“We have a problem,” Read Admiral Collin Green wrote to his subordinates – reportedly using boldface type. The memo, leaked to CNN, directed commanders to offer recommendations on how to ensure that the force maintains high ethical standards.
“I don’t know yet if we have a culture problem, I do know that we have a good order and discipline problem that must be addressed immediately,” Green said in the letter, without mentioning specific incidents.
His message could serve as a moment of reckoning for an elite force that has been plagued by repeated allegations of serious misconduct, ranging from sexual assault to war crimes.
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Green’s letter – dated July 25 – foreshadowed more unsettling news involving the elite force. Just four days later, a former member of SEAL Team 1 was sentenced to 60 years in prison for child molestation. The defendant, Ex-Petty Officer 1st Class Gregory Kyle Seerden, is already serving a 27-year federal sentence for manufacturing child pornography.
While he didn’t get into specifics, it’s likely that Green’s directive was in response to the embarrassing news that an entire platoon of SEALs stationed in Iraq had been recalled to San Diego amid allegations that they were drinking alcohol while on deployment. The platoon was also accused of sexual misconduct.
US Special Operations Command released a statement confirming the recall of Navy SEAL Team 7, citing “a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline within the team during non-operational periods.”
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Incredibly, SEAL Team 7’s hijinks in Iraq were preceded by equally troubling news: An internal report released on July 22 found cocaine and alcohol abuse inside SEAL Team 10. The report found that SEAL members repeatedly bypassed military drug tests, which they termed a “joke.”
The SEALs have also found themselves the subject of a high-profile case involving alleged war crimes. Chief Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher, who was part of the same platoon that was kicked out of Iraq for drinking on the job, was recently acquitted of murder and of attempted murder charges during deployment.
Gallagher was accused of stabbing an Islamic State detainee to death in Iraq after other members of his team had treated the man’s injuries. The SEAL was also accused of premeditated murder and aggravated assault for shooting civilians in Iraq.
Although he was acquitted of the most serious charges, he was convicted on charges of posing with the body of a dead captive IS fighter he was accused of killing. He was released after the judge sentenced him to time served.
Unfortunately, Gallagher isn’t the only SEAL in recent months to face murder charges.
In May, two SEALs were sentenced to one and four years in jail respectively for their role in the death – by strangulation – of Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, who was killed during a ‘hazing’ ritual while on deployment in Mali.
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