Editor’s Note: The op-ed below is from a former Navy SEAL and friend of TheBlaze, who has asked to remain unnamed. The Op-Ed is a response to the upcoming book “No Easy Day,” which gives a first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The upcoming book is co-authored by a former Navy SEAL under the pseudonym Mark Owen. The SEAL has been identified Thursday, and many news outlets have published his name. TheBlaze has not.
Mark is a legend. He’s the operator’s operator. He’s a leader and a perfectionist. He’s the quiet professional completely dedicated to God and country. Which is why it makes what he’s done so devastating.
Now I know how General Washington must have felt the moment he discovered his most trusted general had compromised his commitment to liberty for all in favor of happiness and riches for himself. Washington must have wept for his friend and he prayed for his soul because he knew that Benedict Arnold would be tormented by his actions the remainder of his life. Living with a compromised character is the definition of hell on earth.
It took me all of two text messages to figure out who wrote the book, and in an instant my heart was broken. I’m still conflicted. I’m mad but I don’t want to be. Part of me understands why Mark did what he did, but there’s another part of me is so disappointed it makes me physically ill. Every SEAL I’ve spoken with feels betrayed by his actions. He’s loved by his brothers, but forbidden to ever stand within their circle again.
When you wear the uniform you are required to be above politics. Take, for example, General McChrystal. He was betrayed by all that is wrong with the American media political complex and he went quietly. The pundits were frothing at the mouth for him to lash out and pit his character against the commander in chief’s character in a death match, but he refrained. He simply marched out to the gallows in the public square and paid the man. Why? He is a man of character. He understood that his actions were a reflection of the long gray line from which he came. He mounted no defense because he understood that it wasn’t his place to defend himself against his elected bosses.
The American people expect this from their military members. It gives them hope. As twisted as it may seem to some Americans, there needs to exist a group of people who will say nothing more than “yes sir” when it comes to the defense of our most sacred ideas. This level of commitment to the ideals is what holds the country together. It’s modern day seppuku.
At a time when the country needed something, anything, we killed bin Laden. America won. Good triumphed over evil. Bin Laden was unanimously agreed upon as one of the most evil human beings to ever walk the earth, and his demise was celebrated like the U.S. Hockey team winning the gold in the 1980 winter Olympics. The night the president announced that bin Laden had been killed, America was a nation again — for a day or two.
When President Obama met the team who killed OBL he didn’t dare ask who pulled the trigger, and if he had, they wouldn’t have said a word. The operators were all given the same award for that mission. That’s the way it was supposed to be. You ask for nothing and you are prepared to give everything. Anyone who serves should expect nothing. We are all going to be wronged and failed by the system. It’s government bureaucracy, that’s what it’s designed to do; fail. That’s part of the relationship. The moment you believe you’re entitled to anything other than opportunity, you’ve compromised the founding principles of this country. You should be proud to have had the opportunity to have served her, especially if you served at a time of war, and especially if were granted the opportunity to possibly die in her defense. Your reward will not come while you walk the earth.
It’s hard not to be bitter at times, especially as you watch the American sense of entitlement grow exponentially while its sense of contribution, service and sacrifice dwindles. The further those ideals drift from one another, the more likely they will eventually meet in violent collision. Ten years of war without rest creates a hollow place inside you that cannot be filled by anything on this earth and it’s easy to allow the bitterness and hate build inside you.
The American military must remain a living example of the purest form of American ideals. Entitlement leads to weakness and weakness facilitates dependency and dependency is the mother of tyranny. When you are hard and disciplined you can be principled. People fear you because they have no leverage against you. It’s the truest form of liberty.
Every advancement and tactic developed and tested in war since the beginning on modern warfare contributed to the success of that mission. That mission was a unified effort by a diverse group of people who came together and triumphed over a common enemy. Killing bin Laden was the epitome of what a free nation, guided by sound principles, can accomplish when backed into a corner.
No other group of people has blindly thrown itself into the vortex of war like the SOF community in this war against Islamic extremism. We’ve been given an opportunity to serve in a tremendous capacity and that is how it should be viewed. When you need to leave the service, just leave. Ask for nothing, be humble, be proud, be free and love every minute of your life knowing you offered a sacrifice on the alter of freedom and God let you continue on the earth.
Mark, the men who stood next to you should have been everything you needed. Now we weep from your betrayal and we pray for your soul.