(Slabinski later told The New York Times he ordered the operator to stop what he was doing.) Slabinski looks at the wounded Chapman. Known by its members as "the Two-Four," the unit is the Air Force equivalent of Delta Force or SEAL Team 6, and it works exclusively for JSOC. Still have questions? Navy SEALs Training After selecting the SEAL option, recruits begin a long, arduous but rewarding process that will push their physical and mental strength to its extreme limits. Please review the SEAL Officer OCS Application Sequence of Events chart for further information about the application process for both Navy Recruiting Command and NSW. From the beginning of its effort to get Chapman's award upgraded, the Air Force appears to have taken extraordinary care not to impugn Slabinski or the SEALs. A Mako 30 SEAL says that he first heard confirmation of the Navy's intent in mid-January 2017 but that he had surmised it from rumors some months earlier. Naturally, the qualifying criteria is just as rigid as someone already A former special operations officer who has heard Slabinski discuss the same incident said it sounded to him as if it could be construed as "a war crime.". They may require you to extend if you’re below this threshold (it … Navy SEAL Height and Weight Requirements Since the Navy SEALs are run by the Navy, you’ll have to first meet Navy height and weight requirements which get measured on a semi-annual basis. Get your Navy contract. Move to Thailand or the Philippines. From what he heard from other SEALs later, it seemed the Navy viewed this as a quid pro quo for Chapman's upgrade. Instead, when the U.S. infantry landed in the valley by helicopter on March 2, they realized the enemy had dug in on the high ground overlooking it. "It is a bureaucratic story," he says, "that is not covered in glory.". ", Nonetheless, by late 2016, it was becoming clear that the SEALs were going to resist the Air Force's attempt to upgrade Chapman's award based on his actions after the SEALs retreated from the mountaintop. Chapman's supporters say the entire episode shows the extraordinary length that the SEALs will go to protect their reputation. He had been Team 6's director of operations during Anaconda, helping run Mako 30's mission from Bagram. Panther (PW2) reviews his U.S. Navy SEAL/DEVGRU kit. "But I thought to myself, Well, surely, surely, surely under General Mattis, it'll go back quickly," she recalls. How to become a SEAL or SWCC. "The voice on the radio was John Chapman," Jay said, in comments never previously made public. Less than three minutes after arriving, the SEALs begin their retreat. SO contracts are 6 years AD as the training pipeline is in excess of 2 years long before you even get assigned to a Team. Shortly thereafter, Slabinski's squadron was involved in another contentious incident when local elders accused the SEALs of killing every man they saw during a mission. Those statements were part of the upgrade package. ", This news, already known to some insiders, fed perceptions that the Pentagon was trying to protect the SEALs' reputation. This is Mako Three Zero Charlie…." I mean, this guy, we don't know what he thought, but he made the decision in as much pain and fear as he must have had, to climb out of the bunker when the helicopter was coming…. Aware that the militants were unlikely to spare Roberts if they captured him, six members of Mako 30 quickly boarded another special ops aircraft that flew them back to the mountain. According to former Air Force officials, by December 2016, with the package finally on Carter's desk, the SEALs' argument was apparently gaining traction at U.S. Special Operations Command, which doesn't make the final decision but is allowed input. For Air Force Secretary James, it was the latter, and particularly the video evidence, that convinced her that Chapman deserved the Medal of Honor. He adds, "We were on all the same freqs [radio frequencies], and we never heard that.". ", Even members of Slabinski's own service were taken aback. Slabinski follows, at one point almost catching up with him. Outgoing Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the last stop in the Navy's approval chain for the upgrade, did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story. "He's going to be the quiet professional and represent it the best he can.". And it didn't take long for word to leak that perhaps Chapman hadn't died when the SEALs said he did. It was the totality of Slabinski's actions that persuaded Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson that he was worthy of the Medal of Honor, the former defense official says. "He selflessly moved in front of the enemy machine gun in Bunker 2 in order to engage the threat to the inbound helicopter. Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Petty Officer (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor †, Operation Iraqi Freedom, SEAL Team 3, 29 September 2006 MA2 Mark Mayo, assigned to Naval Station Norfolk Base Police, posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal "When it was dug into, it was not factual." Yet Slabinski has reluctantly accepted that it's his "duty" to accept the award if the president signs off on it, he adds. Milani did not reach a conclusion, but in January 2003 the Air Force awarded Chapman a posthumous Air Force Cross for his actions up to the point when Slabinski had said he was killed. A few weeks before Trump's inauguration, the defense secretary signed Chapman's upgrade package. Also, explanations of our inactivity and changes/updates our team has undergone. "I know if John hadn't engaged the first enemy position, it would have surely killed us all before we reached cover," Slabinski said in his statement, which Newsweek obtained. Can you send letters to a different country when you are in USA BMT training? Slabinski declined to be interviewed for this article, directing a reporter to the Naval Special Warfare Command public affairs office, which did not respond to requests for comment. Senior Pentagon officials were concerned that there were no eyewitness accounts of Chapman's heroism. Slabinski told Bagram he wanted to postpone the mission 24 hours. On August 27, 2016, The New York Times published a story (co-authored by this reporter) about the Air Force's effort to get Chapman a Medal of Honor. The laser was no longer moving. The footage shows one of the SEALs who had joined Slabinski on top of a boulder shooting an M60 machine gun before getting shot and falling down, and the three SEALs huddling at the base of the boulder for a few seconds. In addition to the video and Jay's witness statement, Chapman's autopsy, which the Air Force re-analyzed as part of its investigation, also supported the case that he had fought for a sustained period on the peak. I actually believe that the minimum “contract” is 3 years. After the 12-week school, candidates then go through 3 weeks Continue … "That was all I needed," she tells Newsweek. The article included an audio file of a segment of an interview Slabinski conducted with author Malcolm MacPherson for his book Roberts Ridge, which tells the Takur Ghar story from Slabinski's perspective. However, another source tells Newsweek that much of the detail pertaining to Chapman's actions during that period will be classified, "because of the technical intelligence that was involved. Overview page for Special Warfare Careers at USNA.edu. Moments later, a second member of the team was wounded as enemy fire poured from seemingly every direction. The answer, according to a former defense official, was that just like Slabinski's Navy Cross, the upgrade would cover not just the firefight on the peak but also his bravery in leading his team back to Takur Ghar to try to rescue Roberts, and then in shepherding the survivors down the mountain to safety. Which makes him wonder: "Why are we even walking into this buzz saw?". The article said that the Air Force's "findings could rekindle old tensions" in the special operations community over the mission. SEAL Team 6 and Naval Special Warfare Command each opposed the Air Force's effort to upgrade Chapman's award based on the events after the SEALs retreated, according to multiple sources. And in May 2015, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James read an article that wondered what it would take for an airman to be awarded the medal in the post-9/11 era. '", A Mako 30 SEAL says that he does not recall anyone accusing Chapman of failing to obey orders and that as far as he knew, the SEALs didn't have any issues with recognizing him for his heroism "up until the point Chapman was shot." "The soil is pretty freaking soggy for us to really stand firm on any of these," says the Navy officer familiar with the controversy. "There is some unease about the Navy's push to upgrade, and some people have expressed doubt…as to whether it's truly worthy of a Medal of Honor," the official says. In frustration, Air Force officials explained what was happening to Levine's staff, who finally allowed the package to proceed without the signatures. The nature of the fight and the daylight that was spreading over the mountain make it highly unlikely, the former combat controller says, that this was a case of two enemy fighters attacking each other by mistake. While one aircraft awaited further instruction, the other flew straight to the peak, unaware that two helicopters had already been shot up trying to land there. Slabinski and others later said he was speaking metaphorically, but one of his men appeared to try to saw off a dead militant's head. By comparing and combining the Predator footage with video shot by a circling Air Force gunship, analysts were able to isolate the blob that was Chapman and track his movements. The airman's rifle was laying across his chest, the aiming laser rising and falling in time with his breathing, so the SEAL knew he