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Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs

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An epic account of the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon, the startling accusations against their chief, Eddie Gallagher, and the courtroom battle that exposed the dark underbelly of America’s special forces—from a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter “An important, infuriating, meticulously researched account of modern warfare that I found nearly impossible to put down.”—Jon Krakauer An epic account of the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon, the startling accusations against their chief, Eddie Gallagher, and the courtroom battle that exposed the dark underbelly of America’s special forces—from a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter “An important, infuriating, meticulously researched account of modern warfare that I found nearly impossible to put down.”—Jon Krakauer, New York Times bestselling author of Where Men Win Glory and Into the Wild By official accounts, the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon returned as heroes after their 2017 deployment to Mosul, following a vicious, bloody, and successful campaign to drive ISIS from the city. But within the platoon a different war raged. Even as Alpha’s chief, Eddie Gallagher, was being honored by the Navy for his leadership, several of his men were preparing to report him for war crimes, alleging that he’d stabbed a prisoner in cold blood and taken lethal sniper shots at unarmed civilians. Many young SEALs regarded Gallagher as the ideal special operations commando. Trained as a sniper, a medic, and an explosives expert, he was considered a battle-tested leader. But in the heat of combat, some in his platoon saw a darker figure—a man who appeared to be coming unhinged after multiple deployments in America’s forever wars. Their excitement to work with a tough, experienced chief soon gave way to a grim suspicion that his thirst for blood seemed to know no bounds and a belief that his unpredictability was as dangerous as the enemy. In riveting detail, Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times correspondent David Philipps reveals the story of a group of special operators caught in a moral crucible—should they uphold their oath and turn in their chief, or honor the SEALs’ unwritten code of silence? It is also a larger story of how the SEAL Teams drifted off course after 9/11, and of the “pirate” subculture that festered within their ranks—a secret brotherhood that, in a time of endless war with few clear victories, made the act of killing itself the paramount goal. The investigation and trial following Alpha’s deployment—and Gallagher’s ultimate acquittal on the most serious charges—would pit SEAL against SEAL, set the Navy brass on a collision course with President Donald Trump, and turn Gallagher into a political litmus test in a hotly polarized America. A page-turning tale of battle, honor, and betrayal, Alpha is a remarkable exposé of the fault lines fracturing a country that has been at war for a generation and counting.


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An epic account of the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon, the startling accusations against their chief, Eddie Gallagher, and the courtroom battle that exposed the dark underbelly of America’s special forces—from a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter “An important, infuriating, meticulously researched account of modern warfare that I found nearly impossible to put down.”—Jon Krakauer An epic account of the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon, the startling accusations against their chief, Eddie Gallagher, and the courtroom battle that exposed the dark underbelly of America’s special forces—from a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter “An important, infuriating, meticulously researched account of modern warfare that I found nearly impossible to put down.”—Jon Krakauer, New York Times bestselling author of Where Men Win Glory and Into the Wild By official accounts, the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon returned as heroes after their 2017 deployment to Mosul, following a vicious, bloody, and successful campaign to drive ISIS from the city. But within the platoon a different war raged. Even as Alpha’s chief, Eddie Gallagher, was being honored by the Navy for his leadership, several of his men were preparing to report him for war crimes, alleging that he’d stabbed a prisoner in cold blood and taken lethal sniper shots at unarmed civilians. Many young SEALs regarded Gallagher as the ideal special operations commando. Trained as a sniper, a medic, and an explosives expert, he was considered a battle-tested leader. But in the heat of combat, some in his platoon saw a darker figure—a man who appeared to be coming unhinged after multiple deployments in America’s forever wars. Their excitement to work with a tough, experienced chief soon gave way to a grim suspicion that his thirst for blood seemed to know no bounds and a belief that his unpredictability was as dangerous as the enemy. In riveting detail, Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times correspondent David Philipps reveals the story of a group of special operators caught in a moral crucible—should they uphold their oath and turn in their chief, or honor the SEALs’ unwritten code of silence? It is also a larger story of how the SEAL Teams drifted off course after 9/11, and of the “pirate” subculture that festered within their ranks—a secret brotherhood that, in a time of endless war with few clear victories, made the act of killing itself the paramount goal. The investigation and trial following Alpha’s deployment—and Gallagher’s ultimate acquittal on the most serious charges—would pit SEAL against SEAL, set the Navy brass on a collision course with President Donald Trump, and turn Gallagher into a political litmus test in a hotly polarized America. A page-turning tale of battle, honor, and betrayal, Alpha is a remarkable exposé of the fault lines fracturing a country that has been at war for a generation and counting.

