When Bureaucrats Play War, Our SEALs Pay the Price

  • Post category:Opinion

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Heroes. Patriots. Warriors. These are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when I think of our military, especially our SEALs. However, we have recently been led to believe that our nations greatest fighting force is in turmoil. Is this reality though?

If you were to gather recent headlines and formulate your opinion based solely on that, you would probably agree – there is a problem with the SEALs themselves. They are portrayed as undisciplined and slacking by today’s media, and sadly, the top brass. In the world we live in, however, you are foolish to take headlines and one-off statements as fact. You need to do research and find out what is actually taking place in the hearts and minds of our nation’s mightiest heroes.

As a civilian, I won’t begin to surmise what is taking place at ground level in the platoons themselves. Thankfully, we don’t have to guess. In an open letter to Navy Command, former SEAL Carl Higbie takes us behind the curtain to reveal what is really going on in today’s U.S. Armed Forces. On his website, Higbie released the letter titled: “Former Navy SEAL’s Open Letter to Navy Command: ‘SEALs Aren’t the Problem, it’s the Leadership.'”

From Higbie’s own account, the problems at the root of it all have very little to do with the SEALs themselves but many of the commanders above them. Too many have turned their eyes from the missions and men to instead focus on rank, status, and their careers. The problem doesn’t end there, however. Everything comes from the top.

“An observer might look at this as “what is wrong with the SEAL Teams” but the real question is; what is wrong with the leadership that has taken the word of terrorists, politicians and over zealous Navy attorneys or investigators that are selling our brave soldiers out?”

Former SEAL Carl Higbie

It’s unfathomable to me that many in military leadership would allow their priority to switch from the soldiers they lead to appeasing the bureaucracy, but it appears that is exactly what has happened. A glaring, recent example came to light when President Trump requested the Navy to rescind medals for the failed prosecutors of Eddie Gallagher. The Navy appeared ready and willing to throw Gallagher under the prison, keeping him in solitary confignment and stifling his ability to defend himself. The call of the politicians and bureacrats seemed to heavily influence the case more than the actual evidence. Gallagher was tried in the court of public opinion long before a jury eventually cleared him of the six serious charges, only to charge him with the most minor of the seven and time served.

From the outside looking in, it appears that the handling of the Gallagher case, which cost him thousands of dollars and his good name, was a bureaucratic show and not a push for the truth. Higbie dealt with his own ‘fight for truth’ in 2009 only to be acquitted of all charges. Sure, he didn’t face formal punishment, but was court-martialed, paid countless legal fees, and dealt with unnecessary stress simply for serving his country admirably. It was chalked up to nothing more than ‘the price of justice’ and normal practice, but how is that acceptable?

Edward “Eddie” Gallagher via AP

Our military men and women enlist to defend freedom at all costs. Until recently, they knew that their actions, if working to that goal, would be defended by their superiors. The mission was clear: America first, always. What changed? From my point of view, many in positions of power have traded loyalty to our troops and the ‘mission’ in for winning political points or appeasing the loud minority. In many cases, our servicemen and women are treated as pawns, easily discarded at the first sign of trouble. Left to hope that ‘justice’ works in their favor.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am never going to condone wrongdoing if there is evidence to prove that it occurred. Even our SEALs need to be held accountable, a point that Higbie himself makes, if they are in the wrong and there is proof. However, by making every single action and decision they make a possible court-martial, you endanger their lives. Indecision on the battle field is deadly – and that’s exactly what this creates, indecision.

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Former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie

Former SEAL Higbie breaks it down perfectly. “When it comes to the battlefield, cut us, and quite frankly any other solider who is willing to die for their country some slack. Every troop should go into battle knowing that no matter what, their commander is behind them if they have to pull that trigger. That is not the case now and it is destroying the military.”

America, would you rather have an inspection ready, rule abiding unit or a rough bunch of men ready to kill bad guys to protect our freedoms? I know where I stand, let’s cut our guys some slack.

Former SEAL Carl Higbie

My only question: why is this happening and how do we fix it? For too long it seems that we have allowed politicians and bureaucrats to be the arbiters of war, something they often have no understanding of. “The brass of today has forgotten that they trained us to be war fighters not politicians,” Higbie said. “We are rough around the edges, scrappy, many of us love to party, sometimes arrogant and occasionally impulsive but we get the damn job done and that should be the most important thing,” he wrote.

Higbie ends his letter with a line that encapsulates the issue perfectly: “Get the lawyers off the battlefield and if you unleash the dogs of war do not be surprised if we bite.” Politicians and bureaucrats are destroying the military in the name of social justice, political points, and misplaced priorities. For far too long the American people have sat idly by and watched this happen to the greatest among us. No more. It is time to speak out. Let our warriors be warriors and our politicians be politicians. We don’t have a “SEALs problem,” we have a bureaucracy trying to play war and our SEALs are paying the price.

Bradley Brewer
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