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Ethics and Our SOF Culture 7 A Call To Action SOCOM | General Raymond Thomas

Ethics and Our SOF Culture 7 A Call To Action SOCOM | General Raymond Thomas

Teammates,

Our Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and
Low Intensity conflict and I are sending out the attached
cosigned guidance on ethics for everyone in the command. It is
focused on our Special Operations community and builds on ethics
guidance provided by the Secretary of Defense.

Trust 7 among teammates and especially with our Nation eis our
currency in Special trade on it every day. We
have strived long and hard over many years of combat to earn it.
We will not allow inexcusable and reprehensible violations of
that trust to erode decades of honorable service, teamwork and
progress by the members of USSOCOM.

But a broader review of events across USSOCOM make this guidance
timely and give it greater urgency. A survey of allegations of
serious misconduct across our formations over the last year
indicate that USSOCOM faces a deeper challenge of a disordered
view of the Team and the Individual in our SOF culture.

The team a a small number of committed and capable Americans
held together by tight bonds forged by shared mission and risk
victories and sorrows - is rightly a celebrated aspect of
service in SOF. But the Team is not of ultimate value. 

The Team exists to serve a higher purpose -to support and defend the
Constitution of the United States of America. When the Team
becomes ultimate in our values system, our identity becomes
distorted and ultimately corrosive to everything we hold dear.
The Individual is also highly valued in SOF because victory
demands individual skill and force of will in the face of
adversity. But the Individual is also not of ultimate value.
When each of us volunteered to serve America in uniform, we
placed our individual well-being and value beneath that of the
defense of our Constitution and the lives and liberties of our
fellow Americans.

Left unchecked, a disordered value system threatens to erode the
trust of our fellow comrades, our senior leaders, and ultimately
the American people. Correcting this trend will take committed
leadership at all levels of our command and personal moral
courage by all. No component or command has escaped this trend
and all of us will feel the disproportionate and negative
impacts of these incidents on our mission and our people. For
this reason, I am calling all of us to rapid and focused action
to begin to identify and address the underlying causes, to
prevent further erosion of trust in our force, and to ultimately
produce a more effective special operations force for our
Nation.

In response to these trends, USSOCOM will undertake the
following actions:

Beginning on 1 Jan 2019, we will execute a 90-day focus period
on core values and their role in our SOF culture by the
following actions:

* USSOCOM training and education commands and
institutes will review programs of instruction for opportunities
to address core values in SOF culture in ways that will impact
our formations, to include values-based decision-making and
reinforcement of moral courage. This includes all assessment and
selection venues for SOF personnel as well as SOF-specific training for non-SOF personnel assigned to USSOCOM.

* USSOCOM will review all command climate survey results within
the last year to identify any trends across the force rooted or
impacted by SOF culture. * Commanders and SEAs (05-level and
above) will conduct personal and direct engagement with their
personnel on the SOF cultural climate and report their
observations up the chain of command. Components and operational
commands will consolidate these reports and provide them to me
along with proposed corrective action plans to address
deficiencies.

* USSOCOM will pursue additional research into the connection
and correlation between operational trauma and behavioral
health.

This guidance is in addition to actions required to support the
standing NDAA Section 1066 requirement for the Department to
review the ethics and professionalism programs of USSOCOM and
the military departments for officers and other military
personnel serving in SOF.

* This guidance is in addition to actions required to support
the standing NDAA Section 1066 requirement for the Department to
review the ethics and professionalism programs of USSOCOM and
the military departments for officers and other military
personnel serving in SOF.

With respect to individual cases, if substantiated through our
military justice system, these allegations represent a violation
of the trust and standards required of all service members, but
most especially special operations forces. Furthermore, the
serious allegations concerning our personnel are being discussed
in the media, Congress, and the American public. The
distraction, speculation and divisiveness created by these
allegations increase the Ask to our colleagues and the mission.
As SOF professionals, we must all see this as a call to
self-reflection, to consider who we are, what we stand for, and
what we represent.

We must stand together and resist divisiveness stoked by private
and public speculation without the benefit of the facts. USSOCOM
is an inherently joint force. Our service SOF components'
capabilities provide the Nation with a comprehensive arsenal to
defend our liberties and we have a long tradition of working
together. Trust and mutual respect must remain our hallmark.

GEN Thomas
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