Operation Ranger Up

Citizen SEAL

By
Updated: April 26, 2013
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By Jack Mandaville

“When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen.”

-George Washington

There is an unquestionable chasm between the images presented by the American military as an institution and those of the individual troops on the ground.  With modern social-media giving a growing voice to the proletariats of our armed forces, it appears the US Military has entered into a quiet battle between the top brass and ground troops in order to control who presents their image to the masses.

This internal conflict has correlated with the advent of tools like Facebook, Twitter, and an increasing access to the publishing industry.  American troops are voicing their opinions in equally cerebral and lowbrow ways—the latter being confined to the sphere of private rants on Facebook over seemingly typical and age-old military gripes.  But many of those who have tackled the establishment in larger capacities, namely in book publication or popular blogs, have faced severe repercussions from their leaders.

Gone are the days of the American war fighter being perceived as a bloodthirsty Myrmidon willing to defend public policy at all costs.  What we’re now beginning to recognize is that modern American servicemembers are, the majority of the time, as socially diverse and politically involved as their peers in the private sector.

090331-N-1810F-049So begins the troubling story of former Navy SEAL Carlton Higbie and his role in a legal battle that stemmed from a 173 page personal manuscript that he released last year.

Every aspect of Higbie’s ordeal leading up to and shortly following the publication of his book, Battle on the Homefront: A Navy SEAL’s Mission to Save the American Dream, appears to be—at times—as maddening as the current conflict he has become embroiled in.

“I put this in a book not to bash the military, but to improve the system,” Higbie, who currently resides in Virginia Beach, VA, told me during a phone interview.  “If I’m going to put my life on the line for my country, I want to make sure things are right across the board.”

In the spring of 2004, after walking away from an athletic scholarship at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT during his sophomore year, Higbie enlisted in the Navy with an immediate goal to serve as a SEAL.  From there he served the majority of his eight and a half year enlistment with SEAL Team 10.  He left the Navy—shortly after his book’s release—with the rank of Petty Officer First Class after two combat deployments to Iraq, where he was awarded a Joint Service Commendation Medal with a Valor distinguishing device among numerous other decorations.

His opening chapter is a brief autobiographical account of his well-to-do upbringing in Greenwich, CT and how he often butted heads with authority figures who were, according to him, “the definition of wimpy progressives and liberals.”  The former high school and collegiate wrestling standout went on to write that he “would not adhere to the preppy ways of tennis, golf, and popped-collar polo shirt cliques.”

The main text itself is a compilation of his personal opinions regarding numerous matters both facing the American military and people as a whole.  These short sections cover everything from his views on America’s founding principles to the often dangerous consequences of military bureaucracy—with a significant allotment of commentary on social controversies and President Obama within the eleven chapter book, ending with a chapter dedicated to his proposed solutions.

The subsequent release of his book in early April of 2012—which didn’t violate any operational security and was clearly stated in the opening pages that it’s not an official stance by the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense—set forth a chain of events in which Carl Higbie was forced out of the Navy under suspicious conditions, lost his security clearance and, under more egregious circumstances, had his honorable discharge downgraded shortly after his separation from the Navy from a commander he never met.  This particular injection, according to Higbie and his lawyer, Guy Reschenthaler, may possibly be the first known case where the United States Navy reduced a sailor’s character of service after his honorable separation.

Here’s how the events transpired.

In September of 2009, Carl Higbie, who was serving on his second deployment as a Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class in SEAL Team 10, was involved with the secret mission that captured Iraq’s most-wanted terrorist, Ahmed Hashim Abed—the mastermind of the 2004 Fallujah bridge hanging which resulted in the death and mutilation of four Blackwater USA contractors and was, for all intents and purposes, one of the contributing factors to the increase in sectarian violence throughout Iraq.

After his capture, Abed falsely accused the SEALs of physically abusing him immediately after his detention, an unsubstantiated allegation.  Three of the SEALs ended up getting charged and going to court martial.  Higbie, having been a part of the mission, served as a defense witness during one of the trials. All three SEALs were eventually acquitted, despite intense pressure by top military brass to convict.

IMG_0061It was during this time that Carl Higbie met his current lawyer, Guy Reschenthaler, who at the time was a lieutenant JAG lawyer representing one of the accused.  The two formed a quick friendship based off mutual political leanings and their disenfranchisement with the Navy’s treatment of its personnel in areas of conflict.

As the trials for the accused SEALs were underway in the Spring of 2010, Higbie—whose mounting frustration with the trial was compounded with the loss of a teammate who he felt died because of the restrictive rules of engagement set by SEAL leadership—exercised his First Amendment rights and began writing the manuscript for the aforementioned book.  After its completion in April of 2010, Higbie notified his chain-of-command that he would be publishing the book.  According to him, they “laughed it off.”

