Military Justice

Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer was forced to resign by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.  The issue at hand was over the further punishment of Chief Petty Officer and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher.  Gallagher was acquitted of serious war crimes in a military court but was found guilty of posing with a dead captive fighter.  Gallagher served  4 months in prison and a reduction in rank to petty officer first class.  Seal commander, Rear Admiral Collin Green, considered taking away the officer’s Trident pin over additional behavior inconsistent with the highest Seal standards.  The President restored Gallagher’s original rank and would not allow the Navy to remove him from the Seals.  The Trident pin is a symbol of Seal Team membership and is highly valued by all Seal members.  Trident pins are so treasured that it is said to accompany members to their grave.  Although he appeared to agree with the President’s decision, Spencer permitted Green to proceed with disciplinary hearings on Gallagher.  Reportedly Navy officials said that “they didn’t consider tweets from the President to be orders.”  Esper believed he had no choice but to remove Spencer for opposing the wishes of the President.  The President first became involved when Gallagher was imprisoned with hardened criminals while awaiting trial.  This was a decorated veteran who had been deployed on numerous occasions.  There was no need for him to be jailed with sex offenders and others who may have committed serious crimes.

I think it is critical that we have separate civilian and military courts of law.  Many times those writing the “rules of engagement” are not in the heat of battle, facing death and dismemberment at any moment.  There is an old expression, “all is fair in love and war.”  When the enemy doesn’t follow any rules, it is difficult to near impossible to “play fair.”  Witnessing friends and innocent civilians being killed does something to your own conscience and may make you a bit less sympathetic to an enemy combatant.  There are examples of blatant war crimes but when questionable situations arise, we should give our troops the benefit of doubt.  Split second decisions must sometimes be made where your life or those of your fellow soldiers are at stake.  Remember that you are dealing with someone sworn to kill you.  If you are to err it should be on the side of protecting yourself and your buddies.  Hopefully military courts and military juries understand that.  Unfortunately today politics has entered the military arena as it has every other aspect of our lives.  To please an increasingly liberal media and public, the military will sometimes use a high-profile case to exemplify how the military is policing itself.  In my opinion Eddie Gallagher was a sacrificial lamb (as were the other two cases in which the President immersed himself) to appease the anti-military Left (and media).  Secretary Spencer had other issues that he was failing to properly address, like delays and cost overruns on critical big ticket weapons.  The Chinese are surpassing us in naval superiority and we need a naval secretary who will run a tight ship and restore our Navy.  Over 70% of the globe is water and of that water 96% is ocean water.  Whoever rules the oceans will rule the world!

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