Inconvenient fact: If you peel back the onion and focus on the facts, you will see that the most vocal military veterans on the internet, the ones who scream the loudest, triggered by their own insecurities as they fall into full Budweiser induced retard mode, likely didn’t serve so well. And some didn’t serve at all!
Military professionals who transition well, build their fellow veterans up. They realize that exemplary behavior brings honor to the veteran community at large. Anyone who does differently should be viewed with caution.
So be careful who you look up to on social media because we all become what we surround ourselves with.
Lecture over. Onto Memorial Day.
Since the 9/11 attacks over 50,000 U.S. service members and contractors have been wounded in combat and over 6,000 have died according to the Department of Defense. Memorial Day is meant to honor those who gave all.
On this Memorial Day we are going to remember the three Green Berets and one support soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice in Niger in 2017.
But first, we have to explain the significance of Niger and one of the most controversial posts we’ve made on this site.
On March 4, I woke up early. I grabbed a work out and shower, sat down at my computer and found that my inbox and social media feeds were on fire.
The messages were about a video we’d released about an ambushed Special Forces team in a land-locked African country most politicians couldn’t find on a map: Niger.
While I take full responsibility as the CEO of the company for what was published, I had no idea that the editorial team, run by Jack Murphy at the time, was going to put out a video that would soon turn out to be one of the most controversial topics we’d cover. A topic that would rip off the thin scab on the American psyche regarding how warfare is treated back home.
Our mistake was clear to me as soon as I clicked play. Our editorial team had slapped a big SOFREP watermark on the edited version we released. The way we presented the video was clearly not very respectful, given the context and gravity of the situation, and could be seen as self-serving.
After talking to Jack, it was also clear that the intent was honest: The purpose of that video was to draw attention to the fact that we had U.S. forces in Niger and that war isn’t a Call of Duty video game. Real men die in faraway places, sometimes for not much of a cause. That’s the brutal truth for those that are willing to hear it.
So I said, “roger that,” and agreed with Jack that we’d stand by the piece but begin to fix our mistake on how the video was presented.
Over 50,000 people signed a petition to have us take down the article and video. We kept it up. Then the usual suspects showed up and capitalized on people’s pain and confusion to drive their own agenda.
They said things like, “SOFREP is using this video to make money.”
We lost millions of dollars in subscription fees by taking an editorial stand with that video and I’d do it all over again.
SOFREP doesn’t exist to be popular.
We don’t always put out feel-good stories and we don’t’ take down articles because they upset people. The Editors are clearly pro-military and pro-America but sometimes you have to publish hard stories that are going to rock the boat.
At the beginning of the site’s history, we used to get emails and calls from junior public affairs officers begging us to take stories down because they didn’t have the blessing of a particular command. They would soon stop calling for all the reasons I explained above, and which I also explained to them. When you put out hard stories you are going to upset people. It comes with the territory.
Those who contribute to SOFREP have all served honorably, an average of ten years. Most have been in combat. We believe the first amendment is as important as the second.
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill
For example, this site was one of the first to raise serious issues around war crimes that have happened since 2001. I personally have had several phone calls with USSOCOM senior representatives. I pointed out to them serious issues that were disclosed to SOFREP, by credible sources, related to force on force murder (yes murder), rampant drug abuse, embezzlement of taxpayer money through overseas receipt forgery, and much worse. As you can imagine this was not popular with my own community and made me plenty of enemies. Some of who continue to spread false information about myself and this site to this day.
Returning to the subject of the Niger video: the public outrage that ensued had its flames fanned by the usual suspects who have long trolled me and the site with their own self-interest and insecurities as motivators.
Does it feel good to get trolled? No, it doesn’t, especially when my kids and family are dragged into it. Do I understand that it comes with the territory? Yes, and I’ve made my peace with this a long time ago. I also used the experience as a lesson for my kids when I explained to them that taking a stand for something is always hard, usually unpopular, and will come with some bumps and bruises.
So SOFREP stood behind the Niger ambush video, knowing we would pay a heavy price for it.
The Editors knew we had struck an important nerve in the American public. Nobody wants to see American heroes die horribly in a YouTube video. But sometimes we have to take off the blindfold to make the world a better place.
We lost subscribers, we lost friends, we lost supporters, we lost writers on the site. Yet through all of it I’m proud that we stood up for a very difficult story and piece of history that would have been long forgotten had we not kicked the hornets’ nest.
And at the end of the day we gained new subscribers, held onto the ones who understood us, and gained more supporters in the long run. It wasn’t the “Death of SOFREP,” as many of the usual military gossip queens shouted out.
A few months later a family member of one of the Green Berets reached out to us over email. He expressed how difficult it was to see the footage, but supported our elevation of the Niger issue — an issue that had been long forgotten by the American public before we resurfaced it.
The families’ outreach and the public elevation of the Niger ambush would help ensure that a full investigation was conducted by the Department of Defense. The investigation would end up addressing poor leadership and putting corrective action in place that would inevitably save the lives of future operators. This is why, occasionally, you have to take an unpopular stand.
The work we’ve done at SOFREP has contributed to multiple Congressional investigations that have ultimately made the military more accountable and stronger as a result. It has also got us banned on most military servers. It turns out that SOFREP is the mirror many senior military members don’t want to look into.
As for me personally, when you make mistakes in life you just have to own up to them and take full responsibility. I continue to live by this ethos as does the team at SOFREP.
So the Editors and I owned our mistakes publicly. Internally we took corrective action to make sure that going forward we had a sound editorial board in place to ensure that sensitive stories were released with the thoughtful dignity they deserve.
When Niger comes up these days, Nick Coffman, our Editor-in-Chief, and the rest of the writing team cringe. It’s understandable. We all suffered publicly and privately for it but we are also stronger for it.
Every day is Memorial Day for the writers on this site who’ve lost many friends in war and after the war to suicide.
However, this Memorial Day I personally wish to honor the memory of the three Green Beret and one support Soldier who sacrificed everything that hot day in Africa. They died doing what they loved, so that Americans can sleep peacefully at night, have a barbeque with their families over the weekend, worship their God, and kiss their children on the foreheads and wish them a goodnight.
“De Oppresso Liber”- To Free the Oppressed.
More relevant today than ever.
Rest easy Gents, you are not forgotten.