“Commander, Navy Special Warfare Command Read Adm. Collin Green relieved the three senior leaders of SEAL Team Seven from their positions Sept. 6.,” US Navy Capt. Tamara Lawrence, a spokesperson for Naval Special Warfare Command, told CNN in a statement explaining the rare move.
“Green relieved the unit’s commanding officer, Cdr. Edward Mason; executive officer, Lt. Cdr. Luke Im; and the team’s top enlisted leader, Command Master Chief Hugh Spangler 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,” Lawrence added.
While the team’s leadership has been removed from their positions, they remain in the Navy and no additional punishments or disciplinary action has taken place at this time.
The Navy SEAL officers are not being accused of engaging in the alleged behavior that got the team sent home from Iraq, the Navy is holding them responsible for the behavior of their subordinates and the command climate they oversaw.
Navy officials said they could not recall a similar time when the leadership of a SEAL team was similarly fired from their positions.
A platoon from the SEAL team they led, SEAL Team 7, was sent home early from Iraq in July due to “a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline” that caused a military commander to lose “confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission.”
US Defense Department officials familiar with the situation told CNN that the unusual step of sending the team home was due to allegations regarding an alleged sexual assault and the consumption of alcohol during their downtime, which is a violation of general orders issued to troops participating in overseas campaigns.
In the wake of several high-profile scandals, including allegations of sexual assault and cocaine, Green recently ordered a series of immediate changes to address what he calls a drift from “Navy core values of Honor Courage, and Commitment.”
“Our Force has drifted from our Navy core values of Honor Courage, and Commitment and the tenets of our Naval Special Warfare Ethos due to a lack of action at all levels of Leadership,” Green wrote in a memo to major subordinate commanders.
Green said that a “portion” of Navy SEALS is “ethically misaligned with our Culture,” saying “the root of our problem begins with members who fail to correct this behavior within their sphere of leadership and prioritize this misalignment over the loyalty to Navy and Nation.”