The commander of the Navy SEALs, the elite special forces unit who killed Osama Bin Laden and rescued Jessica Buchanan, is being criticized by a retired Lt. General of the armed forces for his media spotlight and publicizing special operations tactics.
Admiral William McRaven is currently the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He was told by retired Army Lt. General James Vaught to get the hell out of the media. Vaught believes that the constantly publicity puts the lives of American soldiers at risk. Vaught scolded McRaven at the National Defense Industrial Association in Washington, D.C., for the attention the elite troops were receiving.
Since the time when your wonderful team went and drug bin Laden out and got rid of him, and more recently when you went down and rescued the group in Somalia, or wherever the hell they were, they've been splashing all of this all over the media, said Vaught, 85, according to ABC News. Vaught then recounted a tale about how the special operators extracted Saddam Hussein from his hiding place in a hole. He said that the unit did not say a word and told a local commander to take credit.
Now I'm going to tell you, one of these days, if you keep publishing how you do this, the other guy's going to be there ready for you, and you're going to fly in and he's going to shoot down every damn helicopter and kill every one of your SEALs, said Vaught. Now, watch it happen. Mark my words. Get the hell out of the media.
Before his retirement, Vaught was a lifelong member of the military. He served in World War II and Korea. He was part of the Tet offensive during the Vietnam War. He eventually worked his way up to the ranks to become the commander of the Special Forces unit that attempted to rescue the Iranian Hostages in 1979.
McRaven responded to Vaught by telling him that it is difficult to avoid media coverage in today's 24-hour news environment. He objected to revealing the sensitive information, but he said the media could be useful to the American military.
The fact of the matter is, there have always been portrayals of SOF [Special Operations Forces] out in the mainstream media, he said, according to ABC. We are in an environment today where we can't get away from it. It is not something that we actively pursue, as I think a number of the journalists here in the audience will confirm. But the fact of the matter is, with the social media being what it is today, with the press and the 24-hour news cycle, it's very difficult to get away from it.
In the past year, the Navy SEALs, especially the elite unit SEAL Team 6, has received heavy media attention. Now, a new movie will be released that stars actual Navy SEALs next month called Act of Valor. Academy-Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow is also filming a movie about the Bin Laden raid.
McRaven also said he expects special operations forces to be the last to leave Afghanistan, even with continued media attention.
I have no doubt that special operations will be the last to leave Afghanistan, McRaven said. As far as anything beyond that, we're exploring a lot of options.