Robert O’Neill’s Actions Destroys Warrior Principles

In an “Esquire” article, the Navy SEAL who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden says he has nothing to show for his 16 years of service.

Having trained more than 800 special operations and tactical operators, O’Neill brings this unique expertise to organizations and translates his elite SEAL team training into high-impact, actionable insights on leadership, decision-making, operating in uncertain environments, and how to become the ‘best of the best.’ His mantra is “never quit,” and O’Neill believes this is the single most important factor in determining success. O’Neill reminds us that the servicemen doing the dirtiest work are often MAKING THE HARDEST SACRIFICES. ~ Speaker bio, Leading Authorities website


Making the hardest sacrifices.  That’s the part that rings out to me the most.  Making the hardest sacrifices.

Robert O’Neill served as a Navy S.E.A.L., who claimed that he was the one who killed Bin Laden.  Since when do our Silent Warriors begin breaking silence?  He seems to complain about how he is left with very little regarding military/government services treating him to proper care and retirement after 16 years of duty.  I for one, do sympathize with the man partially.  I believe that it should be a crime on how our veterans are treated and forgotten.  We ask too much of them and give them so little.  The problem I have with Robert’s limelight is the fact that as a 17 year professional in military service, he completely knows that full benefits in retirement is met with 20 years of service.  In getting out in 17 years, he only had three more years to go.  He states he has numerous injuries; he could have been absorbed into a normal Navy/Marine unit and served his three remaining years in a motor-pool or desk job.  While I love to shake his hand and buy him a beer (as I would any member of the Armed Forces) I find serious fault with him coming out with this claim, whether it’s true or not.  He claims to be the one who killed Osama Bin Laden.  Most operators or anyone who operates in the “gray” area of the Armed Forces almost infinitely, if you can get them to talk, relegate credit to their team and support personnel, the true embodiment of selfless-service.  Here we have a man making an effort to be the face of the assassin who kills a lead terrorist.  The point is this: he was the tip of the spear of an enormous infrastructure he played no role in building, and now he wants personal credit when he knew going in that no such recognition was his to receive.

For those who join military service, you sign up to relinquish a part of your personal identity.  You don’t serve yourself you serve the nation.  When you volunteer for any gray-area clandestine service, you sign up to be invisible, to not exist, even when in death or proper discharge from service, whether which comes first.  In fact, their silence is the reason why they are so good at their profession, in result making American Special Ops warriors the envy of the world.  In layman’s terms, these guys are the modern equivalent to ninjas, who move, live and die in silence, long after the mission or retirement.

 Service Doesn’t Guard From Criticism

While O’Neill’s service valor is beyond reproach, making ‘Laden bite the dust doesn’t shield him objective criticism, and it shouldn’t.  While we love to honor our elite for taking the hardest missions and achieving the objective, part of that desire to thank them comes from a sociological law of Scarcity; we LOVE how these guys can be anyone in plain sight.  On that note, this is the precise reason why we still love masked superheroes such as Spider-Man and luchador wrestlers; they are faceless and they are REALLY good at their job.  The faceless, selfless aspect of their character makes them not only honorable to look up to, but relatable to any person, even when they are not.  People dream of becoming Delta Force, Navy S.E.A.L.s because in looking like no one, they look like everyone.

But overall, they are simply not supposed to talk.  It’s like a sexual tease; we want it, but we really don’t want it to be that easy.  One cannot just want and beg for credit for military operations as an individual when you leave service. (I highly recommend reading that link)

“You would think the fact that you were privileged enough to be in that place would be satisfaction or payment enough.

I’m all about telling your story and recording history. We wouldn’t have known about the 300 Spartans at the Hot Gates, if it wasn’t written down. In our military academies we study history and these battles because it helps us save lives. There is a right and wrong way to go about it, when you ignore the protocols and throw caution to the wind, that’s not the right way to go about it.

The SEALs have an ethos that specifically mentions not drawing attention or taking personal credit. However, I don’t think that means you can’t tell the story of your unit.  But if your primary objective is to bring and fame money to yourself, you’re really just spitting in the face of the guys beside you.

You take away from the effort of everyone else when you highlight yourself like that. I just can’t imagine how you could take the credit for something like that, when so many others died trying to find Bin Laden.

To the rest of America, he’s the SEAL who killed Bin Laden. To the special operations community he’s just the guy who was in the right place.  It takes the same amount of trigger pressure to kill a target, one pound one way or another…depending on shooter preference.” ~ Marty Skovlund, former Army Ranger

With the way people are leaking information and selfishly serving only their own egos left and right, I can only fear for our Special Operators in the future.

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