SEALs punished for video game participation

| November 9, 2012

EX-PH2 sends a link to an NBC News article about how seven Navy SEALs have been punished for helping to develop the video game Medal of Honor Warfighter;

The official did not say what, if any, information the SEALs revealed by participating in the video game’s development. However, a written statement from Deputy Commander of Naval Special Warfare, Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, indicates this is more about making an example of these sailors after a string of high-profile SEAL products.

“We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as Sailors in the United States Navy. 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,” Bonelli wrote.

I don’t know what kind of information they could possibly give to the game developer that would be considered classified, but whatever it is, I’m sure it can’t compare to the stuff that comes out of the leaky-assed White House when it’s politically expedient to do so. Funny how there’s a double standard for punishing military folks and civilian political operatives when it comes to these leaks.

Apparently, cooperating with movie makers is good, but writing a book or helping with a video game is bad. Although I agree that unauthorized release of classified information is terrible, but I didn’t see anything in “No Easy Day” that would fit that description, and I doubt there’s anything in a video game that would be useful to an enemy.

Category: Barack Obama/Joe Biden, Navy

Comments (38)

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  1. B Woodman says:

    Heh heh hehehehheh. The REAR Admiral. He said “In the Navy”. Heheheh heh heh.

  2. NHSparky says:

    Nuclear power program is much the same way…all of our plant information is classiied Confidential-NOFORN despite the fact about 95 percent of what is taught in NPS is available in most college texts. I had a friend on my first boat explaining how the boiling point of water increases as it’s put under pressure only to be told by a Chief that he was divulging classified info because that was taught in Power School. Sounds like a similar case here. Big Navy doesn’t like something and they’ll find a way to screw someone over.

  3. valerie says:

    Not good leadership.

  4. Devtun says:

    Terriffic…with an NJP in their jackets, careers are likely pretty much crippled. Time to put all them “special skills” the NSW has spent millions of dollars to hone, into use as civilian consultants and contractors – the Navy’s loss.

  5. LebbenB says:

    Now, instead of going to the range and seeing folks shooting (poorly) a Sig 226, “Because it’s what the SEALs use,” we’ll have kids tapping X-X-LB-Y on their controllers because, “That’s the way the SEALs do it.”

  6. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    @5 that’s wrong it’s right trigger-fire, left bumber throw grenade…..(kidding)

    Punished for cooperating with game guys….if the double standard were any more obvious the Navy would have to incorporate into the uniforms FFS….

  7. LebbenB says:

    @6. Steady, now. You don’t want to give away any classified video game TTPs. LOL.

  8. Whitey_wingnut says:

    I find it funny that they get punished for this game and not for helping with other games.

  9. Crotchity Old Bubblehead says:

    Not to make this a political thread but why wasn’t this announced prior to the election. The timing of this and the Boeing and other companies layoff announcements smell.

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    @2 — Sparky, did it occur to that Chief that what he said could be found in high school physics and chemistry books in 1961? It’s about as classified as a bowl of mashed potatoes.

    Well, maybe we’ll see an end to the leaky pipeline, since there is no more political advantage to be gained from keeping it going now. The elections have come and gone, and numbnuts won….or did he?

    Did he maybe spit into the wind? You really do have to be careful what you wish for. Karma can be a really nasty bitch if you mess with her.

  11. NosDef says:

    Surprise, surprise. SEALs being SEALs and being all over the media.

  12. Harrison says:

    I have no idea what’s actually in the game, but you don’t just go and do shit like this without getting it cleared. Bitch about overclassification all you want, but there are bad people out there keeping a damn close eye on everything we do.

    Any info on intentions, TTPs, capabilities, what we know, why we care, etc. going out that doesn’t have to is too much. Hell, I find a decent chunk of what they did with the movie to be toeing the line, especially if the standard is to not publish anything we wouldn’t tell the enemy directly.

  13. LebbenB says:

    @11, How do you stop a SEAL in his tracks? Give him a mirror.

    (Keeding! I keed)

  14. Devtun says:


    Oh yeah, the leaky WH really gives a damn about top secret material remaining closehold…more media dereliction of duty. It pays to be a Democratic President…never have to say your sorry.

  15. Harrison says:

    @14 This has precisely jack to do with who is in the white house. Go be mad you lost somewhere else. Maybe Valerie Plame can tell you where to find a good restaurant in DC; she probably has a lot of time on her hands now that she’s not busy with the whole CIA thing anymore.

