Military props

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President Trump has demonstrated, time and again, that he has no qualms about using the military to advance his personal political ends. He routinely stages uniformed personnel as props for partisan speeches. He treats deployments like political theater, as when he dispatched elements of the 82nd Airborne to the southern border to stoke fears of an immigrant invasion. And he undermines discipline and unit cohesion, pardoning war criminals convicted by military juries.

Under the bus

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One sailor on the Roosevelt died but many more would have if Crozier had not put his career on the line by speaking up. The same cannot be said of those military and civilian leaders above him who did not step up and continue to throw Crozier under the bus rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.

Resigned

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In making a decision so quickly without completing an investigation into the leak, Modly revealed there were other concerns on his mind, particularly the views of President Trump. In November, Trump clashed with Navy leaders over his support of disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, a dispute that ultimately led to former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s departure and Modly’s elevation. When asked about Crozier’s letter over the weekend, Trump said, “I thought it was terrible what he did, to write a letter. This isn’t a class on literature. This is a captain of a massive ship that’s nuclear-powered.”

Eddie Gallagher

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Trump’s indifference, and even hostility, toward military law in the Gallagher case makes it less likely that, in the future, service members will come forward when they witness illicit acts in war. This matters because a defining aspect of the subculture of U.S. special operations forces is its limited oversight, at least compared with regular combat forces. Maintaining respect for U.S. military law within this tight-knit setting demands that operators regulate themselves.