The former Navy Secretary who was forced to resign this week has spoken out about his firing in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, writing that President Donald Trump has "very little understanding of what it means to be in the military."
The blistering op-ed authored by the former Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer, lays out his version of events that led to his firing, after Trump became personally involved in advocating for a Navy SEAL who was tried and acquitted of stabbing of an ISIS prisoner, but convicted of posing for a photo with the prisoner's corpse. Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher was demoted to petty officer first class and fined two months' wages.
However, Trump reversed the military court's decision to demote Gallagher, which would allow the Navy SEAL to retire with his Trident pin, which signifies his status as a member of the elite forces unit.
"It is highly irregular for a secretary to become deeply involved in most personnel matters," Spencer wrote in The Washington Post on Wednesday. "Normally, military justice works best when senior leadership stays far away. A system that prevents command influence is what separates our armed forces from others. Our system of military justice has helped build the world’s most powerful navy; good leaders get promoted, bad ones get moved out, and criminals are punished."
Spencer says he was asked to resign by Esper after he pushed back against Trump's involvement in the case. Esper accused Spencer of going over his head while trying to negotiate with the White House about Gallagher's case, something Spencer cops to in the op-ed.
"I also began to work without personally consulting Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on every step. That was, I see in retrospect, a mistake for which I am solely responsible," Spencer wrote.
Spencer wrote that the American people need to understand that the Navy has procedures when it comes to these types of cases.
"This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review," Spencer wrote . "It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices."
Trump in defending his decision to reverse the military court's ruling, said he was protecting soldiers from unfair punishments. Some military leaders, including Spencer, say the decision sends the wrong message to the troops.
"More importantly, Americans need to know that 99.9 percent of our uniformed members always have, always are and always will make the right decision," Spencer wrote. "Our allies need to know that we remain a force for good, and to please bear with us as we move through this moment in time."
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