Eric Greitens, a former SEAL officer and current Republican candidate for Governor of Missouri, is under attack by what appears to be a faceless group comprised of disgruntled former SEALs likely working for his campaign opposition. Through email and phone, I was able to speak with Eric Greitens and one of his former teammates, who vouched for his character and service.
The group, Operation Vigilant Resolve 5326, released an attack ad that questions Greitens’ military service.
This is a clear “drive by” type of anonymous attack that wreaks of campaign dirty tricks and cowardice on the part of those involved. Not only did no one in the group attach their name to the attack, but they only recently surfaced on February 12th, 2016. Their message to other “Team Guy” SEALs?
It is portrayed in this simple image below which illustrates their juvenile grade school tactic of “Psst…pass it along”.
This type of attack, which is intended to diminish the career and service of a stellar operator, is an unfortunate recurrence among Navy SEALs who leave the military and do well in the civilian world. Ryan Zinke, a retired SEAL and current member of Congress, encountered similar attacks, as has former Navy SEAL and SOFREP founder Brandon Webb. He was publicly attacked after being featured in a Men’s Journal article that misquoted distances encountered in a combat operation in Afghanistan, these were later corrected by the magazine.
What would be the motive against Greitens? Part of that answer may likely be found in this article, which details the story of five SEALs and two special warfare combatant crewmen who were charged for using cocaine and ecstasy while training in Asia. The article does not reveal the name of the individual who reported the illegal drug abuse, Eric Greitens. A detailed memo (names redacted) can be found at the bottom of this article to explain what actually transpired.
So why do attacks like this keep happening after all of these years? It may be Eric’s opponents in the Governor’s race using a small group of bad apples who cannot stand to see someone do well, motivated by money. It would appear that Greitens military career was largely affected because of his decision to report the wrongs, and he is now having to fight this battle again.
Eric Greitens’ service was impeccable, he provided SOFREP will the full documentation of his service record, and also has several SEALs willing to put their names out in the open to support him. One of the accusations by the attackers was that Greitens exploited one of his SEAL brothers. A SEAL that went through BUDs with him, and can attest to the high character that Greitens had. In fact, the SEAL clarified that Greitens had reached out to help him before any talks of a book occurred. Read a quote from the “exploited” SEAL for yourself:
Eric Greitens saved my life. When I was in real trouble, he had my back. He’s one of the best officers I’ve ever worked with, and I’d still gladly take a bullet for him today. For the sake of the privacy of my family, we changed my name in the book, Resilience. But if you attack the man who saved my life and helped my family, and then have the gall to accuse him of exploiting me, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You are a bunch of cowards.” –Drew Sheets, Navy SEAL
The attack ad can be seen here. After watching, take a look at his full service records and make your own decision about his service. Also, as in similar cases, his service record will now likely be targeted by the fringe, as this has happened in the past. Should a man who served with honor and distinction be subjected to such blatant lies by those with no honor, and not willing to put their names to serious accusations? I think not.
Leadership and Drug Use among NSW personnel in Thailand
Here is the full memo made available to SOFREP, titled “Leadership and Drug Use among NSW personnel in Thailand”, which details the entire ordeal with the operators’ drug use:
From: LTjg Eric Greitens, OIC, Mark V Detachment One ALFA
LTjg ********, OIC, RIB Detachment One Bravo
To: CAPT Pittelkow, Commanding Officer, Naval Special Warfare Unit One
Re: Leadership and Drug Use among NSW personnel in Thailand
The following is a chronology and analysis of the events that took place between Saturday, May 8th and Tuesday, May 11th with Naval Special Warfare Personnel engaged in the Balance Torch and Cobra Gold theater exercises in Thailand.
The purpose of this document is to fully explain how we became aware of the problem, and the actions taken and decisions made by LTjg Greitens and LTjg *****. We want to state clearly that this is only our account of a complicated and emotionally charged series of events. Other people certainly have different perspectives, and we encourage them to share those with a wide audience. Our intention in writing this document is to make all of the information that we know available and accessible to those who are interested. We also want to share our decision-making process with those people who seek to understand it.
In fairness to all persons named in this document, we reiterate that we ourselves have not witnessed any drug use. We have simply done our best to react to information given to us in the most appropriate way possible. This is not a legal document or an attempt to incriminate anyone.
This document simply contains the facts as we learned them, and conclusions that we have drawn from those facts based upon our own judgment. This document does not paint a flattering picture of several people in Naval Special Warfare. That is a reflection of the information that was given to us. There are most certainly other sides to the story, and we encourage others to explain these important events to the best of their knowledge.
