I don’t know former SEAL Bickle, a Navy SEAL convicted of smuggling, and I will not opine about his reputation or service.  He may have got caught up in a series of bad decisions, who the hell knows.  I do know that no former SEAL teammates testified on his behalf and this is very telling in itself.

Often what happens in the SEAL Teams is that there is such immense pressure from the top to keep personnel numbers high (as can be anyway) that it’s difficult to shit-can guys (e.g. remove them from the community) that are known problem children.

I’ve experienced this twice in my career; sub par performers recommended for fleet (regular Navy) launch and no support from above. These guys end up burning in (parachute that doesn’t open…”he burned in…”) like Bickle or worse, they get someone killed or kill a teammate, as was the case recently with an Army Special Forces problem child who killed a good man.

“It’s a leadership problem, fix them”, senior leadership often says.  Not trusting your senior NCO’s to make the call is a HUGE mistake in these matters. These are your operational experts and can spot a dud a mile away. Usually they are the first to give guys one or two chances if they fuck up, and if they are finally recommending that a SEAL’s Trident be pulled then you’d best listen. Don’t and you may find that all our good work will go down the drain with tabloid headlines and you’re down a man anyways.

A wise Vietnam era SEAL once told me this when I was a new guy at SEAL Team 3,  “you can’t make ice cream out of shit”.

Words to live by.

Not a good day for the community and hopefully all senior leadership will learn from lessons like these and listen up next time a senior NCO makes a recommendation to pull a qual.