The head of the Navy’s SEAL Teams sent a letter to his commanders telling them “We have a problem” in bold type following reports of disciplinary problems across the elite force.
Rear Adm. Collin Green’s letter, dated July 25, gave his subordinates until Aug. 7 to detail any problems and offer recommendations on how they will improve discipline and ethics across their teams, according to CNN.
“I don’t know yet if we have a culture problem, I do know that we have a good order and discipline problem that must be addressed immediately,” Green wrote.
Green said that “some of our subordinate formations have failed to maintain good order and discipline and as a result and for good reason,” the Navy’s special operations’ culture “is being questioned.”
The SEALs have made national headlines this year with several alleged disciplinary issues ranging from unethical to illegal. Most recently, members of SEAL Team 7 were sent home from Iraq due to allegations of sexual assault and drinking, a violation of orders that ban alcohol use while deployed.
The trial of Special Warfare Chief Edward Gallagher, a member of SEAL Team 7 who was accused of war crimes, found that members of the unit had taken pictures with the corpse of a dead ISIS fighter and had a makeshift bar on the roof of their base while deployed to Iraq in 2017. Their commander, Lt. Thomas MacNeill, reportedly drank with his subordinates and “played DJ.”
In another example, a Navy investigation found that members of SEAL Team 10 used cocaine and other drugs while stationed in Virginia last year. They reportedly avoided getting caught by cheating drug tests — when they got tested at all.
The incidents have caught the attention of the Pentagon’s top leadership. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper spoke with Gen. Richard Clarke, the head of U.S. special operations forces, about disciplinary problems and how they can be addressed.
Michigan Democrat Gary Peters asked Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, President Trump’s nominee for chief of naval operations, about the problems reported in the SEAL community during Gilday’s Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday. Gilday said he intends to look into the problem and address any root causes.
“I will say that ethics is a particularly important point for me,” he said. “It’s especially important in combat that those values be maintained for all the reasons that we understand so well.”