Code Over Country: The Tragedy And Corruption of Seal Team Six. A Review

Bob Mayer
3 min readMay 29, 2024


Code Over Country

It is indeed a tragedy. Mandatory reading for anyone wanting to understand Special Operations Forces.

I knew some of the stories in here and also interacted with Richard Marcinko a few times over the years. The author, Matthew Cole, does a great job of drilling down on the history of the SEALs and how they’ve gone off the rails, focusing on SEAL Team 6, from its founding by Marcinko through the present day.

This book is not a hit job on the SEALs or even Team Six. Even some of the worst offenders are brave individuals who put their lives on the line for the mission. And, ultimately, the fault lies with all of us for allowing two things: an illegal war in Iraq and a never-ending war in Afghanistan that had no goal in mind. You simply cannot constantly rotate warriors multiple times into fruitless campaigns with no strategic goal and expect things not to unravel.

Some of the things are forgivable but some are not. Lying about missions and what happened costs people their lives. Random killings of civilians destroy any credibility our forces have and forces the populace to fight back, exactly as we would. Besides being war crimes. In fact, many actions by ST6 resulted in the opposite result of what was desired.

The most depressing thing? The highest-ranking admirals who are SEALs seem tainted by their actions over the years. As if the officer corps rewards this behavior.

The second most depressing thing? How Hollywood and publishing have rewarded many of the worst offenders and portrayed lies as bravery. Two of the most egregious offenders are Lone Survivor and American Sniper. I remember reading Lone Survivor and being stunned at the lack of planning. I also didn’t buy the story of the ‘lone survivor’. It didn’t ring true.

If you want to dive even deeper into some of these stories, it gets worse. A former SEAL, Eric Deming, has several interviews where he gives insider account that are jarringly at odds with the public perception. His story about Task Force Bruiser rings true and shows how rogue actions by out-of-control special operators can result in tragedies.

Ultimately, the fault lies at the highest levels. The very concept of war has changed. We went into Afghanistan with no clear strategic goal. If you have no strategic goal, smaller units have to invent tactical ones. And it always seems to go back to “body count”. That didn’t work in Vietnam and it didn’t work in the GWOT. In fact, we might argue it is counter-productive. It seems as if we never project onto others what our own reactions would be to our tactics.

Our military needs a severe shakeup in tactics, strategies and ethics, but I doubt that is going to happen. The Pentagon acts like we’ve actually won wars, when we haven’t in a long time.

You can follow me here You can subscribe to Medium (well worth it for the articles you can access) here: You can sign up for my email list for occasional free books and survival advice here:



Bob Mayer

West Point grad; Special Ops Vet; NY Times bestseller of over 80 books; for free books and over 200 free downloadable slideshows go to