- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

House defense lawmakers are demanding U.S. special operations command and the head of the Pentagon’s special operations directorate conduct an accountability review of the military’s elite units, amid reports of heavy drug abuse within the teams.

The legislative proposal was offered by California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, as an amendment to the House’s version of the Defense spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Members of the House Armed Services Committee approved the legislative language as part of the panel’s markup of the draft Pentagon budget on Wednesday.

The legislation, as written, would require Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Mark Mitchell, as well as top brass from Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, “to provide a briefing regarding culture and accountability in [Special Operations Forces].”

Ms. Speier’s amendment does not include details on how extensive the briefings will be, or if they will be limited to accusations of rampant drug use among U.S. special operators.

Capt. Jamie Sands, head of all East Coast-based Navy SEAL teams, in April gave a stunning town hall speech to all 900 Navy special operators warning the command was cracking down on the use illicit drugs — such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy — among the SEAL teams.

One active duty SEAL attached to the East Coast teams told CBS News at the time that a number of his team members had tested positive for illegal drugs multiple times. The SEAL team members had been able to stay on active duty, conducting some of the country’s most clandestine military operations, because the Navy was unable to monitor their drug usage on a regular basis.

Navy SEALs, as well as the other special operations forces units, rotate repeatedly overseas with some units spending over months on deployment. That operational tempo allows some team members to evade regular drug screenings.

But in April, Capt. Sands said that would no longer be a loophole in the command.

“We’re going to test on the road,” the officer said. “We’re going to test on deployment. If you do drugs, if you decide to be that selfish individual, which I don’t think anyone’s going to do after today — I believe that — then you will be caught.”

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