There I was, no shit, on the very last day of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, in a state of indescribable euphoria that my six-month voyage through hell was about to come to an end. My 26 classmates and I, out of over 110 who started in the class, including the only two enlisted men who started and finished with our class (plus eight of us officers) had but one simple task left to complete. We had to get through a physical training session on the BUD/S grinder with our graduation guest speaker, then-Navy Captain (SEAL) Bob Harward.
At the time, then-Captain Harward was the commanding officer SEAL Team THREE, I believe. He might already have moved on from that job. Either way, we all knew that he had been the Honor Man (top overall performer) of his BUD/S class, and we knew him as a “hard” dude. In other words, we knew he was in pretty damn good shape, and no slouch. And yes, there are some Team guys who do not stay in top physical condition, comparatively speaking, after BUD/S.
We students, however, were coming out of BUD/S Third Phase, and finishing up the toughest military training program in the world. How hard could his PT be? We had been tortured for months and we were not really afraid of anything or anyone who was not wearing a BUD/S Instructor t-shirt. Could it really be that bad?
Let me spare you the suspense: it sucked bigly.
Captain Harward was a machine. He was super-human, and rocked out pull-up after pull-up, followed by push-up after push-up, without let up for over an hour. Then he took us on a soft-sand beach run and smoked almost all of us. I think one or two of our top runners were able to beat him, or maybe just keep up. I was too far back to see, if I remember correctly.
It was nothing short of awesome.
I tell this story to introduce you to now-retired Navy Vice Admiral (SEAL) Robert S. Harward, one of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ most trusted deputies during the latter’s time in uniform as a general officer in the United States Marine Corps. Admiral Harward served as the Deputy Commanding General under then-General Mattis at the (now defunct) U.S. Joint Forces Command and Mattis was so impressed that he brought Harward over to be his deputy at U.S. Central Command for his next tour.
It is not often that you will see a Marine Corps general take a SEAL Admiral on board in this way, as a trusted deputy at multiple major commands. It speaks to Mattis’ trust and confidence in Harward.
And why shouldn’t he have utilized Harward? The man had credentials. He served as the Deputy Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), served on the National Security Council as the director of Strategy and Policy for the office of Combating Terrorism, was the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group ONE (NSWG-1), and SEAL Team 3.
Harward also served as an assault team leader and operations officer at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), and served in multiple combat command roles in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Per an article he wrote for the Huffington Post, as an aside, Harward also supports integrating women into combat roles in the U.S. military, and grew up the son of a naval officer and graduated from the Tehran American High School in Iran (prior to the revolution and fall of the Shah). A fascinating man, indeed.
So, that brings us to this question: does Secretary Mattis have a civilian role in mind for this trusted deputy, to serve under him in his new position as the head of President Trump’s Defense Department? It remains to be seen, but it is probably a relatively safe bet, as long as Mattis and his superiors feel Admiral Harward is a good fit, politically.
Let us hope that they do in-fact come to that conclusion. We would all be well-served with former-Admiral Harward at the Pentagon.
(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy).