There’s a long established concept that the only thing people love more than a hero is to see one fall. With the dwindling combat operational tempo across the board in Special Operations it comes as no surprise that IF we are popping up in the news the only press is likely to be bad news. It’s little surprise that people still want to hear about barrel chested freedom fighters even if the stories aren’t the ones those men necessarily want told. In the wake of a conviction for child endangerment and pedophilia of one SEAL as well as the ongoing investigation into the alleged involvement of two NSW operators in the murder of a Green Beret, I feel it incumbent upon myself to respond not only to the horde of keyboard commandos chomping at the bit to point fingers at the NSW community but, more importantly, to the men damaging a brotherhood I know and love.
The most common vitriol I’ve seen spewed regarding both of these recent despicable events is directed not toward the individuals responsible, but rather toward the perceived shortcomings of the NSW community as a whole. “What’s with the SEALs?” …Frankly, I get it. How could a community as strong as ours allow for people so morally bankrupt to go unchecked or undiscovered for so long? What is lacking at the Team level, the platoon level, the squad level, that murderers and pedophiles could possibly be in the mix?
The answer is nothing and, simultaneously, everything.
The ‘everything’ quite simply boils down to the idea of men falling in love with their own legend. This epidemic isn’t unique to the Teams. I’ve seen it across the gamut of SOF operators in the twilight of the GWOT. Men who think their deployments, quals, and experiences have earned them the right to live above the law – man’s or otherwise. It’s evident in the guy who thinks driving hammered is ok because he’s an operator. It’s evident in the guy who thinks that pot of money is his to extort, or that the girl who isn’t his wife is the one he should go home with on that TDY. Men who have learned day after day, deployment after deployment, that the law is determined at the end of a muzzle rather than in the moral fiber of the man whose finger sent the round. The very concept of being the “sheepdog” everyone so fondly endeavors to view themselves as is being bastardized by the men abandoning their moral responsibilities. Full stop. They are bastardized for seeking self advancement by stealing some extra coin or by permanently affecting the life of the most innocent and helpless tiny humans for whom the real warriors go downrange to protect. The ‘everything’ here falls on the individuals who have put themselves before and above their teammates, their countrymen, et al.
The ‘nothing’ lacking that I mentioned is simply a nod to the majority. To the true hitters. To the guys living the oaths they took. To the ones who truly live, breath and fight per the ethos. The ones who, angrier than you, wretch themselves both inwardly and outwardly about those who’ve lost their way. These are my brothers. These are the SEALs you expect them to be, quietly continuing the mission, continuing the long and tiring schools, work-ups and deployments. Continuing to love the brotherhood, love the work, and love the lifestyle and culture of one of the very last true bastions of manhood in our increasingly delicate society of apologists and appeasers.
So, in closing, I implore you to keep faith in the men with glowing green eyes (or glowing white now). Take heart in knowing we do not claim those who have selfishly put themselves above others, especially those whom we’ve sworn to protect with our lives.
Rest assured that the silent and strong majority of your quiet professionals in the Teams and across all SOF will continue to honor the promises we make when we pin on our Tridents, Tabs, or whatever.
Fuck those other clowns. Long live the brotherhood.