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Chairman of Joint Chiefs says Navy SEAL Gallagher case is ‘closed’

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to members of the press during a joint press conference with Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2019. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)
November 25, 2019

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the top U.S. military general, backed Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s decision to allow Eddie Gallagher to remain in his Navy SEAL unit.

On Monday, Milley said the process to review Gallagher’s SEAL status through a Trident Review Board is now “case closed,” according to the Washington Post. Milley backed Esper’s decision to end Gallagher’s review following the SEAL’s acquittal on charges he murdered an ISIS fighter.

Following Spencer’s removal, Trump announced Gallagher would be allowed to retire honorably as a SEAL.

“Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin,” Trump indicated.

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Milley denounced suggestions that Trump and Esper’s involvement in the case had circumvented the military justice process.

“The secretary of defense, the president of the United States are all part of the process, and they made a decision. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s case closed now,” Milley said, during a military visit to the Middle East. “It’s time to move on and address the national security of the United States.”

Milley reportedly did not offer comment regarding Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s removal. Esper made the decision to fire Spencer after he learned the Navy Secretary had proposed a deal to President Donald Trump to allow Gallagher to keep his Navy SEAL Trident pin, even as the review board was preparing to consider Gallagher’s case.

Though Gallagher had been cleared of murder charges, he was still demoted over appearing in a photo alongside the dead ISIS fighter’s body. Trump later intervened to have Gallagher reinstated at his full rank of Chief Petty Officer. Shortly after Gallagher’s rank was restored, the Navy announced its plans for a Trident Review Board to decide whether Gallagher could keep his SEAL status.

Trump had initially tweeted a critical response to the Navy decision for a review board. Gallagher had also complained that the review board showed insubordination towards Trump’s decision to reinstate him.

Other problems persisted throughout Gallagher’s original trial, including allegations the lead prosecutor spied on Gallagher’s defense attorneys with email tracking malware.

The suggestion that Spencer might then intervene in Gallagher’s review may have further complicated the case in its numerous twists. Esper said he decided to remove Spencer over his loss of confidence in the Navy Secretary.

“This case obviously raises a variety of questions, but in the main I think the United States military remains and always will remain a highly disciplined force,” Milley said.