This is puzzling because the case for removing the trident was strong. By overriding the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations (as well as the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) in support of someone who has disgraced his uniform, Trump sailed into uncharted territory. It is hard to imagine any other President taking such action over such unified military advice. Trump’s military advisors correctly worry about the corrosive effect such a move would make on the credibility of the chain of command; battlefield behavior by other military personnel in similar circumstances, and perceptions about the ethical conduct of the US military globally. Everyone agrees Trump absolutely has the legal authority to take this course of action – but that doesn’t make it right.
In addition to firing Spencer, Secretary Esper has cancelled any plans for a review board. The smart course for all concerned would have been to conduct the board, leaving the decision in the hands of a jury of peers – Navy SEALS. None of us who aren’t special forces, even including those like me who have served in the armed forces, are qualified to judge Eddie Gallagher in this regard. We cannot fully understand the crucible of close combat he encountered again and again. I respect that, and so should have his entire chain of command. He has been accused and judged by peers. They should have had the final say on whether he continued to wear that sacred pin – not a President with little understanding of the military, let alone of the code of conduct it must honorably follow in the harshest arenas of modern war.