A former SEAL sniper who served under controversial Navy Chief Eddie Gallagher in Iraq accused him of purposely putting soldiers in the crossfire and regrets not doing more to stop his former commanding officer from committing war crimes.
Special Operator 1st Class Josh Virens served in Navy SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon in Mosul, Iraq under Gallagher’s command in 2017. The chief had been accused of killing dozens of Iraqi civilians, including a schoolgirl and an elderly man armed with just an empty jug, during the deployment.
In 2019, Gallagher was found guilty of unlawfully posing for a picture with a dead ISIS teen in Mosul, Iraq, but was acquitted on more serious charges that included shooting civilians on multiple occasions, possessing a controlled substance, torturing and killing a prisoner, and obstructing justice.
However, then-President Donald Trump saw Gallagher as a ‘real-life Rambo’ and pardoned him in 2019. Trump also personally ensured that disciplinary action, which could have kicked him out of the SEALs, the Navy’s most elite unit, wouldn’t be taken and invited Gallagher to visit him at Mar-a-Lago.
But in an open-letter published Tuesday, Virens shared more details about Gallagher’s actions during Alpha Platoon’s time in Mosul.
Former SEAL sniper Josh Virens (left) has accused his former commanding officer Eddie Gallagher (right) of purposefully putting soldiers in the crossfire and trying to get soldiers killed along with other ‘horrific’ actions while deployed in Iraq in 2017
Gallagher (circled) was accused of war crimes by several men under his command in Navy SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon, which was deployed to Mosul, Iraq
Gallagher was acquitted of nearly all charges in 2019 but convicted for posing with the dead ISIS teenager’s body
Gallagher’s case drew widespread controversy with President Trump repeatedly intervening on his behalf. Gallagher (right) and his wife Andrea (second from the right) met with Trump (second from the left) and Melania (left) at Mar-a-Lago back in 2019 following his acquittal
He claimed that his commander repeatedly sent men out into the crossfire and unsafe locations. He previously told CBS This Morning that Gallagher instructed the platoon to turn their GPS trackers off and ordered them behind enemy lines.
Virens said that Gallagher went against instruction from headquarters and labeled anyone who did not support his plan as a coward.
‘These were part of Gallagher’s effort to get a SEAL injured or killed so that we would, in his words, “make it a great deployment,”’ Virens wrote.
‘Real brothers don’t needlessly put their men at risk. Real brothers don’t chase medals. And they certainly don’t murder unarmed prisoners or terrorize civilian populations,’ Virens lamented.
Gallagher (pictured) made an ‘effort to get a SEAL injured or killed so that we would, in his words, “make it a great deployment,”’ Virens claimed
Gallagher has always maintained that the charges brought against him were made up by six members of his platoon who wanted to force him out and did not like his leadership style
Virens also claimed that Gallagher was addicted to a powerful painkiller and was popping Provigil pills to keep himself awake on long missions, which left him amped and acting like the ‘Energizer Bunny.’
‘The problem was one man’s insecurities, greed, and addiction,’ Virens noted.
The former SEAL also defended his platoon, explaining that he and his other platoon members reported their chief’s alleged war crimes to their troop commander and were told that the situation was being handled.
‘As far as we knew, the ball was in their court and our officers would do the right thing,’ Virens wrote. ‘My only regret is not doing more.’
Gallagher was acquitted in 2019 of stabbing to death the wounded ISIS 17-year-old after one of the SEALs, Corey Scott, who had been expected to testify for the prosecution, took responsibility for killing the boy.
Naval prosecutors say he made it up to protect Gallagher after being granted immunity for his own war crimes.
They pointed to texts where Gallagher allegedly told friends: ‘Got him with my hunting knife’ and ‘there’s a good story behind this’, claiming those proved his guilt.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore said the trial was a ‘mutiny’ and that he was being set up for the murder of the young ISIS fighter in 2017 by a group of younger SEALs who did not like his tough, old-school leadership style.
Since the trial, Gallagher has changed his story and now claims that he and the other SEALs intended to kill the teenage ISIS fighter.
‘The grain of truth in the whole thing is that that ISIS fighter was killed by us and that nobody at that time had a problem with it,’ he admitted in an interview on Apple’s The Line podcast last year.
‘We killed that guy. Our intention was to kill him. Everybody was on board… It was to do medical scenarios on him until he died.’
He still denies stabbing the POW and has always claimed the war crimes charges brought against him were made up by six platoon members who wanted to force him out.
‘I didn’t stab him. I didn’t stab that dude,’ Gallagher said. ‘That dude died from all the medical treatments that were done – and there was plenty of medical treatments that were done to him.
‘I mean, he was going to die, regardless. We weren’t taking any prisoners.’
In a podcast interview last year, Gallagher continued to deny that he stabbed the fighter
He claimed that the SEALs did not treat the fighter for his injuries and jointly decided to practice medical procedures on him until he died
Virens said that he and his platoon members repeatedly told their commanders of Gallagher’s (pictured) war crimes but regrets not doing more to stop him
It is not clear exactly what procedures were allegedly performed on the ISIS fighter, who died about 20 minutes after being brought to the US base.
When he was asked why he cut the airway into the fighter’s throat to insert the breathing tube, Gallagher said in the podcast: ‘Just for practice. I was practicing to see how fast I could do one in.’
The Navy would not comment on Gallagher’s latest claims.
His attorney Timothy Parlatore told military news outlet Task & Purpose that prosecutors and defense already knew that the SEALs had practiced medical procedures on the ISIS fighter before he was pronounced dead.
He said prosecutors chose not to bring up the claims during his marital court trial so he did not address them.
‘When the terrorist came in, they did the initial assessment and they knew that he was going to die,’ Parlatore said.
‘There was no way that he was surviving this thing. And, exactly what he said there: They decided – ok, he’s going to die anyway, let’s use this as an opportunity for training. We’ll just do procedures on him.’
Parlatore argued that none of the procedures carried out on the fighter sped up his death.
Gallagher’s attorney said none of his client’s recent comments made on the podcast changed his defense.
‘They all knew that this is how the guy died and they made up a story after the fact,’ Parlatore said.
‘Everything that I said at the trial is absolutely true.
‘The prosecutors chose not to make this argument at the trial because, quite frankly, it was inconsistent with their theory of the case. So they didn’t want to make these arguments at the time. And I didn’t need to make them at the time because it didn’t matter.’
Court records obtained by the Navy Times have previously indicated that the fighter’s body was covered in medical devices, including a trachea tube and two tubes in his chest, when he died.
The knowledge that the fighter was used for medical training was detailed as part of a defense motion filed back in 2019.
‘At the time that the ISIS fighter was brought to the compound, he was at or near death and, although SOC Gallagher initially attempted to save his life, these efforts quickly proved to be fruitless,’ the motion read.
‘Once it was clear that the ISIS fighter was beyond saving, the platoon’s medic… took over and began using the newly dead or nearly dead ISIS fighter as a training aid to practice performing medical procedures.’
The court records and defense motion did not detail how much, if any, pain medication was given to the fighter while the medical training was carried out.