US Special Forces: time for their own Pearl Harbor moment?

I’m sure many readers are familiar with the “Communist at West Point” scandal that erupted some time ago.  It’s eerily reminiscent of the neglect into which many US military institutions had fallen at the time of Pearl Harbor, as we mentioned in passing this morning.  The consequences of such neglect were also visible in the accidents suffered by several US Navy Seventh Fleet warships over the past year, and the removal of several senior and Flag officers as a result.

However, not everyone is familiar with the devastating critique of US Special Forces that was released about ten days ago, purportedly by actual SF instructors.  If their allegations are correct, then US SF has become a hotbed of political correctness, cronyism and careerism.  Here are a few excerpts from a long document.

SWCS [Special Warfare Center and School] has devolved into a cesspool of toxic, exploitive, biased and self-serving senior Officers who are bolstered by submissive, sycophantic, and just-as-culpable enlisted leaders. They have doggedly succeeded in two things; furthering their careers, and ensuring that Special Forces more prolific, but dangerously less capable than ever before. Shameless and immodest careerism has, in no uncertain terms, effectively destroyed our ability to assess, train, and prepare students, or to identify those students that pose very real risk to Operational Detachments. I cannot stress how systematic and severe the effects on the force will be if the standards, recently implemented here in the Special Forces Qualification Course, remain in place.

. . .

In the last 24 months, Commanders and/or Sergeants Major at the Group and SWCS level have systematically removed numerous fundamental SF standards, lowered and undermined the grading metrics for others, all while simultaneously ensuring that a gagged cadre population was expressly prohibited from holding students accountable for their academic, physical, and character performance … The issue is that career-focused leaders, far removed from team life, have no ‘skin in the game’ and thus do not concern themselves with the problems inherent in employing subpar soldiers in a no-fail environment: where individual limitation creates team-wide catastrophe, often with international repercussions. Their responsibilities involve ensuring that yearly graduation quotas are met and that political agendas are enforced. They do not concern themselves with ensuring that students are capable of surviving the rigors of combat … Ignorance of their interference in this endeavor might be forgivable, but they have been told by the operational force numerous times what issues these policies would create, and chose career progression instead.  As you will read, this moral cowardice started in the preceding command, and is shared by every current Commander and Sergeant Major at the Group and SWCS level.

. . .

Students are being shown, time and time again, that the standards can be fudged. That failure is not a big deal. That if they fail they will get special treatment, or they can know the right person, or they can just try again; sometimes as often as 6 times before getting it right. We try to enforce that this is not so, that in Group you often only have one shot. But we can’t overcome the atmosphere of forgiveness and compliance that this place now breeds. The good students, through no fault of their own, don’t get taught the importance of first-time success. The bad students, visibly increasing in number, embrace it and are bringing it to Group. We are trying, but the commanders have the authority, and they are abusing it.

This is the next generation of Special Forces. In just a few years, most of our regiment will be a product of this foundation. We will become a brotherhood of parasites: devoid of any real character, feeding off of the achievements those before us earned, and consuming the heritage as a whole. We can cure it, but it needs to happen now. We need to take back ownership of our profession.

Help us fix this mess. The Regiment’s legacy depends on it.

There’s more at the link.  Essential reading for all concerned with the state of readiness of the US military.

One presumes that General Mattis, the current Secretary of Defense, has been made aware of these accusations, and is probably doing something about them already.  (He has that reputation, for which thanks be to God!)  One hopes that those who’ve systematically disgraced all that Special Forces should be will soon have their own ‘Pearl Harbor moment’, career-wise, and that these problems can be fixed.

(I might add that, although I’ve never been in Special Forces, I worked alongside them in a number of support roles from time to time in another country.  The selection and training standards there were very high indeed, aided by the fact that all those ‘trying out’ knew that they would be going into combat – no question about it.  Their future team-mates knew that, too, and made sure that those who made it through the selection and training pipeline were worthy to join them and be trusted with the lives of their comrades.  The dropout rate was sometimes astronomically high, but operational standards and exploits justified it.  For the compelling war history of one of those units, see here.  I’m here to tell you – that history is true.)



  1. Ditto on not having been in SF but knowing a lot of folks who have been or are. Was just reading that there is a debate about lowering standards in the SAS and SBS to allow more women to be selected. I'm almost speechless by that mindset, which will get people killed.

