Following my interview with the father of fallen Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn and subsequent articles on the issue of Extortion 17, I purchased a copy of Billy Vaughn’s book titled Betrayed: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father. As I am about halfway through the book, I have already come across information that needs to get out into the public via FreedomOutpost.com. With that in mind, two days after Thanksgiving, Mr. Vaughn called me, and I made sure it would be OK in making this first post as well as other posts to follow. This is a lengthy post, but America needs to know what her Special Forces are having to endure under the current administration and how they are being demoralized, ultimately making them less, shall we say, “special.” That is using the SEAL’s words below.
The following is a letter the Vaughn received from his son Aaron in 2010, just before he was killed aboard Extortion 17 in Afghanistan, along with nearly 3 dozen Special Forces in what was the largest loss of life in the Afghan War. Mr. Vaughn is not sure if Aaron wrote it or if another SEAL wrote it and so he simply says that the author is anonymous. I suggest reading my interview with Billy Vaughn for some background that is relevant to what is being said first, if you have not read it. If you wish to purchase Betrayed: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father, click here to order a paperback or electronic copy.
With the permission of Billy Vaughn, here is the raw version of the letter (pgs. 76-82).
Death of a Team Guy
“Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.” These are the final words in the Navy SEAL code. Whether or not you agree with the “code,” no SEAL can dispute those words, and no one within this community can deny that our “proud tradition” and “feared reputation” are quickly disintegrating before the entire community’s eyes, and I for one will not sit idly by and remain a part of this painful transformation. The “devils with green faces” have traded their devil horns for high-and-tights and their green face paint in for shaving cream. Our community is made up of some of the toughest and smartest men in the military, but we are losing our identity and our respect day by day. Identifyi8ng the problem is easy for most of us.
The first problem, and this is obvious to any frogman, is the insatiable demand for political correctness and sensitivity within the military in general, including the sacred SEAL teams. What’s most disgusting is our willingness to oblige these ludicrous demands that go against what I believe are the very core of what we are supposed to be. Once upon a time “SEAL” was feared, it meant warrior. Now it just means sailor.
Simply stated, men are turning into women not only throughout American society, but throughout our armed services as well. Our leaders have become too weak to stand tall and shoot straight. We no longer opt for the most sensible and practical approach to war; we now consider what those outside our community will think or say if we do this instead of that. The fact is that our leaders are forced to choose between what’s best for the task and what is politically correct, or what is best according to? The politicians and the emasculated. Our morals have been shelved so that we may cater to those weak few who shame masculinity and preach peace & forbid harmony. Well God forbid that the United States Military look bad in the eyes of these flag-burners, after all, if these people don’t like us, who then will they ask to come on television and talk about military strategy on CNN during a war? Let’s be honest here, winning the war is important, but it is nowhere near the top of the military’s list. If it were, I might be writing this essay on the combat-proven effectiveness of tactical nukes in OIF or something…
Did we join the SEAL Teams to do battle for America or to add a check in the box for our personal resume? To kill terrorists or make rank? To be “squared away” or to destroy evil? Many of us are here for the wrong reasons. It isn’t difficult to see who is here for the right reasons and who has their priorities straight, and it is those that are here as patriots and warriors are the men we want to lead us and follow us to no end, not the future admirals and CEOs; the difference is obvious. What kind of a warrior wants to go into battle led by a man who would rather put a bullet in his FITREP than put a bullet in a bad guy? It’s men like this who have taken the SEAL teams from the most respected of outfits with unimaginable potential to just another military unit who settles for what’s best for those holding the reigns, not those pulling the sled.
Some guys are more excited to put the trident on their resume than on their chest. That isn’t who we want making decisions for the team, but that is exactly who holds the strings, largely. I realize now that most of the great leaders in our community who the men most respect, are being flushed out of the teams faster than you can say SRB. These are the leaders that we will follow into battle with passion and pride and without remorse.
