During the four-day annual Sea-Air-Space 2021 conference, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, told the audience that the Navy SEAL community suffered from issues with character and ethics. 

The conference brings together the U.S. defense industries, private-sector companies, and key military decision-makers from the sea services for an educational and professional event.

Gilday was on a panel with Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps Gen. David Berger and Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz discussing Tri-Service Maritime Leadership. The panel was moderated by Admiral John Richardson, Retired 31st Chief of Naval Operations.

Character and Ethics Identified as Navy SEAL Problem Areas by Chief of Naval Operations
The three leaders discuss maritime leadership. (Military.com)

 Gilday spoke about the review ordered for all U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) units. He mentioned that a “comprehensive review” was needed similar to the one that the Navy had ordered for its surface fleet after two destroyers had collided with merchant vessels claiming the lives of 17 sailors in 2017. 

However, Gilday said, the issue “with the SEALs […] wasn’t professional competency like it was in the surface community; it was character and ethics.”

USSOCOM Commander Army General Richard Clarke had ordered the comprehensive review in 2019 after several breakdowns in unit discipline had threatened to erode the country’s trust in our special operations forces. 

Many of the events centered around but were not limited to the Navy SEAL community. 

The Court-martial of CPO Eddie Gallagher

Gallagher’s case generated a ton of negative publicity for the Navy and SEALs. Gallagher was charged with the death of a young ISIS fighter in Iraq, who had been seriously wounded and captured.