The summaries of the results of the preliminary inquiry referred to below are available in a separate document, as are the voluntary statements made by men in Mark V Detachment 1A and RIB Detachment 1B.
Saturday, May 8th:
On the morning of Saturday, May 8th, at approximately 7am, an E-6 in ******’s detachment woke him up in his room and asked to speak to him. The E-6 informed ****** that on the night of Friday, May 7th, he was in a club in Pattaya, Thailand with an E-3 in his detachment. That night he saw LT ******, the OIC of SEAL Team One ALFA Platoon. When he saw LT ****** he noticed that his pupils were “blown” i.e., extraordinarily dilated. He said to the OIC something like, “Man, your pupils are blown!”, at which point the OIC aggressively said to him, “What the f**k are you, a Master-at-Arms! You better stay the f**k away from me!”. The E-6 and E-3 then left and went into the bathroom of the club.
Soon after the E-3 and E-6 entered the bathroom, LT ****** and two members of his platoon entered the bathroom. When ****** and his men entered the bathroom they saw a SEAL E-4 from SEAL Team One Bravo Platoon. The E-4 SEAL from Bravo Platoon was on his first SEAL deployment. LT ****** then told the E-4 to “Set security on the door.” The E-4 was visibly reluctant to do so, but ****** repeated his command. Then ****** pulled out a small baggie that contained an unknown substance. He took the baggie and went into a stall with two members of his platoon. At that point, the E-6 and E-3 from ******’s det left the bathroom.
This story was relayed to ****** on the morning of May 8th. ****** thanked the E-6 for bringing him this information, and asked him to please not talk to anyone about it in the meantime. ****** told the E-6 that he would get back to him that morning.
That morning ****** met Greitens at the Botany hotel. They were scheduled to go on an Elephant Trek near Pattaya. They were picked up by the Elephant Trek company, and on the ride to the Trek, ****** informed Greitens of the information that he had been given.
Greitens and ****** then called the E-6 on his cell phone, and ****** asked the E-6 to repeat his information to Greitens. The E-6 told Greitens the information exactly as ****** had relayed it.
Greitens and ****** immediately decided that we needed to conduct a Squadron-wide urinalysis. We felt that by conducting a Squadron-wide urinalysis immediately, the problem could be dealt with in a complete, simple, and straightforward manner.
We then informed the E-6 of the course of action that we were going to take.
At that time the E-6 called ****** back and informed him that if a Squadron-wide urinalysis was conducted, “the Mark V guys might not come out so well.” ****** informed Greitens, and Greitens and ****** told the E-6 that we were going ahead with our recommendation to do a urinalysis of everyone in the Squadron.
We then called LT ******, the Task Unit Commander for ALFA and Bravo Platoons and the senior SEAL in Thailand and asked him if it would be possible to conduct a Squadron-wide urinalysis of all NSW personnel in Thailand. He said that he believed that it would be possible, and asked us why we felt such a test was necessary. We informed him that we had been approached by our men and given information leading us to believe that there might be a drug problem in NSW, and that it possibly involved senior leadership.
****** then received a call from his AOIC who informed him that a member of his RIB detachment had informed the RIB Det AOIC that drugs may have been slipped into his drink. The manner in which this story was told to ****** and Greitens seemed immediately suspicious. It appeared to us to be an attempt to begin a process of covering up drug use in Thailand. The combination of the call about the Mark V men and the Rib Det member, led Greitens and ****** to believe that this was a much wider problem than the initial report might have led us to believe.
By this time we were in the middle of the elephant trek (we had been dealing with these issues via cell phone). We informed LT ****** that immediately upon our return we would come to speak with him, and we reiterated our request for a Squadron-wide urinalysis.
Upon returning to the hotel, ****** and Greitens went to LT ******’s room. Once there they informed him of the information that they had been given. LT ****** felt that he needed to speak to the E-6 and E-3 in order to warrant further pursuit of this issue. LT ****** asked us for the names of the men who had come forward, and we told him that we needed to speak with the men before bringing their names forward.
At that point, ****** and Greitens went to meet with the E-6 and E-3. They informed the E-6 and E-3 that LT ****** had requested that they come forward with the information. The E-6 and and E-3 said that they felt that the behavior they had witnessed was a danger to others, and, above all, they felt extraordinarily disappointed and somewhat confused. They expressed that they looked up to SEAL officers and that they initially came forward to speak to ****** out of a deep sense of disappointment. They indicated that they did not come to ****** with the intention of “ratting” anyone out, but that they knew what they saw was wrong, and disappointing, and they wanted guidance on what to do. We spoke with them for approximately a half hour.
