Blaine Campbell, chairman and president of CheyTac USA, was never a Special Forces weapon sergeant as he claims.
By Lee Williams
Blaine Campbell never donned a Green Beret, at least not officially. He never served in Special Forces, although his rifles have. Campbell never jumped into Pineland – the mythical setting of Robin Sage, the final field exercise that all aspiring Special Forces candidates must pass before earning their SF tabs and coveted Green Berets.
Instead, Campbell was dropped from the Special Force Qualification course, or Q-course, for administrative reasons in 1994.
This hasn’t stopped him from claiming that his training and experience as a Special Forces weapon sergeant, or 18-Bravo, gave him the skills necessary to create precision long-range weapons platforms. “I started out in the Army, infantry, Airborne, went to the 82nd, went on to Special Forces. I was a weapon sergeant,” he said during the Back to The Lodge Podcast last year.
A story published Feb. 5 in Maxim magazine describes Campbell as a “former Green Beret and 82nd Airborne combat veteran who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and as a scout sniper during multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley asked Campbell how he “got into weapons,” during Shipley’s popular YouTube podcast in May of last year.
“I was infantry first and then 18-Bravo weapon sergeant, it just made logical sense to keep the evolution and look at doing some better and new stuff,” Campbell told him. He described himself as a Special Forces weapon sergeant several times during the podcast.
In his bio on a veterans’ charity website, Campbell wrote that he “joined Special Forces, and went through selection October 1993 and worked at the advanced airborne (HALO) school until his separation from the army.”
Campbell’s rifles retail for around $12,000 each.
In 2017, a British Special Air Service sniper used a CheyTac M200 Intervention to kill an ISIS sniper who was more than 1.5 miles away. It took an estimated three full seconds for the round to travel the distance.
Campbell’s CheyTac rifles are serving with the world’s most elite military units, he said, including DEVGRU and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta – better known as SEAL Team VI and Delta.
Hollywood caught the CheyTac bug too. In the 2007 movie “Shooter,” Mark Wahlberg uses a CheyTac M200 Intervention to destroy bad guys at extreme ranges. It’s also a featured weapon in several popular video games.
But Campbell hasn’t owned CheyTac USA for very long. Most of the serious research and development occurred long before he took over. His company, Campbell Arms Manufacturing, bought CheyTac USA in April 2020.
“Campbell Arms Manufacturing is a preferred DoD vendor providing unique small arms solutions to the Department of Defense. Campbell Arms Manufacturing is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business providing these solutions from its DoD Secure Facility located in a Hub Zone in western Tennessee. Campbell Arms Manufacturing is a company led by Special Operations combat veterans, that adheres to the highest level of business ethics,” according to an April 16, 2020 press release, which announced the sale.
The Guardians of the Green Beret is a team of active duty and retired Green Berets who expose Special Forces imposters and posers. Their website has a “hall of heroes” – dedicated to decorated Special Forces veterans – and a “hall of zeroes” for the imposters. Their work is endorsed by Special Forces associations and foundations.
The Guardians of the Green Beret partnered with the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project for this story. The Guardians’ in-depth story and video about this case will be forthcoming.
According to their website: “When someone poses and claims to be SF (Green Beret) many of us are offended. We do not feel that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. They are not part of this very small group and never will be. They were not tested, they were not selected, they did not qualify, they did not deploy and they did not lose brothers so close that they knew them better than their own family.”
The Guardians’ research is exhaustive and thorough. To date, they have never once been wrong.
According to their investigation, Campbell never earned a Green Beret or a Special Forces tab. He did not graduate from the Q-course or participate in Robin Sage. He never served as a Special Forces weapon sergeant – not for a single day. Instead, he was dropped from the Q-course in 1994.
Discharge papers show he had a parachute badge and a combat infantryman badge, but they do not show any Special Forces qualification.
He left active duty in 1994 as a Private First Class, having been demoted from corporal. He said he doesn’t know why he was reduced in rank.
Campbell said he completed all of the Q-course including the final field exercise, Robin Sage, when he was “pulled from the course for personal reasons.”
“I had some personal issues that involved some of my command and my ex-wife. I got sent to the rigger’s shed stacking stuff. I lost faith in my command, so I got out and got on with my life,” he said.
He acknowledged that he was never a tab-qualified Special Forces 18-Bravo.
“I did apologize to the Guardians of the Green Beret. I’ve retracted everything,” he said. “I’m a combat vet. I am humble. I shouldn’t have said it. So be it. It is what it is.”
Campbell said he thought he was permitted to say he was tab-qualified because he completed the entire Q-course.
“I went through Robin Sage and thought I’d done it and I could say it,” he said, adding that after the exercise, the training cadre pinned Special Forces tabs on the candidates’ shoulders with safety pins.
All of this, the Guardians of the Green Beret say, is untrue.
According to Campbell’s paperwork, he was dropped from the course before he ever went to Robin Sage. In addition, the Guardians have emails from two successful Class 1-94 graduates and the Robin Sage NCOIC who all said Campbell’s tab-pinning ceremony never happened.
“That’s something they do in Ranger School,” a Guardian said. “We don’t do that in Special Forces.”
“We completed Robin Sage and got a final counseling from instructors at Mackall on who passed and who didn’t, and then headed right back to Bragg, main post,” one of the graduates wrote in an email to the Guardians. “I don’t recall pinning on the long tab.”
CheyTac’s Chief Operating Officer, Brenda Dorne, said she believes Campbell is still Special Forces qualified even though he lacks the SF tab and the documentation.
“There’s an investigation. We’re attempting to get his paperwork,” she said, adding that Campbell used the last name Hardwick while in the Army – the name of his adopted father – but switched back to Campbell after his discharge.
The Guardians of the Green Beret said they offered to help Dorne and Campbell expedite the paperwork requests – an offer that was not accepted.
Several persons familiar with Campbell said he has also claimed to have completed other elite military schools, such as Marine Corps Scout/Sniper, Army Combat Diver, the Army’s parachute rigger course, HALO and more. They say Campbell also claims to have served in the 3rd, 5th and 7th Special Forces Groups, and that he was shot in Panama, even though there is no Purple Heart in his records.
Campbell denied all of these allegations.
“I never said that – any of that,” he said.
Campbell recently bought a knife – a Randall Model 16 “diver” – the sources familiar with him said, which he has told people he received upon graduating from the Q-Course. However, Special Forces presents a Yarborough knife made by knifemaker Chris Reeve, not a Randall knife to Q-course graduates. Also, they didn’t start presenting knives to graduates until 2002, eight years after Campbell claims to have completed the course.
At the end of his interview, Campbell admitted he never received a tab or the green hat, but he offered a qualified apology.
“If I was wrong for saying it, I apologize to the SF guys,” he said. “I will never say it again.”
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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.