"Commander, Navy Special Warfare Command Rear Adm. Collin Green relieved the three senior leaders of SEAL Team Seven from their positions Sept. 6.," US Navy Capt. Tamara Lawrence, a spokesperson for Naval Special Warfare Command, told CNN in a Friday statement.
"Green relieved the unit's commanding officer, Cdr. Edward Mason; executive officer, Lt. Cdr. Luke Im; and the team's top enlisted leader, Command Master Chief Hugh Spangler, due to a loss of confidence that resulted from leadership failures that caused a breakdown of good order and discipline within two subordinate units while deployed to combat zones," the spokesperson added.
In late July, a senior Navy official told the New York Times that a senior enlisted member of Navy SEAL Team 7 had been accused of sexually assaulting a female member of the platoon.
“When commanders began investigating the allegations [of rape], the entire platoon invoked their right to remain silent,” the anonymous naval official told the Times. “At that point, the official said, commanders decided to send the whole platoon home, including the lieutenant in command.”
The unit was on deployment in Iraq at the time, sent there as part of the US fight against Daesh. The day before the Times reported the accusations, two anonymous defense officials told the Washington Post that the same SEAL team was instead being sent home for drinking alcohol while on deployment - something prohibited even when off-duty. The official reasoning was that the unit had suffered "a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline" that caused a military commander to lose "confidence in the team's ability to accomplish the mission,” Sputnik reported.
Earlier that month, SEAL Team 7 Chief Eddie Gallagher was acquitted of murder charges stemming from the death of a Daesh captive two years earlier when a witness claimed to be responsible for the man’s death by delivering a coup de grace to the wounded captive, although Gallagher still suffered a demotion in rank and loss of pay for posing for photos with a combat casualty.
"Our Force has drifted from our Navy core values of Honor Courage, and Commitment and the tenets of our Naval Special Warfare Ethos due to a lack of action at all levels of Leadership," Green wrote in a memo to major subordinate commanders, according to CNN.
According to the commander, a "portion" of the elite special forces cadres are "ethically misaligned with our culture … the root of our problem begins with members who fail to correct this behavior within their sphere of leadership and prioritize this misalignment over the loyalty to Navy and nation."