The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command has ordered a comprehensive internal ethics review in the wake of a recent series of public scandals.
“The American people must trust those who protect them,” General Richard D. Clarke wrote in a letter published Monday, 12 August. “This trust is paramount and must never be compromised.”
“This is about making us better,” Clarke wrote.
The review will also focus on recruitment processes and how ethical failures are dealt with by commanders, the letter reads. The review is set to begin immediately and conclude in autumn.
The U.S. Special Operations Command has been in the public spotlight with a number of high-profile scandals in recent years.
In July, Navy Special Warfare operator Chief Edward Gallagher was found not guilty of murdering a wounded 12-year old Islamic State prisoner during a deployment to Iraq in 2017, but was convicted of unlawfully posing for a photograph with the boy’s body.
Also in July, the commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve sent a Navy SEAL Team 7 platoon home from Iraq after a senior enlisted SEAL allegedly sexually assaulted a service member during an alcohol-fueled Fourth of July weekend.
Four Special Operations troops, including two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders, were charged in connection with the death of Army Special Forces Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar in Bamako, Mali in June 2017.
The head of Navy Navy Special Warfare Command, Rear Admiral Collin Green, wrote a blunt letter to units under his command in July.
“I don’t know yet if we have a culture problem, I do know that we have a good order and discipline problem that must be addressed immediately,” Green wrote, according to CNN.
Newly-appointed Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with General Clarke in late July to discuss concerns regarding discipline and ethics within the Special Operations community.