Well, this is embarrassing. Seven members of the elite Navy SEAL Team Six are in hot water after revealing state secrets to a video game company. They were just trying to help, you see. Electronic Arts wanted to make the new Medal of Honor: Warfighter as realistic as possible, so they enlisted the help of men who had actually been in battle. EA hired seven Navy SEALs on active duty, including one who was involved in the mission that took out Osama bin Laden, and four others who transferred out of the unit as paid consultants on the project. In the process of helping the developers, the SEALs divulged classified information about how the military works. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The Navy got wind of this little side project and abruptly put a stop to it. Navy officials told the press that the seven active duty SEALs had been disciplined with a punitive letter of reprimand and a pay cut. “We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as sailors in the United States Navy,” deputy commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli told the AP. He added that SEALs sign a nondisclosure agreement. It feels like it goes without saying that if you’re one of the government’s most highly trained soldiers participating in the most top secret of missions, it’s probably a good idea to keep your mouth shut.
Those who know about these military games say that there shouldn’t be too much for the brass to worry about. Mike Zyda, founding director of USC’s GamePipe Laboratory and a former computer science professor at the Naval Postgraduate Institute, says that the action scenes that make up the majority of play time in games like these won’t really give terrorists a window into how the U.S. military really works. "In all of these games, they don’t simulate the intelligence infrastructure, which is where most of the classified information sits,” he said. “The goal of a game is to be fun and exciting. Some amount of realism is necessary to achieve that, but a lot of [what happens in missions] isn’t in games because it’s just not that interesting.”
Nevertheless, the SEALs have been getting a little bit out of hand since that bin Laden mission. The one SEAL who was on the mission and participated in the making of Medal of Honor: Warfighter is none other than Mark Bissonnette, the guy who controversially published a book about the mission under the pen name Mark Owen. As part of the unspoken honor code, Navy SEALs aren’t supposed to steal the spotlight, and they’re certainly not supposed to get paid for it. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it best earlier this year, when Bissonnette’s book came out. “I cannot as secretary send a signal to SEALs who conducted those operations, ‘Oh, you can conduct these operations and then go out and write a book about it … and/or sell your story to the New York Times,’” Panetta said. “How the hell can we run sensitive operations here that go after enemies if people are allowed to do that?”