The fallout from the Eddie Gallagher case continues to spread, as the acting Secretary of the Navy ordered senior officers to shut down review boards looking into three more elite Navy SEAL’s officers. The three men were all in Gallagher’s chain of command and have been accused (but not convicted) of covering up his alleged crimes. The Navy was reviewing their cases to decide whether to strip them of their coveted Trident pins. Now they’ve been told to stop.
President Trump made the news last week when he ordered that Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher should be allowed to retire from the Navy SEALs with his Trident pin and his rank restored. Now the administration looks to be tying up the loose ends of the case.
- The Trident pin is awarded to SEALs when they pass the grueling Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course, the elite unit’s entry selection test. Stripping a SEAL of their pin is a massive blow, publicly ejecting them from the special warfare community.
- Gallagher was cleared of murder charges in the case of a wounded ISIS terrorist in July but found guilty of posing for photographs with the man’s body. He was reduced in rank to Petty Officer First Class and was due to have his Trident pin removed, until President Trump stepped in, restored him to his previous rank and “requested” that he be allowed to retire as a badged SEAL.
- Now the Navy Department has moved on to Gallagher’s superiors. Two junior officers — Lieutenants Jacob Portier and Thomas MacNeil — and Lieutenant Colonel Robert Breisch were all facing review boards that could have cost them their own pins and places in the unit.
- Lt. Portier was Gallagher’s platoon leader when the alleged crimes took place and was charged with covering up the incident (the Navy dropped the charges in August).
- Lt. MacNeil shared a room with Gallagher during the deployment to Iraq and posed with him and others for photos with the dead terrorist.
- LTC Breisch, higher up the chain of command, says he realized something was wrong with Gallagher’s platoon a few months after they returned from Iraq. He said that, for several months after that, he was getting weekly complaints from the men about Gallagher. However, Breisch didn’t feel any of the complaints or allegations merited an investigation — a decision that put his own position at risk.
- Now, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has ordered the Chief of Naval Operations to terminate the reviews of the three officers, saying the Navy doesn’t deserve “continued distraction and negative attention” over the case.
- Modly continued, “any failures in conduct, performance, judgment or professionalism exhibited by these officers (should) be addressed through other administrative measures as appropriate, such as letters of instruction or performance observations on their officer fitness reports.”
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