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Angelini Talks Gaming With DEVGRU Operator Craig Sawyer

The Importance Of OPSEC

Tom’s Hardware: There seems to be a big difference between the vanilla Special Forces teams and the "black" Tier 1 units like DEVGRU and Delta regarding participation in movies and books about their home units. For example, why can a retired SEAL from Team One write books, whereas a retired DEVGRU operator cannot?

Craig Sawyer: The answer to this one is simple: OPSEC. The techniques utilized at the Tier 1 level are to be protected. Out of respect and appreciation for our brothers, we keep those details to ourselves for the safety of the unit and future mission success.

We'll never know most of what our Spec Ops forces do

Tom’s Hardware: How do Tier 1 units treat former members who are designated persona non grata?

Craig Sawyer: Total silence from the community. No more invitations to internal unit events. If the infraction is bad enough, there will be prosecution. Those still in harm's way, as well as those to come, must be protected in that way.

Tom’s Hardware: With the recent news of DEVGRU operators publishing books and participating in video game consulting, what is your protocol to advise on movies and videos games while maintaining OPSEC? How does your community view these recent incidents?

Craig Sawyer: The protocol remains as it has always been. Don't reveal our secrets. Because we have an open society, what we tell our citizens we also tell our enemies. Our enemies don't need to know how we do what we do. When advising on various projects, there can be a world of contribution without ever approaching the specific equipment, communications, and tactics our elite warriors use to succeed.

As an adviser, even when you tell people you will not reveal secrets, some of them still ask. In those situations, you just have to hold a firm line, or disengage from the project and walk away. I've turned down many more projects than I've taken over that issue. When I started advising, I resigned myself to doing it honorably or not at all. I've been through too much and know what makes me tick by now. If I don't like it, I decline and walk away.

The way my community views these recent OPSEC violations is with disgust and disappointment. It's one thing to have a blundering politician compromise our unit, but to have operators walking the world, step by step, through our techniques in books and videos is unthinkable. The prosecutions against such violators are necessary and appropriate. Hopefully, this is the last we'll see of this kind of OPSEC violation from our own.

Tom’s Hardware: With all the highly visible missions performed by the SEALs lately, many SEAL impostors have shown up. What aspect of these impostors do real SEALs dislike the most?

Craig Sawyer: When I see SEAL posers, I'm insulted. I wonder why the clown who is trying to benefit from being a SEAL didn't just go through the training and become one of us to earn it. Being a SEAL isn't about wearing the t-shirt or flexing in a bar. If the poser doesn't have what it takes, then how dare he portray himself as someone who does? We used to rip the shirts off of military guys backs in the Philippines when we'd see them wearing SEAL attire. We'd ask them, once, to take it off. If they lied or refused, we'd just kick their asses and take the shirts. At times, team room walls have been lined with these "tear aways" gathered over the course of a deployment.

If I wanted to wear an astronaut t-shirt, or tell people that's what I did for a living, I'd go to the training and become one. That's how I see it.

  • jaquith
    Very interesting article and special thanks to Craig Sawyer!

    We did not pursue questions that would violate OPSEC
    Yeah, we wouldn't want another MoH overreaction.

    The lack of a fatigue factor, even in fairly realistic first-person shooters, has always bothered me. Most titles allow you to sprint briefly before slowing down to a run, but you’re able to shoot, jump, and then, seconds later, sprint again. Is this something that needs to change in the next generation of games, or would "the real thing" be a total turn-off for a gamer?
    Try Paintball. Otherwise VR with electric shock. Either way, IMO very few want total or close to realism in gaming other than theatrics. Listen, I've been shot by a 22mm that grazed off my knee taking-off a piece of meat -- getting welted-up from paintball's or electric shock is a cake walk.