The men decided to speak with LT ******. Greitens and ****** went with the men to speak to LT ******. There the men told LT ****** the same information that they had told twice before. They indicated that they knew who LT ****** ****** was, and they knew the E-4 who had been forced to watch the door, but they did not know or remember who the other two men were with LT ******.
Over the course of the next several hours a number of meetings and phone calls took place that it is difficult and unnecessary to fully detail here. The critical issues were as follows: The E-6 and E-3 were brought to LT ******’s room again in order to look through a profile of ALFA Platoon members in order to see if they could identify the two men with LT ******. They could not. The E-4 who had been forced to watch the door was questioned by LT ******. The E-4 denied any participation in or knowledge of the events that he was questioned about. The E-6 and and E-3 were again requested to tell their information. They did so. Again they told the exact same details that they had told several times before.
Ultimately we reached a moment where there was no information except for the information that the E-6 and E-3 had brought forward. LT ******’s concern was that we had little information beyond the story of the E-6 and E-3, both of whom had been drinking that night, and they did not in fact witness anyone actually physically taking drugs. The only information that LT ****** had was a story about drug symptoms and a baggie.
We were concerned, however, that our guys had called us ‘worried’ about the Mark V and Rib Det members. We very strongly suspected that there was a larger problem to be dealt with here. We wanted to root this problem out of our detachments, and suggested to LT ****** that the Platoons do the same.
On Saturday the Unit agreed to send some people out to conduct a urinalysis. For some reason that we do not understand, they were unable to conduct a Squadron-wide urinalysis. There was extensive debate as to how the urinalysis could be done, if it could be done only on suspected members, or if certain detachments should be targeted, etc. There was, to our minds, no reasonable solution except to do a urinalysis of the entire squadron.
When we left LT ****** at approximately 22:00 on Saturday night, it was not clear exactly what kind of urinalysis would be done. We felt that it was essential that we do a Squadron-wide drug urinalysis on Sunday because we had been told that ecstasy was prevalent in Thailand, the symptoms that had been described were consistent with ecstasy, and ecstasy was a drug that got out of the system very quickly. We thought that if we did a Squadron-wide drug test any later than Sunday, it would be too little, too late.
On Saturday night, ****** and Greitens approached a senior man in one of the Platoons. We were concerned about what we had heard about our men, and asked him what he knew or suspected about drug use in Thailand. While he did not have any direct knowledge of drug use, and had not seen anyone physically taking drugs, when we raised the issue with him it was apparent that he suspected a problem in the platoons. In particular, he was sure that ALFA Platoon OIC ****** ****** and several others had been using drugs. He was personally terribly disappointed in ****** ****** and resented that he had been put into this position. He told a series of stories about ****** ****** behavior both at work and on liberty that were out of character with what he and others had considered to be the number one OIC at SEAL Team One. ****** had, for example, dyed his hair orange and had both of his ears pierced and was wearing silver hoop earrings around the hotel. In addition, LT ****** had several confrontations with other SEALs out in town that seemed out of character and very unprofessional.
Ultimately this senior leader in the Platoons went to speak with LT ****** and told him what he knew and suspected about drug use in Thailand.
At some point over the course of Saturday evening/Sunday morning, ****** again questioned the E-4 who had been ordered to watch the door. The E-4 admitted that he had been at the bar, and that things had occurred exactly as the E-6 and E-3 had first described.
This gave credibility to the information that the E-6 and E-3 had been giving from the beginning.
On Sunday morning it was still uncertain what course of action the Unit and SEAL Team One Platoons were going to take. Greitens and ****** decided that it was essential that we make every effort to find out what was going on in our detachments. We called Commander ******, the Commanding Officer of SBT12. We informed him of the events that had taken place, and that we felt that it was necessary to begin an inquiry. He advised us to begin a preliminary inquiry, and to be certain to inform the men that they had the right to remain silent.
By Sunday morning, the environment at the hotel had changed. Greitens and ****** had instructed their men not to leave the hotel. They had informed their AOICs of their intentions, and everyone in the Squadron seemed to be aware of the fact that there was an inquiry being made into drug use.
