The head of the U.S. Special Operations Command is ordering a top-to-bottom study of the military’s special forces community amid a rash of alleged misconduct that has focused attention on the normally secretive world of America’s elite fighting forces.
Army Gen. Richard Clarke said the review will focus on how special operators are recruited, educated and trained and how units address ethics failures. He said “recent incidents have called our culture and ethics into question and threaten the trust placed in us.”
Ken McGraw, a Special Operations Command spokesman, said the review was ordered Friday and is expected to be completed in November. The inquiry will see two teams created.
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The first will comprise military leaders — with some in the Special Operations Command — who will form an advisory panel. The second will be a review panel made up of members of the various military branches of the command.
The review panel will go out and gather information from the various operations units – which includes the Army Rangers, Green Berets, Army Delta units, Navy SEAL teams and special warfare units, and Marine and Air Force special operators.
To retain an independent view, members of the Army Special Operations Command may gather information on the Navy SEALs, McGraw said. The review panel will then turn over its reports to the advisory panel.
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The inquiry comes at a time when America’s special operations units have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In July, a SEAL platoon from SEAL Team 7 was ordered back to the U.S. from Iraq amid charges of drinking and sexual assault. In a statement, the SOC said there had been a “deterioration of good order and discipline.”
In early July, Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was acquitted of killing a teenage ISIS militant in Iraq. He was found guilty of taking a picture with a corpse. Two Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders are also accused of hazing an Army Green Beret to death during a deployment in Africa.
Ex-Green Beret Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is expected to be tried in the killing of an unarmed suspected Taliban bombmaker in Afghanistan almost a decade ago.
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The review will be the second ordered by Special Operations Command leadership this year. Former Gen. Tony Thomas ordered an internal review before he retired in March.
McGraw said the advisory panel will take the results from Thomas’ review into consideration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.