The head of the Navy SEALs said the special forces have a problem and is demanding change within its ranks, according to a strongly worded letter written to his command and obtained by NBC News on Friday.
This is a story about culture, leadership, and the U.S. Navy SEALs. Because when it comes to prestige and awe among the U.S. armed forces, there’s probably no group like the SEALs. In fact, the Navy SEALs are special operations group which is accounted with various missions including the one to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, that served as the backbone for many dangerous missions in Iraq and Afghanistan – even Vietnam – and that gave us one of the most respected top officers in recent military history.
But lately, the SEALs have been facing some immense problems. A few examples:
- A Navy SEAL corpsman (medic), Corey Scott, admitted in court that he killed a wounded prisoner in Iraq.
- Two Navy SEALs have been charged in the death of a U.S. Army Green Beret soldier.
- An entire SEAL team was sent home from Iraq recently because of allegations of sexual assault and illegal alcohol use.
- A Navy investigation found members of yet another SEAL team abused cocaine and other drugs, according to The New York Times.
In the letter, Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Collin Green said the Navy SEALs, “have a good order and discipline problem that must be addressed immediately.” Bolded and underlined, the admiral started the second paragraph with an emphatic, “We have a problem.”
“Some of our subordinate formations have failed to maintain good order and discipline and as a result and for good reason, our NSW culture is being questioned,” Green wrote.
Green directed each commander to meet with their troops, whether at home or abroad, and to develop a plan to restore order by Aug. 7. The letter was dated July 25, the day after it was revealed that a Navy SEAL platoon stationed in Iraq to fight threats posed by the Islamic State was ordered back to San Diego early due to reported misconduct.
The misconduct allegedly included drinking during a Fourth of July party and service members’ refusal to answer questions about an alleged sexual assault committed by a senior enlisted member, according to reports.
Officials did not detail the allegations of misconduct, but The New York Times reported that the U.S. Navy was investigating Foxtrot Platoon of SEAL Team 7. Allegations included that senior enlisted member sexually assaulted a female service member attached to the platoon, as well as reports of drinking alcohol which is against regulations for troops in Iraq. The newspaper cited a senior Navy official with knowledge of the matter and a civilian attorney representing one of the SEALs in the platoon.
The Navy Times also reported that the allegations included drinking during the July 4 party and “potential misconduct with servicewomen.”
Last week, a member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 was charged with soliciting nude photos of women while pretending to be someone else through text messages. A court-martial has been scheduled at Naval Station Norfolk.
The scandals have prompted a review by the Navy’s top commanders into the behavior of the special warfare teams.