Over the course of Sunday morning and early afternoon, Greitens and ****** conducted a preliminary inquiry into drug use in Thailand in their detachments. We had Chief ******, Chief ******, Chief ******, and IT1 ****** present. The details of this inquiry are available under separate transcripts and statements that we are sending. The important results are as follows. During the course of our inquiry it became apparent to us that there was what can be described as a significant drug problem in Thailand among Naval Special Warfare personnel. It became apparent that LT ****** ****** was the ringleader among NSW drug users in Thailand. HT2 ****** was the conduit between the Platoon drug culture and the Boat guys. ****** actively pressured and distributed drugs to men in the boat detachments. He actively targeted young, new SWCC operators, and in conjunction with LT ****** and men in the Platoons made them feel that using drugs was just ‘what you did’ in Thailand. The new operators were pressured incessantly to use, and were given the impression that drug use was cool, accepted, and even expected if you wanted to ‘fit in’ to the Naval Special Warfare culture. In addition, ****** detailed instances of intimidation and coercion, when, for example, he was told to stay quiet about what he knew, and was implicitly threatened if he told anyone about what was going on.
GM3 ******, HTFN ******, and DCFN ****** all admitted to drug use in Thailand. ****** and ****** used drugs once. ****** used drugs twice. They all three received their drugs from ******. They all three noted that ****** ****** was a presence in the drug scene at ‘Electric Blue’ and they all noted that they had seen other Platoon members using drugs and exhibiting drug symptoms. They named some individuals, but did not really know the names of many of the Platoon members.
Our general impression was that there were three broad groups of NSW personnel in Thailand. The first group consisted of men who rarely went out, did not drink or drank moderately, spent liberty time working out and going to movies, who went out into Pattaya’s walking street on occasion, but were unaware of any problem with drugs in Thailand. The second group consisted of a group of hardcore users who used ecstasy and Special K on a regular basis, many of them using it almost every night. These were the men who promoted and perpetuated the use of drugs in Thailand. The third group consisted of men who hung around and were part of the general liberty scene in and around Electric Blue. These men had varying degrees of knowledge about the drug problem. Some of them almost certainly knew or strongly suspected what was going on. This third group of men floated in and out of the drug scene, and some of them were pressured or persuaded by others, and ultimately chose themselves to use drugs.
As the picture of the drug scene emerged from this preliminary inquiry, we continued to inform LT ****** of our findings. LT ****** was at this time in Bangkok where he was making arrangements to receive personnel from the Unit and conduct a urinalysis. We were told that in order to conduct a urinalysis on NSW personnel we had to meet a “reasonable suspicion” standard. Because there was no investigation into the use of drugs by the Platoon leadership, the only information that was available to LT ****** was that which was found by Greitens and ****** in their inquiry which was focused on the Mark V and RIB Detachments.
On Sunday afternoon, 8 of the approximately 87 Squadron personnel were sent to Bangkok for urinalysis. This included ****** ******, two men from ALFA Platoon, the E-4 that had been ordered to set security on the door, and four men sent up by Greitens and ******. The men sent up by Greitens and ****** were ******, ******, ******, and ******.
Also on Sunday afternoon, Greitens and ****** were approached by LT ****** in the lobby of the hotel. He asked us, “Are you guys going to Bangkok tomorrow morning?” ****** told him that we were. ****** said, “Do you know why you’re going?” ****** said, “for the Cobra Gold scheduling meeting.” (There was, at that time, a meeting scheduled in Bangkok for Monday to discuss the Cobra Gold Schedule. Ultimately Greitens and ****** chose to stay in the Botany hotel in order to deal with the drug problem.) ****** said, “No. Do you know what’s going on?” Greitens said to him, “Are you talking about drugs?” And ****** said, “Yeah, so if you’ve got any of your guys that you’re worried about, you might want to let them know.” Greitens and ****** walked away from ******.
On Sunday evening, LT ****** called a Squadron meeting. At the meeting LT ****** introduced himself, forcefully reiterated the Navy’s zero tolerance drug policy, and announced that his own policy was that if anyone in NSW doing drugs, he had no tolerance for it, and those individuals needed a career change.
Sunday night we informed our administrative (SBT12) chain of command concerning the events that had taken place.
At this time we felt that a very incomplete investigation had taken place, and that further action was necessary. We discussed the merits of contacting NCIS in order to have a full investigation done, and we discussed our concerns with LT ****** and Commander ****** at SBT12.