was alive. "You kicked me in the nuts when you told me that," he says. (Like the Navy Cross and the Army's Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Force Cross is a valor award second only to the Medal of Honor.) The three Rangers who died were his men, something no one had told her. An enlistment incentive is different than a military benefit in that not everyone is eligible, and it must be in the enlistment contract … Sergeant Chapman killed the enemy fighter, but during this engagement, Sergeant Chapman was shot and went down." ", Nonetheless, the Navy's move created a conundrum for the Pentagon. This will extend the length of your original Navy Contract by 2 years, because Navy SEAL requires 6 years Active "I just don't know how you advocate for Slabinski and be accepting of…Finding 2," says the Navy officer familiar with the controversy. The initial contract for SEAL is 6 years Active Duty (and 2 yrs IRR). The video presentation wasn't the only evidence the Air Force used to buttress its case for Chapman. This would allow the SEALs, wearing night vision goggles, to spot any enemy fighters, shoot them, call in airstrikes or get away. As the pilot struggled to abort the landing and wrestle his helicopter away from danger, Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts from Mako 30 fell out the back and into the deep snow. The airman’s rifle was lying across his chest, the aiming laser rising and falling in time with his breathing, so the SEAL knew he was alive. "I'm already 95 percent in my mind that he's been killed," Slabinski said. A Mako 30 SEAL claims the Navy investigated Jay's assertions and concluded they were inaccurate. Then, the five survivors, two seriously wounded, moved about 5,000 feet in six hours to a position where a helicopter eventually rescued them. This action led to his death, and is central to the Air Force's case that he deserves the Medal of Honor. "It's just incredulous that they award him with the Medal of Honor," says a retired special operations official intimately familiar with the battle. ", Others familiar with the battle sprang to Slabinski's defense, even as they acknowledged the unusual optics of awarding him a Medal of Honor. Defense Secretary Mattis directed his deputy, retired Marine Colonel Bob Work, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford to evaluate the merits of both nominations. (Through a spokesperson, Goldfein declined to comment for this story.). Levine and his staff were keen to get them signed, particularly because the Chapman case was otherwise "unprecedented" in its reliance on technical intelligence rather than eyewitnesses, James says. I think that the contract does say that you have to serve an amount of years after becoming a SEAL. Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski, who as head of Naval Special Warfare Command oversees all SEAL units, was in the thick of the debate. Chapman's primary role, as Mako 30's combat controller, was to call in airstrikes. As a political appointee, James left the Pentagon at the end of the Obama administration. The bitter dispute pits members of the Navy SEALs against Air Force special operators and Army Rangers. But in 2016, he told The New York Times that after giving the order to withdraw, he actually crawled over Chapman's body in the rush to get off the mountain and saw no sign of life. ? Most guys I know who did over 10 years in the Teams are on this gig. The team leader's intent was to suppress the enemy with airpower. A former defense official familiar with the discussions over the Medal of Honor recommendations is adamant that Slabinski, a second-generation SEAL who retired from the Navy as a master chief petty officer in 2014, deserves his award, just as Chapman does. The DShK ("dishka") 12.7 mm heavy machine gun that Al-Qaeda used in the second bunker. In making the case for this award, the Air Force relied heavily on witness statements from three of the surviving members of Mako 30, who all described him in heroic terms. "I just want John to get what he deserved to be awarded back in January of '03," she tells Newsweek. There are not too many places where you can make over $100k a year and work 4-6 months. Be honest about everything? The Navy SEALs training process will begin after completing boot camp, when SEAL candidates attend the Naval Special Warfare Prepatory School. The Mako 30 operators again faced withering fire when they alighted from the helicopter. Jay was from Chapman's unit and knew his radio style. "That was the way it was conveyed to me. The unique nature of the Chapman case was the principal factor that once again delayed the process, according to a former defense official familiar with the discussions. "They go right over him," says the former combat controller, who is familiar with the footage. He went towards the sound of the guns, so shut up! seal initial training is approx one year to a year and a half, contract time, starts