Head of Navy SEALs Says 'We Have a Problem' Following High-Profile Scandals

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Collin P. Green gives remarks Dec. 1, 2017, during a promotion ceremony at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, where he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (upper half). (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite/RELEASED)
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Collin P. Green gives remarks Dec. 1, 2017, during a promotion ceremony at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, where he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (upper half). (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite/RELEASED)

Some Navy SEALs are failing to maintain good order and discipline, and their one-star commander is warning them to clean up their behavior.

Rear Adm. Collin Green, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, sent a letter to his troops the day after a SEAL platoon was ordered out of Iraq amid reports of a sexual assault and drinking in the war zone. Green says he's not yet sure the elite force has a "culture problem," but they do have a discipline problem that "must be addressed immediately."

"We have a problem," he wrote in the one-page letter dated July 25, which was first reported on by CNN. "... Good order and discipline is the foundation for every military organization and it is a leadership responsibility. As Commander, I own it. ... We must now take a proactive approach to prevent the next breach of ethical and professional behavior in our formations."

Green ordered all Naval Special Warfare commanders to call their troops into formation, whether deployed or stateside, within two weeks of the letter.

"I want all hands to understand that 'we have a problem' and that this is our main effort and my top priority," Green wrote.

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Green also ordered his commanders to develop a plan of action for restoring discipline and making sure the special warfare community's culture is in line with the command's ethos.

"I expect good order and discipline to be instilled and maintained by everyone in NSW," he said. "I know our leaders ... are fully capable to take this on."

The platoon getting booted from Iraq was one of several recent high-profile incidents involving Navy SEALs. There have been reports of cocaine use in SEAL Team 10 and allegations that a member of SEAL Team 6 spoofed someone to get nude photos.

Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher was recently found guilty of wrongfully posing for a photo with a human casualty. And two other SEALs -- Chief Special Warfare Operators Adam Matthews and Anthony DeDolph -- were brought to trial over the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, with whom they were deployed. Matthews was recently sentenced to a year in prison for his role in Melgar's death and DeDolph will go to court this month.

Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, who was confirmed to serve as the next chief of naval operations on Wednesday, told lawmakers this week that he is determined to get to the root causes of the recent scandals in the special warfare community. He pledged to holding people accountable and addressing any cultural problems in the ranks quickly and firmly.

"Ethics is a particularly important point for me, and that begins at the top with my leadership," Gilday said. "...It's especially important in combat that those values be maintained."

Green told his leaders that Navy SEALs must never take for granted the trust the American public places in them.

"The responsibility for ethical and professional behavior must be taken seriously -- by everyone, at every level of our organization," he said.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com, Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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