On Sunday night, seven of the eight men sent to Bangkok volunteered to give a urine sample. ****** refused, and was then ordered to give a sample and did so. That night, ******, ****** ******, and the two men from ALFA Platoon stayed in Bangkok. The E-4 and ******, ******, and ****** returned to the Botany Hotel.
(The original intention was for ****** to fly to San Diego. He ultimately flew with ****** ****** and the two men from ALFA Platoon to Guam.)
It is important to state here that this account has been edited for clarity. It is impossible in narrative form to describe the type, number, and complexity of phone calls and meetings and requests for discussions that we were faced with. We spoke to many people on the phone throughout the day. We had many discussions with LT ****** ******, the task unit commander of the riverine detachment, LT ******, the AOIC of ALFA Platoon, the men in our own detachments, LT ******, Senior Chief ******, Senior Chief ******, and others. In addition to the men who were subjects of the investigation, men in our own detachment were feeling a great deal of pressure at this time, and requested counseling and guidance. Many of them came to us and felt that they had failed their brothers by not ‘being there’, by not noticing what was going on, or providing the right alternatives to the three young boat guys who eventually used drugs.
On Sunday, Greitens and ****** secured their men’s liberty until further notice and restricted them to the hotel and (if they were doing essential business) the boats.
On Monday, May 11, we attempted to spend most of the day transcribing the results of the preliminary investigations, informing people of the results, and discussing the best way ahead. This effort was constantly interrupted. Though, again, every conversation cannot possibly be recorded here, a more full picture of the scene in Thailand began to emerge.
It emerged, for example, that the owner of the Roof Top bar had seen NSW personnel using drugs in the bar. Their behavior was apparently so obvious and so inappropriate that the owner of the bar asked to speak to the “senior man”. She eventually spoke to a Chief and told him that she didn’t want any more of this behavior in her bar, or else she would contact the authorities. Apparently the Chief confronted ****** ******, told him that this behavior had to stop. Apparently the scene changed venues to the Electric Blue after that.
It emerged that ****** ****** and members of ALFA Platoon had previously frequented the TQ2 bar in Pattaya. The TQ2 bar is the only bar that was off limits in Pattaya. It was off limits because it is a known location for the sale of drugs, and because Special Operations personnel had contracted HIV from prostitutes working at the bar. Apparently LT ****** received a verbal counseling not to enter the TQ2 bar again.
Several men reported receiving cell phone text messages from ****** on Sunday night, and came to us to indicate their concern.
There were suspicions and allegations made that specific prostitutes were involved in the drug scene. Several people relayed to us a story that ****** had previously had a relationship with a Prostitute in Thailand, and had sent her a substantial sum of money over the course of the past year. ****** apparently intended to return to Thailand and renew and possibly begin a legal relationship with this prostitute. When ****** arrived in Thailand, however, he found that this woman was already involved with ****** ******. (This situation became even more confused when the prostitute’s fiancée (also apparently a member of Naval Special Warfare) returned to Pattaya on leave.) Other men began to claim that prostitutes had spiked their drinks with drugs, that prostitutes had told them that other men were using drugs, that prostitutes had driven to Bangkok in order to give ‘masking’ agents to the men sent there for a urinalysis, etc.
What should be clear is that there was a mess of questions, facts, concerns, and issues that began to come forth. Much of the information that came forth seemed irrelevant or superfluous, but some of it confirmed our belief that there was a serious and widespread problem in Thailand.
At approximately 1300 on Monday, word came down that all training in Thailand was cancelled until further notice.
During the day we had been told that members of the Platoons were blaming ‘the boat guys’ for ‘ratting’ on them. In order to put an end to this, and to end any speculation, we informed ****** who was then in Bangkok that we were going to call a Squadron meeting. Greitens and ******’s intention for the meeting was to inform the Squadron that there was to be no more finger pointing, and that if anyone in the Squadron had any issues with the chain of command being informed about drug use, then they should look to Greitens and ****** and no one else. We called the meeting for 1800, informed the Rib Det, Mark V Det, and SOC-R det, but were unable to contact the platoons, who were on liberty. The meeting did not happen.
On Monday evening, The Unit sent down a crew of men to conduct a Squadron-wide urinalysis. The entire Squadron mustered and gave a urine sample. This was 48 hours after the last day of liberty in Thailand, and seventy two hours since the original incident.
On Monday morning, Greitens had discussed the results of our investigation with ******, the JAG from Unit One.
