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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."
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.