For the next two years, Carl Higbie’s chain-of-command had a sufficient amount of opportunity to read his manuscript before its publication and address any concerns they may have had.  Furthermore, Higbie took personal initiative and ran the manuscript through a gauntlet of non-SEAL JAG lawyers and senior Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials to ensure that his writing did not violate any operational security or other Dept. of Defense regulations.  All of them, according to him, gave their unofficial clearance, but continued to instruct him to go through his command.  Still, his superiors and SEAL JAG officers refused to look at the text.

“He continually tried to have the public affairs officer look at it,” Guy Reschenthaler, who is currently out of the Navy and practicing law privately, told me. “They were icing the book.  The Navy went out of their way to make sure his First Amendment rights weren’t being upheld.”

In September of 2011, roughly a year and a half after he completed the manuscript and notified his command of his intentions, Carl Higbie released his manuscript for publication after repeatedly telling his superiors that he was going to release the book which, again, was within his First Amendment rights both as a citizen and member of the United States Military.

In early April of 2012, two years after he completed his manuscript, Battle on the Homefront was published by Ameriman, LLC based in Riverside, CT.

On the very same day of his book’s release, Higbie received a preformatted letter from his chain-of-command citing “possible ethical violations.”  Soon after that, he received a Page 13 written counseling form for “potentially inappropriate political speech.”  Nevertheless, there was no non-judicial punishment brought against him.  His record, minus the new Page 13, had been spotless throughout his career.

It was at this junction that Carl Higbie, who by then was serving as an instructor for air operations for all SEAL teams in Little Creek, VA, began receiving what he claims was systematic, unjust harassment from his superiors.

This alleged persecution came mostly in the form of receiving counseling chits for uniform violations—which he had never received before in his eight year career.  These ranged from minor uniform violations to potentially treasonous behavior.  The most notable case included an incident where a superior officer, who was wearing gym attire, wrote Carl up for showing up to work in gym attire.  Moreover, his command began to assign him menial tasks that wouldn’t have otherwise been given to SEALs of his rank and experience.

Soon after that, an independent review from a reserve naval officer, Commander Grant Staats, recommended that Carl Higbie’s security clearance be removed along with his removal from the SEAL community.

After Staats’ recommendation, the situation culminated with Carl Higbie having to attend a Trident Review Board made up of high-ranking SEALs and Navy personnel.  On this board, which was to determine his future eligibility as a SEAL, he claims that he was castigated by numerous sailors who had previously told him, during personal conversations, that they agreed with his stances.

Additionally, Carl entered the board with over seventy letters of character recommendation from peers and senior members of the Special Operations community.

A notable excerpt reads (for the sake of OpSec, names have been redacted):

I have served in the United States Navy for 17 and half years as a member of the SEAL community, I have completed 13 deployments throughout my career and I feel that I am very capable of recognizing effective leaders and outstanding operators for our armed forces. I can say without a doubt that it would be a devastating blow to our community if SO1 Higbie is not permitted to continue to share his wealth of knowledge and experience as a SEAL operator with his current rank and qualifications.

Another from a Lieutenant Commander in the community reads:

The quality of his work and desire to learn his job were only indicators of the person he is and what drives him.  It was always clear to me that what motivated him was not self, but something much greater.  His belief in our country and our mission stood out among dedicated warriors who were willing to put their lives on the line without hesitation.  I’m sure that I am not alone when I say SO1 Higbie would be one of the first SEALs that I would pick to serve with.

In summary, I highly recommend SO1 be absolved of all charges against him and that he be allowed to continue to serve his country in the dedicated and faithful manner he has to date.  He will continue be a highly valuable asset to any unit he serves with.

“The decision was made before I set foot in there,” Carl tells me.  “This came from way higher than the people on that board.”

me and gpd patchHigbie told me that during his board he openly fought back.

“I know some of you,” he claims to have said.  “We sat around campfires in Iraq bitching about this stuff [the contents in the book].”

“It makes the military look bad,” one board member allegedly said.

Carl Higbie was stripped of his Naval Special Warfare Trident after the board convened—dropping him of his status as a Navy SEAL.

The Navy’s next step was to give Higbie a captain’s mast—a non-judicial punishment that would have further disgraced his reputation.  There was one kicker, though: the Navy knew that if they brought him to a captain’s mast, Carl would surely be requesting a court-martial and, according to Carl, “They weren’t going to take me on in a court-martial because they knew I’d win in a fair trial.”

In a behind-closed-doors meeting shortly after his Trident Board, Higbie was brought in by leadership and told he could “get out peacefully” if he signed a DD-214 separation document.  Worn from the destruction of his name and legal battles, along with the fact that he was a few months from his natural release date from the Navy, Carl signed the document on July 8, 2012.  In Block 24 of the document, under “CHARACTER OF SERVICE,” it clearly reads, “HONORABLE.”  Block 28 gives his reason for separation under “REDUCTION IN FORCE.”  Higbie acknowledged and signed for his Honorable Discharge in Block 21a.

