Bamako, Mali — On June 4th the body of Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar was found in U.S. embassy housing Bamako, Mali. The room where Melgar was found resembled that of a bomb going off inside. U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigators outlined what they felt was a brutal assault that led to Melgar’s violent death by strangulation at the hands of one or two U.S. Navy SEALs assigned to the Joint Special Operations (JSOC), SEAL Team 6 (ST6).
Commanders within Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) along with U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) immediately sent CID investigators to Bamako after a military medical examiner declared that Melgar’s death was due to “a homicide by asphyxiation.” CID along with the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) placed two unidentified SEAL Team 6 members under observation, designated them as “persons of interest” in a homicide, and sent them back to the United States where the SEALs were put on administrative leave.
The question remaining is, what happened? However, speaking with several sources within Special Operations under the condition of anonymity, the same statement kept coming up; “this was drug related.”
The Green Berets along with members of SEAL Team 6 were conducting counter-terrorism training operations under the moniker of Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara. The combined mission of these elite operators was to assist the Malian military in tracking and targeting known terrorist groups operating within desert expanse of Mali.
SOFREP spoke with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) public affairs officer, Lt. Col. Robert Bockholt in regards to Melgar’s death and his Green Beret team’s mission in Mali and he had this to say, “Melgar was a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Bn., 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).” Yet due to operational security concerns would only confirm that the SEALs along with Melgar and his Green Beret team were, “part of a small group of U.S. military personnel working in Bamako, Mali in support of the U.S. Embassy.”
Lt. Col Bockholt could not comment on the investigation or whether the motive of the attack was possibly drug related as, “SSG Melgar’s death is currently under investigation.”
The shocking news of rampant drug abuses within the ranks of the elite SEAL Team 6 came to light in the spring earlier this year. Three retired members of ST6 described force wide abuses of prescription opioid use along with illicit drug use such as marijuana to methamphetamine and heroin, and they said its only gotten worse. These former ST6 members feel that the allure of a “rockstar operator” lifestyle has infected the elite Navy Operators daily lives.
Hollywood movies, books, and now television shows have inadvertently put the spotlight on an otherwise clandestine team of warfighters. The former members of ST6 also describe what hazards this fame has wrought as this attention, “attracted scores or millionaires searching for access to SEALs that they can buy time with, creating a literal breed of ‘SEAL pets’ used and exploited by business and the rush for status and credibility. I have heard countless outrageous stories from wealthy men claiming to know the facts about classified missions, tactics, official DoD policies that are absolutely inappropriate for public consumption, not to mention a bit more than far-fetched.”
This type of exposure for such a long period of time can change anyone into thinking they may just in fact be “War Gods” of the United States. And elite units thrust into the limelight of opulence and excess are wholly unprepared to deal with the unceasing deluge of popularity and accolades.
The Green Berets who are known for their quiet professionalism have not escaped from the hazards of excess and illegal down-range activities either. In 2012 a group of Green Berets were assigned to the U.S. embassy in Bamako, Mali where it was reported that they had been “drinking heavily at an all-night pub crawl” where the group gathered up a few Moroccan prostitutes into their Toyota Landcruiser and headed out to another bar. The vehicle, the Green Berets, and their female companions never made it to the other bar. Their vehicle careened off the Martyrs Bridge and fell 70 feet into the Niger River.
All three Green Berets and an unidentified “JSOC Operator” drowned along with three “civilians” in the accident, AFRICOM was tasked with investigating.
Being one of the United States elite Special Operations soldiers is painful. I can attest personally that this life takes a physical toll on the individual operators’ bodies. The pain is something that most of us deal with silently and yes, with prescribed opioids. You must shoot, move, and communicate all while being weighted down with armor, bombs, bullets, that at times can make an individual operator weigh close to 300lbs.
Cobble that with the mental drain of the constant “fight or flight” response in a sea of mind-numbing operational tempos and anyone will eventually seek respite from the pain. The SEALs in question in regards to the death of Green Beret Staff Sgt. Melgar will face justice if proven guilty of murder and that is a sad thing.
Yet, one must look past this violent death and see the underlying cries for help within our Special Operations units. We have a problem inside our most elite of units and the fear is that if the main issue of drug and alcohol abuse isn’t addressed head on as a dire health concern. Then the men of Special Operations risks imploding and leaving a grimy, bloody mess in its wake.
Feature image courtesy of Associated Press