30 review for Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs

  1. 5 out of 5

    Murtaza

    The Eddie Gallagher saga was the moment when the United States seemed to hit rock bottom morally. Gallagher was a serial killer of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan, but was pardoned and even became a celebrity thanks to a reality television star president elected by millions of Americans. This book paints a more complex picture, not of Gallagher, whose true depravity is laid bare to a degree unknown to most of the public, but of the ordinary Navy SEALs who took their official creed seriou The Eddie Gallagher saga was the moment when the United States seemed to hit rock bottom morally. Gallagher was a serial killer of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan, but was pardoned and even became a celebrity thanks to a reality television star president elected by millions of Americans. This book paints a more complex picture, not of Gallagher, whose true depravity is laid bare to a degree unknown to most of the public, but of the ordinary Navy SEALs who took their official creed seriously and tried to bring him to account. Craig Miller, Dillon Dille, and Joshua Vriens, among others, fought against Gallagher and a corrupt institutional environment that seemed committed to protecting him. They did it to defend ordinary Iraqis, whom they fired warning shots at to protect from Gallagher, but also to preserve a shred of meaning in the face of the pointless slaughter of the wars. Despite everything they truly saw themselves as the "good guys," and tried to live up to that in the face of a platoon chief whom they had come to view as evil incarnate. The book frames the history of the Navy SEALs as an internal battle between "real SEALs" who believe in their credo and "pirates" who are there to kill, steal, and plunder for their own gratification. The struggle between these two tendencies has gone on since Vietnam, and Gallagher clearly saw himself in the latter tradition. The outcome of Gallaghers case seemed to hand a massive victory for the pirates, but as this book tries to argue, quite stirringly, there are many in the Navy who are still finding ways to push back. The Navy leadership has tried to impress its own lesson about the case onto recruits regardless of what Fox News or the Trump movement says. Craig Miller is now a SEAL instructor, teaching new recruits ethics alongside their standard SEAL training. I hope this worthy book is taught in their curriculum. If there is another book about moral heroism that is so grippingly written I have not come across yet. In a way it also seems to be a form of retaliation against Gallagher, Trump, and what they represent. The author benefits from a tremendous amount of access at all levels, which suggests that a lot of people inside the military establishment were not happy with how things turned out. It's such an incredible narrative that it feels like the labor of many people, even if it was only written by one. It takes a highly refined civilization to produce the powerful moral statement that this eloquent book represents, and, despite its crimes, it really makes you root for the better angels of the United States.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    I’ve been haunted these last few days by Alpha … It’s engrossing, full of horror and deeply damning. Sam Sifton, The New York Times A dogged researcher and gifted writer, Philipps turns the story of Gallagher’s rise, his alleged war crimes and the botched Navy prosecution into an infuriating, fast-paced thriller. The Washington Post This is a book to make your blood boil. Expertly reported and written, Alpha details a truly shameful national episode, and stands as a powerful corrective for those who I’ve been haunted these last few days by Alpha … It’s engrossing, full of horror and deeply damning. Sam Sifton, The New York Times A dogged researcher and gifted writer, Philipps turns the story of Gallagher’s rise, his alleged war crimes and the botched Navy prosecution into an infuriating, fast-paced thriller. The Washington Post This is a book to make your blood boil. Expertly reported and written, Alpha details a truly shameful national episode, and stands as a powerful corrective for those who mistake cruelty for toughness and equate war with murder. Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down and Hue 1968 This is one of the best books to come out of the Iraq war. It is also one of the saddest. There have been many books about Navy SEALs and snipers, but Alpha is by far the most important. I think it will be required reading for the Navy, as Black Hearts has become for the Army. Anyone who cares about the American military needs to read this. Thomas E. Ricks, bestselling author of Fiasco, First Principles, and The Generals Alpha is a phenomenally reported, deeply compelling portrait of moral courage and moral cowardice in the SEAL teams. Philipps details not simply the many failures of leadership within SEAL ranks that enabled war crimes, jeopardised the mission, and risked the lives of service members, but also the culture that made accountability almost impossible. Superb. Phil Klay, National Book Award–winning author of Missionaries and Redeployment Alpha is an important, infuriating, meticulously researched account of modern warfare that I found nearly impossible to put down. Jon Krakauer, New York Times bestselling author of Where Men Win Glory and Into the Wild New York Times reporter Philipps presents an enthralling, blow-by-blow account of the 2019 court-martial of US Navy SEAL platoon chief Eddie Gallagher for stabbing a wounded ISIS prisoner to death … This is the definitive portrait of a saga that exposed deep fault lines within an elite fighting force. Publishers Weekly, starred review This disturbing but gripping account by award-winning New York Times correspondent Philipps will appeal to a large audience but few SEAL admirers … After a review of SEALs history, training, and operations in Iraq, Philipps delivers the result of years searching confidential Navy documents, court transcripts, service and medical records, thousands of text messages and emails, and interviews with current and former SEALs … Brilliant journalism that offers a deeply disquieting commentary on America’s dysfunctional cultural divide. Kirkus Reviews, starred review Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Philipps delves deeply into Gallagher's 15-year SEAL career, his 2018 court-martial, and SEAL culture … Philipps is at his best when recounting the unraveling of Gallagher's trial and how the seemingly strong case resulted in an acquittal … This often-gripping narrative will appeal to readers interested in US military courts' prosecution of war crimes, or the mindsets of combatants in modern warfare. Library Journal, starred review Shakespearean … An excellent read from a seasoned reporter who covered the entire saga [of] Eddie Gallagher. The San Diego Union-Tribune A dogged researcher and gifted writer, Philipps turns the story of Gallagher’s rise, his alleged war crimes and the botched Navy prosecution into an infuriating, fast-paced thriller. The Washington Post Shakespearean … An excellent read from a seasoned reporter who covered the entire saga [of] Eddie Gallagher. The San Diego Union-Tribune

