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Navy SEAL commander resigns over dispute with Trump on SEAL Gallagher

Special Operations Command South's Commander, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Collin P. Green gives his remarks Dec. 1, 2017, during a promotion ceremony at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, where he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (upper half). (U.S. Navy/Released)
February 05, 2020

Rear Adm. Collin Green, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, is stepping down in September over a dispute he had with President Donald Trump regarding disciplining a SEAL.

Green and Trump had a disagreement over the court-martial trial of U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher in which Trump prevented Green from pursuing a peer evaluation of Gallagher. Trump’s intervention freed Gallagher from pretrial detention and restored Gallagher’s rank after the conviction. Now Green has decided to retire one year early, The Intercept reported Saturday.

“There’s a long tradition in the military,” Gallagher’s civilian attorney, Timothy Parlatore, told Navy Times. “You don’t rebel. You resign.”

The Navy accused Gallagher of murder and attempted murder, and was accused of fatally stabbing an ISIS prisoner reportedly on May 3, 2017.

Gallagher was found not guilty on July 2 of most charges but was convicted of posing for a photo with an ISIS fighter’s corpse, a crime for which the jury reduced his rank.

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Trump was “sticking up for our armed forces,” he said, adding that “there’s never been a president that’s going to stick up for them, and has, like I have.”

The Navy as a whole has had a rocky past the last few years that has shaken the entire branch, including accusations of sexual assault and abusing prisoners.

In 2012, four SEALs — Lt. Jason Webb, Chief Petty Officers David Swarts and Xavier Silva and Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel D’Ambrosio — were accused of abusing bound prisoners alongside Afghan Local Police.

Navy Region Southwest commander Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar said in San Diego that the seven-year-old investigation has degraded and convictions against the four are unlikely.

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Vice Adm. Michael Gilday told senators during his confirmation that he vows to “quickly and firmly” resolve scandals rocking the Navy SEALs.

“Ethics is a particularly important point for me and that begins at the top of my leadership and extends through all of the flag officers as well as our commanders, right down through the chief petty officers,” Gilday said. “Every day we go to work, we bring our values with us. It is especially important in combat that those values be maintained.”

“Physical violence, sexual assault have no place in the Navy,” he added.

Gilday replaced Adm. Bill Moran as CNO after Moran’s abrupt retirement just 25 days after his nomination. Moran retired for being involved in a professional relationship with Chris Servello, a former Naval public affairs employee involved in a sexual harassment scandal.

“My decision to maintain this relationship was in no way an endorsement or tacit approval of this kind of conduct,” Moran said. “I understand how toxic it can be to any team when inappropriate behavior goes unrecognized and unchecked. Every sailor is entitled to serve in an environment free of harassment or intimidation.”