The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve has booted a SEAL Team 7 platoon from Iraq due to a booze-fueled July 4th party, Navy Times has learned.
Officials at Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, are calling it “a perceived deteriorating of good order and discipline during non-operational periods."
In a prepared statement released Wednesday evening, SOCOM said that the joint task force commander lost confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission and the SEALs are now on a “deliberate redeployment” to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado near San Diego.
“All Department of Defense personnel are expected to uphold proven standards and to comply with laws and regulations,” the statement read. “Alleged violations are thoroughly investigated.”
On Wednesday, the SEALs were in Kuwait, bound for California. Although senior leaders in Iraq lost confidence in them, the key allegations being investigated mostly stem from drinking during an Independence Day celebration in Iraq and potential misconduct with service women.
Alcohol consumption by U.S. service members is banned there.
Although he was exonerated of all war crimes charges by a panel of his peers, the recent court-martial trial of Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher included witnesses testifying about a cowboy culture inside Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7, with their 2017 deployment to Iraq punctuated by heavy drinking on the battlefield and unlawful photos of service members posing with dead bodies.
Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Collin Green recently completed a review that explored potential ethical, health and cultural problems dogging a special operations force that’s consistently rotated overseas since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Prosecutors also say a pair of Navy SEALs are linked to the June 4, 2017, death of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar at his residence in Bamako, Mali.
Four SEALs stationed at Village Stability Platform Kalach in the Chora District of Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province also were charged in San Diego for their alleged roles in the May 31, 2012, beating of bound prisoners at the hands of Afghan Local Police militiamen, with one detainee possibly dying after the interrogations.
And before they were caught last year, several SEAL Team 10 special warfare operators snorted cocaine or spiked their drinks with the banned substance, often defeating military drug tests they termed “a joke,” according to an internal investigation obtained by Navy Times.
There’s also the early 2018 conviction of SEAL Team 1′s Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Gregory Kyle Seerden for recording images of child sexual abuse on his cellphone.
Without going into details about the latest round of allegations against SEAL Team 7, Naval Special Warfare spokeswoman Tamara Lawrence told Navy Times on Wednesday that her command is probing the case.
“Naval Special Warfare insists on a culture where ethical adherence is equally important to tactical proficiency,” she said in a prepared statement emailed to Navy Times. "Good order and discipline is critical to the mission — the loss of confidence outweighed potential operational risk. To mitigate potential impacts of this redeployment, other NSW personnel are available to complete the assigned operational requirements.
“We’re actively reinforcing, with the entire Force, basic leadership, readiness, responsibility, and ethical principles that must form the foundation of special operations. Leaders at all levels must lead in a way that sustains and sharpens that foundation. Discipline is a competitive advantage and enforcing those standards is critical to our success on the battlefield.”
Navy Times editor’s note: This story has been amended to show that investigators also are pursuing allegations of potential SEAL misconduct involving female service members.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.