Rorke Denver Damn-Few

Lieutenant Commander Rorke Denver was the former head of Basic and Advanced SEAL Training. He was one of the stars of a number one movie, “Act of Valor,” in which active-duty Navy SEALs gave Americans an inside look the world’s most elite fighting force. He is now the author of an illuminating book, “Damn Few,” which comes out February 19. And after its release, he’ll be known as the patriot who sounded the alarm on the Beltway political class’ efforts to lower the standards of arguably the greatest fighting force the world has ever known.

Since Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that combat roles would now be open to female soldiers, Pentagon brass has assured Americans that the standards of excellence expected by infantrymen and special operations forces would not be compromised. Those promises ring hollow, given that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Patrick Dempsey, talked out both sides of his mouth in an effort to alleviate fears during a press conference last week: “[If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?”

And that’s where the importance of Lt. Cmdr. Denver comes in. Speaking on the consequences of the success Navy SEALs had in Iraq and Afghanistan, the saving of Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama when he was taken hostage by Somali pirates, and of course the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, Lt. Commander Denver writes:

“The message as it was delivered from General Bryan “Doug” Brown, SOCOM’s commander, was simple: “You guys need to make ’em grow.”
Then an interesting thing happened.
The special-operations forces of the Army, Air Force, and Marines each produced projections of how their units could expand and how they would expand. Those units all expanded as promised. …
There was on notable exception: the SEAL teams. …
It didn’t take long, less than a year, for a fresh directive to find its way to the junior and senior SEAL leadership, this one considerably firmer in tone.
“That wasn’t a suggestion,” was the way it was heard on the ground. “We want more SEALs. You will get us more SEALs.” There was also an addendum to that, unstated by still perfectly clear: “And if you won’t, we will find new leaders who will.”

Lt. Cmdr. Denver’s first-hand experience should serve as a clarion call for anyone who cares about the safety of the American people. Pundits and politicians of all stripes — as well as Pentagon officials — claim that the integrity of our elite units will be maintained when it has already been attacked. “Damn Few” even details how at one point during Lt. Cmdr. Denver’s tenure on the SEAL’s Academic Review Board, candidates were getting “ten, eleven, and twelve opportunities to pass their tests.”

The mindset in Washington is that if teams of SEALs are so effective, the U.S. should simply double or triple or quadruple the numbers — but it doesn’t work that way. Why not just have all soldiers be SEALs while we’re at it? What Congress doesn’t get, and what “Damn Few” does an excellent job of demonstrating, is that it takes a very special, very rare kind of person to even want to try out for the challenge of becoming a SEAL. And then, only the best warriors have the mental and physical toughness to earn the coveted “SEAL Trident.”

Social engineers in Washington and the high-ranking Pentagon officials who want to curry favor with them are trying to turn the “damn few” into the “damn many.” Sadly, the concerns in Lt. Cmdr. Denver’s book may be a harbinger of things to come. At one point he writes of his time as an active-duty SEAL that “it was like being a member of an excellent fraternity, the greatest man club in the world. Maybe the last one.”

Inevitably, some women will have what it takes, physically and mentally, to become SEALs. But they shouldn’t earn that distinction with lower standards. It would be a shame if politicians who claim to act in the public’s interest decimated the one fighting force that consistently secures freedom and liberty around the world. “Damn Few” comes out February 19. For those who take national security seriously, it is a must-read.

Related: American Sniper Chris Kyle: Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it

Advertisements

About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

33 comments

  1. Our history is littered with irresponsible instances of our government tinkering with the military. The lesson is never learned.

  2. I know the extreme training the seals have to go through. That is why they are great. If women can pass all the requirements to become a seal, then great. They should not get any special treatment. These guys are the best we have!! Don’t screw it up.

  3. I mentioned on another site last week that o will fire Flag Commanders and give the positions to new commanders who echo his non American ethic. There are a lot of them in the up and coming ranks that have been educated outside the military academies. Jimmy Carter would be an admiral in o’s navy. I know people will disagree that there are Admirals or Generals that currently reflect this administration’s way of thought but keep this in mind over the next few months and years as new Flag Commanders are appointed and the direction of the military. Then as with the Seals being forced to dummy down the civilian secretaries of the military force their political agenda on the services as well.

