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Navy Seals Disciplined For Revealing Secrets As Consultants On Video Game 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the box-of-rocks dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "CBS reports that seven active duty members of SEAL Team Six, best known for killing Osama bin Laden, have been disciplined for revealing secrets working as paid consultants on a video game, Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The game does not recreate the bin Laden raid, but it does portray realistic missions, such as an attack on a pirates' den in Somalia. Electronic Arts boasts that real commandos, both active duty and retired, help make its games as realistic as possible. EA says Medal of Honor Warfighter was 'written by actual U.S. Tier 1 Operators while deployed overseas,' and that it 'features a dotted line to real world events and provides players a view into globally recognized threats and situations letting them experience the action as it might have unfolded.' It is unclear what secrets members of SEAL Team Six gave away, but while serving as consultants for the game, they used classified material which had been given to them by the Navy and also violated the unwritten code that SEALs are silent warriors who shun the spotlight. 'We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as Sailors in the United States Navy,' says Deputy Commander of Naval Special Warfare, Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli. 'The non-judicial punishment decisions made today send a clear message throughout our Force that we are and will be held to a high standard of accountability.'"
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Navy Seals Disciplined For Revealing Secrets As Consultants On Video Game

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is not about secrets.

  • Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tim12s (209786) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:15AM (#41930959) Homepage

    How on earth can the military staff haemorage their IP for the sake of an ef'fing book deal. There is too much public information on public deals that put military operations and lives at risk. The whole point of military superiority is based on an advantage of forces as a result of numbers, skill, training, tactics, operations, etc. I know that, as a geek, I love reading aircraft, lazer, and weapons development trials and developments but c'mon. All the US people are doing is destroying its own capability.

    Now I understand how freedom of information protects against poor weapons systems, faulty weapons systems, bad quality, abuse of authority, etc. I don't have all the answers but what I do know is stupid - leaking you current tactics manuals and giving away all of your secrets. Might as well open-source the military.

    FFS

    • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:20AM (#41930991) Journal
      Look, I'm not a call-of-duty guy or whatever, medal of honor, apparently medal of buttsex on submarines this time around, whatever. But you have to admit that this sort of thing is good, solid cultural advancement. I mean, warfare isn't cultural advancement; access to history is, knowledge in all its forms is. Maybe they slipped some state secrets--I suspect there were implications, less revelation of direct classified data, stuff that hints too close to home. That's bad. But this whole "We should be silent and proud!' thing is stupid. Being an over-egotistical gaudy asshole is one thing, but this... this is a contribution to society. It has value.
    • While I agree in principle, I'm having difficulty with 7-8 elite military coming to the uniform conclusion that what they were doing was acceptable.

      If they broke rules/regs then they get what they deserve. If it wasn't reasonably clear and defined however, then trashing their careers is a harsh way to clarify something for others. (And I know the military is harsh for a reason.)

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        If they broke rules/regs then they get what they deserve.

        from the article I saw earlier this morning, they're getting written reprimands and half their pay docked for two months. Not too harsh for what they did, their careers should be ok.

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:37AM (#41931083)

      Does it really matter? Half the stuff that seems to come out as tactics eventually is just plain old common sense.

      Most of the militaries secrets are in intel and technology, and it doesn't seem that they've really leaked anything much there as the issuse seems to be about tactics.

      Having played the game, I don't think that matters anyway as the AI usually just runs in like a headless chicken and takes a thousand bullets because it's invulnerable. There was one mission based in the Philippines that said it was based on actual events, but again I don't know what of value could really have been given away. That US special forces may have been involved in something in the Philippines once? No shit. That's groundbreaking information.

      I recall when the "tactics" for the SAS raid on the Iranian embassy were eventually released and everyone made a big fuss, the tactic in question was sticking a flashlight on the gun, firing from the hip and using the centre of the torch as your aiming point whilst doing so. Hardly something top secret that no one else was ever going to think of.

      As I say it's our intel, our training, our combat experience, and our technology that makes special forces what they are. That's something you either can replicate or you can't, no amount of computer games or books are going to make up for it.

      Honestly, I think the punishments are more about maintaining military style discipline than because they released anything of any value yet one of the things that makes special forces special is because they recruit people smart enough to think for themselves and who don't need the baby style treatment of run of the mill grunts to ensure they do what needs to be done.

