The drug culture that exists behind the scenes at America’s military bases was thrust back into the spotlight this week after a massive sting at Fort Bragg led to more than a dozen service members being questioned and seeking legal counsel.
A spokesperson for the Army has confirmed that 15 people were questioned as a result of a sting operation launched by the Army’s criminal investigations division (CID). Two were cleared “immediately” of wrongdoing, while the remaining 13 requested legal representation.
"The U.S. Army Special Operations Command is aware of the allegations of drug involvement from Soldiers assigned to USASOC units on Fort Bragg," said US special operations command public affairs officer Lt Col Mike Burns.
“We take all allegations seriously and are fully cooperating with the Criminal Investigation Division,” Lt Col Burns added.
But Connecting Vets, a publication that caters to current and ex-military, discovered that the situation extends far past simple allegations of drug use.
According to Connecting Vets, the sting operation launched this week was the result of evidence gathered from the arrests of two other members of special forces last month. One Green Beret is accused of sex trafficking underage girls at local “drug-fueled parties,” and was caught as the result of another undercover sting operation.
It all ended with the latest round of suspects being rounded up, one by one, at Fort Bragg’s main gate.
“It was a trail of tears and douchebag cars,” one unnamed special forces member told Connecting Vets.
Others who spoke to the news outlet described a flurry of personally-waged coverup attempts breaking out across the base as individual service members hid or destroyed stashes of drugs.
It’s just the latest signs of wild and often criminal cultures developing among America’s enlisted, and in particular among the elite units chosen for the most dangerous and important missions under the US military’s purview.
A New York Times investigation last fall conducted after the death of a Navy SEAL at a training facility discovered an undercurrent of drug use, particularly steroids. In 2017, other Navy SEALs told CBS News that even more serious drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine were being used by special forces units in the field during missions. Another case that ended in 2019 ended in sentences for four members of special operations charged with the hazing murder of a fifth member.
“People that we know of, that we hear about have tested positive for cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy,” one told CBS News.
On Reddit, news of the latest findings were received with little surprise on military-themed boards.
“I have a sibling who was in 3rd group. Can confirm. 3rd is wild. No one seemed to give [a f**k] about anything,” one commenter responded, referring to the 3rd Special Operations Group to which the scrutinised servicemembers belong.
“Man, the [special forces] community has been off the wall for a while now. There have been briefings, sensing sessions, and all kinds of things to figure out a solution. Near as I can tell, everyone has just been kicking the can down the road,” wrote another.
Ironically, base commanders at Fort Bragg were quoted in a local newspaper (the Fayetteville Observer) just last month about a supposed no-tolerance policy for drug use among enlisted soldiers.
Special Operations Command insisted in its statement that the vast majority of special operations units and service members follow US military rules and regulations regarding drug use.
"The overwhelming majority of Army Special Operations Soldiers live the SOF values every day. The use of illegal drugs or any other illegal activity goes directly against these values and does not reflect the behavior we demand from every Soldier in our formation," said USASOC.
"USASOC maintains a strict policy against the use of any illegal drugs. Illegal drug use is not acceptable nor is it tolerated. We are taking measures at every level to ensure the health and welfare of our Soldiers and to reduce these harmful behaviors in our formation."