Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has expanded a review of the Judge Advocate General Corps to include the Marine Corps, a Navy spokesman said on Thursday.
“There is value in applying this review and its subsequent recommendations across the Department of the Navy,” Cmdr. Jereal Dorsey told Task & Purpose. “The review's purpose is to confirm the uniformed legal community is structurally and organizationally sound and best supporting the good order and discipline our integrated naval force.”
In his Aug. 21 memo, Spencer wrote that the Navy and Marine Corps will provide recommendations about whether any policies, authorities, and statues need to be updated and whether any “corrective actions” are necessary.
Both the Navy and the Marine Corps have 15 days to explain how they will conduct their reviews and 90 days to provide Spencer with the results, the memo says.
“The Marine Corps will fully comply with the direction from the secretary of the Navy,” said Corps spokesman Capt. Joseph Butterfield.
Spencer's move builds on a review of the Navy's legal system ordered by former Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson on Aug. 1 following the disastrous prosecution of Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Eddie Gallagher, who was acquitted of killing a wounded ISIS fighter but found guilty of posing for an unofficial picture with the man's corpse.
The Navy's lead prosecutor Cmdr. Chris Czaplak was removed from the case and eventually re-assigned for spending spyware to defense attorneys and Navy Times Editor Carl Prine.
Even more humiliating, after the Navy awarded prosecutors involved with the Gallagher case Navy Achievement Medals, President Donald Trump personally intervened by ordering Richardson and Spencer to rescind the awards.
“Not only did they lose the case, they had difficulty with respect to information that may have been obtained from opposing lawyers and for giving immunity in a totally incompetent fashion,” Trump tweeted on July 31 – the day after Task & Purpose first reported the prosecutors had received the medals on July 10.
The following day, Richardson ordered the review into the Judge Advocate General Corps and also dismissed all charges against Gallagher's platoon commander, Lt. Jacob X. Portier, who had been accused of failing to report alleged war crimes to his chain of command.