You shouldn’t make Admiral McRaven angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
I would know. I worked for Admiral (Retired) William McRaven in the Joint Special Operations Command. For those who somehow don’t know, Admiral McRaven was a Navy SEAL who went on to command the elite Joint Special Operations Command and later (shortly after the Bin Laden raid, which he commanded), he took a fourth star and command of Special Operations Command (SOCOM). He’s the prototypical Special Operator: a deep thinker that could win a bar fight. He’s smart, politically savvy, and the consummate warfighter.
And you don’t want to piss him off.
Unfortunately, it appears someone has done just that. More precisely, from a piece published in 2016, it looks like a whole bunch of folks have earned McRaven’s ire. In this case, it’s the political leadership of our country.
In an op-ed posted in the Tampa Tribune, McRaven takes a “damn the torpedoes” approach in calling out those responsible for ending the career of Rear Admiral Brian Losey, a fellow SEAL and longtime friend of McRaven. Losey was previously accuses of wrongdoing and retaliation against whistleblowers within his command. He was subsequently cleared of all charges, but he was eventually shown the door nonetheless.
McRaven comes out strongly in support of Losey, stating that the allegations against him was “a case of a few guys fighting to maintain their comfortable life at a time when others were at war and needed their support.” He also rails against the “disrespect” our elected officials show to the military, and the ruinous effects of “political correctness.”
This op-ed is extraordinary for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it occurred at all. Most retired four-stars, especially those recently separated from the service, don’t normally come on this strong on political issues, especially not the way McRaven did here.
Additionally, McRaven reportedly leans left when it comes to politics. With his war record, name recognition, and high-profile tenure as the President of the University of Texas system, he is a very strong contender for a cabinet level position, or perhaps even something higher, if a Democrat takes power after the next administration. That’s why the blistering letter attributed to him in the Tampa Tribune is such a big deal. Any hopes he had of landing a gig under a Clinton or Sanders administration are probably now scuttled.
But what he said needed to be said. And the country needed to hear it from someone like him.
What, exactly, was so explosive about McRaven’s op-ed? Well, here’s an excerpt:
During my past several years in uniform, I watched in disbelief how lawmakers treated the chairman, the service chiefs, the combatant commanders and other senior officers during Congressional testimony. These officers were men of incredible integrity, and yet some lawmakers showed no respect for their decades of service. I saw the DOD Inspector General’s Office frequently act as judge and jury, apparently accountable to no one, dismissing the recommendations of the services and ruining officer’s careers. I watched time and again how political correctness and pressure from Capitol Hill undermined command authority and good order and discipline.
Damn sir, talk about a broadside…
If you want to read the text of his article, proceed on to the next page. But brace for impact, because you’re about to get some “real talk,” Navy SEAL style.