Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Eddie Gallagher is accusing the Navy SEAL leadership of disrespecting President Trump and of being on a revenge rampage against him.
Chief Gallagher, who was accused of war crimes but found innocent, was restored to his rank after a White House intervention. Now he has filed a complaint to the Inspector General’s (IG) office. In it, he singles out Rear Admiral Collin Green, the commanding officer of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC), for biased treatment against him. Moreover, he accuses the top SEAL of badmouthing the Commander-in-Chief.
The leadership of NSWC is preparing to put Chief Gallagher, who is still in the Navy, through a Trident review board, with the intent of taking away his SEAL Trident. Both the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) have greenlighted Adm. Green’s initiative.
Although Trump spoke against this, it’s unclear how he might block what’s an internal issue for NSW. The President tweeted that “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”
“The president has spoken on the punishment of Eddie Gallagher,” said Timothy Parlatore, Chief Gallagher’s civilian attorney. “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.”
Parlatore, a former Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) in the Navy, added that “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.”
Trident review boards are a common practice in the Naval Special Warfare community. When a SEAL does not meet the standards — it might sound surprising, but it happens — or does something that is beyond a Captain’s Mast (an informal form of punishment), then senior officers and non-commissioned officers convene and debate whether or not to take away the operator’s Trident and send him back to the fleet. In this case, the boards will include four SEAL Master Chiefs and one Commander.
Chief Gallagher isn’t the only one faced with the dreaded Trident review board. His platoon commander, Lieutenant Jacob Portier, is also to meet with NSW senior officers. Moreover, it appears that some action might be taken against SEAL Team 7’s former commander, Lieutenant Commander Robert Breisch. Lt. Commander Breisch was canned from the helm of ST-7, alongside his executive officer and senior enlisted advisor, by Adm. Green for failing to police his SEALs. All three SEALs will have a chance to defend themselves in front of the boards.
Jeremiah Sullivan III, the civilian attorney of Lt. Portier, the officer in charge of Alpha Platoon, who was also facing a court-martial for covering up Chief Gallagher’s actions until his case was dismissed by the Navy, said to the Navy Times that “Rear Adm. Green is undermining the office of the president of the United States. 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.”
Both lawyers’ jabs against Adm. Green, however, are misplaced. It cannot be denied that Chief Gallagher’s actions and conduct brought shame to both the Navy and the SEAL Teams. The court-martial verdict and presidential pardon notwithstanding, Chief Gallagher has provided ample ammunition to those who criticize the Naval Special Warfare community for unprofessionalism. Consequently, the SEAL leadership is within its jurisdiction in debating to remove Chief Gallagher from the SEAL community. This, of course, doesn’t absolve NSWC of its responsibilities. A toxic climate has been allowed within the SEAL Teams that has resulted in shameful behavior.