Top critical review
It's not what the author says; it's why is he saying it?
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on March 14, 2022
I am finding this review to be very difficult to write. I think there is some truth in the allegations that DevGru /NSW are out of control and need some serious reigning in. There are many past sins that have been swept under the carpet and ignored. However, my question is just why Devgru is the target of this journalist's investigations, when there are many other juicy targets in our government, the media, and big business? This is not an excuse that "everyone else is doing it", rather, why highlight this particular wrong doing when you have such a target-rich environment to choose from.
I think it's very easy to insert your pet project, or outrage, at this or that particular group, based on your political leanings. I think another author could just as easily pick something like a certain "Foundation" and express just as much outrage at all the moral and ethical failings you might find there.
So my question is, what's the point of raising all this now? Who benefits from exposing all the moral and ethical failures of this particular group? At a time when diametrically opposed forces battle for the soul of America.
If you want to just "stick to the facts, Ma'm", as an investigative journalist, at this level, it is a good read about what can happen when unbridled egos, competition, and even blood lust can corrupt an organization, without proper over-sight. And the stresses of over twenty years of warfare on the human psyche. This is a cautionary tale of that, in and of itself. And we can go full Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" (or the cartoon version "Apocalypse Now" ) to discuss if the "Col Kurtz" theory of unconventional warfare is right, or that he needed to be reigned in. And that is a moral debate for another time. However, you must consider this before accusing these men of "war crimes" in theater. It's very easy to sit at home, and cast aspersions at others who signed up to fight for you. As Heinlein said: "Pacifism is a shifty doctrine that claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." So easy to criticize these guys while you sat at home and watched, or even in this case, went to the warzone to observe it.
Now the non-combat zone failures, that IS another story, and it has not been addressed. There is a culture of depravity, violence, and a code of silence that prevents outsiders from penetrating their society. I have lived in San Diego over 20 years and have seen enough of it. Sailors can be some very disgusting creatures, with frogman oftentimes leading the way. Not that the Marines are that far behind (but proud of Mrs. Roosevelt's declaration of their filthy minds). And I'm sure Soldiers and Airman vie for top (bottom?) honors. But singling them out as moral and ethical failures is really cherry-picking the current crop, IMHO. I think you could find as many moral or ethical failures in any walk of life you care to mention these days. I have my own laundry list but that's not the point.
The real criticism that has validity is the lack of senior leadership to nip any moral or ethical failings in the bud, before they became institutionalized. And this goes all the way back to "Demo Dick" , if not to Draper and the UDT's. This "pirate" culture has always been part and parcel of the "Teams". Going all the way back to Lt Penny's death at UDT-21, which was simply inexcusable. And the fact that so many involved in enabling this behavior are presently serving in the highest echelons of NSW/JSOC. Yeah that's a problem.
But the individual frogman, grunt, or whoever, is gonna do just what they are allowed/encouraged to do. And as Patton was supposed to have said: "When you stick your fingers in the goo that was once your buddy's face, well, you'll know what to do". Soldiers have often-times looked for a little pay-back, and their officers have often-times looked the other way. Not defending it, just simply saying it's a very human response. Until we all spend twenty years and 13 deployments in that kind of environment I say let's be slow to judge them.
So as you can see, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I would say there is probably much truth to some of these allegations, however I question the motivation behind it's publication. If the author wants to follow up with all the atrocities committed by a certain radical religious group, then that would be fair and balanced. If not, well you have to question whether this is politically motivated.