“I wouldn’t have signed if it didn’t say ‘Honorable,’” he says.

After eight and a half years serving with distinction in one of America’s most elite military units, Carl Higbie was a civilian again.

“He was a SEAL’s SEAL,” his current representation and friend, Guy Reschenthaler, tells me.  “There were a lot of people who came out in support of him and, from what I understand, some of their careers suffered because of it.”

The events that transpired around Higbie’s discharge could arguably derive from a growing push within the Navy to construct and control their own image.  With a growing number of SEALs publishing books, consulting for video games and films, and speaking with the media, top brass has taken increasingly harsh measures to combat these private endeavors.  But while the brass has hampered individual activities within its lower ranks, they’ve simultaneously indulged in their own ventures—most notably the 2012 film Act of Valor, which was released shortly before Higbie’s discharge.

What separates Act of Valor from every other film in American cinematic history was the overwhelming control the Department of Defense had on the script, production, and release.  It was, as Huffington Post writer Jordan Zakarin stated, “born not in Hollywood, but the Pentagon.”

AoV’s production came at a time when the SEAL community was making a drastic transition in numbers.  There had been a call in Washington DC—which trickled down to the Navy command—to increase the amount of active-duty SEALs and, as a result, their answer was the creation of a feature length, cinematic recruiting commercial.

New York Times writer John Anderson elaborated in his February 17, 2012 articles titled, “On Active Duty For The Movies (Real Ammo).”

Rear Adm. Denny Moynihan, of the Navy Office of Information in Washington, explained that every four years the Defense Department “looks at itself and says, ‘What is it that you need to be moving forward, and where do you think you are?’ ” He added, “For the Navy and the SEAL community it was, ‘Hey, you need 500 more SEALs and that launched a series of initiatives to try to attract more people. This film was one of those initiatives.”    

One of the Act of Valor stars was a real life SEAL, Lt. Cmdr. Rorke Denver, who wrote his own book, Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior, in which he wrote about this push by Navy leadership.

…”We want more SEALs. You will get us more SEALS.” There was also an addendum to that, unstated but perfectly clear: “And if you won’t, we will find new leaders who will.”

…That spurred one of the greatest silent and under-the-radar wars in our community’s history.  On one side were the senior commanders who were charged with creating more SEALs. Their superiors wanted it. So did the politicians in Washington.  On the other side was, basically, the rest of the force junior to them.  Without question, all the instructors were dead set against lowering the standards in any way that would get more guys to graduate….

diving blacked out eyes“A lot of us in NSW [Navy Special Warfare] were really angry about our tactics and procedures being exposed in that movie,” Higbie tells me.  “A lot of our insert/extract capabilities were shown, things that were fairly secretive before.”

We must ask an honest question: Is there a certain degree of hypocrisy in the Navy’s push to censor its lower ranking personnel while concurrently working on their own media projects with questionable releases of OpSec?

The story should be over at this point.  This should be nothing more than a cautionary tale about a citizen-warrior utilizing the very rights he was not only sworn to uphold, but upheld in some of the most dangerous and secret missions one could ask of a servicemember.  Carl Higbie took on Big Navy over a book that he had given them ample warning about… and lost.

What transpired after his separation is where things become patently outrageous.

Shortly after his separation, in early August, Carl went on Fox and Friends for two days to promote his book, discuss certain issues regarding the President and senior military leadership, and to talk about the upcoming election.  Again, Carl Higbie was a civilian at this point and was not legally constrained by any aspects of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Like any citizen, he had free reign to voice his opinion.

In early September of 2012, as Higbie was settled into his new life with a successful tree removal company in Virginia Beach, VA, he received a letter from the Department of the Navy that was dated August 28, 2012.

In this letter, he was informed that the “Honorable” discharge listed in his previous DD-214 had been due to a administrative error and that his character of service had been downgraded to a “General” in an amended DD-215 document.

This downgraded characterization of service can impinge on the quality of Carl Higbie’s life for many different reasons.  Aside from the troubling reality that it can exclude him from many well-paying and coveted jobs offered to men of his experience, it also affects his access to his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits—something he needs to rely on due to the fact he interrupted his collegiate wrestling scholarship to serve his country in a time of war.

The letter was signed by a Captain W.F. Denton—who had taken over for Carl’s previous commander after Carl was separated under honorable conditions.  Higbie had never met or served under Captain Denton, yet this man was changing the nature of his discharge after he had signed it in person.

Furthermore, the amended discharge was dated August 10, 2012—four days after Higbie’s last appearance on Fox and Friends where he spoke candidly about his views on the President and other controversial issues.  And again, he was doing this as a normal citizen, not as an active-duty sailor.

