Top Navy SEAL orders haircuts and inspections for 'ethically misaligned' elite force

Navy SEALs will have to adhere to traditional grooming standards and regular inspections in a new "back to basics" directive aimed at restoring proper leadership and ethics within the special warfare community.

Rear Adm. Collin Green, the Navy Special Warfare Command chief, issued the four-page directive to senior leaders after a series of incidents that raised questions about the SEAL community's morality and discipline.

"We are U.S. Naval Officers and Sailors first and foremost and we will realign ourselves to these standards immediately," Green wrote.

Navy SEALs will have to adhere to traditional grooming standards and regular inspections in a new "back to basics" directive aimed at restoring proper leadership and ethics within the special warfare community.

Rear Adm. Collin Green, the Navy Special Warfare Command chief, issued the four-page directive to senior leaders after a series of incidents that raised questions about the SEAL community's morality and discipline.


SEAL commanders will be required to conduct "routine inspections of your units and strictly enforce all Navy grooming and uniform standards, including adherence to all Navy traditions, customs and ceremonies." These inspections will include not only the officers and sailors themselves but living and physical training areas. Commanders will be held "accountable for all substandard issues related to your personnel on and off duty."

Traditionally, special operators such as the SEALs have been granted some leeway when it comes to haircuts, beards, and uniforms, due to their unique role. But that appears to be changing following Green's review of ethical and cultural problems plaguing the SEAL world since Sept. 11, 2001. While the SEALs are no strangers to media, Navy officials have been concerned that the force has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months.

Most recently, members of SEAL Team 7 were recalled from Iraq after an alcohol-fueled Fourth of July party. Investigations into allegations of sexual assault and fraternization are ongoing.

An internal Navy investigation found several members of SEAL Team 10 were caught for cocaine use in 2018. They previously got away with the drug use by cheating tests, with some reporting they were rarely tested at all.

Two Navy SEALs are suspected of being involved in the death of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgan in Mali on June 4, 2017. The SEALs and two other special operators charged in the case allegedly plotted to record Melgan being sexually assaulted in a scheme to embarrass him.

The trial of Eddie Gallagher, a SEAL accused of various war crimes, revealed in June that his team had a bar on the roof of its base in Mosul, Iraq, where the commanding officer "drank with most, if not all, of the enlisted SEALs" and "played DJ." Team members also posed for pictures with the corpse of an ISIS fighter Gallagher was accused of killing. He was found not guilty of all charges except unlawfully taking pictures with the corpse.

In addition to ordering inspections, Green has put a halt on the number of SEAL units. The units "will only grow at the pace of excellence," he wrote, focusing on "quality over quantity." The military has heavily relied on special operations forces such as the SEALs to shoulder the nearly two decades of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency fighting. This overreliance has led to concerns over whether the units are able to maintain their standards of excellence.

Green also wants only the "top performers" to instruct future SEALs.

"You will only allow your best to train and mentor our Force," he wrote.





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