7 Navy SEALs disciplined for working on Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Navy says they revealed classified information; 4 others under investigation. [UPDATE: EA has no plans to alter game content]

UPDATE: EA spokesperson Peter Nguyen sent us this statement: "There are no plans to recall Medal of Honor Warfighter from store shelves and we have no plans to alter the content contributed by combat veterans in the game. We have no further comments."

Original story:

Seven members of US Navy SEAL Team Six on active duty have been disciplined for revealing classified information while working on EA's Medal of Honor: Warfighter game. One of the SEALs disciplined was on the raid which killed Osama bin Laden.

For two days this spring and summer, according to the CBS News report, the SEALs worked as paid consultants on Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Four other SEALs based on the West Coast, who are still on active duty but have transferred out of the unit, are also under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information.

"We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as sailors," Rear Adm. Gary Bonelli, deputy commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, said in a statement. "The non-judicial punishment decisions made today send a clear message throughout our force that we are and will be held to a high standard of accountability," he added.

EA's press release for Medal of Honor: Warfighter, released back in July, said the game was“written by U.S. Tier 1 Operators while deployed overseas, Medal of Honor Warfighter is set to deliver this year's most authentic military shooter experience inspired by real warriors, real operations and real places.”

The nature of the information that the SEALs disclosed was not stated, but according to the report by CBS they used classified material given to them by the Navy while working as consultants. It is not clear if any classified information was actually used in the game.

The seven SEALs who have been disciplined received letters of reprimand, which will be placed in their personnel files, and were docked half of their pay for two months. Such a letter of reprimand will effectively kill any chance for future promotions, and may well force them out of SEAL Team Six. "It essentially makes it hard for them to continue as SEALs," a senior official said.

SEALs are required to sign nondisclosure agreements that restrict them from revealing the sensitive information about tactics and techniques that they use. These agreements are in force while they are on active duty and after they leave active duty, and the Navy takes those agreements very seriously. Revealing information about tactics could put other service members at risk.

We have reached out to EA for comment.

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Latest comments (11)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
This is utterly brilliant PR. Worth millions to EA.
They have a video game as one of the top stories in much of the world's media.
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And we know TSS are the Navys prototype testing outfit, anything that works for Seal Siz, gets rolled out to the other SEAL teams...guess I better go try out some Tier 1 action! Hoooyah!
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios5 years ago
7 US Navy SEALs get reprimanded for working on a hypothetical video game.

Meanwhile Some of the worst intelligence leaks have happened within the last four years at very high levels of the US government, and not a single F*** was given.

Yup, makes sense.
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Show all comments (11)
Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 5 years ago

The difference is that congressmen only think they know secrets. The Navy seals actually live the op. A congressman saying I authorised some arms to go to group X can be denied as an "He's a bit nuts we never sent those". A seal saying "This is how the op went down" is pretty hard to deny or explain away!

So when a bunch of seals make the hows of their operating procedures into a playable game that anyone (read not the people we want to have this info) can learn from it. It's a bit of a big deal! It would have been far wiser for the government to simply not say anything and dare I say it trump up some fabricated charges to discipline these men.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios5 years ago
Oh I don't disagree that the SEALs probably divulged classified information. Nor do I disagree that punishment is in order in some form or another.

While I have not played MOH: Warfighter, I do not know the extent of the potential leak. But if it's stuff that can be declared as already common knowledge, then they're not at fault for anything. For example. Basic infantry tactics can be found just by doing a google search for the most recent US Army field manual. There are tons of literature that has been declassified related to tactics of SpecOps forces from infiltrating enemy territory and setting up a sniper hide, to procedures used to clear rooms in a systematic fashion.

Of course if the military feels strongly enough that they've reprimanded these SEALs, then clearly there was stuff leaked that should not have been. The question is, what?
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
And I bet this still doesn't help MOH sales in any significant way.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 5 years ago
Of course if the military feels strongly enough that they've reprimanded these SEALs, then clearly there was stuff leaked that should not have been.

Not necessarily. It could be the case that there was merely the unrealized potential for a serious leak, and they're coming down hard to keep this from happening again, giving another chance for the potential to become actual.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 5 years ago
When I was in the army, way back when, we were handed specifications of pretty common weapons - FN rifles, M2 .50 cal machine guns, 81mm mortars. The spec sheets were labeled RESTRICTED.

And yet, you could go to the library, or even pick up a copy of Soldier of Fortune magazine, and find all that same information.

A lot of this comes down to typical military bureaucracy (read: bullshit).

(PS: Meanwhile, Obama still hasn't suffered one iota of punishment for his total clusterfuck handling of Benghazi...)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 10th November 2012 8:53pm

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Andrew Coyle5 years ago
Shame they couldn't use this "classified information" to actually make a good game. I completed MOHW at the weekend, and it was a painful exercise in bugs, poor coding and lacklustre gameplay. Perhaps the game designers should be reprimanded.

At the Eurogamer Expo in London, back in Sept, I played some MOHW and made a few comments about the game to the rep on the stand. She had a notepad FULL of comments from players. She said that she'd use all these comments to go back to the devs and make the game "the best shooter on the market". It seems like she might have lost the pad on the way home. There are shooters froms from years ago that have better shooting mechanics than this game. Sheesh.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D5 years ago
@ Tim. One would assume that if anything genuinely sensitive (ie, not already in the public domain, no matter how hard you look) had made it into the game, the US would have made sure the game never saw the light of day.
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Ben Strauss Consultant, Gun Media Holdings5 years ago
From what I'm hearing; the disciplinary action is mainly due to the web series these guys did for marketing purposes prior to launch. Basically; JSOC is not happy with the videos and discussion (I can personally tell you that those videos are quite 'low-speed') but no one needs to see SEALs doing close quarters action on video with Contours, and the SOF community basically agrees.

I challenge anyone to find 'classified' information within the game, heck...even with the videos. All of that gear, the guns and the stuff presented can easily be found via the internet with enough digging.

EA is more than likely having a field day about this coverage. The game tanked...this should help boost sales.

Honestly though, I don't think we'll see another MoH anytime soon...even though there is one currently in development. I will be quite surprised if they publicly announce that one.
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