On Sunday June 7th, the New York Times published an 8800-word epic article called “SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines.” The online version of the piece features GIFs, maps, large photos, video set, a glossary, a video interview and no less than six reporter bylines. That’s a huge amount of information about a unit that doesn’t officially exist.
While the reporters are careful to give a lot of background on SEAL Team 6’s notable sucesses (taking out Osama bin-Laden, rescuing commercial sea captain Richard Phillips, Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch and Dr. Dilip Joseph), what they’re really investigating is JSOC’s use of SEAL Team 6 in an intelligence role in cooperation with the C.I.A. and whether those missions have adequate oversight.
That’s a complicated question with no easy answers and a discussion that conflicts with the popular culture image of SEAL Team 6 as the military equivalent of the Avengers or the X-Men. Should a unit designed for tactical rescue be involved in “advance force operations” (a/k/a military intelligence)? Should there be outside oversight of Team 6 or should the operators be trusted to make their own decisions about appropriate field methods?
Whether or not you agree with the newspaper’s conclusions, this is a must-read piece for anyone who cares about U.S. Special Operations. Check it out and come back here to discuss below.