The Head of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Army Gen. Richard Clarke is opening a review into the entire command’s culture and ethics.
The review would begin immediately and will finalize sometime in the autumn.
“Recent incidents have called our ethics and culture into question and threaten the trust placed in us,” he said.
Most recent incidents include:
- An entire SEAL Team 7 platoon was sent home from Iraq in July after debaucheries on July 4th. The event included heavy alcohol consumption and “potential misconduct” with service women. SOCOM said that the joint task force commander lost confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission and the SEALs are now on a “deliberate redeployment” to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado near San Diego.
“All Department of Defense personnel are expected to uphold proven standards and to comply with laws and regulations,” the statement read. “Alleged violations are thoroughly investigated.”
- Also in July, SEAL Team 10 had been investigated for cocaine use and fraudulent urinalyses. In the report, the lead investigator wrote that the command found no evidence that drug use by any of the SEALs led to teammates getting hurt. But, still, obviously use of narcotics is prohibited while deployed (and not).
- The conduct of now acquitted (at least of murder charges), Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher was convicted in July of posing for a photo with the corpse of an ISIS fighter.
“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,” Rear Adm. Collin Green, the Navy’s top SEAL, wrote in a July 25th letter to his command. “I don’t know yet if we have a culture problem, I do know that we have a good order and discipline problem that must be addressed immediately.”
Clarke is the second SOCOM commander to investigate his command’s ethics and professionalism into question in less than a year.
Former commander Army Gen. Tony Thomas publicly issued guidance to the force in late 2018.
“A survey of allegations of serious misconduct across our formations over the last year indicate that USSOCOM faces a deeper challenge of a disordered view of the team and the individual in our SOF culture,” he wrote.
In March 2019, the Pentagon fulfilled a requirement f the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act by reviewing compliance with ethics and professionalism training.
The report found that everything was in order. Clearly.
“Overall, the report determined U.S. Special Operations Command and its components are full and active participants in the military services’ and Department of Defense’s ethics programs — meeting or exceeding standards in every area reviewed,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Candice Tresch said.
Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Collin Green in February 2019 completed a review that explored potential ethical, health and cultural problems dogging a special operations force that’s consistently rotated overseas since 2001.
Back then, he said he had commissioned a 90-day review to explore “what we’re doing in the schoolhouse, what we’re not doing, what we’re doing relative to leader development and hard ethical decisions, combat ethics, and seeing if we’re addressing that.”
Green commissioned the assessment on January 1st 2019, after receiving a memo from the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, Army. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III in November 2018.
Army Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Frank Beaudette wrote a memo of his own in November.
“It is incumbent upon our leadership down to the team-room level to intensify our emphasis on SOF values and character,” he wrote. “Service is a privilege, and this privilege is grounded in a culture of accountability and professionalism that extends far beyond program compliance.”
For this upcoming review, Clarke urged his troops to be “open and candid” since the results would be openly published and discussed broadly.
“In addition to an overall assessment of SOF culture and ethics, the review will focus on our recruitment, how we assess and select SOF professionals, how we grow leaders, how we educate and train our force to operate ethically with the same excellence with which we operate tactically, and how we address ethical failures when they occur.”
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