the day you ship to basic training. "Nobody was accusing Slabinski or any of the other members of the team of having done anything other than their very best under these terrible circumstances," James says. James was upset at the way Thomas had circumvented her, but there was little she could do, the former senior Air Force official says. If Trump approves the awards, it will mark only the third time in the post-9/11 era that two Medals of Honor have been awarded for actions during the same battle, says awards expert Sterner, an Army veteran with two combat tours in Vietnam. Feeling he had little choice, Slabinski asked the Army special operations helicopter crew to fly his team straight to the peak. I know a lot of guys who are banking 100% of their paychecks and laughing on the beach in Thailand, living like Dan Bilzerian for $1,500 a month. "You could tell it was a good relationship. ", The way Szymanski saw it, "the Air Force was trying to come against the Navy and kind of shame Slab," the former senior Team 6 officer says, and he was determined to stick up for him. Individuals appeared as little more than black blobs on the infrared footage the drone was transmitting as it circled more than a mile above the mountain. Never-released witness statements and video footage seen by a Newsweek reporter appear to support the Air Force's version of events. Since the Vietnam War, no Air Force personnel have received the Medal of Honor. The plan was to insert Mako 30's eight operators by helicopter near the mountain and have them patrol up to the peak under the cover of darkness. "I guess that's when it really clicked in my mind: Yep, there is something more going on here, and what a shame," James says. ", The Rangers eventually found his body in the first bunker. "That was like forensic proof in a crime scene, almost." By July, Dunford and Work recommended that the awards for both Slabinski and Chapman be upgraded to Medals of Honor. ", The Air Force claims that shortly after Chapman kills the second Al-Qaeda fighter, and moments before the helicopter carrying the Rangers arrives over the peak, he emerges from his covered position and shoots at the militants in the second bunker. I think most like it because of two reasons: freedom and pay. BCT is eight weeks long and CQT is 12 weeks long. Slabinski, in particular, credited Chapman with saving their lives. After the fight on Takur Ghar, Army and Air Force special operators blamed their losses on poor decision-making by the SEALs. "It was never 'What Slab did was worthy of the Medal of Honor.'". But just as it seemed Chapman's package had a chance of getting to the White House in time, Pentagon bureaucrats intervened. Such a campaign would be unprecedented, according to military awards expert Doug Sterner. He assured her his headquarters was "absolutely behind" the recommendation, she says. In that paper, he noted that Predator footage had captured a fight on Takur Ghar's peak during the period between the SEALs' retreat and the downing of Razor 01. How long is the navy SEAL training? And to James's surprise—and alarm—it did. Chapman took this enormous risk to provide covering fire for the helicopter that was headed for the peak, the Air Force contends. Navy SEALs (SEa, Air and Land) are the most elite members of the U.S. Navy. '", However, the Predator video, which offers an uninterrupted view of Slabinski during this period, does not appear to show him crawling anywhere near Chapman. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service looked into it, but closed the case after finding no evidence the SEALs had broken the laws of armed conflict. But, he adds, the airman's alleged actions after that point were "what the Air Force was using to get him the upgrade." "It allows them to sort of obfuscate things. Thirteen years after his death, they would get their chance. After at least six months, according to James, her team reported back that it had identified a possible upgrade for Chapman's Air Force Cross. ", That decision is worthy of a Medal of Honor on its own, according to the former combat controller. Chapman then opens fire on the second Al-Qaeda bunker, about 30 feet away. There was a late effort to persuade Mattis not to approve Slabinski's upgrade, according to a senior Pentagon official. Spokesmen for U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command were mum about whether their bosses had concurred with the upgrades for Chapman and Slabinski. Slabinski's mission was to establish an observation post on top of Takur Ghar, a 10,469-foot mountain in the southeast corner of the Shahikot. "When I made the decision to rescue Neil, I just knew at the time that that was going to be the last thing that I did on this earth," Slabinski told a Navy SEAL Foundation audience in New York on March 2, 2017. As she departed, she called Chapman's mother to tell her that her son's package had been returned to the Pentagon. SEALs are the foundation of Naval Special Warfare combat forces. Milani's investigation showed that Roberts was dead by the time Mako 30 returned to the mountain, but someone was still fighting on the top of Takur Ghar at a time when no Americans were supposedly alive there. Because of the elite-ness of the SEAL qualification, you cannot jump right in and get a SEAL contract. "That became their position when nothing else was working," says the former combat controller. What do you think of the 15 million men who dodged the draft during the Vietnam war? The blame, he says, lies with the Air Force for allowing the controversy to become public without doing "due diligence," which would have included interviewing him and his fellow SEALs. In 2006, the U.S. Navy established the rating, Navy Diver (ND). That month, says a former senior Air Force official, Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, told General David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, that he had changed his mind about giving Chapman's upgrade package his full support. Staff in the office of Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Peter Levine noticed that the SEALs had never signed their original witness statements for Chapman's Air Force Cross. In one, Slabinski told his men before a mission that he wanted "a head on a platter," according to The Intercept. "That happens to be my theory. They didn't know it at the time, but they were already too late. In the ensuing daylong battle, three Rangers, a special ops aviator and an Air Force pararescueman were killed before the Rangers finally gained control of the mountaintop. "I'm 110 percent certain that's Chapman," says Mike, the Air Force targeting analyst for the original mission. ", This by no means guarantees unanimous opinion among officials who have watched the process play out over the past two years. ", Chapman's sister, Lori Longfritz, says her priority is seeing her brother recognized for his heroism, not the politics that has surrounded the effort to upgrade his award. Defense Secretary James Mattis eventually agreed, sending the recommendation to award Chapman a Medal of Honor to the White House in the fall of 2017. The other two episodes occurred during a 2007-2008 deployment to Afghanistan. Next was Chapman, the team's only non-SEAL. The contract … Since 1962, when the first SEAL Teams were commissioned, Navy SEALs have distinguished themselves as individually reliable, collectively disciplined and highly skilled warriors. (Navy Captain Jason Salata, a spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command, referred all questions about his command's role in the Medal of Honor process to the office of the secretary of defense. SEALs, or Navy Special Warfare Operator (SO), as they are now officially called, are named after the environments in which they operate, the SEa, Air, and Land. Afterward, the Air Force claims, Chapman fought on for an hour, badly wounded and alone, before Al-Qaeda militants killed him as he provided cover for an approaching helicopter. "That's a smokescreen. They killed the two men in the bunker, but then machine gun fire erupted from a second bunker nearby. Navy SEAL's Savior Claims 'Lone Survivor' Got It Wrong, A High School Teacher Explains History to Kanye West, Trump's New Advisers Suggest Shift in Foreign Policy, Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. The new information consisted largely of a careful analysis of the video shot by the Predator of the action on Takur Ghar. After becoming a SEAL, how long are you on active duty, or how long do you have to serve? With the aircraft too badly damaged to return to the peak, the pilot crash-landed at the north end of the valley. ", A JSOC memo obtained by Newsweek regarding Chapman's potential upgrade includes a note appended by a Team 6 representative on September 21, 2016, that articulates this line of argument. Air Force officials held meeting after meeting with each other and with their counterparts in the office of the secretary of defense throughout 2016, breaking through one logjam after another. Chapman's autopsy states that all the airman's wounds occurred before his death, he says. "By destroying the enemy's front-line position, Sergeant Chapman eliminated the closest threat to the Mako 30 team." Team 6 had seen very little action in Afghanistan and was eager to get into the fight. They belonged to his counterpart on another team: Air Force Technical Sergeant John Chapman. In his voice-over for the Air Force's video presentation, the narrator describes Slabinski's decision to retreat from the mountaintop in positive terms: "This bold action likely averted a catastrophic loss of the entire team. "It's part of accommodating SEAL Team 6," says the former combat controller. As a result, says a former defense official, "there were no completely objective observers in this entire thing. 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