Captain Denton, in his notarized letter, cites the reason for Carl’s downgrade in Paragraph 3:

higbie #1

That NAVPERS 1070/13 was in reference to Higbie’s previous Page 13 for “potentially inappropriate political speech.”  What’s troubling is that the minor charge was not an issue and was not brought up when Higbie signed his Honorable Discharge under the guise of Reduction in Force policies.

Higbie’s chain-of-command were all fully aware that he was willfully signing the document under the acknowledgment, as plainly stated in his DD-214, that he would be receiving an Honorable Discharge.

Guy Reschenthaler quickly sent off a response letter to Captain Denton asking him to reconsider the clearly unmerited change of Higbie’s discharge.

One excerpt reads:

higbie #2

He continues:

higbie #3

Reschenthaler, in a memo to the media dated April 8, 2013, lays out a concrete explanation as to why the Navy’s change in Higbie’s discharge is contrary to its policy:

The characterization violates a Bureau of Personnel Instruction (BUPERSINST 1900.8C) which states that the “character of service must be appropriate and consistent with the reason and authority for separation.”  As Higbie separated under “Force Shaping,” meaning that he left voluntarily due to overstaffing, he should not have been given a general discharge.  A general discharge is typically reserved for involuntary separations where the servicemember has done something below standards to warrant separation.  In short, a general characterization is inconsistent with “Force Shaping.”

Me at the crossed sordsWhat we’re possibly witnessing is a concerted effort by members of the Unites States Navy to slander the reputation of one of its own.  And it is clearly evident to me that their efforts to inhibit Higbie’s post-service professional and educational prospects are purely retaliatory in nature.

I must state, in full disclosure, that my personal opinions do not necessarily coincide with or reflect those of Carl Higbie.  I don’t have to agree with him.  But what bothers me about this case is the Navy’s plain disregard for his First Amendment rights during the events leading up to the book’s publishing.  They had every opportunity to review his manuscript beforehand, but instead opted to send him through a cyclone of bureaucratic red tape in an attempt to wear him out.

In addition, the most obvious wrongdoing on the Navy’s part has been their apparent drive to penalize him after his honorable service—a service that was both honorable through conduct and, more pertinently, legal documentation.

“I’m personally offended by what has happened to Carl,” Reschenthaler says.  “Senior leadership doesn’t support Carl, but I think he’s a hero to a lot of the younger officers and enlisted personnel.”

Carl Higbie’s take on the matter is similar to certain arguments in his book about military bureaucracy.

“This is another example of military senior leadership doing what’s best for their career over their country.”

It’s difficult to establish the fine line between the American warrior’s duty to uphold the ideals of our nation and when he or she rightfully feels the need to speak out against it.  We do know, however, that the enduring tug-of-war between trigger puller and policy enforcer will continue as long as discourse is alive and healthy in this country.  But who sets the standard… and how far can they go to punish those who preserve that very speech?

Comments

comments

47 Comments

  1. Mike

    April 26, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Are you fucking kidding me? This is a big problem. These fuckers need to sack up and take care of their own. Every one of the officers should threaten to resign unless this man’s honorable discharge is reinstated.

    • Dallas

      April 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      I completely agree with you, however, there are unfortunately a lot of people in the military that don’t care for anybody but themselves. If these officers would have stood up they would’ve been shut down and possibly be facing some of the same things happening to Higbie. I’m not saying it’s right, because it definitely isn’t, they should stand up for their own; people just don’t seem to care anymore about what it takes to serve nowadays. They think that service personnel are disposable, when most are not. I say most because there are a lot of the before mentioned personnel that only care for themselves.

      • ISO

        April 28, 2013 at 2:37 am

        Just need a few good men with brass and balls that still believe in what our brothers and forefathers have died for to stand up to this fubar mess we are in as a whole.

      • John

        April 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm

        Spec-Ops needs to refuse to deploy until these guys get some support from their command back home. This is how the “Just following Orders” crap starts. What’re they going to do…Court-Martial thousands of operators simultaneously? This is an absolute disgrace.

        • Thomas Sutherland

          May 14, 2013 at 9:30 am

          You can’t refuse to deploy. That would constitute mutiny.

  2. Tom

    April 26, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I was a complete fuck-up when I was in the Navy. Uniform issues, stuff like that. I was a good Corpsman, but an alleged drinking problem and a master chief decided I really needed to be out of the Navy. I didn’t fight it because I was needed at home.

    Essentially, I was forced out. I got a fucking honorable discharge. WTF is happening with a man who had fewer problems than I did doesn’t? Really?

    Our nation is going to shit, and this is why.

    • Alex

      April 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Exactly. I came back from deployment, drank myself stupid and started missing formations, fucking up uniforms and basic tasks, and generally being a Blue Falcon to my unit. A run through ASAP and my UNIT decided I was better off at home and I got an Honorable. This is absolute nonsense.

