The SOCOM Commander, General Raymond “Tony” Thomas, in a recent statement made it clear that there were simply too many SOF operators, primarily Navy SEALs, writing tell-all books: “We’re hurting ourselves with these movies and books.” General Joseph Votel, who Thomas relieved at SOCOM, also weighed in on the subject. “I am concerned with increased public exposure of [Special Operations Forces] activities and operations,” Votel stated. “And I assess that it is time to get our forces back into the shadows.” Well, this all hits pretty close to home.
Yet, in defense of my work I need to point out a few issues that separate me from growing task force of SEALs and other special operators turned author. Aside from my book Act of Valor, which was written from the screen play of the same movie (made with Naval Special Warfare sanction), my fiction work has been just that–special operations scenarios derived from my own imagination. As for my nonfiction works on SEALs and other SOF components, I have always adhered to the following:
- These are not personal, operational stories. SEAL Team One, was fiction, but drew upon my operational experience in Vietnam.
- My research and embeds with SOF training and operational components have always been with official component permission.
- My published works have always been scrubbed and approved by the appropriate operational, training, and staff commands.
- I have seen things in the training and operational commands that I have thought were wrong. Those issues were never systemic, and I reported them to the chain of command; I do not write about them.
- I use no profanity. (Imagine! A real-world SEAL account without four-letter words).
Of course there are issues and rules regarding classified information but the military censors are concerned with breaches in security–not issues of propriety, vulgarity, or accuracy. And while I don’t think General Thomas’s comments were directed at me personally, I will nonetheless keep his words in mind. The expanded story below.