Seven current members of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six, including one involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, have received non-judicial punishments for having served as paid consultants for the video game "Medal of Honor: Warfighter." Four other SEALs who previously belonged to the unit remain under investigation.
The newly released game by Electronic Arts features special operations forces, including SEALs, in combat situations. Promotional materials for the game mention the fact that, to make the game as realistic as possible, input came from special operators, including Navy SEALS.
A Navy official says 11 active duty SEALS worked as consultants on the game over two days earlier this year. At the time all of them were members of SEAL Team Six.
A senior Navy official told ABC News that one of the seven SEALs was involved in the May 1, 2011, raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.
The SEALs were punished for having violated their nondisclosure agreements and for having revealed tactics, techniques and procedures. Non-judicial punishments allow commanders to discipline service members administratively instead of pursuing a legal process that could lead to a court martial.
The news that active duty SEALS had been punished for their involvement with the video game was first reported by CBS News.
The official confirmed that on Thursday morning seven senior enlisted sailors, who are still part of the unit, had received letters of reprimand and been fined two months' pay. Letters of reprimand are seen as career-enders because they typically prevent further promotions. The investigation continues into the four West Coast based SEALs who were part of the unit at the time that they served as consultants.
A Defense official said that in an unusual move, the punishments were read out loud to the seven SEALs in front of their peers to send the message that this kind of activity would not be tolerated.
In a statement, Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli, deputy commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said his command "takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and conducts investigations to determine the facts. We likewise take seriously the Non-Disclosure Agreements signed by Sailors and adherence to the articles of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)."
The Navy first became aware of the SEALs' involvement following the release of the book "No Easy Day," written by the pseudonym Mark Owen, a former SEAL Team Six member who detailed his role in the bin Laden raid.
Owen was investigated by the Pentagon for having violated his non-disclosure agreements and for not having his book vetted by the Pentagon. He too served as a consultant on the Medal of Honor video game.
The Navy official said the participation by the 11 SEALs was discovered following a review prompted by the publication of Owen's book. The official said after the book came out, it was decided that a review should be made of what "outside engagements" current SEALs might have been involved with for which they may have received compensation.LINK