  4. Perhaps a special Unit of only women who meet the high standards of being a SEAL should be organized. There are women capable of being mentally and physically strong and committed to defend America, as much as a man. See who we have volunteering. DO NOT lower the standards/requirements for being a SEAL. Few men even can qualify!

  5. There are few men who can make it and I am sure there are women who can as well but not by lower standards. That will just make the men resentful and a great deal less willing to have the women on their teams, where they could be an asset, but wont be if they lower the standards. If it happens it should happen the right way, like when they changed things to allow for Black men to fight, they didn’t lower the standard and those men met it with tenacity. (Although I have a feeling the Uber-liberal fems would have me burned at the stake for saying so)

  6. Please, no women 0302 Marine Corps Infantry Officers, don’t believe women in general can pass the men’s physicial readiness test, obstacle course, or firemen’s carry.

  7. Having spent 18 years in the Fire and Emergency Services I can relate. We had to lower our entry requirements to allow women of all back-grounds to be hired. Then we put them through our academy’s and they failed. So the Brass said lower your training standards to make if fair. WTF does fair have to do with saving lives and being able to drag a 200+ lb team member out of harms way? Very few women where able to perform at a high level. The majority either left the job, waisting thousands of dollars in training a recruiting money, or brought our service and safely levels down. This is liberalism at it’s finest- make everybody equal. If the military Brass want more skilled soldiers then why not increase the basic and advanced training programs for the standard soldier? Leave the SEALS alone!!

    1. Brent, thanks for your comment. Your experience is exactly what I’ve feared will happen to the combat units once standards are lowered. Hopefully enough pressure will be put on the bureaucrats trying to implement this stuff that they reverse course … or that the damage is minimized.

    2. FIRST OF ALL THEY WILL HAVE TO GET WOMEN OFF THEIR KNEES TO DO PUSH UPS AND THE REQUIREMENTS FOR PULL UPS AND CURL UPS ALSO THE SWIM TIME AND RUN TIME MUST NOT BE LOWERED THE STANDARDS HAVE SERVED THE NAVY SEALS VERY WELL SINCE THEIR INCEPTION AND MUST NOT BE LOWERED JUST FOR WOMEN AND WEAKER LESS QUALIFIED MEN TO PASS IF THE STANDARDS ARE LOWERED THEN THE SEALS WILL BE NO BETTER THAN THE AVERAGE NAVY SAILOR. THAT IS NOT WHO OR WHAT THEY ARE. IF A WOMAN WANTS TO BE A NAVY SEAL SHE HAD BETTER BE ABLE TO GET HER END OF THE DAMN LOG . NO STANDARDS REDUCTION. NO SPECIAL WHITE STEPS. NO GENDER DIFFERENCE AT ALL. STANDARDS ARE SET; LET THE WOMEN GET A GRIP AND GO ONE STANDARD FOR ALL.

  8. Only people who have no understanding of human anatomy and physiological capability would think women’s bodies are capable of competing with men’s in the kind of endurance activities it takes to become a SEAL or other special forces member. To insist women are capable of attaining such standards is as ludicrous as expecting men to carry a baby through nine months gestation and then give birth! To risk team lives to make an irrational point for political gain merely shows that POTUS and his minions are either bereft of mind or are bent on destroying the best weapon in the American arsenal. Whichever it is, it is tragic that they are in a position to carry out such an idiotic proposition. Sadly, it will result in the deaths of some of our finest troops as well as sounding the death knell on gender values that underly our very civilization.

    1. “Only people who have no understanding of human anatomy and physiological capability would think women’s bodies are capable of competing with men’s in the kind of endurance activities it takes to become a SEAL or other special forces member.”

      Women can shoot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8utJQrB-VI
      Women can fight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n38fLoH540Q
      Women can tackle obstacle courses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4IUcmX7rBQ
      Women can run 100 miles over *mountains* in under 24 hours. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qc_vxWjSg1A

      Your limited thinking is pitiable.

