The Downfall of a Navy Seal; Review of Gallagher’s Corruption of America’s Finest As Accessed By a Marine NCO

MAKING THINGS RIGHT

THE SITUATION  A Book Review

“Alpha”  – A Review

Here is a Review of the Book by Jim Thompson, Marine, Journalist, Analyst, & Consultant
May 2022

How This Book Changed Reviewer’s View of Eddie Gallagher & His Actions: 

When I begin reading “Alpha” I only had a peripheral knowledge of the events leading to the trail of Chief Eddie Gallagher. Most of what I did know came from a variety of sources including Fox News. Mostly I recalled the furor over the group photo and the dramatic turn of events when the medic Corey Scott claimed he was responsible for the prisoner’s death. This seemed to confirm that Chief Gallagher was being falsely accused. Reading “Alpha”, however, offered a much more detailed look at these events and a broader sweep of the history and legacy of the Navy Seals. And the chain of events should have disturbed all concerned.

The Sacredness of the Navy Seals:

The Seals have always enjoyed an unblemished reputation among the American population at large. People marveled at their grueling training regime. Seals always looked like they walked out of a recruiting poster. They were celebrated in the streets of America after the bin Ladin raid. And the same people were saddened and angry when those same Seals – Seal Team 6 – were lured into an ambush in Afghanistan resulting in many KIAs.

Book Author Did Not Share Public View of Seals:

Alpha” contained many surprises. The first surprise was that the author David Philipps did not share the public adulation of Seals. His animus went all the way back to the 1960’s update of the Seal’s mission. What ever the sins of the Seals from the Kennedy years, they were compounded as the years went by. The Seals of Vietnam were bad and the Seals of the War on Terror were worse still. It seemed the obvious that his conclusion is the Seals should reined in or disbanded.

The second surprise is directly relatable to my brief military experience. I came in contact with a number of freshly minted 2nd Lieutenants who relied on the Gunny or First Sergeant to get things done. I served under a Platoon Commander who needed an escort into town on the weekends. I worked for a Colonel who never was promoted to general because of his bad habits. At no time, however, would anyone have ignored or disrespected these officers. At no time would any of the senior NCOs disregarded a lawful order. And there was none of the close social relationships among enlisted, senior NCOs and officers as seemed to prevail in Seal units, deployed or stateside. This blurring of the lines in the command structure was against the norms of any military structure.

Command Did Not Control Gallagher

The conclusion from this observation is that an out of control Chief, Eddie Gallagher in this case, should never have been tolerated. At the first instance of insubordination or not following orders or procedures, not to mention illegal activity, should have been brought to leadership’s attention in a formal manner. A repeat of this type of activity should have resulted in disciplinary action. It seems there were plenty of reasons for Chief Gallagher to have been removed from his position long before deploying to Iraq. Even after all the facts were known and no action was taken, it appears nothing was done to those who ignored these problems. In some instances the higher ups

When I begin reading “Alpha” I only had a peripheral knowledge of the events leading to the trail of Chief Eddie Gallagher. Most of what I did know came from a variety of sources including Fox News. Mostly I recalled the furor over the group photo and the dramatic turn of events when the medic Corey Scott claimed he was responsible for the prisoner’s death. This seemed to confirm that Chief Gallagher was being falsely accused. Reading “Alpha”, however, offered a much more detailed look at these events and a broader sweep of the history and legacy of the Navy Seals. And the chain of events should have disturbed all concerned.

The Seals have always enjoyed an unblemished reputation among the American population at large. People marveled at their grueling training regime. Seals always looked like they walked out of a recruiting poster. They were celebrated in the streets of America after the bin Ladin raid. And the same people were saddened and angry when those same Seals – Seal Team 6 – were lured into an ambush in Afghanistan resulting in many KIAs.

“Alpha” contained many surprises. The first surprise was that the author David Philipps did not share the public adulation of Seals. His animus went all the way back to the 1960’s update of the Seal’s mission. What ever the sins of the Seals from the Kennedy years, they were compounded as the years went by. The Seals of Vietnam were bad and the Seals of the War on Terror were worse still. It seemed the obvious that his conclusion is the Seals should reined in or disbanded.

The second surprise is directly relatable to my brief military experience. I came in contact with a number of freshly minted 2nd Lieutenants who relied on the Gunny or First Sergeant to get things done. I served under a Platoon Commander who needed an escort into town on the weekends. I worked for a Colonel who never was promoted to general because of his bad habits. At no time, however, would anyone have ignored or disrespected these officers. At no time would any of the senior NCOs disregarded a lawful order. And there was none of the close social relationships among enlisted, senior NCOs and officers as seemed to prevail in Seal units, deployed or stateside. This blurring of the lines in the command structure was against the norms of any military structure.

Gallagher Should Have Been Removed:

The conclusion from this observation is that an out of control Chief, Eddie Gallagher in this case, should never have been tolerated. At the first instance of insubordination or not following orders or procedures, not to mention illegal activity, should have been brought to leadership’s attention in a formal manner. A repeat of this type of activity should have resulted in disciplinary action. It seems there were plenty of reasons for Chief Gallagher to have been removed from his position long before deploying to Iraq. Even after all the facts were known and no action was taken, it appears nothing was done to those who ignored these problems. In some instances the higher ups participated in the misconduct. All re-enforcing the premise that the Seal teams were out of control.

Certainly after arriving in Iraq there were early indications that Chief Gallagher provided sufficient opportunities for him to be relieved. The Seals were to be in a supporting role. The Chief put them on the front lines and in harms way. The officers in his chain of command knew this. They turned a bind eye to turning off the tracking devises in order to evade direct orders. This alone should put Eddie on the first flight back to San Diego along with Alpha’s officers. It is hard to believe that someone at theater command didn’t notice that one of their vital units went dark whenever they were on an assigned mission.

Similarly it was the junior enlisted personnel that showed revulsion at the taking of the group photo and pressed for an investigation. It was not their job “to be the adult in the room.” Again, a failure of leadership and a failure not addressed by the Navy. Or if it was, it wasn’t addressed by Mr. Philipps.

Politics Enters the Narrative

Once back it the States and with an investigation underway, the narrative takes a hard turn into political commentary. This seemed to distract from the main themes of the book, revealed an obvious bias and seemed very petty. The socks and ties worn by Pete Hegseth added nothing the guilt or innocence of Chief Gallagher.

This attitude carried over into trail phase of the narrative. The Navy, for all of its resources, put on a pathetic performance. Despite overwhelming evidence, they folded at the first sign of trouble in the trail. They had other witnesses to call to prove a murder had taken place and decided not to press forward even though, at that point, they nothing to lose. Once the Medic Corey Scott said there was no blood and he had covered the breathing hole resulting in the death of the prisoner the prosecution seemed not to have a counter strategy. Their reaction was to quit.

Defense attorneys are often painted in a bad light; their job is often the acquittal of the worst of our society and by what ever legal means it takes. How ever repugnant that may sound, it is part of the American system of justice. In our pre-Revolution history, future President, John Adams, successfully defended the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. Every defendant is entitled to vigorous and competent representation. Again, it is petty to make light of the dress and mannerisms of the defense attorneys and the attempt challenge them for past legal work.

Gallagher was Guilty

Based on this narrative, Chief Gallagher was guilty of murder and many other offenses pre-dating Mosul. Through a combination of skill, bluster and luck he avoided a longer time in brig and was able to retire with his Trident and pension in tact. Did the Navy, and the wider military establishment, learn anything from all that went wrong? Currently there seems to be deep re-examination of the military: a focus on green technology, routing our extremists and being more equitable. Will these efforts reach the Seal culture?

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