WASHINGTON – The United States president confirmed Sunday that the Pentagon has asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his management of the case of a Navy SEAL who was demoted for misconduct.
In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Defense Secretary Mark Esper had requested Spencer’s resignation after “losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.”
In July, Gallagher was convicted for illegally posing next to the body of the dead jihadist for photographs during his 2017 deployment in Iraq, and acquitted him of a murder charge for allegedly killing an injured captive.
The case has attracted the attention of US President Donald Trump, who last week expressed his support for Gallagher and on Sunday night confirmed Spencer had been “terminated.”
“Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper,” Trump said on Twitter on Sunday night, adding “Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin.”
The Trident pin is the badge that marks membership to the elite Navy SEALs.
Last week, the New York Times reported that Spencer and Naval Special Warfare Commander Rear Admiral Collin Green had threatened to resign if the Navy complied with Trump’s request to revoke Gallagher’s demotion, although Spencer denied the news.
Trump said Sunday he “was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled by the Navy.”
“He was treated very badly but, despite this, was completely exonerated on all major charges. I then restored Eddie’s rank,” Trump added.
In its statement, the Pentagon said that Esper spoke with the “commander in Chief” on Friday about the Gallagher case and found out that Spencer had privately proposed to the White House, contrary to his public position, to restore Gallagher’s rank and allow him to retire with the Trident pin.
The Department of Defense spokesman added that recently during a conversation between the two, Spencer never informed Esper of his private proposal to the White House.
In the statement, Esper said he is “deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official.”
“Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position,” Esper said.
Following recent events, Esper has also ordered that Gallagher retain his Trident pin.
Trump said that “Admiral and now Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy.” EFE-EPA
MANILA, Philippines – One of America’s warships has arrived in Philippine Waters in the latest show of the United States’ military might amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea and new flare-ups between the U.S. and China.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan led the Ronald Reagan Strike Group which includes Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62).
USS Ronald Reagan is a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier which carries supersonic F/A-18 jets, spy planes, and helicopters.
The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines said the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is in the country for a brief port call that “highlights the strong community and military connections” between the two countries.
“This visit is a great representation of our strong friendship, partnership, and alliance with the Philippines, as well as a testament to our joint commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said in a statement.
The warship’s visit to the Philippines comes after the U.S. criticized China’s “destabilizing” behavior in the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday accused China of using predatory economics and debt for sovereignty deals, including weaponizing the global commons and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations intellectual property.
Ronald Reagan, Chancellorsville, and Antietam are forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This port call is a direct reflection of the longstanding relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines and underscores our strong support to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Rear Admiral Karl Thomas, Commander of Task Force 70 said in the same statement.
While it is one of America’s most visible symbols of resolve and lethal instruments of war, the ship operates on its motto “peace through strength” by using its presence to deter attacks from enemies, according to its website.
The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines said that while the ship is docked in Manila, the U.S. and Philippine navies will participate in sporting events, engage in senior leadership exchanges, and take part in community relations and cultural events.
The ships will also be open for tours for students and youth.
“Visiting the Philippines is always incredible and I’m glad that the officers and sailors of Carrier Strike Group 5 will have the chance to deepen ties with our critical ally while enjoying the culture and beauty of this wonderful country,” Thomas said.
The EmbasFor over 65 years, the U.S. and the Philippines have maintained a Mutual Defense Treaty demonstrating our joint commitment to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. (with a report from Reuters)
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is unaffected by President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark calling him “stupid” for his stance on the issue of allowing Chinese fishermen in Philippine waters.
On Wednesday, Duterte called out Carpio after the latter said it would be unconstitutional to allow Chinese fishermen to exhaust the country’s resources.
“Napaka-istupido mo. That is why hanggang diyan ka lang talaga,” Duterte said.
Caprio meanwhile, said the president’s remarks is “not worth a comment”.—AAC
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