WASHINGTON - A top US officer in charge of elite SEAL units voiced outrage Tuesday that some troops are cashing in on their "celebrity" status, denouncing a commando's new book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
"I am disappointed, embarrassed and concerned," Rear Admiral Sean Pybus, head of US Special Warfare Command, wrote in a letter to troops, obtained by AFP.
Some commandos had failed to uphold the SEAL ethos not to advertise the nature of their work or to seek recognition for their efforts, he said, warning that lives could be put at risk as a result.
"Most of us have always thought that the privilege of working with some of our nation's toughest warriors on challenging missions would be enough to be proud of, with no further compensation or celebrity required," he wrote.
Pybus then cited retired SEALs who have launched partisan attacks on President Barack Obama and made a clear reference to the new book, "No Easy Day," by a former commando who took part in the operation that killed the Al-Qaeda chief last year.
"Today, we find former SEALs headlining positions in a presidential campaign; hawking details about a mission against Enemy Number 1; and generally selling other aspects of NSW (naval special warfare) training and operations.
"For an Elite Force that should be humble and disciplined for life, we are certainly not appearing to be so.
"We owe our Chain of Command much better than this."
As a consequence of failing to safeguard sensitive details of operations, enemy forces could glean valuable information and American lives could be endangered, he said.
Pybus vowed to rectify the problem.
"We must immediately reconsider how we properly influence our people in and out of uniform NOT to seek inappropriate monetary, political, or celebrity profit from their service with NSW," he wrote.
The letter emerged as the Pentagon warned that the book on the bin Laden raid, "No Easy Day," contained sensitive and classified information," raising the possibility of criminal charges being filed against the author.
After the CIA tracked bin Laden to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a group of SEALs, or sea, air and land team, flew by helicopter in May 2011 to the Al-Qaeda leader's hideout in a nighttime raid, killing bin Laden -- who was unarmed -- and suffering no casualties.
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse