There really is no way to sugar coat the fact that it has been a pretty shitty few weeks in the news media for the Navy’s SEAL Teams. The relentless coverage over the past few years — if not the last decade — has mostly been positive when it comes to the community, and how it is portrayed. Notable exceptions do exist, though, including on this website, in the New York Times and The Intercept, among others.
On the whole, though, it has been and still remains beneficial for media outlets — including this one — to report on the SEAL Teams. Simply put, Navy SEAL-focused stories bring views, clicks, and readers. They unfortunately also bring backlash over time, as fatigue inevitably sets in as the spotlight remains focused most brightly on one aspect of the military’s special operations community. Some in the civilian public and probably most in the non-SEAL military, both in and out of SOF, are getting sick of hearing about Navy SEALs. One need not be an overly astute observer of the media to realize this fact.
The past few weeks are not helping in that regard. Here is a rundown of the recent stories that have broken about the SEAL Teams:
Two SEALs are being investigated for the strangling of a Green Beret in Mali
It would be hard to create a story worse than this one in terms of harming relations between the SEAL Teams and the rest of U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF). Those relations are often frayed in normal circumstances, due to all kinds of reasons, but stories like this can turn those frayed relations toxic.
It should be noted that the two SEALs in question — being investigated for murdering a Green Beret — have not yet been charged with a crime, and they remain innocent until proven guilty. Nevertheless, the story is out there and it has led to disgust and explicit hatred in some quarters of the active duty and veteran SOF community.
There are few things worse than turning on your brothers-in-arms in this way, if this story is true. This author hopes it is not, but if it is, and the two SEALs are guilty of this crime, they should pay the ultimate penalty.
SEAL officer’s chute did not fully open — nor did he have a reserve — in fatal parachute accident
NBC 7 News in San Diego reported that the parachute of Commander Seth Stone failed to fully open when he jumped from a hot air balloon on September 30th, 2017. Stone jumped from approximately 6000 feet up and was not utilizing a reserve parachute, according to NBC 7.
Stone reportedly landed feet first and was experiencing trauma-induced arrest and agonal breathing when EMS units arrived on scene, according to the coroner’s report. Stone’s parachute reportedly showed signs consistent with entanglement, according to NBC 7, though the FAA continues to investigate the incident.
Court rules that top Navy lawyers’ influence tainted SEAL’s rape case
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Air Force Colonel Vance H. Spath, appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals to look into allegations that the Navy’s top lawyer — Vice Admiral James W. Crawford III — tainted the criminal case of a Navy SEAL charged with rape, has determined that Crawford’s actions failed to “engender confidence” in the case, or in the military justice system at large.
That’s quite a blow to the case against Senior Chief (SEAL) Keith E. Barry, who was charged with and convicted of rape in 2014 in a U.S. military court-martial proceeding. Barry’s case is currently under appeal, and his lawyer David P. Sheldon stated that, “The overwhelming finding by the judge in this matter was that Vice Admiral Crawford’s testimony was not credible. He was just not truthful,” according to the Union-Tribune. Barry may very well get a vacated ruling or a new trial as a result.
It has not been all bad news recently for the SEALs, however, as a few more stories show:
SEAL-carrying submarine USS Michigan arrives in South Korea
According to Bloomberg News, the guided missile submarine USS Michigan arrived in South Korea in late October, along with its compliment of 66 SEALs. One of the Navy’s four dry deck shelter (DDS)-carrying submarines joined three aircraft carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific, a significant build-up of U.S. naval forces in the area not seen in at least a decade. The deployments are in response to rising tensions with North Korea.
The DDS is mounted to a submarine and transports the SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV), a mini-submersible used to infiltrate SEALs into an area of operations.
Wounded SEAL receives award for helping other wounded veterans
According to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, former Navy SEAL Lieutenant Jason Redman is receiving the Red Bandana Hero Award for his efforts in assisting wounded veterans through the Combat Wounded Coalition umbrella, which he started with his wife.
Redman is also the CEO and founder of Wounded Wear, and has a speaking and consulting firm called SOF Spoken. In addition, in conjunction with Virginia-based Old Dominion University, Redman is starting the Overcome Academy, which aims to help military men and women return to civilian life.
The Red Bandana Hero Award is named for Welles Remy Crowther, the “Man in the Red Bandanna” who rescued more than a dozen victims of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, according to the Pilot. The award pays tribute to the “everyday hero who exemplifies the American Spirit and defines us as a nation,” according to a news release.
So, it is not all bad news for the SEAL Teams in recent weeks, but nonetheless, many will continue to criticize the community for its seeming overexposure in the national media. There are also a significant number of SEALs themselves who would like to see the community disappear from the headlines altogether. Given the recent headlines, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia.