Well there's been a hell of a stir about a video called "dishonorable disclosure" put out by a group of Spec Ops troops (SEALs Green Berets MARSOC, Force Recon and CIA spooks) that was predominately about two major points. The first, and the most important is to cease the leaks to the media for "political" purposes. The second part of the video is entirely about the POTUS taking too much credit for the actions that lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. A lot of controversy has swirled around this video and it really calls into question the role of the military.
The first thing that needs to be understood is that despite all the assertions of the anti-war crowd, Soldiers are not idiots. It is often seen as a form of simple minds that the military mentality is very black and white, with little grey area, but people tend not to understand that Soldiers understand moral grey areas greater than most of the so called "philosophers" that think us so simple. That we often tend to simplify things, makes people think that we're simple. When I was at the pointy end of the spear I had a better view of what was going on in Iraq, so it was absolutely flabergasting to hear people back here telling us what was going on over there.
Now, being a servant of your country, unable to choose where or when you go to war, does not mean that you don't have opinions about what is going on. In fact you tend to have very strong opinions about how this campaign or that should be prosecuted. Indeed you should hear what Privates will say about their superiors. Just because these opinions are not voiced in every forum like members of society are opt to do now, does not mean that these opinions are any less vehement, or deeply held. Indeed Service Members have one of the most unique views of America. In a lot of ways they are on the inside, but they are also often in the outside looking in, and our view is one a lot of Americans would not like lest it shine a light on their own actions.
So what about the actual video? Well as I pointed out over at the Rhino Den, the Leaking has got to stop. It happened a lot during the Bush and Clinton administrations as well, but this administration has released some truly jaw dropping things that really astound me. While I am inclined to believe that some of the leaks in the Clinton administration were political, I think there are a lot of Woodward and Burnstien wannabes that got a little too chummy with people who really ought not say anything. With the Bush administration I think that a lot of the leaks were more because of personal disagreements, or what not. But this administration. . . I can't even begin to fathom why, why they would leak some of the things that have been leaked. How the hell would I know the freaking dog's name that was on the raid? One can guess the reasons for the leaks, but enough is enough.
From releasing that we have committed active cyber warfare with Israel against Iran, to the Drone "kill list" it's pretty clear that this administration can not keep its yap shut about anything, and if I was exasperated about Bradley (sorry Brianna) Manning I'm purely disbelieving about the risk this admisnistration has put us in. I believe in transperency, but it appears national security is the only place that this administration feels the same, and thats the one place you really don't want to be transparent. Remember the old saying loose lips sink ships? Well the Taliban are not a bunch of dumb yokels in a cave. They have satellite TV, and phones, internet you name it. If its in the news at all, they know about it, so on this point the group is absolutely right and saying what a lot of us all feel.
Then there's the "I" statements. This is one of those things that I can understand a lot of SMs and most especially operators bristling at. The President did not do anything but sit in a chair while the raid happened, and there's even strong evidence that he might've delayed this raid two or even three times. There is also anecdotal evidence that there was a political plan to make Admiral (sorry General) McRaven the fall guy. This is entirely in keeping with the old saying "victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan". This point is a little more tricky as, they're not putting anyone lives in danger by taking credit for the raid. While I too bristle at how the POTUS treats the military, this is entirely his privilege as Article II of the Constitution we all swore to support and defend, states.
Which leaves us with one last question. Should they have mad this video. I can only give my opinion here, but, yes. I agree that it is coming at a time that people will take a lot more notice and is somewhat suspect because of the obvious partisan connection being made, however the point that the leaking has got to stop HAS TO BE MADE. Where the metal meets the meat, a single word at the wrong time to the wrong ear will cause a lot of people to die. I could cite actual operations where bad OpSec lead to higher than anticipated casualties (See the Ploesti Raid in WWII), and I could point to whole campaigns where bad OpSec doomed the people fighting it from the very beginning (the battle of the Atlantic after the Enigma code was broken). Simply put, if these Operators and Secret Squirrels hadn't put out this video, who would?
The divide between the military and the civilian population is unbelievable. Twitter is perhaps the best example of how the public doesn't get security at all. Every five seconds of someone's life (even if they're an annon) is there for anyone to see. In war, that'll get you killed. With WWII Veterans slipping into senility and dying at a rate of about 1,000 a day, and Korean War Veterans not far behind, all that is left for America to ask about the meaning and breadth of War are those Vietnam, Desert Storm and OIF/OEF Veterans, actually willing to speak about it.
If Veterans, regardless of position rank or service, do not speak up about operational matters, Hollywood will go on making crappy movies that will misinform the public about what we actually do. This will lead to situations when actual honest to God wars happen, those that fight it will be improperly employed which will result in another sadly predictable disaster. Showing their faces is a risk, and while it is breaking greatly with tradition, the divide has gotten so great that out of desperation they took drastic measures. It is a shame, but this is what we've come to.