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Amid multiple murder investigations, Pentagon finds no issues with special ops ethics training
Despite the fact that several special operators are facing murder charges, U.S. Special Operations Command is doing a bang-up job teaching ethics and professionalism, a Pentagon review has found.
ABC News' Luis Martinez first reported that the Defense Department's report to Congress about ethics and professionalism in the special operations community did not discover any "gaps in the administration, oversight, or management of ethics programs or professionalism programs."
The seven-page report is mostly dedicated to how well special operations forces are trained to make ethical and moral decisions.
"The SOF [special operations forces] culture requires more than adherence to the minimum standards of compliance with applicable law and policy," the report says. "SOF personnel who manage violence under the stress and ambiguity of combat require the highest level of individual and organizational discipline. This is more than just adherence to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and ethics regulations. Rather, it is the cornerstone of the values system that trust and faith are built upon at every level within SOF."
Reading the report, one would be forgiven for thinking things are just swell in SOF, but it comes amid of spate of recent news that read like Law & Order: Special Operations Unit.
Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher is charged with premeditated murder for allegedly using his knife to kill a wounded ISIS fighter and then posing for a reenlistment video next to the man's corpse in 2017. Fellow SEAL Lt. Jacob "Jake" Portier is charged with dereliction of duty for allegedly not stopping Gallagher from wounding two non-combatants with a sniper rifle and not properly reporting allegations up the chain of command.
Meanwhile, Navy SEALs Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph and Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews, along with Marine Raiders Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell, have been charged with murder and related offenses for allegedly strangling Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in 2017.
Two Marines and a Navy corpsman from a Marine special operations unit are reportedly under investigation in connection with the Jan. 4 death of American contractor Richard Anthony Rodriguez, a decorated former Green Beret.
And former Green Beret Maj. Matthew Golsteyn has been charged with murder after he admitted to killing an unarmed Afghan man whom had been identified by a trial leader as a Taliban bomb-maker.
The Pentagon report makes a passing reference to these and other alleged incidents of criminality in the special operations community.
"A review of instances of serious misconduct across SOF indicates that some SOF personnel face a deeper challenge of a disordered view of the team and the individual in the SOF culture," the report says. "Left unchecked, a value system in disorder threatens to erode the mutual trust among members of SOF and the trust of senior leaders, our allies, and ultimately the American people in SOF."
"In response to this challenge, SOF senior leaders have engaged in rapid and focused action to identify and address underlying causes, to prevent erosion of trust in the force, and ultimately to produce a more effective special operations force for the nation."
SEE ALSO: Navy's top SEAL says he's reviewing training and ethics amid murder and drug allegations in special ops
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The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?