    Personally, I'm far from a SEAL (really far) but I like my guns, and my Glock 19 with a LaserMax will make folks think twice about leaving in a home invasion - it's there as fast as I can reach. The POF-USA P308-12-MRR 7.62mm NATO is indeed sweet and ain't cheap; just what every 'deer' hunter needs.
    Reply
  • Pawessum16
    Correction on page 2:
    Tom's Hardware: I think all gamers remember the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 scene where you're a sniper in the top floor of a building in Chernobyl. As a real U.S. Navy SEAL sniper, how accurate is this experience?
    I remember that so well that I know for a fact that it happened in the original Modern Warfare, ie COD4: Modern Warfare.....before they stopped the numbering.
    And after finishing reading the article, I'd like to add that it was pretty great. To someone like me who doesn't know a thing about real world combat, it was very insightful, and Sawyer made some good points about the direction of the gaming industry in regards to shooters.
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  • Chewie
    Accuracy's my biggest problem with Crysis, to this day. I especially remember a point early in the first game where I like to lie down in the grass and take out the Norks manning MG emplacements that just can't seem to see me. The problem was, with the Assault Scope I was taking 3 or 4 shots to get a head shot on these guys. The reticle covered the whole head! I checked the range range with the visor, or binocs, or whatever, and got a range of 80m!
    Now, I'm no sniper dude, but I can get multiple 2 inch 5 round groups at 200 metres with the Steyr AUG, and that has a 1.5x optical scope. Also, no cool crysis suit to help. So at 80m, firing from prone, you bet your arse I can pick which eye to take out. But not in Crysis. Most of the other stuff about that group of games is cool, but the accuracy issue drives me nuts every time.
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  • army_ant7
    Tom’s Hardware: What is Sleep, Eat, and Lift?

    Craig Sawyer: Hey! Are you punking me, man!? Hah.
    Chris, I bet you were making your prayers and cringing already while he was saying that. :lol:
    I'm kidding of course. :P But I know I would, knowing that guy could snap my neck with one hand! :lol:

    That aside, a great read! I thank you and Mr. Sawyer there. :D I giggled at the thought of how ridiculous the things we do in games are, and imagined it in real life. Seeing those CoD (and others) commercials would make think they're silly now albeit still cool. :lol:
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  • blackmagnum
    He could run for governor of California...
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  • US_Ranger
    Good article. I especially liked the part about posers. That shit always bothers me and I've run into my fair share of them as well.

    Sua Sponte Craig, good luck in your new endeavors.
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  • mapesdhs
    Thankyou so much for this article Chris! The most interesting piece I've read on any site for
    a long time.

    Best wishes & respect to Craig and all his colleagues.

    Ian.

    Reply
  • happyballz
    ChewieAccuracy's my biggest problem with Crysis, to this day. I especially remember a point early in the first game where I like to lie down in the grass and take out the Norks manning MG emplacements that just can't seem to see me. The problem was, with the Assault Scope I was taking 3 or 4 shots to get a head shot on these guys. The reticle covered the whole head! I checked the range range with the visor, or binocs, or whatever, and got a range of 80m!Now, I'm no sniper dude, but I can get multiple 2 inch 5 round groups at 200 metres with the Steyr AUG, and that has a 1.5x optical scope. Also, no cool crysis suit to help. So at 80m, firing from prone, you bet your arse I can pick which eye to take out. But not in Crysis. Most of the other stuff about that group of games is cool, but the accuracy issue drives me nuts every time.
    I personally participate in bolt-action rifle competitions up to 1000yards but...AUG A’s 1.5x optical scope with 2 inch groups at 200m? You better have used a fully locked bench rest for that...AKA you were just pressing the trigger and the bench was holding aim. Otherwise I really doubt your "consistent" 5 round groups; I have used A1's reticle 1.5x scope before, and after 100-150 yards the "donut" reticle covers too much to know where the true center is. So you either very lucky repeatedly or are over exaggerating a bit.
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  • mayankleoboy1
    happyballzSo you either very lucky repeatedly or are over exaggerating a bit.
    Or he has practiced lots and lots more than you
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  • stevelord
    One of my favorite experts on Top Shot. Can't wait till the next season (which has been filming since September I believe.)
    Reply