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/navy-sea... I started this review of this outstanding book with a picture of Eddie Gallagher holding the head of the teenaged ISIS captive he had just murdered in cold blood. It's disturbing, as is this entire book. Look at this and tell me what a hero Eddie is. Look at the guy whom Trump went out of his way to defend and pardon, trashing several other SEALs in the process. This is fantastic and enraging book that (if possible) made me hate Trump and Trumpism even more https://www.cbsnews.com/news/navy-sea... I started this review of this outstanding book with a picture of Eddie Gallagher holding the head of the teenaged ISIS captive he had just murdered in cold blood. It's disturbing, as is this entire book. Look at this and tell me what a hero Eddie is. Look at the guy whom Trump went out of his way to defend and pardon, trashing several other SEALs in the process. This is fantastic and enraging book that (if possible) made me hate Trump and Trumpism even more. This is absolutely essential reading for those who care about the integrity of institutions and all the little ways that lies, tribalism, and callousness erode institutions. Philipps has amazing sources to reconstruct this story, including thousands of texts sent my the main characters themselves. Let's start with Eddie: Eddie has been present (mendaciously) by his wife, by the President, and by Fox as a perfect SEAL, a tough, old-school warfighter who was betrayed by younger and weaker SEALS. There is basically no evidence for this claim. Eddie was a troubled kid who was kicked out of various schools for fighting. He thrived, in a sense, in the SEALS, going on multiple tours in dangerous areas. He exaggerated his image, spinning stories of bloody heroism that numerous SEALs have independently disputed. He was racist and homophobic, using the N and F words in texts, making racist jokes, and denigrating Arabs. When he found one friend was going to a BLM counter protest, he texted him "Run those n------ over." He was a huge Trump fan, believing that Trump would restore white men to their status on top of the social hierarchy while unleashing brutal violence on America's enemies. Things really started to delve into nightmarish territory around 2017 when Eddie and his team were deployed to Mosul. He became a drug addict, taking painkillers and steroids, including pills he illegally ordered another SEAL to go to Mexico to buy. Before deploying, he started skipping drug tests and other trainings but wasn't held accountable. On deployment, the real Apocalypse Now stuff started. He became an oddball loner with no respect for the mission, he stole petty goods from his fellow SEALs (including eating a whole jar of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter, which is bizarre and impressive), firing at and most likely killing Iraqi civilians, including an adolescent girl, telling his men to turn their tracking devices off so they could go up to the front lines against their orders, even refusing to call in a medevac when one of his guys was shot after he foolishly put them in a vulnerable forward area (he refused to call in the evac bc then he would be busted for being somewhere he wasn't supposed to be). This all culminated in murder. Iraqi troops brought in a rare ISIS captive, a malnourished and dazed teenager with a wound to his calf. The medic on the scene testified later that this captive likely would have survived, although many of these captives were tortured and executed by our IRaqi allies. As this medic gave him treatment, Eddie took a knife (one that he had bought specially with the often-expressed hope of sticking to an ISIS fighter) and jabbed the captive in the neck several times, killing him within minutes. Then, to implicate the eyewitnesses, he ordered them to take a photo with him and the body. Eddie grabbed the kid's head, yanked it up, and grinned with his trophy shot. Look up the photos and tell me what a great person this guy is. Of course, this kid had a name and a life: he was a 17 year old from Mosul who was gradually seduced by ISIS during their occupation. His dad, a normal guy from the city, actually chained his son up to prevent him from running away to ISIS, but he escaped. This wasn't some fanatical ISIS maniac of our dreams but a kid who made a huge mistake; to Eddie, he was subhuman, the equivalent of a buck, an object with which to fulfill his bloodlust. Given that Trump and his acolytes have portrayed Eddie as Mr. America, it is important to lay out what a scumbag he really is. All of these points/anecdotes above are supported by multiple testimonies and/or documents. Of course, Eddie was brutalized by a decade of war and significant TBI injuries that may have worsened an already violent personality. The real story here isn't the descent of one man into barbarity but the institution's response. Eddie was reported to officers on the ground at the time of the stabbing by other eyewitnesses, and soon a groups called the Sewing Circle formed to plan action against Eddie when they returned after their deployment. The officers in charge of Eddie at the time took no action on him even though he was endangering his fellow SEALs, not to mention Iraqis. Finally, the Sewing Circle reported him back in Coronado, CA, and NCIS took over the investigation. For a variety of reasons, the prosecution did not go well. In the meantime, the conservative media, especially Fox, ran with their own distorted version of the story, bringing the President on board, who of course sided with Eddie, his wet dream of a terrorist-killing blue-eyed real-life Rambo. A couple of witnesses, on the stand, reneged on their earlier testimony, possible bc some had been granted immunity and/or could have been implicated in the photo-taking and other misdemeanors. A key witness, the medic, straight up lied, betraying his friends, and said that he had actually killed the prisoner by asphyxiating him after Eddie stabbed him. Eddie, of course, never denied he had stabbed the captive; he later lied and claimed everyone there had agreed the kid was going to die anyway or be turned over to the IRaqis to be killed, so they did medical procedures on him to hasten his death (another war crime, I believe). Trump was probably going to pardon him anyway, and he made sure Gallagher got his rank restored even after he was acquitted. I haven't read about a miscarriage of justice this horrendous since the ZImmerman verdict if not the OJ Simpson trial. The image of Eddie Gallagher that should be plastered all over Google and at every mention of his name should be him holding up, by the hair, the head of the teenager he murdered in cold blood. He hasn't paid for this crime, and probably never will. I greatly admire the SEALs in this book who came forward, put their reputations on the line, suffered enormous public condemnation, and told the truth. I admire the Navy officials who gave up their careers to confront the President about Eddie and to make sure he wasn't allowed to stay in the SEALs to poison later generations. But my respect for the SEALs as an institution declined bc of this book: ultimately, most of the characters in this book chose tribe over principle, convenience over doing the right thing, and a murderer walked free because of it. Eddie Gallagher is a symptom of a larger malady in our society. Because he is white, male, and a warrior, we presume he is in the right; we don't shine the light of scrutiny on him, we don't want to hear anything that tarnishes that spotless image of him because that would tarnish our spotless image of himself. We fundamentally do not grant this same benefit of the doubt to people of color, to most women, and to other groups; read the book Zeitoun and tell me that would have happened to someone like Gallagher. This obsession with our own innocence is deadly to others and corrosive of our own proclaimed values. Without the conservative media and Trump mobilizing to defend Eddie, this trial could have gone a very different way, and teh SEAL leadership could have done a lot more to punish him. Instead, he got away with it, and half the country still thinks he's a hero. This story left me in greater despair about our country: we seem to live in totally different realities, and not even the admission that he stabbed the prisoner and photos of him holding the prisoner's lifeless head in a trophy shot could change people's minds. This is essential reading for understanding the corrosive effects on the rule of law that Trump and people like him represent. Trump and Eddie Gallagher are two sides of the same coin of pure lawlessness. They claim to represent law and order and a code of honor, but they actually represent doing whatever you want to have power and fame, avoiding consequences, dominating other lying, and tearing down anyone who criticizes you or tries to hold you accountable. They deserve each other, but the real question is: do we deserve them? I wish I could say no, but that remains to be seen.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    A page turner on one of the most important events in US special operations in recent history. A must for anyone interested in the military (in both non-fiction and fiction), the SEALs, or just a plain perfectly engaging non-fiction read (I'd personally comp it to BAD BLOOD and EMPIRE OF PAIN in terms of how engrossing it is). A page turner on one of the most important events in US special operations in recent history. A must for anyone interested in the military (in both non-fiction and fiction), the SEALs, or just a plain perfectly engaging non-fiction read (I'd personally comp it to BAD BLOOD and EMPIRE OF PAIN in terms of how engrossing it is).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Knoke