Greitens and ****** had recommended to ****** that an NCIS investigation be started. Our concern was that though we were trying to follow proper legal procedures and do a thorough investigation, the scope of our inquiry was narrowly focused on our own detachments, no inquiry had been made into other NSW units, and our own inquiry was based on instinct. We had no professional knowledge concerning how to conduct this inquiry properly.
That evening, Greitens, ******, and ****** spoke with ****** about the possibility of beginning a more formal investigation. We relayed to him our concerns about the investigation up to that point.
We also found out on Monday night that GM2 ******, a SWCC member of the Riverine detachment, had used drugs in Thailand. GM2 ****** confessed his drug use to his OIC, LT ****** ******, before the urinalysis. At LT ******’s request, Greitens and ****** made arrangements to assist LT ****** with a preliminary inquiry. That night, however, the CO of SBT22 requested that the inquiry be postponed until the SBT22 administrative Officer was able to confer with the Group 4 Jag Officer. Ultimately, no inquiry was conducted in Thailand.
With GM2 ******’s admission, every unit in NSW in Thailand was involved in the drug problem in Thailand.
On Tuesday, May 11th, we made arrangements to send ******, ******, ******, and Watson to Guam. We spent most of the day making logistical arrangements, informing the chain of command of recent events, and writing this account of our activities. We also finalized transcripts from the preliminary inquiry and had those transcripts signed. We collected voluntary statements from those men who wanted to make them.
GM3 ****** requested that day that he be ‘protected’ from ******. He did not want to have to see or interact with ****** either in Guam or San Diego.
We want to state clearly again that this is only our account of a complicated series of events. Other people certainly have different perspectives, and we encourage them to share those with a wide audience. Again we reiterate that we ourselves have not witnessed any drug use. We have simply done our best to react to information given to us in the most appropriate way possible.
There are certainly other explanations for what has occurred here. We understand, for example, that LT ****** has explained that the baggie that the E-6 and E-3 witnessed was actually a baggie of lotion, and that when he went into the stall with the two members of ALFA Platoon, he intended to rub the lotion on a new tattoo that he had received on his stomach earlier that night. He explained that he ordered the E-4 to set security on the door because he was concerned about what he had seen the two members of ALFA Platoon doing out in town and he intended to confront them.
There are certainly other perspectives that people will wish to share about the events that have taken place in Thailand. We believe that the only way for the whole truth to ultimately emerge is for everyone to make honest and open statements.
There was a drug culture in Thailand among a substantial portion of Naval Special Warfare personnel. The OIC of ALFA Platoon, LT ****** ******, permitted, participated in, and promoted drug use in Thailand. HT2 ****** also permitted, participated in, and promoted drug use in Thailand. ****** acted as the conduit between the Platoons and the boat detachments and actively distributed drugs to junior members of his detachment and the RIB Detachment.
The Navy careers of at least three promising young SWCC have been ruined by this event, and their personal lives have (they feel) been shattered. These men must bear responsibility for their actions. We are certain, however, that none of these men would have actively went looking for drugs in Thailand. Drugs were made available to them by senior personnel who promoted the drug culture in Thailand.
Based upon what we know, LT ****** ****** and HT2 ****** should be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.
Naval Special Warfare must deal with this problem squarely. We must not look at this incident simply as ‘a drug problem in Thailand’. Nor should we look at it as ‘a few bad apples’. We have a failed culture that manifested itself in drug use. There will always be ‘bad apples’ in any organization. The real problem in Thailand was not with the ‘bad apples’ alone. A substantial part of the problem in Thailand was with all of the good men who did nothing. It was their indifference and inaction that provided the fertile ground in which this problem grew. Physical courage and moral cowardice is a losing combination for an organization that seeks to promote a ‘warrior culture’.
Avoid the temptation to apply easy solutions. We could secure all NSW liberty on every trip to Thailand. Such action, however, merely remedies the symptoms of the problem. Adults should be able to exercise the kind of practical wisdom necessary to discern the relevant factors in difficult situations and act appropriately. If we cannot rely on NSW personnel to act as adults, then that is the difficult problem that senior leaders must take seriously.
We will not be able to design any set of rules, regulations, or policies that will ever fully guard against similar abuses. The only real safeguard against such abuses are the decisions of good men.
The only redeeming factor in this entire incident was that an E-3 and an E-6 had the courage to stand up amidst a culture of willed ignorance. It is often the case that one man with courage makes a majority. Our E-3 and E-6 were men with courage, and they turned this situation around for NSW.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting our Veteran Editorial by becoming a SOFREP subscriber. Click here to get 3 months of full ad-free access for only $1