SEAL Team 7 Leaders Fired After Unit's War Zone Misbehavior

SEAL Team 7 members jump from an MC-130J Commando II during Exercise Emerald Warrior/Trident at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erin Piazza)
SEAL Team 7 members jump from an MC-130J Commando II during Exercise Emerald Warrior/Trident at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erin Piazza)

The head of Naval Special Warfare Command has fired three senior leaders because their leadership failures led to misbehavior in the war zone, Navy officials announced Friday.

Three members of SEAL Team 7, which was booted from Iraq in July mid-deployment, have been removed from their jobs.

Cmdr. Edward Mason, the team's commanding officer; Lt. Cmdr. Luke Im, the executive officer; and Command Master Chief Hugh Spangler, the top-enlisted leader, were relieved by Rear Adm. Collin Green on Friday.

Green relieved the leaders "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," according to a Navy statement.

No additional details were provided, but a platoon with the team was kicked out of Iraq in July over allegations that a senior enlisted member raped a female comrade. There were also reports of alcohol use in the war zone.

The reliefs are just the latest in a string of disciplinary crackdowns within the Navy SEAL and special operations communities.

Mason, Im and Spangler will be assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 1, said Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Naval Special Warfare Command. The command declined to name those who replaced the ousted leaders, citing security concerns due to the nature of SEALs' work. 

Between them, Mason, Im and Spangler have 11 Bronze Stars with Combat "V" devices. Eight of those awards belong to Spangler, a Purple Heart recipient, who also has a Joint Service Commendation Medal with "V."

The reliefs are just the latest in a string of disciplinary crackdowns within the Navy SEAL and special operations communities. 

Last month, Green announced a slew of disciplinary measures -- including intrusive leadership, routine inspections and a return to the strict enforcement of Navy grooming and uniform standards -- in an effort to restore order and ethics.

Related: Navy SEAL Boss Orders Discipline Crackdown After Embarrassing Scandals

And about a week prior, Army Gen. Richard Clarke, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, called for a sweeping ethics review of the entire community. Several high-profile incidents were causing Americans to lose trust in their military’s elite forces, he said.

Related: SOCOM Must Make These Changes as it Reviews Ethics Problems, Operators and Experts Say

Aside from the SEALs being booted from the war zone, the special operations community has been involved in several recent high-profile legal battles, including one that’s still ongoing surrounding a hazing attempt-gone-bad that led to the death of a soldier.

Clarke, as a result, pledged to carry out a sweeping review of the special operations community that will look at how it is recruiting, building leaders, training the force and addressing ethical breakdowns. 

Critics said the review must include outsiders who can take a more independent look at problems in the ranks and that the results must be made public for it to work.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read more: Marine Commanding Officers Caught Driving Drunk Receive Reprimands

Show Full Article