Ten years! Wow, never would I have imagined this was possible.
I love SOFREP and our community, some have been with us for ten years and remember the wild west days before we had to learn how to run a newsroom.
The site started as a military culture blog but quickly turned into that and more when we started breaking news ahead of the mainstream news media.
Writers for the site like myself and Murphy (a great writer) kept seeing the big boys in the news get their facts totally wrong with regards to the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns and we sought to get the correct version of events to the public, and it worked.
Then Benghazi, Libya came along and it was personal to me because I lost my best friend Glen Doherty. Both sides of the US media quickly weaponized their headlines in support of their political agenda and bias.
We reported the facts and the editors wrote a New York Times bestselling ebook about it. Benghazi, the Definitive Report.
I remember talking to Jack Murphy and he was nervous it was too much of a stretch to make this proclamation but we ended up being the first news outlet to put out a fact-based account of the messy situation in Benghazi that competing US interests had created.
Namely the CIA, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and the Department of State are all operating on different playbooks resulting in JSOC killing paid CIA assets in the region for starters…
A lot of people in government and the State Department were not happy we published this book. I got several late-night calls threatening me with repercussions if we published the book. This just made me and the team want to publish it more.
Didn’t we fight for the right to uphold the Constitution of the United States?
So we published it regardless.
Then I remember back to when we switched from free to paid subscriptions and people said we’d never make it.
“You guys are crazy!”
Why did we do this?
Because our largest advertiser pulled off the site when we broke the story of the first transgender Navy SEAL, Kristin Beck.
As the founder, I realized how important maintaining our independence was and not letting a big advertising bully or their AD agency shove us around on the playground at recess.
So we put the power in the membership’s hands and stayed true to our goal of fact-based reporting. Now, most of our content is freemium with the really inside juicy stuff available as a paid member of SOFREP+.
Sometimes we push things to the top of the news cycle and it’s not popular with the masses. Case study: Niger.
When we elevated the ambushed Army Special Operations soldiers in Niger to an American audience that didn’t realize US warfighters were dying in Africa, there was outrage.
“How dare you show Americans dying!”, many screamed.
The same happened when several magazines published photos of dead US soldiers’ bodies on the beaches of Normandy, France.
Sometimes the raw un-varnished ruth needs to be exposed and we didn’t shy away from this.
Despite the flak we took real change happened after releasing of that video. Within a week, the Pentagon announced a delay in giving a report to Congress(and the families of the fallen) about the ambush because the video told a very different story. It also instituted a policy that issued Go-Pro camera gear that could no longer be worn without specific mission authorization. Finally, Sec Def Mattis stepped in to prevent the Army from scapegoating two Captains they were about to hang the whole thing on.
What’s next for SOFREP?
I think you can see us partnering with a large strategic news outlet in the future that is aligned with our editorial policy of not taking one side or the other. Rather we like to look at both sides of the issue, sometimes publishing competing opinions, in order to have an intelligent discussion.
As journalists who’ve served, and continue to serve, we’ve seen the terribleness of war and what happens when there is no clear foreign policy strategy.
- A more powerful Taliban supplied with Billions of US weapons and equipment
- Libya, a continued failed state.
- Northern Arabia was destabilized by the power vacuum left after the sudden US withdrawal that kicked off the civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, an emboldened Iran, and massive refugees flowing into Europe.
One thing is clear to me ten years later as I reflect on the past and look forward to the future.
And as major news outlets (like the Economist) call for an escalation in Ukraine when we should instead be focused on de-escalation, giving Putin a face-saving off-ramp, and avoiding a nuclear winter (because he would probably use Nukes if painted into a corner).
SOFREP’s perspective, and our military journalists, are more relevant and needed than ever.