  3. SGT Kane

    April 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I’m sure that much smarter folks than I, such as Higbie and Reschenthaler, know this already, but he can file a DD 293, “APPLICATION FOR THE REVIEW OF DISCHARGE FROM THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES”, which is reviewed by the Military Service Discharge Review Board rather than his chain of command for final determination. Odds are good that of the five sitting members on the board, none of them would even be apart of the SEAL/DEVGRU community.

    The board can upgrade the discharge if they determine that the discharge was improperly classified, or not properly executed. Based on what is written here, it sounds like this would be a slam dunk.

    • MilDot

      April 26, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      This probably goes much higher up the food chain than the SEAL/DEVGRU community, he may be SOL. Fighting the beast while in the beast’s belly is a losing prospect. I do hope that he does get some justice though.

  4. Mad Medic

    April 26, 2013 at 9:24 am

    The Navy, and really the DoD in general need to learn a vital lesson here. Loyalty goes both ways. For too long a lot of warriors have been sacrificed because it was politically convenient for the services. You can only do that for so long until the service breaks entirely.

  5. RJBare

    April 26, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Everyone involved in that affair knew what was up. Having him sign for an honorable discharge and later changing it is FRAUD of the highest sort. What a gaggle of useless punks. I wonder which useless politician is responsible for this mess?

  6. Mark

    April 26, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I’ve never heard of the discharge authority changing characterization after discharge. The Naval Discharge Review Board definitely can change characterization, which may be the only option here. Nothing happens fast–they can take a year or more. Hopefully you saved all the letters of recommendation. Have your attorney friend work up a packet.
    I have a general and it hasn’t affected me at all–I have a federal job. However, I don’t need Post-9/11 GI Bill, nor did I claim veterans preference for hiring. I did apply 7 months ago for an upgrade. I think if they have something legitimate to hang their decision on, and the case is well presented, odds are pretty good (the discharge must be either unjust (“inequitable”) or erroneous (“improper.”) I definitely think you have a case for both. I have reviewed a ton of upgrade decisions for Army and for any drug infraction it’s a NOGO. Cases where legal rights have been obviously jeopardized are successful. It might not be the best idea to hang your case on “the PC police railroaded me out” (which is apparently the case…) Those same senior officer CYA types are on the NDRB. Better approach might be my service was overwhelmingly honorable, and the discharge was improper. I suppose I can find your book on Amazon–consider me a customer.

  7. David

    April 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    This entire article should of never had to of been written, but because of what has been done unjustly to one who served it was required.
    Once again we see good men who served with honor being stabbed in the back by a military and a government that wants to control and then toss away that which they deem as unworthy and troublesome.
    I feel for this warrior, Carl Higbie. He acted with honor time and time again. He never asked to be a hero and never put anyone’s life in harms way that he did not need to. He was, and is, one of the best among us. The brass be damned! He deserves a personal,”Thank you for serving.”, from the President himself for all his has sacrificed and done for his country, his team, his friends, and his family.
    I am sorry Carl is getting shafted for for no other reason than reiterating what we all thought and talked about over coffee, fires, and during Ops in many many different AOs.
    I am sad the powers that be can not give the man his due instead of being so petty.

    God watch over all who serve and the people of our country whom they protect.
    And God please save us from those at the top who have the power to ruin lives so easily and do so without thought or regard as to how it effects those their decision impact.

  8. leftoftheboom

    April 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Officers are selected by approval of the Senate. That gets them military force in line with what big government wants.

    All it takes is someone high enough on the food chain being told they will be held responsible if any more negativity gets published and they can lock down anyone.

    You see a loss of trust in the chain of command because they will not stand for the troops. We get the military the government wants. Period.

  9. Claudia

    April 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Despite the fact the sailor had told PAO of the book he was writing, he shouldn’t have written the book. The problem is, we as soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, lose most of our “First Amendment” as soon as we swear in. There are some things that we just can’t say because we’re representing the military as a whole. We are no longer a single person, we’re a group of people comprised of battle buddies and people of higher ranks. As I’ve read in the training book given to us during Reception at BCT, we’re not permitted to speak to the media without going through the proper chain of command, and even then saying anything to media regarding YOU or YOUR personal views is not allowed to be said. Had this soldier written and published the book while no longer in the military, this wouldn’t be the issue it is now. An example would be the soldier who got into a lot of trouble by posting his dislike of President Obama on his Facebook. Again, he’s representing the military with every post, and by talking bad about the top dog in everyone’s chain of command will get you into hot water.

    As far as changing the code in which a soldier is relieved of duty, it’s very hard to believe that people would go through that trouble to change it at last minute. That’s not to say they didn’t, but, from my experience when I signed up for the military, I didn’t actually read all of what my contract said and thus entered as an E-1 instead of E-3. Needless to say, I hope things go as they should for the sailor.

    • John

      April 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      The idea that you lose your rights as soon as you swear in is complete and utter bull-shit. That may be what the military indoctrinates you to think, but there is no such statement in the Constitution that makes exceptions to rights for the military.

