When it comes to providing guidance for troops on the front lines, perhaps few people are in as good a position to help as the chaplains.
And with the special operations community finding itself stressed and in the midst of several scandals after nearly 18 years of continuous deployment, U.S. Special Operations Command is looking to find additional ways for those men and women of faith to help get its operators back on track.
The command, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, has put out the call for an ethics guide for its special operations chaplains, according to Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty, a spokesman for SOCOM.
SOCOM posted an announcement on Aug. 2 that it intends to â€œnegotiate and award a sole sourceâ€ contract with Merit Leadership, Inc. The notice was published on the governmentâ€™s business opportunities site known as FedBizOpps.
Details about the contents of the chaplain field guide are scant. Military Times reached out to Merit Leadership and have yet to receive a response.
The company produces The Business Ethics Field Guide, which its website describes as providing leaders â€œthe ability to clarify individual and organizational values and to find a way forward when these values conflict.â€
In addition to several scandals in the SEAL and Green Beret communities, suicides across the SOCOM community nearly tripled in 2018 when compared to the previous year. There were 22 suicides in 2018, and eight deaths by suicide in 2017 across special operations units, according to data provided by SOCOM. There have been 11 so far this year as of Aug. 16.
According to SOCOM, its chaplains can play a special role in suicide prevention. SOCOM noted a recent DoD study that found service members often take personal issues to chaplains, partly because those conversations are kept confidential.
Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning
Enter a valid email address (please select a country) United States United Kingdom Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, The Democratic Republic of The Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D’ivoire Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and Mcdonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestinian Territory, Occupied Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan, Province of China Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States United States Minor Outlying Islands Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Viet Nam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe
Thanks for signing up!
By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief.
Chaplains can be a resource, among others, for special operators to discuss issues without fear it could damage their careers.
Military chaplains can also be used to advise on ethical decisionâ€™s made during conflict.
Chaplains are identified as protected personnel and are considered noncombatants, according to the Geneva Convention.
While they cannot actively engage in hostilities or intelligence gathering, chaplains can be used to advise commands and troops on the â€œethical, moral, and religious dimensionsâ€ of a decision to strike a particular target, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff publication on religious affairs in joint operations.
But, SOF has also been spotlighted for recent misconduct and shenanigans. In July, Navy Times reported that a SEAL Team 7 platoon was booted from Iraq due to a July 4th party involving alcohol. Navy Times also reported that SEAL Team 10 had been investigated for drug related incidents and fraudulent drug tests.
Prosecutors also say a pair of Navy SEALs are linked to the June 4, 2017, death of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar at his residence in Bamako, Mali.
Throughout August, admirals have dismissed five prosecutions involving SEALs linked to either war crimes or their cover up in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the botched court-martial of Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward â€œEddieâ€ Gallagher.
A military panel of his peers cleared the SEAL of murdering an Islamic State prisoner of war, obstruction of justice and other serious specifications, finding him guilty only of the minor charge of posing with the dead detaineeâ€™s body.
There was also trouble in the ranks of Army Special Forces.
A former 7th Special Forces Group soldier and a West Virginia National Guard Special Forces soldier pleaded guilty Dec. 21 and Dec. 17, respectively, to two federal charges each of conspiracy to traffic cocaine, according to court documents and a release from the Justice Department.
Former Master Sgt. Daniel Gould, 36, and Sgt. 1st Class Henry Royer, 35, had planned to smuggle 90 pounds of cocaine â€• about $1 million worth â€• on a military transport plane from Colombia to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, according to federal court documents.
In the wake of these scandals, SOCOM commander Army Gen. Richard Clarke ordered another review into the the commandâ€™s culture and ethics. And Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Collin Green recently issued a four-page â€œback to basicsâ€ directive for SEALs and specials operations boat crews designed to shore up shoddy conduct, restore moral accountability and create better leaders.
Chitty said the SOCOM chaplainâ€™s office “has been working over the past year ” to create a â€œpragmatic field ethics guideâ€ for its chaplains.
Chitty said there is no publish date yet for the ethics guide.