There are few things as distinctly American as our gratitude for our men and women in uniform, and our vehement aversion to injustice. Perhaps that’s why Major Fred Galvin’s (USMC, ret.) story—one of special operations Marines betrayed by their own command and forced to endure character assassinations, unlawful interrogations, and ultimately, besmirched reputations that have encumbered them for a decade—evokes a visceral reaction in all those who hear it. In the long-running Global War on Terror, the story of the MARSOC 7 embodies an appalling confluence of the military’s worst flaws and proves the devastating impact they’ve had on good people.
Galvin has made it his personal crusade in the years since his military retirement to fight for the total exoneration of his men, an exoneration that should have come at the conclusion of the Marine Corps’s court of inquiry in 2008, but was instead substituted with a vague recognition by the convening authority that the men of Fox Company had “acted appropriately.” The statement was given to only one news outlet, and was strategically published on “news-dump Friday” before Memorial Day Weekend, where it was sure to be overlooked. Though the Marine Corps may consider this case closed, its shadow has continued to haunt the men of Fox Company to this day.
Fortunately, the singular focus and determination that helped Galvin become an elite Marine have also driven him forward in his ongoing fight to clear his name and the names of the men under his command. Today—nearly 10 years to the day after the Taliban ambush that sparked this controversy—his pursuit has brought him to the nation’s capital. And now, he has some powerful allies.
On February 16, on Capitol Hill, Galvin spoke at a press conference encouraging Congress to pass House Resolution 21, which calls upon the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps to issue a public document certifying that members of Fox Company were not at fault for the fallout following the firefight between them and the Taliban in Bati Kot, Afghanistan in 2007. The resolution has been with the House Armed Services Committee since early January. Galvin was joined by Representatives Walter B. Jones (NC-3) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), as well as Lt. Col. Steve Morgan (USMC, ret.), a junior member of the 2008 military court of inquiry.
Representative Jones has been a longtime ally to the Marines of Fox Company, standing beside them even when authorities within the Marine Corps and other prominent officials prematurely condemned them before and during the court of inquiry. He introduced the speakers, then calmly waited until they’d all spoken before reiterating the importance of this resolution in setting the record straight.
Prior to the MARSOC 7 case, Representative Jones worked in a similar capacity to clear the names of two Marine V-22 Osprey pilots who died in a tragic crash that claimed the lives of 17 other Marine passengers. Jones proudly recalled having succeeded in convincing the Defense Department to formally absolve the pilots of wrongdoing, and has clearly stated he’ll pursue total exoneration for the men of Fox Company with the same tenacity.
“When you hear this story and this truth, you see our Marines were never given the benefit of the doubt,” said Congressman Jones. “Our brave Marines put their lives on the line, just to have their names dragged through the mud. It is time these men be vindicated fully!”
Representative Ruben Gallego
Representative Gallego, a House Democrat, began his speech by stating that this was not a partisan issue, which may speak favorably to the likelihood of the resolution being moved forward. “Yes, we (Gallego and Jones) are from different parties, but when I see things have been done wrong to Marines, I feel the need to get involved.” As a Marine who also served during the Global War on Terror, Gallego recognized the extraordinary circumstances Galvin and his men were subjected to in combat, and has now lent his voice to the effort to pass Resolution 21. “I know how scary and confusing war can be, but there’s nothing more scary and confusing than when your honor is called into question, and that’s exactly what happened to Fox Company.”
Lt. Col. Steve Morgan
Following Representative Gallego, Lt. Col. Steve Morgan took to the lectern. He said, “You might ask, why now? Why after all these years are we here? Finally, many of the documents have been declassified. It took Fred and I five years to get these documents released, and it cost us both thousands of dollars. We prevailed. Now these documents are out there. We now have hundreds if not thousands of pages of documentation regarding this case and its testimonies.” With these documents, Galvin and Morgan have assembled a thorough case against anyone who would question the integrity of Fox Company’s claims to innocence. But the court of public opinion is nebulous, and misconceptions are difficult to uproot once they’ve been planted. “Hopefully the office of the commandant and the commandant himself can see their way to do what’s right. This will help salve the moral wounds these Marines have suffered,” Morgan concluded.
Reaching his turn to speak, Galvin stepped forward to deliver a heartfelt, earnest speech in which he summarized the events leading to the investigation, the way prominent generals and the press attacked him and his men prior to the conclusion of the initial investigation, and the lasting damage this case has inflicted on the MARSOC 7—emotionally, physically, and financially.
Even those in Fox Company who had nothing to do with the ambush and were never made a part of the investigation have found that the stigma associated with having served in Fox Company has negatively impacted their careers. In some cases, they’ve been passed over for promotion and essentially put out to pasture despite continued honorable service.
“I’ve never met a Marine with a disregard for life, whether it be a soldier in uniform, or a civilian,” said Major Fred Galvin. “These Marines did what was right, what was ordered.”
Finally, Galvin requested that everyone in attendance, as well as those viewing the live-stream of the press conference, reach out to their representatives and call on them to support Resolution 21.
Upon opening the floor to questions from reporters, Galvin was promptly pressed by a reporter from Voice of America to give an accurate number of the civilians his men had killed during the firefight—a question Galvin calmly answered with, “I was an eyewitness, and I did not see a single civilian casualty.” His statement is backed up with a polygraph test administered by the president of the American Polygraph Association, which indicated that there was no deception indicated and no civilians were killed at all.
Galvin went on to explain that the locals, many controlled by local governments loyal to the Taliban and tempted by large solatia payments given freely by the U.S. government, would step forward with outlandish claims against U.S. forces, suggesting dozens of women, children, and elderly were killed indiscriminately and demanding monetary compensation for their deaths. Not satisfied with that answer, the reporter pressed the point by later asking, “If you had killed civilians that day, and you knew about it, would you apologize for it?”
Galvin later confided to SOFREP that this interaction was a quintessential display of the sort of bias and misinformation still maintained by many regarding Fox Company. “That question reflected the exact reason why we’re pushing for this resolution. There are still people out there who wrongly believe those false reports and still think we’re guilty despite all the evidence to the contrary.”
Perhaps this forceful call to action will prompt Congress to pass the resolution, especially considering its nonpartisan nature. It would certainly serve as a symbolic conclusion to a hard-fought war—one that many say should never have taken place—waged by some of our nation’s most elite warriors upon their return home.
Article written by Nick Coffman and Nate Granzow