In response to the recent allegations made by three Navy SEAL whistleblowers to CBS News and information provided to SOFREP by our own sources, many readers chimed in to opine that the US military had been issuing amphetamines to boost the performance of soldiers in combat. We had never found any reputable sources who could confirm that Special Operations Forces had been issued such drugs, so it sounded like grist for the rumor mill. However, we do attempt to verify. Yesterday, a former member of the 75th Ranger Regiment came forward to detail a SEAL Team Six mission that he was called upon to support.
Recall that SEAL Team Six is oriented towards counter-terrorism operations and comes from a maritime background. This isn’t a ding against the unit, just a reality that they were not necessarily designed for light infantry operations in landlocked Afghanistan. Because of this, there are times when SEAL Team Six calls upon other units to help support their missions. In particular demand are Ranger machine gunners who can help lay down suppressive fire and bring some extra heat to the firefight. The Ranger SOFREP spoke to was a Mk46 gunner and was called on during a 2004 deployment to support the Navy’s JSOC element.
Four Rangers in total were detached to Six, two rolling out to recon the objective in low visibility vehicles while the other two went out in assault trucks. Halfway to the objective, the ground assault force pulled over to the side of the road. The mission was getting scrapped in favor of a new high priority target. The SEALs taped a map of the new objective area to the window of their vehicle and plotted out actions on the objective. Afterwards, back inside the vehicle one of the SEAL Team Six operators nonchalantly asked, “Doc give you any speed, yet?”
The Ranger was a bit confused by the question but replied that he hadn’t been given anything. The SEAL handed him a pill. The Ranger took it and reported that, “30 minutes later I was 100% focused and didn’t fall asleep until after the hit the next night.” Being given the anti-narcolepsy pill did not come across to the Ranger as being some illicit or wrong, but rather just as normal as when the Ranger medics issue Ambien to their platoon prior to a long flight.
Hitting the objective in low-visibility vehicles, the Ranger moved to cordon off the objective area. SEAL Team Six operators got up on ladders on the compound walls with sniper rifles. Within seconds of the explosive breach going off, everyone inside the compound was dead.
The question becomes who authorized the issuing of prescription drugs to keep the operators awake during operations. The Ranger said, “I can’t say how high up the chain of command it was authorized, but it was given to me the same as Doc would hand out Ambien or anti-altitude sickness pills.” Were the drugs blessed off on by the unit surgeon, the unit commander, a physician assistant, or just a medic qualified operator? Is it possible that SEAL Team Six operators got addicted to these issued drugs which led them to later abusing methamphetamine as has been reported to SOFREP and CBS News? If so, the Naval Special Warfare Command bears responsibility for this and for the operators’ rehabilitation.
“One thing I will never forget is waiting for exfil and looking down at one of the dudes who had been smoked in the head and watching a chicken peck at the entry wound as if it was trying to pick up food off the ground,” the Ranger remembered of that mission with SEAL Team Six. “Even the DEVGRU guy said he’d never seen anything that fucked up before.”
Lead image courtesy of DOD.