Updated: Aug 17, 2019
By Captain Roger Hill
Exonerated Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, has joined a growing list of American war heroes that have been wrongly persecuted by our government. The trend of cherry-picking evidence, predetermining outcomes, and denying service members their constitutional rights has grown at an alarming rate in this war relative to previous conflicts. Navy prosecutors stacked a number of charges against Eddie, the most egregious is an oxymoron to most of us: “premeditated murder of an ISIS fighter.” Which begs the question, “How is it possible for a Navy SEAL to murder an ISIS terrorist in a war zone?
The “fighter” in question was the lone survivor out of dozens when the U.S. dropped a bomb on an ISIS compound just a few short hours prior. Were the other “fighters” in the compound “murdered” as well? If no one is denying that the man killed was ISIS, then the sooner he was killed--that is, once U.S. forces were able to glean intelligence from him--the better.
Like Eddie and several other service members, I faced going to prison for doing my job as an infantry commander in Afghanistan. My book Dog Company, A True Story of American Soldiers Abandoned By Their High Command (2018, Foreword by Sean Hannity) details the costs to our troops when our government allows political correctness onto the front lines of combat. In Dog Company my higher command discovered twelve Afghan spies, all hired by the U.S. Army to work on my base. My commanders withheld knowledge of these spies from me for several weeks while the Taliban wounded and killed dozens of my men. Upon being made aware of the spies, I took matters into my own hands. I conducted a ruse de guerre, as permitted by our own Law of War, and fired my weapon near the spies to intimidate them into providing me with time-sensitive, life-saving intelligence.
I was ultimately charged with war crimes for “psychological torture” which carry a sentence of up to life in prison and my case was sensationalized so that the leaders at the top could boast of being tough on the allegations raised. We have just seen the same tragic scenario play out with Eddie and the SEAL community. Like Eddie, my command stood a greater chance of being promoted for scapegoating me rather than standing by me.
Based on my personal experience, it is likely that several of the charges brought against Eddie were fabricated by the investigators and his accusers. Our military maintains a collection of civilian law enforcement professionals (LEP) in combat zones with a special purpose of advising in such investigations. The presence of LEPs in today’s war zone demonstrates our senior military’s eagerness to abdicate the unpleasant yet highly necessary side of their war time responsibilities. Under the U.S. Law of War, “... commanders have discretion about how to implement and enforce their law of war obligations…” Eddie’s commanders always had complete authority to adjudicate and decide his fate.
On the other hand, rule of law policing as practiced by professional law enforcement in western first world countries have little to no place in third world war zones where rule of law does not yet exist. Yet commanders are allowing LEPs to train their military investigators to use the “Reid technique” and purposely deceive their fellow service members into self-incrimination whether guilty or not. This begs another question: “Why aren’t the LEPs solely focused on training the partner nation’s police forces?”
While in custody, the investigators spied on Gallagher to steal his cell phone pass code so that they could unlock his cell phones without his consent. And rather than presuming innocence until proven otherwise, the Navy locked Chief Gallagher up for the better part of a year while they investigated him, unnecessarily placing him, his family, and his unit under extreme duress and scrutiny for the sake of specter. These investigators were clearly out to build names for themselves, regardless of the cost, and Eddie’s command stood by and watched in silence.
If our government is set on prosecuting the Eddie Gallagher’s and Roger Hill’s of our military then there should be hundreds of senior military and government leaders prosecuted alongside us. After all, they bear the greatest responsibility for the all but indiscriminate drone strikes that have “murdered” thousands of innocent civilians since the war’s start. It was ultimately their incompetence and negligence that put Eddie, myself, and those like us in such unnecessary conflicts for which no one can articulate a purpose or end state.
Eddie Gallagher is a hero to all of humanity because he is one of very few human beings willing and able to go and fight the unprecedented threat ISIS is to the world. Just think of what our country and world would be like if the Chief Gallagher’s of our great nation stopped raising their right hands to “support and defend” and what does this trend mean for our military’s readiness and morale?
How ironic it it that our senior leaders can so easily Monday morning quarterback the failures they set in motion without consequences to themselves? And how hawkish would our country’s leaders be if they bore some meaningful weight of responsibility for the collateral created in the wars they promote? As a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, my message is simple. If you send us, then please back us, and force those we elect to do the same.