  16. Nik says:


    SEALs get bin Laden.
    Obama uses that as a mantra for the campaign.
    It’s believed by some that Obama lets former active duty SEALs get killed in Benghazi.
    Obama re-elected.
    SEALs getting punished for what I’m guessing is a bullshit charge.

    Lesson learned? Don’t give Obama what he wants. It never ends well for you or those like you. :p

  17. SteveC says:

    This is an intentional overreaction “for the encouragement of the others” not to pull a Bissonette. Period. They are setting the tone and being clear on how they will react for the future. It’s a command thing, not coming from the WH, IMHO.

  18. Nik says:


    I suspect you’re right. A charge, especially of this nature, scuttles their career.

    On the other hand, they’ll be able to make obscene amounts of money in the private sector.

    Living well is the best revenge and all…

  19. Derpy says:

    Here’s the official statement and charges:

    A non-judicial punishment hearing was conducted yesterday, Nov. 7 and seven Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel faced administrative proceedings. An additional NSW investigation is ongoing to determine if more personnel may be involved.

    They are being charged with violation of Article 92: Orders violation, misuse of command gear and violation of Article 92: Dereliction of duty, disclosure of classified material.

    Two Senior Chief Special Operators and five Chief Special Operators received the punishment. They received a punitive letter of reprimand and forfeiture of ½ month’s pay for two months.

  20. OWB says:

    Problem, obviously, is not the release of “classified” information because we have seen that those who should be in control of such simply are not concerned with the release of “classified” information. They do it every day in ways which are mind boggling – from giving it to movie makers to leaving it lying around in foreign countries.

    Best guess would be that the “right” people were not given their cut of the proceeds. These guys arrogantly provided a service for a price which was mutually agreed upon by the seller and the buyer. No cut to unions, godfathers, political parties, et al. For that they are being punished.

  21. Tman says:

    Regardless, does not seem to do any good to the concept of ‘quiet professionals.’

  22. Devtun says:

    No, I didn’t lose…this nation will. There is no accountability at the top – none.

  23. J.M. says:

    So giving info for a video game= Bad

    Giving info for a propaganda film and campaign commercials= Good?

  24. OWB says:

    J.M. – that depends entirely upon who is benefitting from the transfer of information. But today, that is the rule. Depending.

    (In another example of how the more things change the more they stay the same, you really need to follow the money!)

  25. Harrison says:

    @19 If a first class had done this they’d have hung him from a yardarm by now. Letter of reprimand and half their Ray Ban sunglasses and moustache wax budget for two months? Get out of here.

    Blueprints: the real backbone of the Navy

  26. Harrison says:

    and of course my phone autocorrects “blueshirts” to “blueprints”. BZ, shipmate

  27. NosDef says:

    @21 – the “Quiet Professionals” are the Army Special Forces, not the SEALs.

    No one has ever accused a SEAL of seeing a camera he didn’t like.

    @13 – you got that right.

  28. Flagwaver says:

    @19… Let me get this straight. They are charged with violating orders, using the gear they were issued, and dereliction of duty?

    So, they were ordered not to appear in the media as a blanket statement (very likely and not lifted after the election). That could cover the first charge.

    Them using their own gear they were issued is just plain stupid. Even I had a set of gear I purchased out of my own pocket, why didn’t they?

    Finally, the dereliction of duty? Were they supposed to be training, on lock down, or on a mission? How is appearing somewhere on your own time and on your own dime dereliction of duty?

  29. Nik says:


    All true. Also, sadly, all irrelevant. Anybody who has ever served knows…if they want to get you, they’ll get you. If you make them work too hard for it, they’re gonna make it worse than it would have been otherwise.

  30. Derpy says:

    @28 Don’t look at me, I just found the release online.

    From what I’ve seen in a few stories online the issues arise from the fact that the SEALs did the paid consulting work without permission from their command and that the equipment in question were things that are considered sensitive in nature (four-barreled NODs and the like).

    I think the dereliction of duty phrasing comes from the fact that these guys are all under NDA and going off to freelance your services and showing sensitive gear to a bunch of video game developers without command approval is a pretty big violation of that.

