of the Navy's 437,000 active-duty and reserve sailors — may have a culture problem.
As Task & Purpose's Paul Szoldra previously reported on Aug. 1, the SEAL community has been rocked by a string of incidents:
Among the issues that have come to light in recent years were the nearly dozen SEALs booted from the service after testing positive for drugs in 2018, as well as others being investigated or brought to trial on murder charges. As Navy Times' reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz noted, 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. That same sailor was sentenced to an additional 60 years for child molestation on July 30.
More recently, the entirety of SEAL Team 7 Foxtrot Platoon was pulled out of Iraq last month amid allegations of a boozy Fourth of July party and an allegation of sexual assault, and Navy Times' revealed several members of SEAL Team 10 were using cocaine and other drugs regularly. SEALs were also involved in the hazing death of a Green Beret in Mali, one of whom is now being investigated for allegedly trying to flirt with and manipulate the victim's widow.
And despite the acquittal of former SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher on murder charges in early July, his court-martial revealed that members of his unit, SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon, constructed their own rooftop bar in Iraq and engaged in other alleged misconduct on deployment.
To remedy the problem Green laid out several changes in his Aug. 20 memo, including that all allegations of misconduct involving officers and senior SEALs (E-7 and above) will be sent directly to Green to handle.
"I reserve the right to withhold all Non-Judicial Punishment authority for those reports at my level as I deem appropriate," he wrote.
In the memo, Green calls for "intrusive leadership," and "routine inspections" to ensure "all Navy grooming and uniform standards, including adherence to all Navy traditions, customs and ceremonies." Additionally, the changes include a ban on all unofficial unit insignia "to include logos and patches."
Among the other changes Green calls for — including peer-to-peer reviews, and classes on ethics, culture, and accountability — the SEALs will implement a leadership program designed to "develop an individual's leadership and ethical development throughout their NSW career." And within the next month, the SEALs will establish a force-wide accountability tracker across Naval Special Warfare Command.
Plans to grow the size of existing SEAL Teams by adding new platoons will be put on hold until "we have groomed a sufficient inventory of leadership teams that have been adequately trained, certified and possess the highest standards of character and competence to fill the additional leadership positions in these tactical formations," Green wrote. "The force will maintain quality over quantity."
Green closed out the four-page memo by writing:
"The mission is too important. The nation needs us countering violent extremist organizations, rogue regimes and in constant competition with peer and near peer adversaries. We own the problems and the solutions."
The command chief of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, was removed from his position last month after his chain of command received evidence he disrespected his subordinates.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the security alliance's allies to maintain and strengthen their "unity," saying the organization is "the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security."
Stoltenberg told reporters on November 19 that NATO "has only grown stronger over the last 70 years" despite "differences" among the allies on issues such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal, and the situation in northeastern Syria.
He was speaking at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting aimed at finalizing preparations for next month's summit in London.
WASHINGTON — More than $35 million of the roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump delayed, sparking the impeachment inquiry, has not been released to the country, according to a Pentagon spending document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Instead, the defense funding for Ukraine remains in U.S. accounts, according to the document. It's not clear why the money hasn't been released, and members of Congress are demanding answers.
The admiral in charge of Navy special operators will decide whether to revoke the tridents for Eddie Gallagher and other SEALs involved in the Navy's failed attempt to prosecute Gallagher for murder, a defense official said Tuesday.
The New York Times' David Philipps first reported on Tuesday that the Navy could revoke the SEAL tridents for Gallagher as well as his former platoon commander Lt. Jacob Portier and two other SEALs: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.
The four SEALs will soon receive a letter that they have to appear before a board that will consider whether their tridents should be revoked, a defense official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.