      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dywolf (2673597) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:20AM (#41931401)

        it may seem like common sense, but that's after years of work creating it, during which some men probably died before it was figured out. Hell we make revisions to tactics after nearly every big engagement. It's called an After Action Report, and everything, every little stinking thing, is written about and analyzed.

        And while it may seem common sense to us, it frequently isnt to many combatants around the world. the majority of the taliban and iraqi insurgents have no training whatsoever, and those that do have very little discipline. many many of them emply spray and pray tactics, full of bravado and give em hell, but little thought, little planning, no tactical sensibilities, etc.

        • The reason why many insurgents use the spray and pray tactics is because they do not have the equipment, training, and skills to act strategically. The seals are picked for their abilities and train in tight units for years. It has nothing to do with understanding techniques or tactics. For example, I may know how to play football and I many know the strategy, but there is no way that me and my buddies could beat a professional NFL team (or a college team, for that matter). It's the training and skills

        • by Xest (935314)

          "it may seem like common sense, but that's after years of work creating it, during which some men probably died before it was figured out."

          Actually, as the SAS guys involved themselves told it, they came up with the idea only hours before they stormed the place.

          "And while it may seem common sense to us, it frequently isnt to many combatants around the world. the majority of the taliban and iraqi insurgents have no training whatsoever, and those that do have very little discipline. many many of them emply sp

      • I recall when the "tactics" for the SAS raid on the Iranian embassy

        they're up to using SAS drives, now, in iran? its about time they finally upgraded those old IDE's.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I recall when the "tactics" for the SAS raid on the Iranian embassy were eventually released and everyone made a big fuss, the tactic in question was sticking a flashlight on the gun, firing from the hip and using the centre of the torch as your aiming point whilst doing so. Hardly something top secret that no one else was ever going to think of.

        No kidding. I do that exact thing to bore-sight when I don't have a laser or something else I can use instead. I didn't need anyone to help me figure that part out...

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        The thing is about common sense is that it's something you gain from experience. (How many things seem like common sense to you now, and yet you didn't know those things n years ago?)

        Experience is an asset and communication is commodization of that asset. When we're working together building a better world and trying to get happier, that's fucking awesome, and all hail the information revolution.

        When you're in zero-sum with an adversary, you want them to be denied that asset. You want one of their earlie

      • As I say it's our intel, our training, our combat experience, and our technology that makes special forces what they are. That's something you either can replicate or you can't, no amount of computer games or books are going to make up for it.

        You can say that all you want... but you'd be wrong. You say that tactics "seem like plain common sense", but you have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight (but don't seem to realize that).

        A tactic doesn't need to be something nobody else could think up - it just

        • by Xest (935314)

          No, see this guy's post for example:

          http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3240925&cid=41932109 [slashdot.org]

          It sounds like he doesn't have that military training in the SAS, that he hadn't heard of those tactics, that he hadn't figured it out on hindsight.

          He'd figured out because it's obvious - because it's common sense.

          The whole point is that if it's common sense then it's not something you'd need to learn through hindsight, it's something that is the most sensible rational option given what you have at your disposal.

          • Sure there are some tactics that are quite clever and do fall outside the realm of common sense, but I see no evidence of these being given away in games like Medal of Honor.

            Some of the cleverest tactics are the most subtle... Just because you don't see them, doesn't mean they aren't there.

            But I rather suspect you don't see them because you're a clueless git.

      • Lots of uninformed babble on /. (as usual). Nobody seems to ask the question of, "How does some information become classified?" Hint: it isn't just somebody says, "This should be a secret." Typically there is a organization document called the "Classification Guide" that provides (of all things) guidance on what sorts of information should be considered classified. Generally, these are derived from some higher organizaton's document that is more general with some unlucky person getting stuck with the jo

    • by Clsid (564627)

      I think a lot of the US military might has to do with two very basic facts and that's hardly related to military secrets or so called cutting-edge stuff. First of all, the US still has the largest economy in the world by far, and spends 25% of the Federal Budget in the military. With so much money poured into the industry, it is only expected that you would have all sorts of military gadgets, aircraft and vehicles. Pretty much like the Soviets did and ended up destroying their economy in the process.

