“Send us the Goddamn cold-weather equipment we ordered from supply. Signed, Freezing in Fucking Afghanistan.”

This message was sent to the Commanding Officer of SEAL Team 3 by my platoon Chief in December of 2001.

Sometimes leaders have incredibly tough decisions to make. Especially when traditional channels of communication aren’t working. In rare cases going outside the normal chain of command is required to get the required attention when normal channels have failed.

This is what Captain Brett Crozier faced when the coronavirus was spreading like wildfire across his ship, putting the lives of his crew at risk. “We aren’t at war and these sailors don’t need to die unnecessarily”, was the message he was trying to convey but fell on deaf ears.

My platoon Chief did the same thing that cold December morning in Kandahar, Afghanistan. By hitting send on that email, directly to the CO of Team 3, he bypassed our platoon commander, and the chain of command, putting his career at risk. Why do this? He was taking care of his men.

How did it get to this?

Our platoon had ordered specialized cold-weather gear as we were tasked with doing high altitude mountain missions (SEAL TEAM 3 was a desert platoon!). The equipment that we ordered did not come. Instead, we got a box of random cold-weather gear. Initially, we didn’t care, something had come! Turns out our supply department reps went to an outdoor store and just dug through the “sale” bin, and tried to match our list with the on-sale items to save their budget. So when we happily dug out the sleeping bags we were shocked to find that the bags were kids sized and wouldn’t fit a grown man! Among other shockers…

Our Chief got an apology from our CO, and we got our cold-weather gear. Thank you, Commander Curtis, for the gear, AND for being a great leader when pressed by our Chief.