    In that light, coming out of an NJP situation with half months pay for two months and a letter of reprimand strikes me as pretty fair – if not somewhat lenient.

  31. Just Plain Jason says:

    “It’s good to be the king” -Mel Brooks

  32. Eric says:

    I think the election has everything to do with this. Obama won and the next day these guys get punished.

    Like people are saying, this is a message to service members to stop doing things just because the white house gets away with them. We can expect that this kind of rubbish will continue to occur with those “unnamed staff members” in Washington, but the military can’t follow that example.

    Yes, these guys will probably retire at their current rate, but then go back to the contacts they’ve made from this game’s success and get paid more for consulting in the future.

    It is a shame because the President, in his position as CINC should be setting the highest example for the military to follow, which doesn’t seem to happen much as it might have in the distant past.

    @13 – now that’s just plain funny, I don’t care who you are…

  33. MCPO USN NYC (Ret.) says:

    A few things.

    Clue # 1. The author of “No Easy Day” left the Navy with 14 years and as a CPO … interesting.

    Clue # 2. He embarked on a new career. Video gaming … very interesting.

    Clue # 3. Rumors have it he was advanced prior to his discharge … DING, DING, DING, DING.

    NSW will stap it off in anyones overboard discharge pipe if this continues. The memos and directives are flying in NSW and the military in general regarding this issue.

    I personally know the point man (a highly decorated MCPO SEAL) who has been directed to retrain and re-educated a very young and ambitious community and to stop these senceless OPSEC breeches.

    RADM Bonelli who is quoted in the article above is a great man, dear friend, and American Patriot.

    As a black shoe, I was honored to have RADM Bonelli as my guest speaker at my retirement one year ago tomorrow (the Marine Corps Birthday).

  34. Ex-PH2 says:

    @30 — Sensitive in nature? Is that like the four-barreled shotgun produced by a company called FAMARS Rombo? The model was a four-barreled break-action shotgun made at FAMARS factory in Italy.

    “The shotgun was produced in 28 gauge and .410 bore, and was primarily designed for small-game hunting. It is notable for having a complex action, which allows all four barrels to be fired consecutively and sequentially using just the one trigger.” – source is Daily Gun Pictures

    The company quit manufacturing the shotgun. The last one sold at auction for $65,000.

    Yeah, really sensitive item — as a gun collector’s piece.

  35. LebbenB says:

    @34. No. I believe what he’s referring to are the NODs worn by some of the characters in the game have 4 intensifier tubes, versus the mono- and binocular types that I was accustomed to when I was in. I noticed this myself and simply wrote it off as artistic licence on the part of the developers.

    I was never in Special Operations, however.

  36. Derpy says:

    @34 Sorry about that, got caught up in Army jargon (NODs = night vision).

    The 4 tubed type have been in use with the 160th for a little while, but the OBL raid and subsequent books, films and games that SEALs have contributed to have shined a little more light on their existence and use by other Special Operators – Bissonette mentioned wearing them in “No Easy Day” and the trailer for “Zero Dark Thirty” shows their “SEALs” wearing them as well.

    Here’s a picture of them rigged up for use by a pilot:

  37. LebbenB says:

    I imagine the extra intensifiers would give the wearer better peripheral vision during limited vis. The FOV with the NODs I used was pretty narrow (PVS7 & PVS14.)

  38. SGT Kane says:

    I’m currently playing this game, on the Xbox (well when my son and I aren’t doing the co-op mode of Halo 4) and my gripe about the game isn’t the technological OPEC dump (NODS, weapons capabilities, etc) but the “based on actual events” missions.

    I know these missions didn’t unfold how they do in the game, as a solider I know they aren’t even close (for example I’m pretty sure that a two man SEAL team didn’t blow through Pakistan running and gunning down a battalions worth of bad guys in pursuit of an HVT). The danger of making that claim is that people will think we are operating like that, and more importantly it gives enough correct information that it may revel past operations (touching on the above example again, while a SEAL team didn’t shoot their way through Pakistan, they may have pursued an HVT there captured him, and as such the bad guys can now figure out who was responsible, know what he knew, and be able to figure out what we might know).

    That said I like the game, so far. It’s fun and a nice change from the politically-correctness of other games(Assasins Creed III), where its more acceptable to make US soilders the bad guys (COD:MW2), and horrible story lines (pretty much every shooter since Wolfenstien).