  10. Austin

    April 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    It seems that instead of honoring and thanking those who give us the most, as a nation, America spits in the faces of the men who gave the most.

    It’s sad, but it is a recurrent theme. When you have outlived the selfish country’s use for you.. You are discarded. They never really were thankful to have you in the first place- sure they needed you, but they have a sense of entitlement- that there will just always be warriors to do their dirty work.

    • ISO

      April 28, 2013 at 2:39 am

      The American People have never benefited from Wars. You signed up for you own reasons. And the People who do benefit, dont even live in the US.

  11. Carl Higbie

    April 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Thank you all for your comments, we have and still are pursuing legal routes and will keep you posted. Please pass this story on, thanks to jack for his effort on it

    • William Bruce Edwardd

      April 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

      You are an honorable man. Stick to your principles and values as this is what a real American hero is made
      of. Stay strong!!

    • advancedflier241

      May 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Hey Carl I am utterly dismayed by your experiences. You deserve an apology and at minimum to have your discharge papers reset to honorable. I’m a fellow trident wearer and while I haven’t read your book – it frankly doesn’t matter – I believe your’re entitled to your point of view and to share stories of your adventures as a frog as long as no opsec was violated. I also believe you deserve the benefit of any doubt any of the NSW/SOCOM COC might have. If other frogs writing books and consulting for video games are still getting honorable discharges then why wouldn’t you? Also there are several separate issues here and the one that is troubling is changing the character of your service without your knowledge – that’s cowardly and frankly not representative of the true character of our community of all SOF professionals and cannot be tolerated or overlooked. I also think you know that for whatever reason the community lost confidence in you which led to your discharge – and you had to go – I get and accept that – and that’s the way it is in our community. But to change the characterization of your service in such an underhanded way is a “red line” that must not be tolerated. Be well brother.

    • Thomas Sutherland

      May 14, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Hang in there, Bro. Many of us out here have your Six. This isn’t over yet. We just have to rally around each other.

  12. The Parson

    April 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Carl is a class act. A true believer in the American way and someone who shares the gospel of Liberty in all he does. A real straight shooter, literally and figuratively. His treatment, no doubt, is a reflection of this admin’s feelings about the Military in general and the Patriot in particular.
    May God continue to bless both Guy and Carl in all that they do.

  13. Curt Brownlee

    April 27, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    As Lt. Col. Oliver North stated during the Congressional hearings on the Iran-Contra affair, “I felt like a pawn in a chess game being played by giants”, so is Carl Higbie. The bureaucracy will protect itself at all times and in every way, legal and otherwise. Good luck in his efforts to re-establish his honorable discharge status. Another good man screwed by those whose orders and rules he exercised.

  14. Nick

    April 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve seen similar actions taken in other parts of the SF world. Total lack of confidence in most Senior Leadership because their balls are in there throats!!

    • Jimmy Gibson

      April 28, 2013 at 3:14 am

      Gentleman Bastards, We were,are,and will continue to be the disposable One’s….we have been been since the first organized “Raiders” threw rocks…self service will always trump Greater Service…SOF will remain.as it should Greater Service..Self Service always gets a Bullet in the End, Go quiet..or Go Loud…..But we always go knowing the Truth..Fuck ‘em. Love,Jimmy.

  15. Andy

    April 28, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Reading between the lines, is sounds to me that some of the adverse actions to come down on Higbie are most likely directed from “on high”. If not from the CiC, then most likely from his “political police” whom I like to call his “Brown Shirts”. We know for a fact that President GWB faced relentless criticism from the whole gamut of society in the U.S. including some service members. While they may have suffered some ill effects from their local chain of command, punishment has never (that I am aware of) been imposed from a field grade officer (O-6). Our current CiC has shown, on numerous occasions, that he has no compunction over punishing his enemies and rewarding his supporters.

  16. Gary

    April 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Carl, besides trying to work with the Navy bureaucracy, I would recommend contacting your Congressman and/or Senator. They seem to get the Navy to “put out or shut up” pretty quickly. They can task the Navy IG to look into it and get an answer back within a short period of time. That’s their job and they look good for fixing a FU system.

  17. Sara

    April 28, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    You denigrate POTUS while on active duty, and then you’re surprised when you get in shit for it. Suck it up, princess. They told you not to write the book, you did. Now you have to deal with the consequences.

    Get over yourself, man. And stop feeling sorry for yourself. You have no one to blame but your own dumb ass.

    • Thomas Sutherland

      May 14, 2013 at 9:46 am

      Sara, you’re a dumbass. If anyone deserves denigrating it is this POS POTUS.

