The Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden supports President Trump’s decision to restore the rank of Eddie Gallagher, a fellow SEAL who was demoted after posing with the corpse of an Iraqi civilian.
Robert O’Neill, the SEAL credited with shooting bin Laden during the 2011 raid on his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound also slapped “whiny” Pentagon officials who are criticizing Trump for stepping into the matter involving Gallagher.
“Everyone knows Gallagher will always be a SEAL … they’ll never be able to take that away from him,” O’Neill told The Washington Examiner. “It’s a special designation. SEALs go through the hardest training in the world … basically beating you up. It turns you into a special warrior.”
O’Neill also ripped the Navy for its “ridiculous” rules of engagement. “I’ve been saying it for a while now,” he said. “These current rules of engagement are going to get somebody killed.”
Gallagher received two Bronze Stars with V for valor and wears the prized Trident pin, signifying his membership in the elite SEALs unit. And he was unhappy that the Navy was seeking to take back the pin.
“This is all about ego and retaliation,” Gallagher said on Fox News over the weekend. “This has nothing to do with good order and discipline. They could have taken my Trident at any time they wanted.”
After learning that the Navy wanted to rescind the Trident pin, he offered to give his up, calling Pentagon officials backing the move “whiny.”
Trump has reportedly ordered that Gallagher be allowed to keep the Trident pin, which will allow him to retire as a SEAL.
Gallagher was acquitted of murder in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive, but he was convicted of posing with the corpse. After the conviction, he was demoted.
Then Trump pardoned Gallagher.
“I think what I’m doing is sticking up for our armed forces. And there’s never been a president that’s going to stick up for them and has like I have,” Trump told reporters in the White House on Monday. “I will stick up for the warriors.”
In defending his pardon, Trump pointed to former President Barack Obama’s commutation of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s sentence, and also brought up Beau Bergdahl, who was was dishonorably discharged after being court marshaled for desertion.
“Some very unfair things were happening. You let Sgt. Bergdahl go. You let others go,” Trump said.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired by Trump on Friday after publicly disagreeing with the president.
“I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principles of good order and discipline,” Spencer wrote in a letter. “I hereby acknowledge my termination as United States Secretary of the Navy.”
Gallagher will retire from active duty and will not take part in a review board over his conduct in 2017 while deployed, a Navy spokesman said late Monday, according to Fox News.
“He’s a great guy. He’s a poster image of what a SEAL should be,” O’Neill said. “I’d go to war with him tomorrow.”