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SEAL Team 7 ‘command triad’ fired after platoon kicked out of Iraq

SEAL Team Seven members jump from an MC-130J Commando II during Emerald Warrior/Trident at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., January 19, 2019. Emerald Warrior/Trident is the largest joint special operations exercise where U.S. Special Operations Command forces train to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erin Piazza)

Three senior leaders at San Diego, Calif.-based SEAL Team 7 were removed from command Friday due to a “loss of confidence,” the Navy said in a statement.

The firings were ordered by the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Collin Green, and come after a SEAL Team 7 platoon was kicked out of Iraq for a booze-fueled Fourth of July party and an accusation that a SEAL sexually assaulted a female service member.

“Green relieved the unit’s commanding officer, Cdr. Edward Mason; executive officer, Lt. Cdr. Luke Im; and the team’s top enlisted leader, Command Master Chief Hugh Spangler due to a loss of confidence that resulted from leadership failures that caused a breakdown of good order and discipline within two subordinate units while deployed to combat zones,” said Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, a Naval Special Warfare Command spokeswoman, in a statement.

Lawrence told The San Diego Union-Tribune that no decision has been made about what consequences, if any, awaited the platoon members who allegedly drank in Iraq. She said a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into an alleged sexual assault was ongoing.

The leaders removed from command remain in the Navy and remain SEALs, Lawrence said.

Naval Special Warfare has come under scrutiny lately as a number of high-profile misconduct cases have put the secretive community in the spotlight.

San Diego-based SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher was acquitted of charges he killed an injured Islamic State combatant and shot at civilians during a 2017 Iraq deployment at a closely watched court-martial in July. Gallagher was reduced in rank to petty officer 1st class by a jury for posing for photos with the body of the combatant.

Several Virginia-based SEALs were caught using cocaine last year and told investigators they routinely were able to beat Navy drug tests by swapping out their tainted urine with clean samples.

Last month Green told SEAL commanders that a portion of the force was “ethically misaligned with (SEAL) culture” and ordered uniform and grooming standards be strictly enforced via routine inspections, a departure from the looser regulations previously enjoyed in the community.


© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.