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US Navy SEAL Team Removal Reportedly Caused By Alleged Rape, Alcohol Abuse

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A senior US Navy official revealed that a senior enlisted member of Navy SEAL Team 7 is accused of sexually assaulting a female service member assigned to the platoon, just one day after reports that the same SEAL team, stationed in Iraq, was ordered to return home by the commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force.

According to the Navy official, who spoke to the New York Times, “when commanders began investigating the allegations [of rape], the entire platoon invoked their right to remain silent.”

“At that point, the official said, commanders decided to send the whole platoon home, including the lieutenant in command,” the Times reported.

The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution outlines the right not to testify against oneself in a trial. 

Initially, the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) stated that the platoon, stationed in Iraq as part of the US mission to combat Daesh, had been ordered to return home due to “perceived deterioration of good order and discipline.” On Thursday, however, two anonymous US defense officials told the Washington Post that in fact, the unit was sent back for abusing alcohol, in violation of General Order No. 1, which prohibits it even when off duty. It now appears that the alleged rape, in addition to alcohol abuse, may have been the last straw that convinced USSOCOM to send the unit packing.

Earlier in July, SEAL Team 7 Chief Eddie Gallagher was acquitted of murder in the death of a Daesh captive in Iraq in 2017. He was nonetheless sentenced to demotion in rank and pay for posing for photos with a combat casualty. However, during Gallagher’s court martial, it was revealed that other members of the team regularly drank alcohol at a bar at their compound. It's unclear as of now whether members of the unit will be prosecuted on criminal or administrative charges.

The scandal prompted an investigation by USSOCOM. However, no "systemic" problems were allegedly found in the ranks of the US Armed Forces, according to a March 2018 Pentagon report to Congress.

The latest development regarding the Navy SEAL unit comes as 16 US Marines were arrested earlier this week during a battalion formation at California’s Camp Pendleton for their "alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses."

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