After more than a year since he was first accused, the legal saga of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher has come to an end.
And the verdict is that he will be demoted to the rank of Petty Officer First Class (E-6) and forfeit almost $3000 of pay/month for four months.
In October 2018, military prosecutors accused Chief Gallagher with a number of Uniformed Conduct of Military Justice (UCMJ) violations. These included among other things obstruction of justice, attempted homicide, and murdering a teenage Islamic State detainee in Mosul, Iraq, during a combat deployment in 2017.
After a legal adventure that lasted almost a year, and which embarrassed both the Naval Special Warfare community and the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, Chief Gallagher was acquitted of the more serious charges. He was only convicted for posing for a photograph with the dead body of an ISIS fighter. Chief Gallagher, however, was the only member of SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon to be charged for that offense (it was a group photo).
As a result of his conviction, Chief Gallagher was slated to be demoted to Seaman Recruit (E-1)–he was an E-7–forfeit almost $3000 of pay/month for four months, and be confined in the brig for four months–he had already spent two months in confinement before his trial.
Due to the legal case, Chief Gallagher was also denied promotion to Senior Chief (E-8), fired from an instructor position at the Special Operations Urban Combat School, and had his Silver Star citation, the nation’s third-highest award for valor in combat, defenestrated.
After the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) and the Navy’s prosecutors botched their line of prosecution, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Mike Gilday took the case.
“After careful consideration as the convening authority, Adm. Gilday decided to uphold the sentence as adjudged by a jury of Gallagher’s peers, but disapproved the automatic reduction in rate to E-1,” Commander Nate Christensen, the CNO’s spokesperson said in a press statement. “Consequently, Gallagher will remain a First Class Petty Officer (E-6).”
Gallagher’s platoon commander, Lieutenant Jacob “Jake” Portier, who was also accused of covering up for his chief and helping him evade prosecution for the alleged war crimes, had his case dismissed.
Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) will surely be content to put this case behind it. War crimes allegations–which the SEAL community has had a fair share of–and airing dirty laundry doesn’t translate into better recruitment numbers or more love by commanders when assigning operations.