Green Berets assigned to a 3rd Special Forces Group Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) crept forward and took control of the compound ahead of them. The American Special Forces soldiers moved in with Afghan soldiers assigned to the 6th Kandak Commandos, Afghanistan’s frontline counter-terrorism unit. The commandos were not tethered to any one region in Afghanistan and were deployed as a national asset wherever they were needed, in this case, leaving their base at Camp Morehead near Kabul for a massive clearing operation to the southwest in Marjah.
Together, their mission was to clear and capture what had been dubbed Objective Thunderdome, part of a much larger operation in February of 2010 that involved American, British, and Canadian Special Operations and conventional units working with the Afghan National Army (ANA). They were assigned to take control of what was widely viewed as the insurgent capital of Afghanistan at that time. It was the largest operation conducted since the 2001 invasion.
Also attached to the Special Forces team for sniper support was a U.S. Navy SEAL named Eddie Gallagher.
Having captured several houses near a road intersection, the joint Afghan-American team would operate out of the area for several days, using it as a mission support site. The Special Forces soldiers were used to having a SEAL or a British SAS operator tag along on occasion but there was something about Gallagher that rubbed them the wrong way.
“He just ran his mouth all the fucking time and guys who do that stuff for real are really quiet,” a member of the Special Forces ODA told NEWSREP. “But this guy was the classic stolen valor type talking about being sent on missions and capping people. He was just that guy you didn’t want to be around.”
That day, a nearby farmer kept coming out of his home and tilling his soil whenever there was a lull in the battle between coalition troops and the Taliban. The ODA’s Afghan interpreter repeatedly told the farmer to go back inside as it wasn’t safe, but the old man would keep coming back out to work his field despite the danger of being caught in the crossfire.
As night fell, there were ANA vehicles driving through the intersection to participate in the clearing operation. From the rooftop of the captured building, ODA members reported that Gallagher fired on the ANA, his bullet smashed through the back window of a Hilux pickup truck and embedded in the dashboard. “He was shooting indiscriminately. That’s when he hit that ANA truck,” a Green Beret present on the operation told NEWSREP on the condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation by the Special Operations community.
When morning came, the ODA was waiting for the Marines to come in and backfill the areas they had previously cleared before they would leapfrog forward and clear the next village with the Kandak commandos. Half of the ODA was up on the roof with Gallagher when the farmer again came back outside to work in his field. The half of the ODA up on the roof was observing the battlefield while the rest of the team was in an adjacent building with their team leader, a captain, who was the ground force commander for the mission.
Everyone heard the snap of a gunshot and then the farmer lay dead in his field. Another sniper, an ODA member, saw the entire event unfold and reported to his teammates that the farmer did not present a threat but that Gallagher had shot him anyway. Gallagher then allegedly began bragging about the civilian he had killed, claiming he had a weapon in his hands, an ODA team member told NEWSREP. Other ODA members reported the farmer had a hoe in his hands, but remained unarmed, and was working the field as he had been previously.
That night, the six ODA members and Gallagher egressed from the rooftop to the adjacent building where the rest of the team was located and it was at this point the Special Forces soldiers conferred with their team leader and made it clear: Gallagher was jeopardizing the mission. The team leader and other leaders agreed that Gallagher had to be sent back to the rear area and informed him of their decision. When a re-supply helicopter came in that night, Gallagher was put on it and sent back to the Advanced Operating Base (AOB) located at Camp Bastion which was supporting the ODA’s mission.
Back at the AOB, they had been informed Gallagher was being sent back but were not informed why at that time. A second Special Forces member assigned to the AOB reported that when Gallagher arrived at Camp Bastion, he was boasting about having shot the farmer. At the AOB, the Special Forces common area and the operations center were in close proximity, and the walls were quite thin. That day, the AOB commander overheard Gallagher bragging about the killing, pulled him aside for a private conversation, and Gallagher was quickly put on a plane and sent away.
Afterwards, the AOB commander and command sergeant major went out into the field to complete the final days of the mission with their Green Berets.
According to the 2018 NCIS report obtained by NEWSREP, a Navy SEAL sniper told investigators that Gallagher told him a story that he had killed an unarmed farmer during a previous deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. The name of the active duty Navy SEALs who spoke to NCIS and appears in the document are being withheld by NEWSREP pending Gallagher’s trial.
NEWSREP reached out to Gallagher’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, for comment. “The story is entirely made up,” Parlatore told NEWSREP by phone when asked about the incident in Afghanistan. Parlatore stated while Gallagher was deployed to Afghanistan during that time that he was not present on this particular operation.
Gallagher is currently slated to go to court martial charged with war crimes involving the alleged murder of a teenage detainee with a knife and shooting an unarmed Iraqi girl with a sniper rifle in Mosul, Iraq. Gallagher is also accused of obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening SEALs who spoke out to investigators about his actions in Iraq.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Commander Christopher Czaplak, was removed from Gallagher’s case last week by a judge following a series of charges made by the defense including that the prosecution was spying on them using e-mail tracking software. The removal of Czaplak set the trial back from June 10th to June 17th. The defense has been lobbying President Trump, who has weighed in on the matter and had Gallagher moved from a military prison to less restrictive Navy quarters on post. A military judge later ordered Gallagher released entirely pending his trial a week ago, apparently in acknowledgement of the prosecution’s supposed misconduct.
Gallagher’s lawyers have sought to have the case against him dismissed entirely on the grounds that the evidence and prosecution itself was so contaminated that their client could no longer receive a fair trial, however, a judged ruled against this motion.