Instructor: XXXXXXXXXX Abstract On the evening of May 2, 2011 President Obama and a group of his military and political advisors sat around a war-room table in the White House, shrouded in total secrecy and awaiting the most important radio transmission of the entire War on Terror. The tension in the room was surely palpable. The room of the most powerful men and women in the nation instantly exploded into celebration in response to a Navy SEAL radio transmission simply stating: “for God and country, I pass Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.
Geronimo, E-K-I-A”. The transmission was the code word for Osama Bin Laden and the letters at the end of the transmission stood for “enemy killed in action”. The ten year hunt for the world’s most dangerous man was finally over. The men who conducted the raid were silently held as heroes. News was instantly leaked from all corners of the Department of Defense and details poured out. Flash forward to 2012. A Navy SEAL team member who was involved with the historical mission to take down Osama Bin Laden is said to be facing espionage charges from the Department of Defense for a tell-all book about the mission.
The SEAL claims that he has divulged no classified details and a nation is left wondering when is the veil of secrecy that these men operate under acceptable to be removed? The history of the United States Navy Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) teams dates back to the World War II and the creation of the Navy’s Scout and Raider and later named Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). Formed in 1942, these teams were elite warriors tasked with going in behind enemy lines before a major assault force landed and systematically weakening the enemy’s defenses along the beachheads that the primary occupation force would later breach.
The most famous of these missions is arguably the selfless work performed by these UDT teams that would turn out to be one of the keys to the success of the allied forces landing on Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944 (“SEAL and SWCC Official Naval Special Warfare Website”, n. d. ). The UDT teams would transition into the unit presently known as the Navy’s SEAL’s in 1962 by order of the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The SEAL’s would prove to be invaluable assets to clandestine warfare during the height of the Cold War when tensions between superpowers ran high and peace was a tightrope walked by all players.
The result of a military blunder during the Cold War could have easily spelled a nuclear war and changed the face of the planet and the human race forever. The War on Terrorism thrust the American military from a long peace into a bloody and fearsome war. Many countries in the Middle East that claim an allegiance with the United States were hesitant to stand up next to it for fear of internal civil unrest or an overthrow of their government. The terrain that the enemy hid in ranged from sprawling desert to ice capped mountains and everything in between.
Enemy combatants who would face American troops in Afghanistan would hide across the Pakistani border and cross into the country only long enough to attack and then slink back to the safety of Pakistan. The need for clandestine operations was suddenly a paramount once again. Intelligence assets from the CIA to the United States Air Force Reconnaissance Wing worked tirelessly around the clock for years on end collecting and no doubt feeding information to Special Operations units like the Navy SEAL’s.
Over a decade of bloody warfare many successes would come in the way of overthrowing the Taliban leaders responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that started the war. The number one target, the man responsible for leading the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, had eluded captured, however. On the evening of May 2, 2011 the White House announced that President Obama would be addressing the nation that night. At 11:35 President Obama told the world “Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden”.
The world rejoiced. And then America began to ask questions. SEAL teams operated under a veil of thankless secrecy since beginning of their days. For many years the United States government flat out denied the existence of such elite warriors and very little was ever known about them. Several books in recent decades have been written by former SEAL’s showcasing not the tactics and classified details of their operations, but the grueling training and selfless sacrifice that these men endure.
After the raid on the Bin Laden compound, the White House released the details to the media that the operation was carried out by Navy SEAL’s. The official version of the events was released to the media and immediately scrutinized by anyone and everyone who cared to. Detailed accounts of the events would be publicized that directly contradicted the official accounts of the story from journalists and retired Navy officers alike. There would be absolutely no recourse from the White House at these accounts.
Early 2012, however, a publisher announced that a book was set to be released on September 11, 2012 written under the phony name of Mark Bowen that was a first-hand account from a SEAL team member on the ground the night of the raid on the Bin Laden compound. The White House immediately began to lash out against the book and members of the government began to talk publicly about espionage charges against the Navy SEAL. The ironic part of the whole deal would be that the book and the official story mirror each other saving a few minor details.
The real issue then would not be that there were accounts that differed from the current White House Administration, but the fact that a book was being written by a SEAL team member at all. Retired Lt. General James Vaught would publicly lash out about the release of information claiming “the media attention would serve to alert the enemy and one day they would be ready for the SEAL’s when they flew in on a new mission” (Davis, 2012). Fox News would go so far as to release the real name and even personal address of the author of the book.
The most peculiar part about all of backlash of this book is that it is not the first time that a Navy SEAL has authored a book. “Former SEAL Team Six commanding officer Richard Marcinko published a wildly popular memoir in 1993, which detailed the founding, selection process, training, and other details of the U. S. Navy’s elite counterterrorist unit” (Hunter, 2011). There accounts in Bowden’s (real name intentionally withheld) book do not divulge tactics, classified details, or even sensitive material.
Bowden is donating all of the proceeds of the book sales to the families of fallen SEAL members. Bowden claims that the whole reason that he wrote the book was to highlight the rest of the men and women who were crucial to the takedown of Bin Laden. For any member of the United States government to come forward and mention espionage charges against an American hero is ludicrous unless they were to hunt down every SEAL member who has ever published a book. The world having limited knowledge of the SEAL’s is a good thing.
Fear in the heart of our enemies is a great deterrent. REFERENCES SEAL and SWCC Official Naval Special Warfare Website. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://www. sealswcc. com/navy-seals-history. aspx Hunter, T. B. (2011). Tips of the Trident. A History of the U. S. Navy’s Elite Counterrorism Team Since 9/11. Journal Of Counterterrorism ; Homeland Security International, 17(3), 26-30. Davis, P. (2012). The Selling of The U. S. Navy SEALs: America’s Newest Heroes are the Tip of the Spear in the War on Terrorism. Journal Of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security Int