By any measure, Navy SEALs have had an extraordinarily prominent role in our national security over the past decade, from their sacrifices in the field that resulted in several SEALs, Michael Murphy and Michael Monsoor receiving the Medal of Honor, to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips held by Somali pirates, to the takedown of terrorist Osama bin Laden.
And much of this has been captured in the media, from prominent movies like Act of Valor and Captain Phillips, to a flurry of books like Chris Kyle’s American Sniper, to SEALs running for office. But now many Navy SEALs are questioning whether their fellow warriors should be “cashing in on the brand.”
In recent months, the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif., which oversees the elite force, has told its men to lower their profile and tried to rein in public appearances by active-duty members. The Pentagon imposed a rule last September restricting the appearance of service members in video games, movies and television shows. Current and former members have widely circulated a pointed critique — titled “Navy SEALs Gone Wild: Publicity, Fame, and the Loss of the Quiet Professional” — that laments the commercialization and warns that it is doing harm.
“The raising of Navy SEALs to celebrity status through media exploitation and publicity stunts has corrupted the culture of the SEAL community by incentivizing narcissistic and profit-oriented behavior,” Lt. Forrest S. Crowell, a SEAL, wrote in the critique, his master’s thesis for the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Partisan politicking and public disclosure of tactics, he added, “erodes military effectiveness, damages national security, and undermines healthy civil-military relations.”
Read more about this issue – one that played out on the front page of the New York Times: