The senior leadership of the Navy’s SEAL community—the commander and force master chief of Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC)—have officially, and preemptively, responded to the upcoming Fox News appearance on November 11 and 12 of a former SEAL Team Six member, labeled in an Esquire Magazine article as ‘The Shooter,’ who appeared in the press claiming to have been the operator who shot Usama Bin Ladin in the 2011 raid that killed the Al-Qaeda leader.
In a letter signed by both the senior commander and enlisted man of Naval Special Warfare Command, the SEAL leadership emphasized that the majority of SEALs spend each day living up to the label “quiet professionals.” Unspoken is the implication that the former SEAL, who is in fact, former Red Squadron SEAL Robert O’Neill, is seeking notoriety for his own story.
The two SEAL leaders go on to point out that members of the Naval Special Warfare community not only serve alongside other U.S. military members, but also other U.S. government agencies and foreign allies. “Little individual credit” is ever given, according to the letter, due to the “nature of our profession.” The two also point out the years of hard work that go into operations like the one that targeted Bin Ladin, seemingly defying one or two individual shooters’ claims on the glory and fame that result from the success of such a mission.
The point they make is that it took so much more than the final trigger pull to kill Bin Ladin, so why should one SEAL assume the moniker, “The One Who Killed bin Ladin?”
Leaving little doubt of the disdain that they, and others in the community, feel toward breaches of the SEAL ethos, Rear Admiral Brian Losey, Commander of NSWC, and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci state that violators of that ethos “are neither teammates in good standing, nor teammates who represent Naval Special Warfare.” They reiterate that a central part of the ethos is not advertising the nature of their work, nor seeking recognition for particular actions. One can easily pick up on the apparent shaming in the letter, directed toward O’Neill, which is hardly subtle.
The letter is also likely directed at former SEAL Team Six member Matt Bissonnette, who wrote No Easy Day under the pen name “Mark Owen,” detailing his role in the Bin Ladin raid. Bissonnette is reportedly set to again appear on the television news show 60 Minutes, discussing his role in the raid. He will also no doubt address, or be asked about, O’Neill’s claims.
Finally, the SEAL leaders point out in the letter that revealing classified information is a violation of the law, and that the command will actively seek “judicial consequences” for members who violate the law. This seems to be a broadside directed against both Bissonnette and O’Neill, as well as any other current or former SEALs who might consider in the future selling their stories of highly classified operations.
What follows is a copy of the letter sent from the NSWC leadership to the Naval Special Warfare community.
The letter has most likely created less unity and more strife among the active duty and veteran SEAL community. So much so that former Navy SEAL and FBI Special Agent (also a frequent FOX news commentator) Jonathan Gilliam felt compelled to write a direct response to Admiral Losey himself.
“Please explain to our community how sending an open letter to your “Teammates” through the press, preaching about the quiet professional, was somehow the proper example to your fellow SEALs.
Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) has a list of who we are. The UDT/SEAL Association has our emails. Instead, you chose to further the unprofessional and dysfunctional perception growing in the public’s eye by flexing your pen in a public forum. Perception is reality regardless of the incredible community we actually are. Your inability to enforce the rules and set standards within the Navy is the biggest hindrance to our brand, even more than any other particular SEAL. You proved it by sending that letter publicly.”
Read the letter in full here.
If you liked this article you may also want to check out SOFREP’s piece on the difference between SEAL Team Six and Delta Force!
(Featured Image Courtesy: San Diego UT. Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, left, salutes his replacement, Read Adm. Brian Losey, right. At center is Adm. William McRaven..)
(Editor’s Note: The video that originally accompanied this post was taken private on YouTube, so we’ve removed it from this story.)