- A deployed SEAL platoon operating in Iraq was ordered out because the commander “lost confidence” in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission at hand due to discipline problems, US Special Operations Command announced Wednesday evening.
- The SEALs, reportedly members of SEAL Team 7, were abusing alcohol while deployed, The Washington Post reported.
- The special operations community has, in recent years, faced a scandal after scandal, and this appears to be another black mark on its record.
- Chief Master Sergeant Gregory A. Smith, the command senior enlisted leader for SOCOM, told INSIDER Wednesday afternoon that the command faces challenges but stressed that the problems are not systemic.
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A deployed Navy SEAL platoon operating in Iraq is being sent back to the US due to problems with discipline that led their commander to lose confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish their mission, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) announced Wednesday evening.
“The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (in Iraq) ordered the early redeployment of a SEAL Team platoon to San Diego,” the command said in a press release, explaining that the problem that triggered the order was a “perceived deterioration of good order and discipline within the team during non-operational periods.”
The Commander lost confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission.
— USSOCOM (@USSOCOM) July 24, 2019
The statement, which was short on details, added that “all Department of Defence personnel are expected to uphold proven standards and to comply with laws and regulations.”
The SEALs were caught abusing alcohol while deployed, US officials told The Washington Post, which reported that the platoon being sent back to San Diego is part of SEAL Team 7, the same unit that was recently thrust into the spotlight during Chief Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher’s recent war crimes trial.
The latest incident is another black mark on the US special operations community, which has been the focus of many high-profile scandals, including allegations of war crimes, alcohol and drug abuse, and the unwillingness of individuals in positions of leadership to properly report misconduct – and that was just among the SEALs.
Other special operators have faced troubling allegations of murder, drug smuggling, rape and other forms of sexual misconduct. These incidents led the Department of Defence to conduct a sweeping review of the special operations community, which has also been conducting its own internal reviews.
Responding to Business Insider’s queries about a culture of lawlessness spreading through the ranks of the special operations community at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon at the Pentagon, Chief Master Sergeant Gregory A. Smith, the combatant command senior enlisted leader for US Southern Command, stressed that the problems that have come up are not systemic.
“Do we have an issue? No,” he said. “We have challenges. We have fraying. But, are these things systemic? No. Is there room for improvement? Is any one ethical breach too much? Yes.”
Smith explained that the command has taken a hard look at itself in the wake of SOCOM’s scandals. “These ethical breaches,” he explained at the Pentagon, “affect the entire command and affect the credibility of our entire force, so we take that very seriously as we take a good look internally.”
He told reporters that those people who need to be held accountable are being held accountable, but he did not offer any details.