Navy's Top SEAL Can Revoke Tridents. Here's Why He's Sending Gallagher to a Board Instead

Eddie Gallagher
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher celebrates after being acquitted of premeditated murder at Naval Base San Diego on July 2, 2019. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Enlisted Navy SEALs can have their hard-earned tridents revoked by superior officers, but Rear Adm. Collin Green wants other sailors to decide whether Chief Eddie Gallagher should retain the device.

"Admiral Green felt very strongly about the board process," a Navy official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told "He values the opinion of the community and the board process."

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity since, at the time, Gallagher had not yet been formally notified he'd be forced to appear before a trident review board. Tim Parlatore, one of Gallagher's attorneys, said the chief has since received a letter instructing him to appear before the review board Dec. 2

Gallagher's legal team is hitting back against the idea of revoking the chief's trident. Parlatore said Tuesday that Green's decision to send Gallagher before a review board is a direct affront to the president, who last week restored the chief's rank.

The team has filed a complaint with the Defense Department Inspector General about the way the Navy has handled Gallagher's case.

Related: As Gallagher Faces Loss of Trident, Lawyers Claim SEAL Brass Showed Contempt for Trump

Three of the SEAL's superiors -- Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, Lt. Jacob Portier and Lt. Thomas MacNeil -- are also expected to be sent before trident review boards.

Navy leaders have backed Green's decision to send Gallagher and the three officers before review boards. Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer "supports his commanders in executing their roles, to include Rear Adm. Green," Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, Spencer's spokeswoman, said this week. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday gave a similar endorsement Tuesday.

Navy regulations require officers to appear before boards if leaders feel they no longer warrant special devices. Enlisted SEALs can have their tridents directly revoked by a commanding officer.

Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Naval Special Warfare Command, declined to comment on Gallagher's case. But she said the command has taken away 154 operators' trident or special warfare combatant-craft pins since 2011.

Reasons can range from drug or alcohol use to training or performance issues. Personnel policies also state the pins can be revoked due to a loss of confidence in warfighting, leadership or managerial ability for officers, or sound judgment, reliability or personal conduct for enlisted SEALs.

The review boards, according to a Navy personnel policy, consist of at least three officers qualified in naval special warfare in the grade of captain or above. The board's written recommendations are forwarded to the head of Naval Special Warfare Command for final endorsement and routing.

From there, the recommendations have to be reviewed and approved by Navy Personnel Command.

Gallagher was found guilty this summer of posing for a photo with an Islamic State fighter. He'd been accused of killing the man, but was acquitted when another person testified that he, not Gallagher, had killed the fighter.

Parlatore argued that the Navy is only considering revoking Gallagher's trident to publicly humiliate the chief. He also accused service leaders of trying to "stick it" to the president because they don't like his decision to restore Gallagher to the chief petty officer rank.

After the IG complaint was filed, Lawrence said any claim that Green is showing contempt for Trump in his decisions about how Gallagher's case is handed is "outright wrong."

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read more: Trump Issued Pardons in Soldiers' War Crimes Cases. What Now?

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