  18. Carl Higbie

    April 29, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    ohh Sara, looks like we struck a nerve for you, you seem to fit right in with senior leadership in the military, maybe even a bit of an Obama supporter. The point you failed to take from this is, YES they told me not to write it, but I strictly abided by the laws and rights that superseded their order, carefully choreographed by a team of JAGS and civilian attorneys. Despite what career-centric leadership may believe, as per MILPERSMAN DON PAO regulations 0102.12a “DON personnel in a private capacity in media have the first Amendment right to release non classified information” it goes on to say “politically partisan commentary is prohibited in an official capacity and/or in uniform without DOD approval only”.
    seeing how i clearly stated in the waiver in the front of the book the required disclaimer also included in the MILPERSMAN DON PAO manual, they had no legal recourse for action.
    In the end, if the military wanted to take this action on me there where legitimate pathways they were bound to. They underhanded the laws and broke strict standards regarding procedures to do the things they did. In short, they had the chance to take me down when i requested a courts martial 13 times!!!!!

    • GCG

      April 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      I am a retired Navy JAG with extensive experience with administrative discharges from “both sides of the aisle.” The action of the Navy in this case (if accurately reported) is simply outrageous. I would be glad to assist your attorney in any way I can to pursue a reversal of this sham characterization of service.

      • Carl Higbie

        April 30, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        GCG, if you could, contact me through my website on the homepage, i dont want to post my email here

        • Rob

          April 30, 2013 at 6:09 pm

          I will take care of it.

        • Kirk

          May 1, 2013 at 4:35 am

          Carl, I am sorry the “politicians in uniform” screwed you and that the so-called real men aided them or just stood by silent while it happened. My advice is to contact your congress person. I served in uniform many years ago but at that time all military officer promotions above 0-4 had to be approved by congress. This is how congress keeps control of the military. This is also why military officers are scared shitless of ending up on a congresspersons shit list. The congress person can literally end their career. You should contact the congress person from your district and perhaps even one of your state senators. I am sure they can fix this just as easy as you or I can go order a beer at the local watering hole. If for any reason you don’t get the reception from your congressperson that I think you will then I would suggest posting your story online along with your congressperson and senators email addresses and ask people that read your story to send emails to your congress person and senator urging them to fix this. Maybe even do a short YouTube video just laying out the basics, I am sure it would go viral. You may even want to name names. I guarantee the last thing the weasels that screwed you want is to be subjected to the light of day. Stay strong brother and show those weasels that they are no match for a righteous man on a righteous mission!

      • Rob

        April 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

        Per Carl’s request I will be sending you an email.

  19. Kirk

    May 1, 2013 at 3:41 am

    The vast majority of civilians are unaware that the military is largely run by “politicians in uniform” who would sell out their own mothers to protect and/or further their careers. Even less civilians are aware that the Special Warfare Community is just as infected by these types as the rest of the military. The military counts on the members not wanting to stain the lenses through which the public views them, thereby concealing this secret. Unfortunately that just gives cover to those without honor. Perhaps its time to make the public aware of this dishonorable and disgusting “military secret”.

  20. Big John

    May 1, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I hesitate to reply to this article, my emotions are torn in both directions. I retired from the Navy as a Master Chief (I made E-9 in 18 years, I was very good at my job and had a nack for getting sailors to work with me not for me). My retirement, although not forced, was disappointing, it pales in comparison to PO Higby’s but I did feel slighted by the “chain of command”. As I neared the 20 year mark I made sure my superiors knew I was considering transfer to the Fleet Reserve (retirement) and not once by any individual, including or Command Master Chief, was I approached to reenlist. I was perplexed but quiet about it for weeks until I finally conferred my disappointment to a friend (a fellow E-9) and he told me “you’re not a big enough dickhead to your men, you don’t lead the way they want you to”. I knew this, I had had several “private” counselings throughout my career on this subject but my results were good and I could not bring myself to change, it was not in my personality. I submitted my chit for transfer and it made it up the chain at the speed of light, I had never gotten a chit through so fast. To this day I regret quitting after 20, I left a lot of good men behind to deal with the juggernaught that is the Navy by themselves, but such is life. However, I loved my time in the Navy and the military way of life, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Some here will completely disagree with me but one of the best coping mechanisms that I developed to deal with military bullshit was to aknowledge (at least in my own mind) that I did, at enlistment, give up my constitutional rights in order to protect those rights for all other Americans. Even at the young age of 19 I was cognizant of this “sacrafice” and made it willingly. Some would say I was a chump but I figured if I was going to lay it all on the line I was going to lay it all on the line. It worked for me for 20 years and I have no regrets about the way I did it.

  21. Sid

    May 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Ok so what do you guys expect? we have ‘leaders’ that put ‘personal safety’ over standing on pronciple. And it goes as far back as Colin Powell. Remember him, the guy that didn’t have the balls to do anything for my buds in Mogadishu???

    Senior officers that display modicum of intestinal fortitude are dismissed. Gen Pace, Gen McChrystal, etc etc and they’re replaced by puss’s.

    And it all falls back on the shoulders of congress, whom WE elect! Where does the buck stop?!