    Brilliant. Riveting. So impressed with The Seal Team Members who stood up for what is right, to hold their chief accountable, under such extreme personal risk and duress. The author's research and commitment is impressive. Highly recommend. Brilliant. Riveting. So impressed with The Seal Team Members who stood up for what is right, to hold their chief accountable, under such extreme personal risk and duress. The author's research and commitment is impressive. Highly recommend.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    It is clear that after recent events that the American experience in Afghanistan did not end well. With the Taliban victory the future of the Afghan people, especially women are under a darkening cloud. In this environment the American military approach in the region has come under question and many of the soldiers who fought and the families of those who died or suffered life altering injuries must be wondering if their sacrifices were in vain. In this environment any book that deals with the A It is clear that after recent events that the American experience in Afghanistan did not end well. With the Taliban victory the future of the Afghan people, especially women are under a darkening cloud. In this environment the American military approach in the region has come under question and many of the soldiers who fought and the families of those who died or suffered life altering injuries must be wondering if their sacrifices were in vain. In this environment any book that deals with the American approach to war is timely. David Philipps’ new book, ALPHA: EDDIE GALLAGHER AND THE WAR FOR THE SOUL OF THE NAVY SEALS fits this category. Though the book focuses on the conduct of American troops in Mosul, Iraq, many of the Navy SEALS involved in the narrative fought in Afghanistan and their approach to combat was carried over to Iraq. Philipps’ effort focuses on Navy SEALS of Alpha platoon and its Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher, in addition to a deep dive into the culture and daily lifestyle of the troops involved. Philipps’ work encompasses Gallagher’s last deployment as Chief of Alpha Platoon, SEAL team 7 whose 2017 classified mission was to assist Iraqi troops in clearing ISIS from the Iraqi city of Mosul. In the first few weeks of the deployment Gallagher saw more combat than he had in his first seventeen years in the Navy. After returning home he would be arrested and charged with murdering a wounded ISIS soldier, beginning a two year fight that culminated in a trial as to whether the accused was guilty or not. According to Phillips a battle over what the SEAL teams stood for, and what they would become with consequences that would reverberate for years. According to the prosecution, Gallagher had become unglued, he lied to get medals, put men in danger to build up his own combat resume, shot at women and children in civilian areas, and murdered a prisoner in cold blood. According to Gallagher and his defense team the accusations stemmed from misguided and inexperienced members of Alpha who refused to go out on ops and created stories to cover up their own cowardness. When his team called him out, Gallagher claimed they were cowards. Phillips does an excellent job developing the culture that existed within the ranks of the Navy SEALS. He traces groups of SEALS who are referred to as “Pirates,” men who fought in World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq whose attitude was clear – when dealing with unconventional war, be it terrorists, Viet Cong, the Taliban or ISIS the normal rules of war do not necessarily carry the day. The overriding theme that Philipps explores was that these “Pirates” operated in an environment where they could commit violent acts, even murder with no accountability where testosterone dominated. They believed that the new generation of SEALS was soft, and they had their own network that did not do justice to SEAL tradition. Eddie Gallagher was a “Pirate” and throughout his career, no matter the offence, leadership looked the other way and allowed him to rise through the ranks to the position he found himself in Mosul. Throughout the deployment Gallagher did not perform the expected duties of a Chief, i.e., plans for the day, imparting tactical information, and played squads off against each other by bad mouthing men behind their backs. His goal seemed to be to take the role of a sniper, though the team had highly trained snipers and see how many he could kill, even firing randomly and using up ammunition. Most snipers would fire off one or two rounds per day, and some days did not fire off any rounds, Gallagher seemed to average well over twenty per day. Some of his strategies put team members in danger as he tried to build up his reputation as “a nasty ass killer.” Eventually team members began to feel he was a detriment to their mission, and he needed to be removed, particularly when he stabbed a wounded prisoner in the neck, watched him die and then took a photo holding him up by his hair remarking what a killer he was. Philipps’ narrative is very troubling. He does yeoman’s work presenting the most important characters and explaining why their roles were so important to the drama that unfolded. Chief Petty Officer Craig Miller, Gallagher’s second in command will organize the men that will lead to accusations against their Chief; Lieutenant Jake Portier, the officer in charge refused to control or mitigate Gallagher’s behavior and threats; Special Operators First Class, Dalton Tolbert, Josh Vriens, and Dylan Dille, all snipers; Special Operator Corey Scott, a medic who witnessed the stabbing of the POW; Lieutenant Commander Robert Breisch, the commanding officer, an old friend of Gallagher stonewalled any investigation; Navy Special Warfare Group One Commodore Captain Matthew Rosenbloom, in charge of all SEALs on the West Coast who was appalled by Gallagher’s behavior and pushed for prosecution; Timothy Parlatore, a mob trained lawyer who led Gallagher’s defense team, are among the many individuals that Philipps introduces who will play important roles in the narrative. The battle scenes reflect the absurdity and danger of urban guerilla warfare which are described in intimate detail. However, the most fascinating aspect of the book is the role played by Andrea Gallagher, Eddie’s wife, FOX News, other rightwing outlets, conservative politicians, social media, and of course President Donald Trump who was part of an organized a media campaign to win over the public to Gallagher’s innocence. In fact, as Philipps assiduously presents the trial it is clear that there are seven jurors, but there is an eighth one, President Trump who even before charges were formulated hinted strongly that he was about to pardon Gallagher. At times Philipps’ work reads like a Hollywood movie manuscript, particularly when one of the witnesses, Corey Scott, one of the prosecutions main witnesses changes his story on the stand to assist Gallagher in large part because he was granted immunity from prosecution. In a scene that compares with Jack Nicholson in the film, “A Few Good Men” the prosecution is floored and is convinced they blew the case. The men who returned from Mosul all agreed that they had to end Gallagher’s career to protect the Navy from what he might do in the future now believed it may have all been for naught. Philipps describes the NCIS investigation, Gallagher’s threats to kill those who charged him, and the evidence that clearly showed what a danger and murderer he was are all on display. Finally, the Navy bureaucracy and politics played a key role in trying to derail any prosecution. Philipps has authored a remarkable book based on voluminous research and a keen eye for detail and analysis. The story line is not very flattering to the Navy SEAL community which since 9/11 witnessed a society “man crush” on SEAL team operators. Hopefully the book will open the eyes of the public and pressure authorities to take seriously the actions of men like Eddie Gallagher and instill the discipline that the SEALS are trained to operate under, in addition to holding military leaders accountable for the actions of their troops. At a time when presidents eschew conventional warfare and turn to SEALS and other unconventional operatives with any luck their training, attitude, and approach to warfare will rest a bit more on the side of morality.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J. Martin

