Despite a series of misconduct and unprofessionalism incidents, the Trump administration continues to put faith in the Navy SEAL community for the top defence and intelligence positions.
According to a report by Politico, President Donald Trump is considering former Navy SEAL Lou Bremer for the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC). In a nutshell, whoever holds the position is responsible for all things concerned with America’s Special Operations Forces (SOF).
The Department of Defence (DoD) describes the duties of the ASD SO/LIC as the “principal civilian advisor to the Secretary of Defense on special operations and low-intensity conflict matters. The ASD (SO/LIC) has as his principal duty overall supervision (to include oversight of policy and resources) of special operations and low-intensity conflict activities… In addition to policy oversight for special operations and stability operations capabilities, the ASD (SO/LIC) has policy oversight for strategic capabilities and force transformation and resources. As such, ASD (SO/LIC), after the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, will be the principal official charged with oversight over all warfighting capabilities within the senior management of the Department of Defense.”
Should President Trump decide to go with Bremer for the ASD SO/LIC position, it will be another testament of trust to the Naval Special Warfare community. Recently, Army General Richard Clarke, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), was the guest speaker in the graduation ceremony of SEAL Qualification Training Class 322.
During the ceremony, General Clarke had said that “you can be sure that we will continue to ask our SEALs to accept the most difficult missions. This will challenge you in ways you cannot anticipate, and you need to be ready now. We count your success here as assurance of your courage, your competence and, most of all, your character. I know that all of you are sufficient for the task.”
Policymakers, however, have had their fair share of concerns about the troublesome Naval Special Warfare community. Senator Gary Peters (Democrat-Michigan) highlighted during the nomination hearing of Vice Admiral Michael Gilday for the post of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) that “these issues seem to not be isolated to one team and are being reported from units stationed in California and Virginia, which certainly raises a level of concern.”
Senator Peters, who is the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Service subcommittee, which is responsible for overseeing Special Operations, and a former Lieutenant Commander (O-4) in the Navy Reserves, was referring to the incidents of unprofessionalism and misconduct that have been stemming from the Naval Special Warfare. More specifically, he was alluding to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), also known as SEAL Team 6, which has been a significant source of drama since the successful operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Additionally, SEAL Team 10 recently faced a drug-scandal that involved a large number of operators. And SEAL Team 7 has had its fair of the spotlight first with the war crimes case of Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher, then with the Fourth of July shenanigans of Foxtrot Platoon, and finally with the recent firing of the Team’s entire senior officer and enlisted leadership.
Bremer has held a number of important positions both in national security and private industry. A homeland security aide during the presidency of George W. Bush, Bremer is currently the Managing Director of Cerberus Capital Management. He served as a Navy SEAL from 1992 to 2000, reaching the rank of Lieutenant (O-3). He’s known for his hard-charging and care-free attitude.
Although no one questions his credential, a potential appointment could give the wrong message to those who are trying hard to heal the cultural wounds of the SEAL community.
In August, President Trump appointed Retired Vice Admiral Joseph Maguire, another former SEAL, as Director of National Intelligence (DNI).