  22. Lance

    May 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I have the highest opinion of our elite communities. Having said that, I fully expect the SEAL community to live up to their creed and do the right thing. If this is not protested forcefully and vocally by all in the SEAL community, then I will be left to speculate that our elite forces have a cancer growing. It is the worst kind of cancer: It kills the moral collective character of the SEAL community, resulting in loss of moral compass, devolving into nothing more than corrupt thugs. It is our moral character that separates us from being just another armed thug.

    Many military leaders are being replaced by a new breed of gutless lapdogs. I retired after twenty years in the army and have seen what this can do to the combat effectiveness and general morale of a unit.

    I’ve only heard one side of the story here and entertain hearing the other side in all fairness. Because the story is out, the public’s perception of our elite forces is taking a severe hit. If we do not police our own, we will lose the public’s confidence. The truth now needs to be told and justified action taken as the public deserves no less and if the facts are accurate in the story, this SEAL deserves to be restored and the gutless leadership removed immediately.

  23. Lance

    May 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    As we all know, the military is a unique community regarding the rights of a civilian when compared to those same rights when you put on a uniform.

    Carl, I feel your frustration and have faced similar frustrating challenges during my military career. From what I read, you were stonewalled when attempting to get your book reviewed and approved by your command so you received unofficial review, but still no response from your command. Although your command’s actions are outrageous, they feel justified because you published without the review that they refused to perform. That is going to be your biggest challenge as I see it. In my estimation you will successfully challenge the discharge characterization.

    From what I have read here, the actions taken by your command were cowardly and not consistent with the leadership principles expected of all military leaders. My concern is that these weak leaders are still in command of our elite SEAL teams. Their command decisions made behind closed doors are now in the open and may impact the moral of those that serve under them by undermining the teams confidence in their leadership. Regarding this incident’s impact on combat readiness, only time will tell and only after the blood is shed as a direct result. I pray that the cancer is identified and removed before the patient succumbs.

    The frustrations you are feeling are the direct result of a POTUS that in my opinion, exhibits the classic traits of a sociopath. I would have characterized the traits as that of a psychopath, but the higher degree of intelligence that is the main difference is missing, warranting the correct label of sociopath.

  24. TC

    May 2, 2013 at 12:39 am

    I find it amazing that soldiers a taken for granted once again for standing up for what they believe. No one said they wont do their job, but having put their lives on the line, day-in, day-out, I would say that they have this right. As a former enlisted man who became an officer, I learned that popularity is not a leadership trait. Many people forget that, and punish soldiers by the pen, behind closed doors. These individuals are cowards, who sit behind desk, or spend little if no time in the field, but sacrifice others to enhance their own damn careers. But let the balloon go up again, and trust me it will, soldiers like Carl will be the first in line to defend this damn country, in which others take for granted. I say job well done Carl, walk proud, you deserve it and have damn sure earned it. Remember this……(Only God Can Judge You)TC

  25. Sgt. F

    May 2, 2013 at 5:04 am

    I’m a combat veteran, 8 1/2 with over 10 deployments. If this is how the military is treating its brothers and sisters now… I’m glad I’m out. This is a load of crap ! Put those brass bitches in the line of fire and they would pray for men like Carl to save their asses ! I’m behind him 100 %

  26. YN2(SW/AW) Marshall

    May 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    As a former Yeoman, this is clearly a violation of Navy policy. Any Seaman Personnel Specialist/Yeoman knows this. How the brass get away with it is unbelievable. Right to redress!!

    • Blah

      May 14, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Thanks for your Outstanding SERVICE To County and the TEAMS! You’re a Great Man!!And a REAL TEAM GUY!!

  27. Shawn Nielsen

    May 22, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    This is a tragedy.

    Remind me again why the Obama administration can guide Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow to all the information they please for creating “Zero Dark Thirty”, yet guys with boots on the ground like Mr Higbie here, Mark Owen, “The Shooter” from Op. Neptune’s Spear, and the SEAL advisor to Medal of Honor: Warfigter are roasted for sharing their lives? A really tragic double-standard.

  28. Jerry Foshee

    August 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

    This is a sad example of brass trampling brawn. Whoever is driving this effort to malign SO1 Higbie is the one who should be forced out of the Navy. To characterize Higbie’s service record deserving of a general discharge is an obvious wrongdoing, and has to deeply hurt Higbie. Perhaps the biggest slight taking his Trident. How in the Hell could members of a Trident Review Board, presumably ‘HONORABLE’ men, recommend striping one of their own of the symbol he rightfully earned, honored, and upheld? The members of the Trident Review Board have, by doing this, tarnished their own Tridents.

    The US Navy is doing more damage to its service members & its reputation, than ANYTHING Higbie is alleged to have done. This goes far and above the typical military BS that service members must deal with everyday. The men driving this are the ones who have brought shame on NSW, the US Navy, and service as a whole.

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