      Second,

  • by JustOK (667959) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:22AM (#41931005) Journal

    Put 'em in jail. If they can't break out, they weren't really good Seals anyways.

    • by EnsilZah (575600) <EnsilZah@GmailGI ... minus herbivore> on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:50AM (#41931159)

      In 2012 , a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem...if no one else can help...and if you can find them...maybe you can hire...Seal Team Six.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by geogob (569250)

        Putting a whole elite tactical unit together in prison... in the same stockade... seems like a very bad idea to me. Especially if they believe they do not deserve this fate.

        I'd put that in the "what could go wrong" department.

        • by JustOK (667959)

          They probably couldn't even fly a tank anyways.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          You nevah heard o' the A-Team, foo? Where Murdoch, foo? I sent him to find a big woosh fo' you!

    • Re:Put them in jail (Score:5, Interesting)

      by magic maverick (2615475) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:13AM (#41931327) Homepage Journal

      Yes, put them in jail. But only because they released classified information. And if it's good enough for Bradley Manning to be locked up and tortured, then it is good enough for these people. Oh wait, these people didn't release political damaging and embarrassing information that demonstrated illegal activities by the US military.

      I'm not even convinced that Bradley Manning even did anything. He's alleged to have done something, and he's been charged with various "crimes", but innocent until proven guilt amirite? And even if "proven" guilty (or if he admits guilt) I wouldn't be too sure, as he's been tortured (solitary confinement for hundreds of days) and denied access to a speedy trial, I'm sure there are heaps of other irregularities with regards his case.

  • by nomad-9 (1423689) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:45AM (#41931121)
    Just a consequence of the glorification of elite warriors (or killers, depending on the point of view) in the media and Hollywood, and in a society almost entirely based on money. That can put some pressure on maintaining a sense of duty and code of ethics in the long run.

    Could be worse. They could be"consulting" for the Mexican drug cartels, as some of Mexico and Guatemala's former special forces already do...
    • Re:Could be worse (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:07AM (#41931263)

      There is a serious problem of believing in our own hype. It's one thing when the enemy believes that you CAN do something (which you can't, but want them to believe you can), it's a much more dangerous situation where YOU believe you can do something (but cannot reliably do it).

      The deification of special forces in popular culture is very dangerous. These people are human beings, physically fit and specially trained to be sure, but regular human beings with an immense logistical system to support them.

      I worry tremendously because the general population (and government leaders) will permit actions which while technically possible, are tremendously risky from the perspective of national interests. We blind ourselves with our successes and can easily slip into a might makes right belief system. I feel that we hear far too often the phrase 'teach em a lesson'.

      Believing that we can or should 'teach lessons' through the use of our special forces is incredibly dangerous and actions like the raid to kill Osama should only be undertaken sparingly because not only is the risk high, but without maintaining the moral highground it will become an incredibly dangerous world when OTHER actors being to reach out and 'teach' their own 'lessons' on a similar scale.

      • Re:Could be worse (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xest (935314) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:40AM (#41931545)

        "These people are human beings, physically fit and specially trained to be sure, but regular human beings with an immense logistical system to support them."

        To be fair it's the level of physical fitness and training that matters and makes a large difference as much as anything.

        When I was younger I was in the army cadets in the UK, and on an annual camp once we were sent through a fairly small forested area to try and find 5 professional soldiers hidden in there camo'd up. We did find one, hidden up a tree, but still hard to see, he was in the TA and fairly new to it at that though.

        When we'd given up we walked to the edge of the forest and they were told to come out of hiding. One guy comes out with his face covered in mud with some pretty clear signs of a boot print on it. It was my boot print, as he'd been led down in a narrow gully deep with leaf litter which I'd walked straight through. The guy was a gurkha, who aren't even really classed as special forces, but it was this experience above all else that made me realise the gap between what we think is realistically possible, and what is actually possible can sometimes be quite large such that we don't even entertain it. When he showed us exactly where he'd been hidden he literally had his face covered in mud with only his eyes showing through and leaf litter on top, the amazing part was how quickly and quietly he was able to disguise himself the way he did- you could be chasing him, lose him from sight for 20 seconds and he'd have all but vanished. I'm glad I was just an army cadet and this wasn't a real war, as otherwise I suspect he may well have chopped my balls off with his kukri, and I'm kind of fond of my balls being left where they are. Between the softness of the deep leaf litter and the thick sole on my boots, I simply hadn't realised I'd walked right over someone's face.

