Your company has not implemented SAFe; they have implemented Buzzword Management™. In this case, the interplay between roles has been applied incorrectly. Core responsibility for requirements management is a product ownership function, but the development team has a collaborative role to play, too.
The Scrum Master's role is to be the process referee for the framework, and to make sure that everyone else on the Agile Team is able to effectively implement their roles. This isn't currently being done, either.
Product Ownership Roles in SAFe
While SAFe development teams are primarily involved in decomposing Features into User Stories or other types of actionable backlog items, the core responsibility for requirements gathering is split between the Product Management and Solution Management functions.
Product Management has content authority for the Program Backlog. They are
responsible for identifying Customer needs, prioritizing Features, guiding the work through the Program Kanban and developing the program Vision and Roadmap.
Solution Management has content authority for the Solution Backlog.
They work with customers to understand their needs, prioritize
Capabilities, create the Solution vision and roadmap, define
requirements, and guide work through the Solution Kanban.
There's also a SAFe Requirements Model, that says that "Agile Teams primarily employ user stories, story acceptance tests, and NFRs [Non-Functional Requirements]" which puts most of the responsibility for product ownership and requirements management into the hands of Product Management and Solutions Management.
Furthermore, consider the varying levels of product management roles within SAFe:
SAFe offers a chain of content authority that spans three levels:
- Team – Product Owners make fast, local content decisions on behalf of the Agile Team.
- Program – Product Management is accountable for content decisions for the Agile Release Trains (ARTs)
- Large Solution – Solution Management has content authority for Solution Trains
That means each Agile Team's Product Owner is responsible for managing that team's portion of the overall Product Backlog. This includes gathering requirements from stakeholders/customers, and prioritizing backlog items.
And Yet SAFe is a Team Sport
With all of the above said, that doesn't mean the Agile Team developers aren't involved in understanding or gathering requirements. User stories and Product Backlog Items are not specifications. They are placeholders for collaboration with other elements of the Agile Release Train.
The Product Owner may be the primary point of contact, but the team as a whole should be actively engaged with the stakeholders who are called out as value consumers in a user story. If the Product Owner is not facilitating this, or is placing the responsibility solely on the team, that is a role failure. Likewise, if the team is sitting back and waiting for full-fledged specifications from the Product Owner, the Agile Team isn't fulfilling its proper role either.
Agile frameworks, especially Scrum (on which a number of SAFe practices are based), require active collaboration between roles. If the roles are in conflict, or individuals are seeking to "toss work over the wall" to someone else, then the framework has not been fully adopted or properly applied.