  2. The church leads the culture, and what the culture is, the rest of the subordinate microcosms become.

    "We will become a brotherhood of parasites: devoid of any real character, feeding off of the achievements those before us earned, and consuming the heritage as a whole."

    That sentence is an apt description of our country. We are like the corpse on display in a funeral parlor. It is on display to see that yes, there once was a vibrant, animated person. The peach colored lights and the flowers are there to obscure the obvious. Once the decay accelerates, there is no hiding the reality, and no lighting or perfume will change the gruesome and tragic change.

  3. I helped a SF gent train his Search-and-Rescue dog. Absolute pure 100% professional with a rather scary intensity. Until after we landed and I said, Um, do you mind if I as a sort of personal question?"

    Eyes narrowed. "What's that, Ma'am?"

    "Do you know how to crochet?"

    He stared, then started laughing, relaxed, and admitted that, no, he couldn't do crochet.

    I grinned. "Thank you, sir. I'm glad there's one thing you don't know how to do."


  4. SF has many enemies in the conventional forces -SF has had increasing budgets and could bypass procurement rules, when others have faced less money and a complex and unwieldy system.
    As is the DOD custom, others inside DOD are happy to blow up any scandal, so that they can prune SF and return that money for "Better" uses.

    This (and security rules) makes it very, very difficult for outsiders to see what is actually going on. Anyone writing or calling Washington about this would be well advised to ask for detailed response to specific questions.

    While some things are classified, you should expect answers as to changes. Is class size larger or smaller? Have entry requirements (test scores, background check, drug use waivers) been changed? What are the pass/fail rates for those entering SF training over each quarter of the last 5 years?

    By asking the right questions, you can get positive action. Letters saying "Make it like the old days" are unlikely to receive any real attention.

  5. I recall a discussion I had with an SAS sergeant about the value of Special Forces. A Guards sergeant claimed that the army could not afford the SAS and, horrors of horrors! they did not do parade ground drill well enough. This was after a tour in Malaya (as it was then) when the Guards had been issued with the M16 and the SAS wanted to get their hands on them. The Guards refused because they had not worked out the necessary parade ground drills to handle the weapons.

    A second SAS wallah said that to answer the accusation, he did the Drill Instructors course. Ater that waste of time, he stated that the Army could not afford the Guards.

    Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

    Phil B

  6. Tom in NC: "I'm almost speechless by that mindset, which will get people killed."

    and the women raped. Sort of a bonus for the enemy.

  7. I don't trust that Gen. Mattis is accomplishing anything of any importance. They are still sending women into the combat arms – which he could halt with a word. They are still letting trannies serve – which he could halt with a word. They are still dumbing down the standards and establishing quotas at every level for otherwise unqualified women and blacks – which he could stop with a strongly worded, single page memo. He could order the purging of the deadwood from the academies – and he has not. He has done nothing of substance – why should I expect him to suddenly cowboy up and show a political spine?

  8. McChuck: "They are still letting trannies serve – which he could halt with a word."

    Didn't Trump issue a Tweet ( aka executive order ) banning trannies, and didn't the Generals who's commanding officer Trump is supposed to be, immediately contradicted him?

  9. I'm waiting for Mattis to kick the women out of combat roles and get the transexuals out. Until that happens, I don't believe he is serious.

  10. I worked with SEALS in the gulf and was not impressed at all. They struck me as the biggest bunch of pussies I'd ever seen. You had to kick their ass to get them to do their job and they whined about it the whole time.

    Never worked with their Army counterparts.

  11. As a previous poster noted the Regular Army doesn't care for SOF. In a lot of respects SF doesn't help themselves with what seems to be a flagrant disregard for Army norms.

    I'm out of the loop now since I've been out a few years, but reading this it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it were true.

    Any time you have a quota to meet there will be someone willing to cut corners to meet that quota and if it gets them a bullet on their OER/NCOER so much the better.

    During my 10 years wearing the green beanie I met some guys who I considered awesome SF soldiers and others not so much.

  12. Peter, thanks for the link! I'll be exploring it further.
    The SA Recce selection process is indeed rigorous. The point at which I knew I couldn't hack it, even had I been South African at the time, was this:
    "Elephant, lion, and bush fires are among the problems of this final stretch."
    I can handle almost anything–among other things, I was a firefighter aboard an aircraft carrier–but those elephant fires sound terrifying! A burning lion might be as bad, or worse!
    –Tennessee Budd

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