To the Editor:

On the front page of Monday’s KDH “Pentagon chief fires Navy secretary over SEAL controversy” by Mr. Robert Burns of the Associated Press, Burns opens with “Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday fired the Navy’s top official ending a stunning clash between President Donald Trump and top military leadership over the fate of a SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq.”

Burns goes on to explain, “Esper said he had lost confidence in Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and alleged that Spencer proposed a deal with the White House behind his back to resolve the SEAL’s case.”

This seems more like a disloyal employee trying to push his agenda ahead of the agenda of his boss.

I do not think this rises to “a stunning clash between President Trump and top military leadership ... or exposed fissures in Trump’s relationship with the highest ranks of the US Military ...” as Mr. Burns would lead you to believe.

President Trump has strongly stated that he supports America’s Warfighters. Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Edward Gallaher is clearly a Warfighter. With multiple deployments to war zones in the Middle East as a Navy SEAL, I feel he has done his share to keep America safe.

In contrast, the former Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Spencer, served in the United State Marine Corps as a H-46 helicopter pilot from 1976 to 1981. A time of relative peace for the United States military.

I can assure you from experience the peacetime Army and the wartime Army are two very different environments. I trust that peacetime versus wartime service in the Navy and Marine Corps are similar.

CPO Edward Gallagher was tried and acquitted of murdering an Islamic State militant captive. He was convicted of posing for a photograph with this enemy’s corpse in Iraq in 2017.

This may seem offensive and coarse to people who have never experienced the sting of battle and the loss of friends to enemy fighters.

I believe most Americans recognize Chief Gallagher’s service as fierce and honorable and can forgive a momentary lapse in good judgment. I certainly can and do!

George Van Riper

Harker Heights

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