I reported up the chain of command to Ryan Zinke before departing the SEAL Teams in 2006, while serving as the Naval Special Warfare sniper course manager. He was one of the few leaders I reported to as a Chief Petty Officer, that supported my decision to end my career early to spend more time with my family. I’ve always remembered this, and appreciated this about Ryan. Caring about your subordinates can’t be faked, and Z cared about his men, and we loved him for it.
The Problem with the New York Times
Similar to CNN’s fake news coverage, the New York Times, a once respected news organization, finds itself in a precarious situation with their editorial ethics these days. The editorial board of the Times have tasted the drug of sensationalism and they appear to have not been able to kick the habit post HRC propaganda campaign. Once respected unbiased reporting has been replaced with a targeted liberal agenda, add a dash of controversy and click bait, and season to personal taste.
We have entered the era of ‘News Entertainment’, and the New York Times has jumped in the pool eyes wide shut.
They went ‘all in’ with HRC, and lost on the final flop and have the appearance of being a sore loser wandering the casino floor mumbling obscenities. And instead of reflecting on what it means to truly report unbiased, they continue down the rabbit hole with their latest hit piece on Congressman Zinke. In this writer’s biased opinion.
State of the SEAL Community
Here’s a spoonful of medicine that’s a hard but necessary swallow for all us former and current SEALs.
Right now, the SEAL community is divided and ripe with controversy, with the recent Intercept War Crime piece on DEVGRU, it’s a community on fire. There’s no shortage of angry and jealous teammates lining up, torches lit, and ready to tear down good men for their success and accomplishments off the battlefield.
And it’s a shame senior SEAL WARCOM leadership hasn’t figured out how to effectively and positively deal with it in a way that would bring, a once close but, now divided, SEAL community together.
SEALs could learn from Army Special Ops
I have known incredible men that have served over a decade in the military; responsible for leading men in combat, managing multi-million dollar budgets, and flying some of the most advanced aircraft in the military inventory. Some of these same men, friends of mine, have struggled with the depression of a civilian transition. I can only describe it to civilians as very similar to serving a long jail sentence and being used to a very structured environment, and that world being thrown upside down with a sudden transition to the regular civilian world.
Some guys drive through this, and go on to do great things. Men like my friend Ryan Zinke. Then there’s some that fall prey to a much worse outcome.
Some of these men who don’t transition well, many who are dealing with internal psychological issues, are quick to point out faults in others, rather than reflect on making themselves better men. Another worse category, are the self-proclaimed ‘quiet professionals’ of social media like to name call and drop anonymous quotes to reporters. And there’s no shortage of reporters these days, eager to trade in on SEAL celebrity to meet their monthly page view quota. This type of reporting is very similar to traffic cops trying to meet their ticket quota.
SEALs could learn a lot from our Army SOF brothers about what it means to be a professional Special Operations Operator in and out of service. They mostly practice the golden rule, and if they do take issue, it’s always handled behind closed doors. Case in point, you won’t see a former Delta guy jumping at the opportunity to shit talk a fellow operator to a reporter at the New York Times.
Unfortunately success is always accompanied by her twin sister’s, jealousy and envy.
Zinke is the kind of leader America needs
Ryan Zinke is no stranger to success, and its byproducts as is this writer. I’ve had my own experience with the angry, and uninformed mob, quick to trade truth for hate fueled rumors.
The Congressman had a lapse in judgement years ago, he paid the price with a cap on his career advancement and he clearly learned from this and leveraged it into a successful career in politics. Zinke openly admits this in his book American Commander. And reporters for the New York Times, through no fault of their own lack of understanding, can’t recognize this for what it is. Instead of focusing on Zinke’s long list of professional accomplishments, integrity, and leadership, they choose to sensationalize. They call Z’s book “grandly titled”, and seek out a few former SEALs ready to line up and claim Z exploited his past as a SEAL. They are quick to pass judgement on a former Teammate, rather than support him.
People who build on their professional accomplishments in life have a career, those that don’t do this, and skip around a lot, just have jobs in life. The bullshit claim that any of us are exploiting our past as SEALs is as ridiculous a notion as expecting Michael Jordan to dodge his past career and success in the NBA when transitioning into business after basketball. Smart people build on their past accomplishments and leverage them. And the only SEALs applying for work outside of the Navy that don’t put “SEAL” on their resumes are either unemployed, or outright lying.
Great leaders stumble, they make mistakes, and they come out the other side stronger and wiser. My Indian friend runs a half billion dollar diamond and jewelry business, he told me about a saying they have in India. “You have to go through fire to come out pure and strong.”
President-elect Trump said this about Ryan Zinke when he was nominated as Secretary of Interior:
“I am pleased to nominate Congressman Ryan Zinke as our Secretary of the Interior. He has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues. As a former Navy SEAL, he has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win. America is the most beautiful country in the world and he is going to help keep it that way with smart management of our federal lands. At the same time, my administration’s goal is to repeal bad regulations and use our natural resources to create jobs and wealth for the American people, and Ryan will explore every possibility for how we can safely and responsibly do that.”
Zinke has been through the fire, and he’s just the type of leader America needs, now more than ever.
Image courtesy of WND