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Navy’s Top Enlisted Sailor To ‘Step Aside’ Amid Investigation Into Toxic Leadership Allegations
And he’s outta here: The Navy’s senior enlisted leader is retiring amid an investigation into allegations that he is an abusive boss and a bad leader.
“I seek to avoid any distraction from the success of our sailors and our mission,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano wrote in a message posted on the Navy’s Facebook page. “I have informed the chief of naval operations that I intend to step aside and submit my retirement request, in order to allow the CNO, our CPO [chief petty officer] mess, and our sailors to continue to move forward with the initiatives we have begun.”
Task & Purpose was unable to determine by deadline whether Giordano’s departure was entirely voluntary. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said on Thursday that he had accepted Giordano’s offer to retire immediately, adding that he appreciated that Giordano understood “the situation had become untenable.”
“Now we need to move forward – together – as a Navy striving with all our energy to become a more lethal fighting force,” Richardson said in a message posted on his Facebook page. “We'll continue to demonstrate expertise and character. We'll continue to strengthen the bonds of trust and confidence within our Navy and with the American people. We'll continue to act with integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness. America expects no less. In doing so, we'll be able to overpower any enemy that would take us on. Let's get to it.”
Two days ago, Navy spokesman Cmdr. William Speaks confirmed that Giordano had taken leave but he had no information about how long the MCPON would be away from his duties.
Navy Times first reported on June 15 that Giordano was being investigated by the Navy’s inspector general office after a sailor filed a complaint that he fosters a hostile work environment. More than a dozen sailors who have worked for Giordano told the newspaper that the MCPON is obsessed with perks and has pushed his staff to ask the Navy to give him his own set of fine China.
One sailor who had been a member of Giordano’s staff told Navy Times that the MPCON believes he should have a chief petty officer assigned to carry his cover and personal and take notes for him. “It was like working for a pop star or Hollywood diva,” the sailor told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
"Per his letter, Master Chief Giordano requested to step aside from his current duties," Capt. Darryn James, spokesperson for the Chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement. "He provided his reasoning to voluntarily resign as the MCPON and the CNO accepted his offer. The investigation will continue but is not yet complete. The Navy is awaiting receipt of Master Chief Giordano’s formal retirement request. He is currently on personal leave and administratively assigned to the office of the Chief of Naval Personnel. The Navy will begin the selection process for the new Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy."
Giordano became MCPON on Sept. 2, 2016. He did not mention any of the specific allegations against him in his farewell letter.
“To our sailors, keep leading yourself, your families and our Navy as authentic, competent and courageous people,” he wrote in the message. “Elka and I leave secure in knowing that you have the watch. We are honored to have served alongside each of you. Our Navy is in the best of hands. God bless you, your families, and our entire Navy.”
UPDATE: This story was updated on June 21 with a statement from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.
Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.
Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."
Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.
Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.
Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.
"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."
Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.
Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.
"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.
Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.
Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.
Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.
When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."
Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.
Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.
Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.
"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.
"Yes," Graffam said.
The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.
US troops are using dating apps more and condoms less as sexually transmitted infections surge within the ranks
The U.S. military is seeing an increase in sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in part due to dating apps, according to the Military Health System.
"There appears to be an increase in high-risk behaviors among service members; that is, having sex without a condom or having more than one sexual partner," Air Force physician Maj. Dianne Frankel said in a news release.
Three Marines killed in a December plane crash are finally coming home.
Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Hercules and one Marine on an F/A-18 Hornet were killed when both planes went down about 200 miles off the Japanese coast.
A recent salvage operation of the KC-130J crash site recovered the remains of three of the Marines, who were later identified, Corps officials said.
The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.
A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username "Baptist Dave 1611" ranted in a recent video, calling gay people "sodomites," "vermin scum," and "roaches" among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story Wednesday.
"The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman's command team," said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.
Two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, defense officials have announced.
Operation Resolute Support issued a terse news release announcing the latest casualties that did not include any information about the circumstances of their deaths.