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Big win for two Navy SEALs on trial for alleged war crimes



Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher in Iraq in 2017 - Big win for two Navy SEALs on trial for alleged war crimes

The two Navy SEALs charged for alleged war crimes have won their first battle in court. A Navy SEAL who allegedly staged a re-enlistment ritual over the body of a dead Islamic State fighter during the Battle of Mosul in Iraq and also hovered a drone over the dead body may have acted in “poor taste” but didn’t commit a war crime, a Navy judge has ruled. The incident took place on May 3, 2017, near Mosul, amid some of the U.S. forces fiercest fighting against ISIS.

On Friday, two military judges delivered a pair of big wins for two Navy SEALs on trial for alleged war crimes by dismissing key charges against Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward “Eddie” Gallagher, Lt. Jacob X. “Jake” Portier. Gallagher is the special operator at the center of the case while Portier was the officer in charge of his platoon who was accused of covering up the incidents.

Chief Operator Gallagher is accused of stabbing to death a wounded Islamic State insurgent while he was being treated for his wounds shortly after he was captured and attempting to shoot innocent civilians with his sniper rifle near Mosul in 2017 during the Battle of Mosul.

The military judge, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh, determined that those are not prohibited acts under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That ruling is also likely to be a big win for platoon leader Jake Portier, who also faces a raft of charges alleging that he covered up his chief petty officer’s alleged war crimes.

Military prosecutors charged Jake Portier with lying to his superior officer, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, about whether he saw “anything criminal” at Gallagher’s reenlistment ritual. Jake Portier allegedly said: “There was nothing criminal. It was just in poor taste,” according to investigative files obtained by Navy Times.

If the judge overseeing Portier’s separate court martial case agrees with Rugh, however, then Portier told the truth and his charge must be dismissed, too.

“It is honorable for a Navy SEAL to reenlist on the battlefield, the same battlefield where he was willing to sacrifice his own life to protect our nation,” Portier’s civilian defense attorney, Jeremiah J. Sullivan III, told Navy Times.

More details about today’s hearing and the case in overall can be found here.


British Special Forces Lacks of Recruits



British Army soldiers boarding Chinook

British elite special forces, including SAS and SBS, are 200 soldiers short after ­recruitment plunged 20 percent. The lack of “good quality” soldiers has hit the Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS) and SRR, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. Hardest hit is the Special Boat Service, down in numbers by around 100. The SRR needs 60 and the celebrated Special Air Service – motto Who Dares Wins – is 40 light. Each unit normally has 340 to 400 operators.

Senior defense sources say the SBS and SRR are now classed as being “over-stretched” with troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Baltic States and Africa. The shortage is being linked to cuts and a recruitment and retention crisis affecting the rest of the armed forces.

The British Army is down in size from around 150,000 in 1990 to 78,000. Despite that reduction, the SAS and the SBS have remained the same size.

A military source said: “The talent pool is shrinking. A lot of guys who built up experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and who would often see the special forces as the next step have left. In the last 25 years, the SBS has increased in size and the SRR has been created but the Army has shrunk around 40 percent. So there are fewer quality people coming through. But we have been down this road before and it hasn’t had an impact on our operational commitments. It means that everybody has to work harder to get the job done.”

Twice-a-year selection courses are tough and an average pass rate of 10 percent has led to as few as eight recruits. One serving member of the SAS said: “Life is tough. You spend a lot of time on operations, overseas exercises and on courses. It is unrelenting.”

British Special forces earn about £30 extra a day but experienced operatives can earn far more in private security. The British MoD does not comment on special forces.

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Witness seeks immunity to testify against Navy SEAL accused of battlefield murder



Chief Gallagher - Witness seeks immunity to testify against Navy SEAL accused of battlefield murder

Prosecutors could gain an ally in the case of a Navy SEAL accused of executing a young ISIS fighter during the battle of Mosul in 2017 and his commanding officer, who allegedly failed to report the incident.

Author of the article:

An attorney for a fellow SEAL has requested immunity for his client in return for testifying that Chief Edward Gallagher called in “false target coordinates to engage a mosque” and put his team at risk, yet Lt. Jacob Portier failed to relieve him on several occasions, Navy Times’ Carl Prine first reported.

Gallagher is charged with premeditated murder for allegedly using his knife to kill a wounded ISIS fighter and then posing for a reenlistment video next to the man’s corpse. Portier has been charged with obstruction of justice and related offenses for allegedly destroying evidence in the case and lying about Gallagher, as well as dereliction of duty for allegedly not stopping Gallagher from wounding two non-combatants.

The SEAL who served with Gallagher and Portier is requesting immunity so that he will be protected against any possible retaliation in the future, said attorney Michael Hanzel, who is defending the SEAL along with his wife Lauren and a Navy attorney.

“Our client has done nothing wrong, and we believe the record will demonstrate that,” Hanzel said in a statement to Task & Purpose.

“It is never an easy thing to be placed in the middle of a situation like this, but it is crucial to the integrity of the military justice system that witnesses in a case as high-profile as this are protected from retaliation later. The only way to ensure that is through grants of immunity, which is why we requested that for our client.”

The SEAL is showing “great courage” by offering to testify about what he witnessed during the deployment with Gallagher and Portier, said Hanzel, who added his client is not seeking any publicity, nor does he bear a grudge against any of the accused SEALs.

The full article can be found here.

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