The U.S. Defense Secretary, Mr. Mark Esper fired the Navy’s top civilian on Sunday over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL who was convicted of battlefield misconduct in Iraq and later won the support of President Donald Trump.
Mr. Esper also determined that the sailor in question, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, should be allowed to retain his Trident pin designating him as a SEAL – effectively ending the Navy’s efforts to carry out a peer review that could have ousted him from the elite force.
Mr. Trump, who publicly opposed taking away Gallagher’s Trident pin and had intervened in the case to restore his rank, cheered the moves. 'Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin,' Mr. Trump said.
The fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer last week suggested a possible split with Mr. Trump by saying that Gallagher should still face a peer review board. The SEAL was acquitted by a military jury in July of murdering a captured and wounded Islamic State fighter in Iraq by stabbing him in the neck, but it convicted him of illegally posing with the detainee’s corpse. That had led to his rank being reduced. The White House said in November that Mr. Trump had restored Gallagher’s rank and had pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Critics had said such actions would undermine military justice and send a message that battlefield atrocities will be tolerated.