    This book should be required reading for an understanding of ethical leadership within the military context (and, conversely, the ways a military's culture often undermine it), as well as for understanding the fraught state of modern military-civil affairs in America. It's also a fascinating true crime story (which manages to avoid the tabloid trashiness which usually characterizes the genre), a dissection of the Navy SEAL teams' cultural problems, and a chronicle of modern warfare on par with " This book should be required reading for an understanding of ethical leadership within the military context (and, conversely, the ways a military's culture often undermine it), as well as for understanding the fraught state of modern military-civil affairs in America. It's also a fascinating true crime story (which manages to avoid the tabloid trashiness which usually characterizes the genre), a dissection of the Navy SEAL teams' cultural problems, and a chronicle of modern warfare on par with "Generation Kill". Given the amount of 'spin' and ambiguity which flew around the Gallagher case-some deliberate, some not-I am very impressed that Philipps managed to lay the whole sorry situation out so clearly. I would caution readers, though, that this book will probably raise your blood pressure. The bad actors in here are so aggressively malignant-and so capable at avoiding any kind of consequences-that it becomes truly teeth grinding. But, for the reader who is willing to accept that sometimes horrible people get away with literal murder, this book can be a very rewarding and informative read. Highly recommend.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jon Davids

    Disturbing tale of the forces competing for the heart and soul of the Navy SEALS...told through the trail of Eddie Gallagher (mucked up by then President Trump weighing in).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    Should be mandatory reading for anyone entering, or currently serving in the military. I have always been irritated by those who paint witb a broad brush and bestow all who serve as honorable, or gushingly place our elite fighting forces on pedestals, calling them all heroes. They're not. All should be judged individually. The same goes for police officers. Occupations such as the military can easily, and does easily breed a very ugly and dangerous subculture if left unchecked. Having served a f Should be mandatory reading for anyone entering, or currently serving in the military. I have always been irritated by those who paint witb a broad brush and bestow all who serve as honorable, or gushingly place our elite fighting forces on pedestals, calling them all heroes. They're not. All should be judged individually. The same goes for police officers. Occupations such as the military can easily, and does easily breed a very ugly and dangerous subculture if left unchecked. Having served a full career in the military, I saw it firsthand. In this instance, the Navy tried to correct it, but it happened at a time when we had a lunatic as Commander-in-chief who intervened for his own political gain and left a terribly damaged military ethics legacy in his wake. I would encourage ALL Americans to read this.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pat Howe

    Brilliant. Couldn't put this down. I've always enjoyed books that set the record straight, telling stories that the media utterly botched. It's an important story and Phillips has done us a service in finally detailing the truth, even more so for the honorable men of Alpha and the SEALs. Brilliant. Couldn't put this down. I've always enjoyed books that set the record straight, telling stories that the media utterly botched. It's an important story and Phillips has done us a service in finally detailing the truth, even more so for the honorable men of Alpha and the SEALs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Deane

    Well written and researched but I decided (after 120pp.) that I just don't need this ugly person in my brain. Well written and researched but I decided (after 120pp.) that I just don't need this ugly person in my brain.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Henning

    Like many people, I closely followed the story of Eddie Gallagher, a Navy Seal accused of murdering an ISIS combatant, when the story hit the press in 2019. And, like many others I was outraged when President Trump and other Republicans interfered with the case. “Alpha” is thoroughly researched, fairly reported and highly readable. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to better understand the special operations culture during the “forever” war on terror and in the context of unprecedented Like many people, I closely followed the story of Eddie Gallagher, a Navy Seal accused of murdering an ISIS combatant, when the story hit the press in 2019. And, like many others I was outraged when President Trump and other Republicans interfered with the case. “Alpha” is thoroughly researched, fairly reported and highly readable. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to better understand the special operations culture during the “forever” war on terror and in the context of unprecedented political interference with the military justice system.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cia Mcalarney

    Difficult to read but truly compelling. The chapter, "The Fighter" is an extraordinary masterwork of insight and empathy Difficult to read but truly compelling. The chapter, "The Fighter" is an extraordinary masterwork of insight and empathy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim Lemke

    Exceptionally reported and well-written. The details will really piss you off.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pat Boswell

    Riveting The first half is a tough read for those who are unused to war. The second half is tough for those who want the good guys to triumph. Well worth the read for the morality tale, but it is definitely not kind to Gallagher.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Hard to put down. Tragic on many levels although with perhaps some hope after everything.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie_Rae

