WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, whose rank was recently restored by President Donald Trump in a controversial move, could be removed from the Navy SEALs, U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
Gallagher, a SEAL team platoon leader, was accused of committing war crimes while deployed in Iraq in 2017.
In July, a military jury acquitted him of murdering a captured Islamic State fighter by stabbing the wounded prisoner in the neck, but it convicted him of illegally posing with the detainee’s corpse. That led to his rank being reduced.
Last week, Trump restored Gallagher’s rank and pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan. Critics said Trump’s moves undermined military justice and sent a message that battlefield atrocities would be tolerated.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Gallagher and three other SEALs are likely to be notified on Wednesday that they must appear before a board that will decide whether they should be stripped of their SEAL status.
Officials said that process could take weeks, but that the decision to review Gallagher’s status had the support of senior Navy leaders.
If Gallagher is removed from the SEALs, he would either have to retire or find a different position in the Navy.