Top Navy SEAL officer tells men 'We have a problem' in wake of scandals, controversies
The U.S. Navy commander in charge of all SEAL teams told his men "we have a problem" in a memo written late last month after a series of scandals rocked the Naval Special Warfare community.
"Some of our subordinate formations have failed to maintain good order and discipline and as a result and for good reason, our NSW [Naval Special Warefare] culture is being questioned," Rear Adm. Collin Green wrote in the July 25 memo obtained by Fox News Thursday.
Green added that while "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. Good order and discipline is the foundation for every military organization and it is a leadership responsibility. As Commander, I own it. As Commodores, you also own it."
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The letter does not specifically reference any incidents, which allegedly include drug use and heavy drinking, involving members of SEAL teams in recent months,
SEAL commanders have until Aug. 7 to “develop a plan of action” on how to fix the “problem,” according to the memo.
The letter was written the day after reports surfaced that a Navy SEAL platoon from San Diego, Calif., was ordered back to the U.S. from Iraq because of a “deterioration of good order and discipline.”
The U.S. Special Operations Command said in a July 24 statement, “The Commander lost confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission."
The statement did not describe the exact nature of the misconduct, but The Washington Post, citing two defense officials, told the newspaper that the SEALs involved in the incident had violated a general order against the use of alcohol.
The platoon that was ordered back to the U.S. is part of SEAL Team 7, whose members included Chief Eddie Gallagher, who was acquitted of war crimes charges last month but convicted of posing with a dead ISIS fighter, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Testimony during Gallagher’s court-martial revealed that members of SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon routinely consumed alcohol during their 2017 deployment to Iraq, according to The Military Times.
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The same week the platoon was ordered back to the U.S, The Navy Times reported, citing an internal investigation, that six members of a Virginia-based SEAL team tested positive for cocaine use “and other banned substances” last year after repeatedly cheating to get around military drug tests.
Meanwhile, a Navy SEAL Team 6 member who was named Sailor of the Year in 2016 has been charged with impersonating other people via text to get nude pictures of women, the Virginian-Pilot reported last week.
In May, a Navy SEAL pleaded guilty in the hazing death of a Green Beret soldier, admitting to taking part in a late-night plot to break into 34-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar’s room with a sledgehammer, put him in a chokehold and restrain him with duct tape during a deployment in Africa.
Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Matthews said that he, along with another member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and two elite Marine Raiders, carried out the "juvenile" attack on June 4, 2017, in Bamako, Mali.
Matthews’ attorney, Grover Baxley, said Melgar’s death was "an unforeseen accident that has dramatically impacted the lives of everyone involved.”
According to The Washington Post, the tragedy occurred after a long night of drinking and partying. Two SEALs and two Marine Raiders smashed their way into Melgar's room with a sledgehammer because they purportedly wanted to teach him a lesson for leaving them behind in traffic on the way to a party at the French embassy.
One of the SEALs jumped on Melgar and put him in a chokehold while Matthews grabbed Melgar’s legs. The two Marines then duct-taped his legs together. When they moved on to Melgar's wrists, they realized he had stopped breathing.
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In his memo, Green directed commanders “to engage everyone in your formations.”
He wrote, “I want all hands to understand that ‘we have a problem’ and that is our main effort and my top priority”
Fox News’ Dom Calicchio, Barnini Chakraborty and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.