Four members of Utah's 19th Special Operations Group have been disciplined, with one removed from command and forced to retire early, after video of the Hot Shots 2015 Calendar shoot went viral, showing scantily clad models driving military vehicles, shooting guns, and blowing taxpayer cash in the process.
The Hot Shots Calendar, now in its fourth year, says it gives 50 percent of its proceeds to wounded veterans, which still makes it a for-profit venture. That fact, along with the behind-the-scenes video below, got soldiers into especially hot water after it started circulating last year.
Throughout the video, Utah Army Guard equipment can be seen used as props, including M249 SAW machine guns, SCAR-H and M4 rifles, Zodiak rubber boats, a special ops buggy, Humvees, and MRAP and a M109 Paladin self-propelled Howitzer.
According to the Army Times, two senior officers were cleared of allegations of dereliction of duty, but this didn't keep four lower-ranking soldiers from being singled out for disciplinary action. Beyond the one individual who lost his leadership role and was made to retire early, presumably for giving the approval for the shoot, three other soldiers were given reprimands and one of the soldiers had to repay $200 in fuel costs associated with the controversial shoot.
The highly redacted report on the scandal stated that one soldier had openly allowed the "misuse of government resources to facilitate the for-profit calendar shoot and video that portrayed the Utah National Guard and the military in a salacious, unprofessional and demeaning manner." And that doing so he "greatly eroded public trust." Additionally, the Army Times reports that one soldier allowed a model to drive their special operations outfitted buggy for "about 500 meters" among other breaks in protocol.
Most soldiers who helped facilitate the shoot had thought it was fully approved by the chain of command, and although the subject matter may have been questionable, everyone was said to have acted appropriately during it, the Army investigation found.
Additionally, emails were discovered that showed an ambiguity among the leadership when it came to evaluating the video's taste after the fact:
"I didn't think it was that bad, not bad enough to hunt for blood... Showed it to my [redacted] last night, [redacted] thinks the uptight [redacted] need to get over themselves."
Another email stated: "What can I say. On a personal level … awesome! Professionally… Hmmm."
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com