The following is an interview I conducted with former teammate Chris Sajnog. Chris and I worked briefly at the sniper course together, it was great to catch up with him again as we haven’t spoken in years, other than through our correspondence as fellow board members of the Navy SEALs Fund.


BRANDON: You and I served at the sniper course together right before I put on Chief. I have a ton of respect for you standing up to our old Master Chief friend when he was having a negative impact on the staff. You stood up for the guys when few people would. I talk about this in my memoir, The Red Circle, but just want to give you credit again.

I know your career took a hit for taking this stand, but in my eyes you did the right thing, and ultimately, it weighed into my own decision to stand up for the guys after you left, and made a huge difference when I came forward with similar complaints about bad leadership issues. If I remember correctly, our “friend” was offered to retire or take orders to Bahrain! Without getting into too much drama, can you tell me what your thoughts are regarding situations like this at work, and how important it is to stand up for what you believe in, but also being respectful of leadership?

CHRIS: Thanks Brandon, I appreciate your support since unfortunately back then, I didn’t have any. It was one of the few times as a SEAL I was actually given the excuse, “Because he’s a Master Chief, and your not!”

I think most people would not imagine this type of leadership existed in our community, but at the school house, it was a different world. My Navy career did take a hit for standing up for what I (and the guys who worked for me) knew was right. It’s why I was a Chief for nine years, with no chance of making senior. But I wouldn’t change anything I did or said in a million years. I may have opted to crush that weasel’s skull with my fist when – as I was cleaning out my desk – he says, “No hard feelings.” What a turd. The good news is that in the end, the community realized I was right and he was shown the door.

As for its importance, I don’t think there is anything more important than standing up and doing or saying what you know is right. Now, I very well may not be the right guy to ask. Look what it did to my career. I know a lot of guys I respect in the teams who have tamed their tongues when it comes to leadership, and they are fast-tracked for advancement. Maybe it takes both types for a community to succeed, but I spent my junior years in the teams saying, “When I’m a Chief, I’m going to raise the bullshit flag!”

BRANDON: Can you give the SOFREP readers a little background on your career?