How SEALs and Veterans View the Trump-Navy Tussle Over Gallagher

Other serving SEALs said the commando force had been feeling the indirect effects of the Gallagher case for months. In the wake of the chief’s arrest and other high-profile scandals, Admiral Green vowed to redouble enforcement of discipline and standards, right down to haircuts, grooming and uniforms.

Allowing SEALs leeway on things like beards and hair length had been seen as a signal that commanders trusted their judgment. “That they’re cracking down shows that trust isn’t there any more,” one enlisted SEAL said.

Eric Deming, a former master chief petty officer who retired from the SEALs in 2016 after 19 years in the force, said on Monday that he had spoken to several active-duty SEALs in recent days, and all were dismayed over how a single discipline case had dragged the entire organization into a Washington political knife fight that, no matter the outcome, would erode trust and confidence in the force.

“No one I’ve spoken to is happy with how Eddie handled this,” Mr. Deming said of Chief Gallagher. “He could have handled it like a quiet professional. If the facts are on his side, he should trust in a board to make the right decision. Instead he chose to go make a spectacle of himself. Most guys just want him to shut up and go away.”

Ed Hiner, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who served in the SEALs, said that many serving and retired SEALs like him were celebrating Mr. Trump’s intervention on Chief Gallagher’s behalf, and posting about it in a private Facebook group called 5326.

“It’s about time,” he said. “From the beginning, Eddie was denied the presumption of innocence. And when he won at trial, the Navy tried to get back at him. He did eight combat deployments. He deserves better.”

Mr. Hiner said he visited Chief Gallagher regularly when the chief was in the brig awaiting trial.

Elliot Ackerman, a Marine veteran, novelist and journalist, said he saw a bad precedent in the way the Gallagher case has played out.