        So if this guy, not even selected for the SAS was this talented, I've always wondered what sort of things the special forces themselves get upto, and get away with. Everyone watches war films, and plays Call of Duty or whatever and thinks "Yeah, I could be that badass if I joined the military", but to most of those people you couldn't, you really couldn't. It takes a steely determination and years of practice, exercise to achieve the things they do and these people, the best of the best are the people who if they hadn't gone down the military route and joined the special forces would likely have been Olympic athletes, or other stand out professionals. It's not the sort of thing your average person has the patience and determination for.

      • by codepunk (167897)

        Having worked with the seals on more than one occasion I assure you that the majority of them "are not human".

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      Or consulting for the most murderous dictators of Latin America....

      nevermind, someone else beat them to it [wikipedia.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:49AM (#41931149)

    And the EA PR team just shared a collective orgasm. They must already be trying different font settings to display "So real, Navy Seals were disciplined for it!" on the game cover.

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      Exactly. Not sure what the Navy was thinking, but you can buy this kind of PR (or did they? adjusts tinfoil hat). I mean I never even heard of it, nor would I care if I did use Seal consultants. However WTF did they share with EA that was deserving of getting diciplined? Now I want to play the game just to try and figure out what the whole secret is about!

      So EA WIN, and Navy FAIL!

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:52AM (#41931167)
    They just created seven new security contractors the government will hire back for 10 times the cost. All that and a video game, win win.
  • by IceNinjaNine (2026774) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:04AM (#41931229)
    this whole "rock star" mentality with the SEALS. If I were that good.. fucking "Jedi" good.. I'd want to remain invisible. Due to compromised identitities, I view it as a matter of time before the bad guys start putting things together and whacking the families of operators as retribution. If I were those guys I'd develop a major case of STFU and teach everybody in my family how to handle a weapon. Of course, for every Mark Owen [youtube.com] there are probably five guys wishing he'd shut up.

    A quote:

    Retired Army Col. Ken Allard, a career intelligence officer, described Delta Force members as "quiet professionals. Silence is security."

    Read more about it here [washingtontimes.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Wilf_Brim (919371)
      The good ones don't. I spent about half of my 20 year Navy career in SOF. My last job was at a rather high HQ. I spent a good bit of time working with a senior enlisted: he was working in the Operations department, doing all of the crappy organizational jobs nobody wanted to do. He, for instance, was chief goat herder at the JOC (Joint Operations Center: fancy name for 35 guys with laptops all wanting more [telephones, bandwidth, coffee, whatever]). He did whatever was necessary to keep things going: m
      • The good ones don't.

        Yeah, I figured as much, which is why I threw the disclaimer in about "there are probably five guys wishing he'd shut up".. probably even more. I'm just amazed, because even when I was stationed near 10th SFG I never heard those guys talking about anything to do with a mission... and we're just talking about standard issue greenie beanies. (They're still light years ahead of anything I did though)

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      The one thing I was told about special operations was that if you know about them, they are already obsolete. They've had SEAL training on TV for the love of Pete. Remember when the special forces meant the Green Berets? The SEALs are some major badasses, but you don't know what to call today's true special forces...and you won't for another 20 years.

    • by Jawnn (445279)
      This... all over.
      While in the US Army, many many years ago, my department regularly had SF medics-in-training rotate through every few weeks. The couple of them that I got to know were consummate "quiet professionals". When pressed for "war stories" they politely but consistently demurred. While they were open enough to make it quite clear that they were the real deal, it was just as clear that each was possessed of a shared cultural conditioning that kept them from even wanting to appear that way. Maybe
  • I know a SEAL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:05AM (#41931251) Journal

    ...and I only know what he is because we've been friends since grade school.

    He normally is very clear - he simply can't talk about what he does, where he was or will be, etc. No big, right?

    The last year or so, I've heard him make more SEAL-related comments than I've heard him say in the previous 10. He is particularly bitter and annoyed at the 'prima-donna douchebags' that are writing books and showing up in movies.

