Mutiny? Navy Brass Set to Demote Eddie Gallagher From SEALs After Trump Restored Rank; IG Complaint Accuses Admiral of Contempt for President
The Navy has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday on removing Special Warfare Operator Chief Eddie Gallagher from the Navy SEALs just days after President Trump restored his rank and pay grade after his long ordeal over war crime allegations ended earlier this year when he was acquitted of murder by a court martial but convicted of the minor offense of posing with an ISIS enemy’s corpse for a photo.
CBS News first broke the story Tuesday. Later Tuesday night the Navy Times reported Gallagher, through his attorney, had filed an complaint with the Inspector General for the Department of Defense about the handling of his case that, among other charges, accuses the head of the Navy SEALs, Rear Admiral Collin Green, of using contemptuous words against President Trump. The complaint however, does not specify the words used by Green.
In what will undoubtedly be interpreted by many as an act of defiance against President Trump, the top Navy SEAL, Rear Admiral Collin Green, will notify Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher and three officers that their case is being sent to a review board which could end in their expulsion from the SEALs.
“This is a review of their suitability to be a SEAL,” a Navy officer said. The action would come less than a week after Mr. Trump intervened in the military justice case against Gallagher by ordering him to be restored to the rank of chief petty officer, despite his conviction for posing for a photograph with a dead ISIS prisoner.
…Although the action is being taken by Green, who is the head of the Navy Special Warfare Command, it has the backing of both the secretary of the Navy and the chief of Naval Operations, this officer said. The officer explained that this is an administrative action which was not affected by the president’s legal action last week.
The other officers are Lieutenant Commander Robert Breisch, who was the troop commander; Lieutenant Jacob Portier, who was the platoon officer in charge and reported to Breisch; and Lieutenant Thomas MacNeil, who was the platoon assistant officer in charge.
Green has the ability to pull Gallagher’s Trident without a review board because he is an enlisted SEAL. However, the SEAL commander chose to provide Gallagher with the board process, which is typically reserved for officers. Under the review board, three of Gallagher’s SEAL peers will review a packet of information about his case, as well as Gallagher’s rebuttal statement.
The board will then make a recommendation to Green, who can choose to endorse it before sending it to the Navy’s Personnel Command for action. The process could likely take one month, one official said.
…Since 2011, 154 SEAL Tridents or Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) pins have been revoked for various reasons.
His pay grade restored by President Donald J. Trump on Friday, Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher has filed an inspector general’s complaint against the Navy’s top SEAL, accusing him of uttering contemptuous statements about the commander in chief.
In the works for four months, the move came hours before a Wednesday morning meeting with Naval Special Warfare superiors in California, who are expected to inform Gallagher that Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Collin Green has convened a Trident Review Board to take the coveted SEAL qualification pin away from the special operator.
Green seems to have mustered the support of his uniformed chain of command to administratively punish Gallagher, 40, even if it’s perceived as defiant to the White House.
“Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, supports his commanders in executing their roles, to include Rear Adm. Green,” said Gilday’s spokesman, Cmdr. Nate Christensen, in an email to Navy Times.
Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, spokesperson for Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, echoed that he also “supports his commanders in executing their roles, to include Rear Adm. Green.”
Declining to comment on the IG complaint filed against her command, Naval Special Warfare spokesperson Capt. Tamara Lawrence called allegations that Green uttered contemptuous words about the president “patently false.”
Lawyers for Gallagher and fellow SEAL Lt. Jacob X. “Jake” Portier told the Navy Times that Green and the Navy brass supporting this should resign or be fired.
“The president has spoken on the punishment of Eddie Gallagher,” said the SEAL’s civilian attorney, Timothy Parlatore, a former surface warfare officer. “A two-star admiral should not be stepping in to substitute the judgment of his commander in chief. “This is a terrible precedent to send and the commander in chief should take swift and decisive action against Rear Adm. Green.
“As for those in his chain of command who appear to be supporting Green, there needs to be a wholesale change in leadership. If Navy leadership can’t accept the commander in chief’s guidance, then they all should leave.
“There’s a long tradition in the military. You don’t rebel. You resign.”
…“Rear Adm. Green is undermining the office of the president of the United States,” Portier’s defense attorney, Jeremiah J. Sullivan III, told Navy Times. “Rear Adm. Green should be the first one to place his trident on the table and resign before he is fired.
“Flag officers cannot challenge the president. It is an act of insubordination and a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”
Gallgher’s IG complaint does not specify the contemptuous words Green is accused of uttering against President Trump. However it also notes a tweet by Rear Admiral Charlie Brown, the Navy’s Chief of Information, acknowledging Trump’s orders regarding Gallagher that was perceived as insulting to Trump and Gallagher, “As the Commander in Chief, the President has the authority to restore Special Warfare Operator First Class Gallagher to the pay grade of E-7. We acknowledge his order and are implementing it.”
As the Commander in Chief, the President has the authority to restore Special Warfare Operator First Class Gallagher to the pay grade of E-7. We acknowledge his order and are implementing it.
— Navy Chief of Information (@chinfo) November 16, 2019
Excerpts from Gallagher’s IG complaint:
IIX. MISCONDUCT AFTER POTUS INTERVENTION
On Friday, November 14, 2019, the Commander in Chief announced that he was restoring SOC Gallagher’s rank. While this was a controversial decision, certain elements become quite open in their contempt for the President’s exercise of his lawful authority.
First, CHINFO sent out an undeniably contemptuous and snarky tweet, “As the Commander in Chief, the President has the authority to restore Special Warfare Operator First Class Gallagher to the pay grade of E-7. We acknowledge his order and are implementing it.” This tweet was universally received as being a passive aggressive statement of disagreement, but grudging acceptance. If any subordinate officer passed on orders from their superior in this fashion, he would be immediately fired – “As the commander of this ship, the CO has the authority to order us to do maintenance on our equipment. We acknowledge his order and are implementing it”
Second, and more sinister, is that we have learned that on Monday morning, November 18, 2019, RADM Green assembled a staff meeting and made clear his contempt of the President and disagreement with the President’s decision, before declaring that he intended to remove SOC Gallagher’s trident anyway.
The White House could not have been clearer in its statement:
“Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor. Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified.”
It is incomprehensible to understand how, given the Commander in Chief’s clear guidance that he felt the punishment was too severe for such a minor offense, how RAMD Green thinks it is appropriate to countermand this and increase the punishment. Moreover, no flag officer should ever be speaking contemptuously of the Commander in Chief in front of his subordinates.
Gallagher’s IG complaint can be read at this link.