What’s even stranger is that these men seem to be the ones with the most heart and passion for our cause. Out of the 47 graduates from my BUD/S class, only 23 re-enlisted after their first hitch, and most of these guys are the best of the bunch. But surely if they’re such great men and devoted patriots they would stay and serve as long as possible, right? Not true; it’s just too heartbreaking to stay and be tied down and restrained for another deployment. Then why are these great men going away? Because greed and politics are taking over, and those who fight for what is morally right as opposed to fight for themselves are hung out to dry and left in the dust; because they spent more time trying to write up their boys for awards and not enough time writing themselves up.
Most of the guys that do stay in do so only in the interest of going to Dam Neck. The hope is that maybe Dam Neck is what we all thought the teams would be. What seems to be the most frustrating point is that everyone sees the potential of the teams, but we simply aren’t fulfilling this potential. Some of the reasons for this are completely out of our hands, but most are easily within our realm to change. It’s easier to stick with what has always worked. It’s easier to be conventional, and that’s exactly what we are; we’re a really, really good conventional force. We have unarguably the most difficult and demanding training known to modern militaries, yet our standards (post BUD/S) seem to be no higher than the next group’s.
The whole advancement system just plain sucks, and if something doesn’t change, being a SEAL in the Navy will soon be as common as being a paratrooper in the Army. Our leaders shouldn’t be evaluated and promoted based on self-written reports we know as FITREPs. In this community, we evaluate each other every day, and we should advance in rank based on merit which is given to us by our brothers and not based on how pretty the words are on a self-descriptive brag-sheet. That is what matters. Instead, the prettiest eval gets the ticket to the next pay-grade, despite the fact that the peer consensus of who should become leaders and who should go away are near opposites to who is, in fact, being promoted. I hope one day I am sitting before a commanding officer at a mast because I wore black socks instead of white.
My loyalty is my honor
Team guys nowadays are getting reamed for not maintaining a professional appearance. Our profession is war, and we should look like warriors. We aren’t in the profession of looking good, we are in the profession of killing people and destroying things; so while you’re standing in front of the mirror polishing your boots, counting your ribbons, and looking good, the men will be in the field or in the gym or God forbid, beating some pinko’s ass at the bar… In a brotherhood of warriors, you are only as strong as your weakest man. Well, we are letting weaker men slip through the cracks every day. Soon it is going to bite us in the ass.
There is a distinct difference between the Navy and the Navy SEAL teams. If a man spent 10 years in the Navy before getting through BUD/S and into the Teams, he would still be a new guy, regardless of his rank, because this is a different community. We have lost sight of what makes us different and special, and we are conforming to the standards of others, and forgetting about those set by our fathers and brothers before us. In fact, as a community, we have completely forgotten… If we accept the fact that most of our leaders believe that form takes precedence over function, then we can all be one family again, and we can reward each other with silver stars after deployment even though all we did was sit in the TOC and complain about bad comms.
Excuse me for arguing with the idea that the most prudent “go, no-go criteria” are ensuring good comms with people in the TOC who have no control over the actions on/ or having a neat, attractive ‘PowerPoint’ presentation for the mission briefs when really we could have spent that time getting ourselves ready to kill Muslims. Without these two elements (comms and Powerpoint), SEALs simply cannot operate; even if they have 90 people on target full of bullets, grenades, piss, and vinegar.
Who decided that we needed more officers in the teams? Moreover, who decided that we needed more “operators” in the teams altogether? We don’t need either, holy shit! The enlisted men run the teams?!? Bull-fucking-shit; not anymore. The enlisted guys either paint their noses brown and enjoy 20 years of good evals, or keep their blood red and spend their careers fighting a losing battle. They have only two options and if neither of these is viable, goodbye Navy. Some people want to believe that we haven’t lowered our standards, but it’s so easy to see that we clearly have and continue to do so.
It’s alright though; we’ll just flood the teams with more bodies and all our prayers will be answered. First, we’ll lower the standards at BUD/S; then we’ll make it so painfully difficult and time-consuming to take someone’s bird away, that it will be nearly impossible. Then, we’ll lower the standards of everything else in NSW and instead of 2,000 special operators, we’ll have 5,000 operators. Who needs special anyway? The army doesn’t like special and unconventional, so let’s just throw that crazy shit out the window and paint the green cookie cutter blue and gold and call it ours.
I am my brother’s keeper.
Tim Brown is the Editor of Freedom Outpost.