Army Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas was surprisingly candid when speaking on the growing trend of Special Force’s members writing books and serving as a consultants in films. Gen. Thomas, who heads the U.S. Special Operations Command, is usually reserved when it comes to addressing anything that may endanger the country or his men. But on this topic, he is angry and speaking out.
“It is a phenomenon that is anathema to me. It runs counter to everything that any of us who ever entered special operations know [is] the right way to do business,” Thomas said. He added, “It baffles me that people don’t hold true to that standard.” If you couldn’t already tell what his stance is on this subject, here is his closing statement: “We won’t tolerate it.”
In particular, he is referring to Navy SEAL, Matt Bissonnette, who had a $6.6 million settlement in August with the United States government.
Bissonnette wrote a book titled “No Easy Day” that described his role in taking out HVT Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Operation Neptune Spear. The SEAL was ordered to forfeit all profits and royalties after he violated his non-disclosure agreement with the US government.
While most of the media pressure has focused on the SEALS, Thomas explained that all members of Spec-Ops should be reserved when speaking with the media. “Enforcing it isn’t exclusive to one camp of special operators,” Thomas said. “We’re hurting ourselves with this gratuitous release of movies, books and whatnot.”
Previous Special Forces have written a plethora of books since Operation Neptune Spear took place in 2001. The market has been oversaturated with the former military members writing their first-hand experiences in these confidential raids.
It’s no secret that Americans clamor for more details about the little known Special Forces members and films such as “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Act of Valor” have been filling those needs. Thomas said that the trend hit a “high watermark” in the last couple of years and that he hopes for less exposure going forward.
Thomas then proceeded to use himself as a prime example of how to handle yourself with the media and not to put yourself in the limelight. “It was humorous when I got announced for this job that the only article that came out about me was ‘the shadowy general that no one knows anything about,’” Thomas joked. “Right answer, right?”
Thomas berated those under his command about the issue but he is unclear if those talks will have any effect in how the “elite” handle themselves in the future.