    He gets it, he does: there are great piles of money and fame and hero-worship to be gained. But he points out: nobody does his job because they want to get rich or famous.

    Basically, he's disgusted at the SEALs who have taken the 'public visibility' course, and can't really understand why they aren't immediately let go and firewalled. He said he's recognized things that they've discussed, or shown in movies, that are operational methods that while the bad guys may suspect we can do it if they think about it, it's stupid to wave it in front of them. It's going to get operations blown and SEALs killed.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Our government itself talks about where seal teams have been when it makes good propaganda. Presumably, some of the information which has leaked has been leaked, as in intentionally. Neither you nor he is cleared to know which is which.

    • He said he's recognized things that they've discussed, or shown in movies, that are operational methods that while the bad guys may suspect we can do it if they think about it, it's stupid to wave it in front of them. It's going to get operations blown and SEALs killed.

      Then again, the bad guys may also copy the nonsense Hollywood tactics/methods and get themselves killed sooner...

  • Clearly these guys want money and adulation. And that makes sense given the type of guy the military wants to make into a seal. So give it to them. How many seals are there? Not that many... so pay them well... and when they've done something important like Bin Ladin, let them brag about it. Sit down with them, figure out what can get released and what can't. Then let them hit good morning America.
    • ... and when they've done something important like Bin Ladin, let them brag about it. Sit down with them, figure out what can get released and what can't. Then let them hit good morning America.

      And set up their friends and family for retaliation by other terrorists? Not a good idea....

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Clearly these guys want money and adulation. And that makes sense given the type of guy the military wants to make into a seal. So give it to them. How many seals are there? Not that many... so pay them well... and when they've done something important like Bin Ladin, let them brag about it. Sit down with them, figure out what can get released and what can't. Then let them hit good morning America.

      I wouldn't really call roughly 2000 members (and total unit size, including support staff, of about 6500) to be "not that many". Compared to about 400 for Recon Marines and 800-1000 (including support staff) for Delta. And remember, most SEALs do work that is closer to what Recon marines or Army Special Forces do. It is only Team Six that is the equivalent to Delta. SEALs are generally just the navy version of your basic special forces soldier. That being said, I know and used to work out with a guy th

  • What is the point of having real counseling from the military for realism if the game still features regenerative health, undestructable covers and stupid A.I.? The Navy should sue EA for false advertisement.
  • "violated the unwritten code that SEALs are silent warriors who shun the spotlight."

    Oh dear, there goes THAT bit of secrecy. Or maybe it was already gone:
    http://usnavysealfoundation.org/SEAL_CODE.html [usnavysealfoundation.org]

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:54AM (#41931679)

    ...from the active duty SEALs used in Act of Valor [imdb.com]? Oh wait, I know the answer: Because Act of Valor was a nice little right-wing propaganda film that showed the Navy in their best light. And EA is just a gaming company. Or something like that.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:57AM (#41931721) Homepage Journal

    The are going to be locked in solitary for years for revealing State Secrets, right?

  • It's rather upsetting the SEALS were not using common sense. I thought these were the best and brightest. How much brain power does it take to know they probably should have asked permission, or at least notified someone they were assisting with a game. Equally sad is that MOH:Warfighter had tons of exciting potential in the theme but ended up predictable and lackluster in the delivered product.
  • They must have known a lot of this info was classified, I mean they're the "experts" on all of this, right? It doesn't matter if the SEALS said otherwise, I am guessing EA knew. They were just as much a part of this as the SEALS were.

    • I had a friend who had some secret clearance in the Air Force and it made no sense to him what was classified and what wasn't. For example the color of the paint used on the F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter was classified yet part numbers that went into it were not. In retrospect, the stealth fighter is not black but very dark purple. Probably this was due because the Air Force carried one paint in that color and it had special properties in the paint to help with stealth while the some parts used in the
  • My roommate on my last ship (late 80's) was the CO of the embarked Seal team. I cannot imagine him or anyone of his people prostituting their team's reputation. It must be a different Navy today.
  • ... unless you are a retiring Pentagon official going to work for a defense contractor.

  • So it's perfectly OK for active duty SF personal to advice and appear in blatant self-promotional crap like "Act Of Valor".

    But not OK at all if they do it with a private firm.

    Yeah, makes sense.

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