David Axe insists (including in the comments at our previous post) that what he wrote in his notes and reported at The Diplomat was exactly what BG Neil Tolley said. He even put photos of his notes up on his blog to back himself up. We haven’t seen any sign of BG Tolley surfacing to contest this, so maybe Axe has a point. However, here’s Dave Duffy (a retired SF officer) on it (emphasis in all these quotes is ours):
I was not present for the remarks so not able to shed light on what was said or in what context. Really doesn’t matter at this point as the damage is done.
Dave Maxwell (another retired SF officer) has this to say:
This is not to rehash the reporting and misinterpretation of the misspeak of the General but to deal with the situation as it currently exists as well as what might happen….
As I have said, I think this is a result of “a misspeak and a misinterpretation:” the general was attempting to inform industry of requirements for special operations equipment in the event of future hostilities and in his effort to provide emphasis on the severity of the threat and the challenges SOF will face he inadvertently misspoke in the first person thus leading to misinterpretation of his comments.
We do believe that where COL(ret) Maxwell said “in the first person” he meant “in the indicative, rather than conditional, mood,” but he’s not a grammar nerd. And Maxwell, in turn, quotes an old Korea hand as saying:
Unfortunately, this plays directly into Kim Jong-un’s and senior KPA generals’ hands if he/they plays cards right and supports military measures to counter “US infiltrations” that the 4-5 stars will eat up. The Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department (a party organization of about 10,000 Stratcomm specialists dispersed to every level of NK society, including all KPA unit levels) will be putting out messages of threat at every level of NK society, from low-level party cell required meetings to central committee discussions.
Personally, I don’t believe Tolley made any mistake, he was simply a victim of the media. I also know SOCKOR’s been working to get a PAO for a while; they simply don’t have a billet (personnel system remains a weakness).
This reinforces our point: the irresponsible reporting on this is going to get our guys killed. Whatever one thinks about David Axe’s original report, it’s still being repopped by media long after the original pub retracted. That’s not his fault but it sure reinforces our opinion of his chosen profession — the irresponsible reporting on this complicates the mission profile for the guys who will have to go North some day, and will lead to casualties.