    “Everyone will be fine if you guys just shut up, now. No point in being a hero. There isn’t enough evidence to convict, anyway. It’s just a he-said-she-said case. Eddie is going to walk. Hell, he’ll probably get a book deal out of it. And all you’ll get is screwed.” For years, the Gallaghers (Eddie and his wife, Andrea) have been able to dominate the story. Their version is that a bunch of millennial SEALs conspired to take their Chief down because he would steal things from them and was too hard “Everyone will be fine if you guys just shut up, now. No point in being a hero. There isn’t enough evidence to convict, anyway. It’s just a he-said-she-said case. Eddie is going to walk. Hell, he’ll probably get a book deal out of it. And all you’ll get is screwed.” For years, the Gallaghers (Eddie and his wife, Andrea) have been able to dominate the story. Their version is that a bunch of millennial SEALs conspired to take their Chief down because he would steal things from them and was too hard on them. When in reality, the truth is much different. I am glad this book was written. This book provides a much needed perspective on Gallagher and the larger “pirate culture” within the SEAL community. This is not a political book. This was never a political case! This was a case about a Navy SEAL chief accused of committing multiple crimes, including murder. David Philipps provides much needed context about the events leading up to the murder and what happened after. However, it is clear that there are parts of the story left unsaid. This is not a criticism against the writing. Rather, because Philipps was only granted access to a few platoon members, but not all. He also received a lot of leaked information (from whom, he does not say) including text messages, transcripts, investigative notes, recordings. So, while he does have a wealth of information at his disposal, there is also a lot left unsaid because people either would not or could not talk to him. What I also appreciate is how this book finally gives us more information about the brave men who wanted to go to Mosul to do an incredibly difficult job. We get to learn about the Alpha platoon members including Miller, Tolbert, Dille, Vriens, Bryne, and even Scott (Philipps does not like this man). This book is split into roughly five parts, with parts 2 and 4 taking up big chunks of the book: (1) Pre-deployment; (2) DEPLOYMENT; (3) Post-deployment/Pre-trial; (4) TRIAL; (5) Post-trial The most valuable part of the book for me was the pre-deployment and deployment sections of the book. Pre-deployment, Alpha platoon was really excited to get to work under the leadership of Eddie Gallagher. He came in with a solid reputation. HOWEVER! Wrinkles started to appear in Eddie’s god-like persona. He would do and say things that no typical frogman would do…. But it was hard to know if he was screwing up or just screwing with his less-experienced SEALs. Eddie never appeared to suffer consequences from above. No one ever yelled at him. No one punished him. Eddie always seemed to find his way out of every fuckup. The SEALs above him seemed bent on smoothing problems over quietly so the platoons could stay focused on the large mission.” During the pre-deployment phase, the entire platoon would go through. One of the many drills consisted of storming a compound or a house looking for hostages or enemies. A mock compound was created at their base. There would be a mix of dummies/cut-outs and real people posing as civilians, fellow troops, or enemy combatants. The SEALs would have to quickly but accurately assess the threats in the room and make sure they shot at the correct dummies/cut-outs while leaving the other participants, real or fake, alive. Up on a catwalk, the platoon would be watching. The instructors would note every single mistake, large or small. One safety violation, you got written up. Too many, you’d be kicked out of the platoon. Eddie did not do well. One morning the instructors added a cutout of an unarmed American soldier in a camo uniform. One by one the platoon went through the scenario, sweeping the corners of the room at warp speed, spotting the soldier and scanning his hands for weapons, then moving on. No one shot him. But when it was Eddie’s turn, he shot the soldier right in the chest. Instructors noted the violation and talked to Eddie about the mistake. But when the platoon ran through another scenario that day, Eddie drilled the same cutout. And when they ran a third scenario, he drilled it again. Either Eddie couldn’t do the drill right or didn’t care. Both were a problem. In the end, Eddie didn’t get in trouble for the bad shots. The instructor in charge of the close-up quarters combat had served with Eddie for years. The two were tight. Eddie told the platoon later in the bunkhouse that the instructor had tried to scold him, but Eddie just smiled at the instructor as if to say, Are you really giving Eddie Gallagher pointers on how to shoot? Things only got worse on deployment. Much worse. One portion of the platoon deployed first, with the rest following close behind by a few weeks. The lead petty officer, Miller, called some of the platoon members still in the US to warn them that their Chief was acting erratic and shirking his duty. Instead of actually leading the platoon, Gallagher would frequently scamper off to play sniper on a roof, leaving the responsibility of looking after the platoon totally on Miller. Once the entire platoon got together in Mosul, it became quickly apparent how unstable and dangerous Gallagher was. One chilling example involved Tolbert and Gallagher: Eddie hissed, “I got something.” In the morning light, a middle-aged man leaned one shoulder against a broad doorway and cocked his head to one side, watching a young boy chase after a soccer ball as it bumped across the dirt. “What, the kid?” Tolbert said. No, Eddie said, the man. Go ahead, Eddie said, shoot him. Tolbert scanned for a gun or some military gear, a radio - anything that might make the man a target. There was nothing. Eddie had given him an order. Defying it would have consequences. He had to make it look like he was obeying. If he did it just right, he could scare the man and the boy inside, away from the gunfire. He shifted his crosshairs off the man’s torso, put them on a wall just over his head. He pulled the trigger. The high-velocity bullet smacked against the building, spraying concrete. Through his scope Tolbert saw the man wince. Eddie, seeing that Tolbert had missed, immediately fired. His shot went wide. The man waved frantically to the boy and they scrambled inside. Tolbert breathed a sigh of relief. He had just seen Eddie try to shoot a civilian for no reason. But at least the chief wasn’t a very good shot. Over the next few weeks Tolbert was one of the SEALs consistently given a front-row view to Eddie in action. The after-action reports Tolbert quickly passed to the other snipers at the end of the day recounted a mix of sloppy practices, screwups, and bizarre behavior he could only call madness. Eliot A. Cohen - political scientist - makes excellent points about the lack of actual leadership during the deployment. Out of all the reviews I have read thus far, his is my favorite. From the review: “Gallagher is, curiously, not that interesting save as a study in the definition of sociopathy...he is not a warrior driven mad by the stress of combat, a good guy gone rogue or a victim of a brutalizing culture. Rather, he is a lousy shot (by SEAL standards, that is), a poor planner, a glory hound, a petty thief, a popper of tramadol and other opioids when he can get them and a cunningly effective manipulator of those around him. There are other distinctly drawn characters too, including two who deserve calling out by name: Lt. Jacob Portier and Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, superiors who were too intimidated or seduced by Gallagher, or too in awe of the reputation he had cultivated to take seriously accusations raised by his subordinates in Platoon Alpha of SEAL Team 7. In some ways, they are the more disturbing figures here, officers who shirked their duty to maintain good order and discipline.” Portier gets extra special mention (from me) because he is the one that arranged the now infamous photo over the dead body. This is how Philipps describes what happened after Gallagher killed the fighter: For months the lieutenant had gone along with whatever Eddie wanted. Now that the shit had really hit the fan, it was the officer’s job to show leadership. Portier told the guys to gather around. The lieutenant shared his plan of action. The dead enemy was the responsibility of many people. The [signal intelligence] Marine, the JTAC, the medics, and Eddie had all played a part. Given what had happened...they were going to take a group photo with the body. “Come on guys, we’re taking a picture,” the lieutenant said. He was rounding up members and bringing them into the yard. Portier ushered other guys toward the body, saying, “Come on guys, bring it in, bring it in.” Eddie got down on one knee right behind the kid for a solo shot, threw off the blanket, and lifted the kid’s head by the hair with his right hand, like he was holding the antlers of a prize buck. In his left hand he gripped his custom-made hunting knife. He looked straight into