    2. The question isn’t whether women can do any of those things. The question is whether the standards will be lowered to allow them in. Put a 250 pound woman in the ring with a 250 pound man. Put the best woman endurance runner up against the best man. Special Forces use certain MMA techniques, but MMA is NOTHING like a street fight.

      Nice obstacle course. I notice they didn’t do the rope climb … I remember having to do it over, and over and over again at Ft. Benning. Again, will standards be lowered? Past experience says they will be. And there will be a price to be paid.

    3. Nobody on the thread above is arguing for lowered standards, least of all me. However, they aren’t competing against 250 pound men. That’s apples to oranges. They are competing against the course requirements. That’s all they have to beat.

      They do the rope climb in another competition.

      And I can guarantee you, those elite Cross-fit gals could outperform 99.9% of the male population. Their fitness level is insane. The point is, there are examples of top women who can not only keep up, but exceed male standards.

      I just don’t know why they don’t do the rope climb on the obstacle course and don’t feel like spending the time researching the answer. Ultimately, it comes down to one question: can a few good women pass the course? I think it’s possible.

    4. Yes, a few can. On a long enough timeline, some would pass the requirements. However, being SF or infantry or whatever requires a wide range of abilities that combine strength, agility and endurance. I don’t know if the time, money and effort the Pentagon is spending is worth the needle in the haystack super woman who can be a SEAL, for example.

      I still believe they will lower standards to get the result they want. That’s what they always do to appease their civilian masters.

      Random story: I remember coming back from the field one time. Those were the days when I could run under a sub 5-minute mile. I was in amazing shape. I went to bed when it was light out, and when I woke up it was dark — 18 hours later. I didn’t wake up once to even go to the bathroom. I was out. Cold. That’s how much those day-fire/night-fire/day-fire/night-fires kicked my ass. Take from it what you will.

      Also, don’t even get me started on the beret changes a few years back. Only certain groups got to wear the beret … and so to make people feel special then everyone got to. What a f**king joke. Why don’t they just give everyone Ranger or Airborne patches so they strut their stuff on leave? I believe they finally changed it back after years of protest.

    5. A few lesbian DIKES might match the lowest of the low males, but, that is not what is needed! All women should be tested just as the men are. No lowering of rules. No testing over a longer period of time, either. Rope climbs, etc. all women should be tested as the men are!

    6. Drive-by trash can’t even properly spell the epithet correctly. Go back under your bridge, troll.

    7. I’m just going to have to concede that I will probably be biased on this until I die. It’s a job that requires a lot of brute force. It’s made for pack mules. It’s grinding … and I just think people are trying to shoe-horn something into place that the vast majority of time just isn’t going to happen.

      Regardless, if a few women can do the job (and they’re held to the same standards as the guys), then kudos. I will tip my hat to them.

  9. It will be a travesty if the standards of our elite forces–such as the Navy Seals–are lowered so that “political correctness” can be adhered to. Not only a travesty–it is dangerous. If a woman can pass all of the present standards — great—but they should not be lowered. Like it or not, men are stronger physically than women–especially the men in a group like the Navy Seals. Physical strength is not the only factor, certainly, but it is –and always will be–one of the primary ones. If a particular woman can carry a 75 lb. sack on her back for miles, can rescue a buddy and carry them out of a tough situation, can fight hand to hand with another navy seal and hold their own and more…in other words do what current Navy Seals can do then I am all for it.

  10. From what I’ve heard Crossfit is a borderline cult. I’ve talked to people who used to do it and they told me it was almost Scientiology-ish in nature.

    1. I was actually into Crossfit before it was popular…at a time when doing those exercises got you looked at like you were totally nuts. Then when it caught on it really did become sort of cultish. I’ll occasionally incorporate some of the Crossfit philosophy into my workouts, but it’s definitely not for everyone — and that’s totally fine. There’s an elitist strain that runs through that community that rubs me the wrong way. It’s like, “Dude, you do Crossfit. Great. But that guy does yoga and that person likes running. Who cares? You’re not better than everyone because you can talk about your “Paleo” diet (that usually isn’t even legitimately Paleo) and your ‘WOD’ every five minutes.”

    2. Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard. I hate people like that, who have this elitist, cultist mentality and look down on others for doing their own thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s