What is the Pentagon’s policy on artistic aid? It depends …

Some productions are praised, some are punished

The Navy’s special warfare command granted permission for two SEALs to advise filmmakers for an upcoming movie about a doomed commando mission in Afghanistan.

The Hollywood job was accepted at about the same time the Navy punished several SEAL Team 6 members for sharing purported classified information as consultants for the development of a video game.

To some in the military community, the Pentagon is sending mixed signals to troops.

Special operations commanders and some members of the Obama administration are courting the media with details about secret missions, such as the SEAL raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, to fit a political or public relations agenda, critics say.

“The administration is guilty of a double standard when it comes to our special operations forces,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and an analyst for the Family Research Council.

“For example, it is convenient that our SEALs’ combat successes are spun to advance President Obama’s political agenda, such as making him look like a hero vis-a-vis the Osama bin Laden takedown,” Mr. Maginnis said. “But when a few SEALs do something, like help with a video game, they are roundly castigated.”

Military officials say the difference is that the release of the bin Laden mission was approved, but the seven SEALs who worked on the video game had no authorization. They confirmed that two other SEALs worked as movie consultants last month while on leave.

Asked whether the superiors reviewed the information that the SEALs shared, Army Col. Edward Nye, a spokesman for the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), said: “The bottom line is the movie is approved for support from [the Office of the Secretary of Defense]. SOCOM also supports the film and has authorized its components to do the same.”

Col. Nye said the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs approved the SEALs to act as advisers on the movie, “Lone Survivor,” which is to be released next year.

Technical advice “would be within the bounds of the approved script” and under the supervision of an official from the public affairs office on the movie set.

Kenneth McGraw, another SOCOM spokesman, said the SEALs provide information about “physical conditioning and training about how to shoot, move and communicate like a SEAL.”

He added that the seven SEALs who worked on the video game “Medal of Honor: Warfighter” received “nonjudicial punishment” because their activities were not approved by the Defense Department.

“They divulged classified information and used government equipment without authorization,” Mr. McGraw said. “These are apples and oranges cases.”

‘A delicate balance’

“Lone Survivor” is being shot in New Mexico with actor Mark Wahlberg portraying Marcus Luttrell, a former SEAL who wrote a best-selling book about the botched 2005 mission to kill a notorious Taliban leader in eastern Afghanistan.

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