the camera, confident but not smiling, in a classic hunter’s pose. Portier wasn’t done. He had mentioned several times in the previous weeks in the platoon that Eddie was due to reenlist and wanted to make it special. This was the perfect opportunity. This time he was taking the oath in front of the dead ISIS fighter. Many members of the platoon (but not all, it must be said) saw this as a horrific violation and something that could potentially blow back unto all of them. From the book: The kid’s death was an earthquake for two reasons. The first was obvious: It was a crime. Once a fighter becomes a captive, SEALs had to treat him with care and respect. The second reason that the kid’s death shook the whole platoon was that everyone was now on the hook. As soon as Eddie killed that scrawny little dirtbag, he had forced a choice on all of them. Navy regulations required them to report him. Now they had to decide whether to obey the regulations or not. Would they be loyal to the platoon or to the rule of law? It was one or the other. And neither was a good option. What Philipps makes clear is that the platoon tried to go up the chain of command to report the crime. As presented in the book, the officers didn’t do jack. Lt. Portier would say he would do something about it, but then nothing happened. The platoon goes above him to report the crime, nothing still happens! It is not until Craig Miller confronted the officers again in January 2018 - “seven months after Miller first reported the stabbing to his platoon commander, Jake Portier, and more than three months after he had reported it to Senior Chief Alazzawi.” Craig Miller (and the platoon) had “witnessed a murder. He had reported Eddie in Iraq. He had reported Eddie when he got home to Coronado. He had reported Eddie across the desk from the troop commander [Bresich]. He’d brought all the guys together to issue a united decision to report Eddie. Every time, nothing happened. The SEAL Teams had seemed set on burying it.” When confronting the officers again, Miller said, “You knew about it. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about it. I have witnesses. Jake, the first time I talked to you about it was the night it happened.” Portier looked down. He mumbled that, actually, he didn’t learn about it until near the end of the deployment. “Whatever,” Miller said. “Let’s do it right now. How do we get this started?” I’m not sure, [Breisch] said. I guess we could send an email to one of the legal people? He turned back to his computer. He started typing and narrated as he did. Okay, so, Special Operator First Class Miller witnessed Eddie Gallagher stab...a prisoner? “Yeah, in the neck. And Corey Scott witnessed it too,” Miller said. Breisch nodded and typed. It was no more than three sentences. Miller’s trust in Breisch had grown so thin that he stepped around the desk to make sure the email was actually there and stood watching until Breisch clicked Send. Breisch looked up at Miller. “Okay,” he said. “It’s done.” Within hours the Team 7 commander and the commodore in charge of all SEALs on the West Coast had read the allegations. By the end of the day, they had notified the Navy’s version of the FBI, the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. Philipps also provides an excellent explanation of why the trial went so bad - in summary, the Navy was unprepared. The lead prosecutor was pulled weeks before the trial because NCIS convinced him to press Send on an email that had an email tracker on it. Leaks were a major concern and NCIS wanted to find out who was leaking what and to whom. Unfortunately the scheme blew up immediately when a lawyer representing a bunch of SEALs, Ferguson (the same guy quoted in bold above) noticed the tracker. The lawyer was pulled by the judge and it was up to an inexperienced lawyer, who had recently gone through severe personal tragedies - including the death of his father - to try to handle the case without much help. Then up came Corey Scott. Beforehand, Scott seemed frank and open with the investigation. But once he got on the stand, he got cagey. He claimed to not remember radio chatter, he claimed not to remember the time when the young man was brought into the cohort, basically - his memory suddenly had a lot of holes. Even when the prosecutor, Brian John, showed him his prior testimony on paper, Scott decided he didn’t remember saying all that! When Brian John concluded his questioning, Palatore (Gallagher’s lawyer) got to work. Through some clever (and quite possibly prepared) questioning, Scott “with his reptilian delivery” said: “After Chief Gallagher left the scene, I was left there monitoring him. I thought he would die, but he was continuing to breathe normally as he had before, so I held my thumper over his E.T. tube until he stopped breathing,’ Scott said, referring to the plastic endotracheal tube protruding from the victim’s throat.” To hit that point to the jury even further, Palatore needed to make sure that Scott didn’t give the jury the idea that the victim was going to die from the stab wounds, and out of mercy the medic had decided to put him quickly out of his misery. That would leave Eddie on the hook for murder. To protect Eddie, Scott had to make it completely clear the kid wasn’t going to die from Eddie’s knife. “You stated before that he was going to die anyway, there was no medevac coming for this guy, was there?” Palatore asked. "No,” Scott said. He was going to be turned over to the Irqais? Palatore said. “Yes” And have you ever seen how the Iraqis treat prisoners in the past? Palatore asked. “Yes.” “Have you ever seen them detain, treat, and then release a prisoner” “No.” “Have you seen them torture, rape, and murder prisoners?” “Yes.” “Is this why you asphyxiated the ISIS fighter?’ “Yes.” “You weren’t concerned that the ISIS fighter may die because of anything Chief Gallagher may have done, were you?” “No.” “You were only worried about him being tortured and killed by the ERD?” “Yes.” “No further questions.” From there, the prosecutors never regained their footing. With their star witness - the medic who was there closest to Eddie at the time of the murder - suddenly flipping, the case fell into shambles. There was further testimony from some of the other Alpha platoon members, but others were never questioned because the prosecution was scared that someone else would pull another Corey Scott and work to get Gallagher off the hook. The trial quickly wrapped up. The jury found Gallagher not guilty of all major crimes, but did find him guilty of posing with the corpse. He was sentenced but had already served his time. He was going to be demoted as well but President 45 intervened and granted Gallagher clemency, allowing Gallagher to keep his trident. Philipps judges Scott harshly, but I agree with him: “Scott had conned his friends in Alpha. He had pushed for a criminal investigation. In part because of him, the guys spent a year working with special agents and Navy lawyers, and went through a gauntlet of hate and harassment. It wasn’t just dozens of agents and lawyers and the platoon who were counting on him...It was all the SEALs who saw the Teams drifting off course and needed someone to right it. Scott had led them all on, and at the last possible moment, he grabbed the case and slit its throat.” What Corey Scott did was admit to the murder in such a way that seemed plausible. “In Mosul, Scott had been left alone with the kid.” It is technically possible he did indeed asphyxiate the teenager. HOWEVER - according to the prosecution, (emphasis mine) “Scott’s testimony sounded not so much like a confession as a strategy. To their trained ears,” his confession “seemed specifically crafted by legal minds not only to protect Scott but to get Eddie off.” No one, besides Gallagher, suffered legal consequences for what happened on the deployment. However, people within the frag radius of this crime were effected. Because President 45 took such an interest in the case, he was able to tweet out that military awards given to prosecutors were revoked by the Navy's top official. People were pushed out of their jobs and other crimes associated with Gallagher were quietly covered up. Meanwhile, the Gallagher were allowed to fragrantly disrespect the Navy on national television and mock the members of the Sewing Circle and the military at large with zero consequences. A theme Philipps brings up repeatedly throughout the book is the concept of loyalty. What does loyalty mean within the context of the SEALs? Does it mean loyalty to your country above all else? Or does it mean loyalty to your leaders, to the group? Loyalty takes on a perverse and twisted meaning within the book. It became less about sticking with one another but holding each other accountable to more of a Look the other way if you see something sus, and keep your mouth shut. That said, Philipps wrote an ending that is optimistic and hopeful. The leadership and enlisted are more than aware of the problems that run deep within the military. They are going to struggle but there is the strong possibility that the “pirates” - those who brag about killing and like to puff themselves up - are going to be slowly pushed out or at least lose their power, allowing those who possess and practice honor, discipline, and bravery to lead the way.

