Since their creation in 2006, MARSOC Raiders have been an invaluable asset to the Marine Corps and USSOCOM with countless examples of bravery and excellence on the battlefield. It comes as a surprise to many that MARSOC regularly balks at the chance to lean into the truth and provide complete transparency when asked by the media about high-profile cases involving their warriors. Isn’t that what Americans and Raiders alike should expect from an organization with such a storied history of brotherhood and faithfulness?

The current Commanding General (CG) of MARSOC officially assumed command on June 26, 2020. As a result, he assumed the role of convening authority for the MARSOC 3 case involving three Marine Raiders falsely accused of manslaughter for what video proves to be self-defense.

For those unfamiliar with the MARSOC 3 case, in Erbil, Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) on New Year’s Eve, 2018, with permission to leave base, the three decorated Marine Raiders were assaulted by a drunken civilian contractor, Rick Rodriguez, after he instigated a verbal confrontation. Video footage shows Rodriguez, a retired Green Beret, acting so aggressively that he was thrown out of the establishment. Footage also shows that he decided to wait outside in the path of the MARSOC 3 as they later exited and were walking to their vehicle. After Rodriguez had thrown his third punch, one of the Raiders stepped in to defend his fellow Raider from receiving additional harm and knocked Rodriguez out with one punch. Rodriguez’s group of friends either left or stood around not knowing what to do. The three Raiders brought the contractor back to base for observation.

Chief Eric Gilmet watched over Rodriguez through the night and into the morning. After having been relieved early that morning by a base contractor, Gilmet was called back to find that Rodriguez was now unresponsive. Rodriguez was then transferred to a hospital in Germany where he died four days later of complications arising from his intoxicated state and from having choked on his own vomit.

During the subsequent Article 32 hearing, video evidence and testimony from the lead investigator confirmed that Rodriguez was the aggressor and sole instigator in the incident and that the Marines did not use excessive force, nor did they attempt to obstruct justice. Despite that evidence, MARSOC leaders have contradicted their own core beliefs by neglecting to support the accused and their families, punishing the accused by taking away pay, and suspending their security clearances. Furthermore, by sending the accused to a general court-martial — which carries the most severe punishment — despite video evidence that shows self-defense, and by inexplicably including charges that were found to have no grounds during the Article 32 process.

After media questions were submitted to the MARSOC Communication Strategy & Operations (CommStrat) office several weeks prior to the summer change of command, initial responses were provided stating that they would answer questions as soon as the new commander settled in. As weeks and months passed, the command would occasionally respond to follow-up requests for status updates by indicating that they were working on it — but the answers never came.

While there are dozens of other emails spanning nearly five months during which the command promised answers, the emails shown below highlight how from early July through August the command never kept its word in spite of eventually admitting that it “actually sat down with the boss today.”

Requests submitted to MARSOC after the August 18 email (shown above) were initially ignored but then took an interesting change in tone. The command suddenly indicated that they didn’t have answers to my questions despite previously saying they would send them by the “end of the week.”