What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

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New York Times best-selling author of “American SniperScott McEwen joined us to discuss Ryan Zinke, the co-author, and subject of his latest book “American Commander.”

McEwin teamed with Zinke — a former SEAL Team Six Commander and the only US Navy SEAL in Congress — to write a book about the now-politician’s life.

Zinke is also Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior.

Zinke’s military career began in 1985 when he graduated from Officer Candidate School and attended SEAL training (BUDS class 136). He was first assigned to SEAL Team One in Coronado, California, then was later selected for SEAL Team Six where he was a Team Leader and a commander.

As McEwin tells it, after a decade of service, Zinke was assigned as Deputy and Acting Commander of Combined Joint Special Operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom where he led a force of over 3,500 Special Operations personnel. In 2006 he was awarded two Bronze Stars.

An author experienced in telling the stories of high-level special operators, McEwin goes on to explain how Zinke retired from active duty 2008 after serving 23 years as a Navy SEAL. Zinke later ran for Congress and was sworn into the House of Representatives on January 6, 2015, and became the first Navy SEAL in the House.

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Selected links and show notes from the episode:


  • [04:40] The general who wanted special operators to find out how many dogs were neutered before carrying out an operation.
  • [07:35] What the process for clearing a book through the Department of Defense is like.
  • [09:25] Why the book does not say “SEAL Team Six” even though it is referring to SEAL Team Six.
  • [11:50] Military family sacrifice.
  • [15:30] Common threads of special operators.
  • [17:30] The differences in Navy SEAL operators.
  • [19:30] Zinke and Gen. Mattis.
  • [25:35] What military veterans —like Zinke and Mattis— bring to U.S. politics.
  • [30:15] Defining Zinke through his relationship with his family.
  • [36:10] That time Navy SEALs were chastised by upper leadership for nabbing a bad guy.

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