‘Act of Valor’ SEAL blasts Washington’s attempts to lower standards in ‘Damn Few’

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

Act of Valor: A conservative review

Reading the Act of Valor reviews of “professionals” like Richard Corliss of Time magazine is a telling experience. The overwhelming response by movie critics fell in line with Corliss, who called it a “cockamamie, Pentagon-approved war adventure.” Movie goers, however, overwhelmingly decided guys like Croliss were the cockamamie ones, turning out in strong numbers and giving it good word-of-mouth.
Act of Valor is a solid movie, one that’s unlike anything you’ll see coming out of Hollywood because…it didn’t. That might be why Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was so confused when he said, “I don’t know what to make of [it].”

One of the criticisms of Act of Valor is that the acting is poor and that the characterization is week. Under normal circumstances characters need time to develop, and it’s up to the writers and actors to help forge that bond with the audience. However, Act of Valor serves up an anomaly—it’s not nearly as crucial  because the “actors” are real SEALs and it’s their story. We love them and care about them from the get go. From the opening line there is a connection with them because we all have military men and women in our life. When a SEAL speaks on screen, it’s easy to imagine him being your brother, uncle, dad or husband. That’s something all the money in Hollywood can’t buy, and it’s a star quality Matt Damon or Brad Pitt can never possess.

Knowing that SEALs are better with target rich environments than Hollywood scripts, the writers picked up on the points made above and ran with them. The family time is cut off quickly (just as it is in real life in their profession), briefings are given, and then it’s off on a world wide man hunt to uncover a terrorist plot and take down major players before they reach American shores. From there all the movie has to do is realistically portray the trials, tribulations, and tactics SEALs face in the field and on deployment. Across the board, Act of Valor delivers.

The final touch of genius the movie has is that, unlike a typical Hollywood film, no character is immune from life-threatening danger. Harrison Ford survives a nuclear blast at ground zero in the incredibly bad last installment of Indiana Jones, and for the rest of the movie tension is gone. He might as well declare himself a god, because the audience knows he will never die. The same goes for most Hollywood flicks paying millions for star “talent.” You don’t pay George Clooney millions of dollars and then kill him off mid way through the movie. With a movie staring Navy SEALs (the whole unit is the star), any one of them can be shot or blown up at a given moment—and any one of them might perform an “act of valor” by willfully sacrificing their life for a brother-in-arms.

The fact that so many “professional” critics yearned for more time to connect with the SEALs (i.e., they were hoping one of them was a drug addict, opposed to the mission, or an unpredictable head case) should speak volumes to the average movie goer. Hollywood and its typical major players are in many ways disconnected from motivations of everyday Americans. When we read their reviews we should do so through that prism, because only then can we discern what they’re truly saying. If you know who the reviewer is you can read a “bad” review and know that it’s a film worth seeing, or a “good” review and know that your time is better spent playing basketball with your son that Sunday.

If you haven’t seen Act of Valor yet, do yourself a favor and do so before it leaves the theaters.

Act of Valor Navy SEALs: Ambushed by Liberalism

I wasn’t long out of the military when a college professor told my classroom that, “only redneck Republican hicks who are happy to get a free pair of boots enlist in the military.” I’ll never forget it. It was my first introduction to the anti-Americanism that pervades college campuses, but it wouldn’t be the last.

  • There was the guest speaker who told his audience our troops (my friends) in Afghanistan purposefully shot at civilians.
  •  There was the extra credit for Michael Moore films and anti-war protests.
  • There was my wife’s Muslim professor, Fadwa El Guindi, who said while we were at USC that Osama bin Laden was misunderstood in our time, just as Jesus was misunderstood in His.
  • At American University for my Masters in Political Science I had a professor tell me I was “too political,” even though he saw nothing political in his statement that the U.S. military only destroys things. He saw nothing political in his morally relativistic speeches that all came to the conclusion that we were perhaps no better than terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and across the globe.

And so, I am never surprised when liberals like Jordan Zakarin squat at the first opportunity they can to take a dump on our military men and women, the Pentagon and anyone who dares to portray the American soldier as anything other than a PTSD case waiting to happen.

The good guys have yet to suffer a single casualty until, suddenly, one of its leaders takes a rocket to the chest. The audience cringes, but the bang never comes — the rocket clangs to the ground, unexploded, and the battle rages on.

The upcoming film “Act of Valor” is replete with that kind of action, but there are a few things it doesn’t have: There are no corrupt officers, no damaged heroes, no queasy doubts about the value of the mission or the virtue of the cause.

That’s because “Act of Valor” was born not in Hollywood, but in the Pentagon. It was commissioned by the Navy’s Special Warfare Command and its success will be measured not in box-office receipts, but in the number of new recruits it attracts to the Navy SEALs.

God forbid a high school kid gets a glimpse into the life of a Navy SEAL and wants to become one. Heaven help us if the kind of honor and integrity and moral certainty displayed by guys like U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle gets the silver screen treatment. Liberals like Zakarin are only happy when Matt Damon is signing up for the next Green Zone, or another cynical anti-war screenplay  gets the green light.

To the writers at The Huffington Post, if you go to see openly patriotic movies you’re just an unwitting pawn in the Pentagon’s Hollywood-sized psy-ops.

“This may be the U.S. armed forces’ first feature-length recruiting film, but it’s far from the first time unsuspecting audiences have been treated to Pentagon propaganda at the movies. As early as 1927, when military assistance on the film “Wings” helped it win Best Picture at the first Oscars ceremony, the Department of Defense has long maintained its own production office that offers filmmakers the latest in arms and high-tech vehicles at cut-rate prices — as long as their scripts are deemed worthy,” (emphasis added).

Got that? Anti-war movies never have an agenda that they’re trying to get over on “unsuspecting” audiences. The next time you see a movie that portrays American soldiers as ignorant boobs, war mongers, drugged out loons or racists, you shouldn’t worry for a moment that perhaps there’s a hidden motive. Never mind liberal guys like George Clooney, who once bankrolled Section Eight Productions, churned out left-friendly movies like Syriana…

Before Act of Valor exits the theaters, I plan on seeing it. Like The Expendables, it’s probably a film you should see for the weapons alone. If the acting is stiff you should cut the SEALS some slack, since they don’t teach acting in BUDS. But what you should never do is preemptively cast aspersions on a movie just because the characters weren’t inspired by John Kerry’s Congressional testimony on Vietnam.

Our Navy SEALS have just found out what it’s like to be ambushed—by liberalism. Like always, my money is on the SEALS.

Update: Check out Hotair’s reviews here and here.

The Huffington Post is upset that the Pentagon doesn’t like to work with an industry that habitually casts U.S. soldiers as baby killers, PTSD victims, or racists. The Navy Seals should look at negative reviews from liberal rags as a badge of honor. Here’s hoping to a successful opening weekend for Act of Valor.