  18. 5 out of 5

    William Sedlack

    Gut wrenching, impeccably reported analysis of systems failure in Navy and how a Navy SEAL was allowed to commit war crimes and get away with them

  19. 5 out of 5

    John R

    Very well done Not perfect but pretty close. Meticulously researched and sourced. Intense topic and well struck balance. Page turner that reads quickly.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Elliott

    Flawless journalistic non-fiction which reads like a fast-paced novel. Intricate & comprehensive deep dive into a broken institution and a devious individual who emerged from its rotten heart. The forensic presentation of Eddie Gallagher’s crimes is of course damning but the stand-out contribution of this book is in its probing cultural inquiry, in its exploration of moral compromise and in its description of the staccato effects of upwardly-mobile cowardice in a heirarchical military institutio Flawless journalistic non-fiction which reads like a fast-paced novel. Intricate & comprehensive deep dive into a broken institution and a devious individual who emerged from its rotten heart. The forensic presentation of Eddie Gallagher’s crimes is of course damning but the stand-out contribution of this book is in its probing cultural inquiry, in its exploration of moral compromise and in its description of the staccato effects of upwardly-mobile cowardice in a heirarchical military institution. Every step of the way, Gallagher was enabled by a weak officer class who could not fetter the criminal behaviour of a charismatic, violent subordinate and thus allowed his actions to continue unabated. Much like in Krakauer’s “Missoula”, Philipps exposes significant weaknesses in the justice system - absurd weaknesses really. Through stacked juries and legalistic finangling, the murderer of a minor escaped the punishment he deserved. This, presumably, is what Krakauer (and I) found so “infuriating” about the whole story. Above this darkness there is hope however. The task of turning in Chief Gallagher was left to a few good enlisted men (not all the enlisted men of Alpha, but enough of them for NCIS to make a case). And turn him in they did, even if the institution failed them almost every step of way thereafter. Characters like Craig Miller, Dylan Dille and Dalton Tolbert (all real men who braved these horrific circumstances almost entirely alone) offer a glimmer of a brighter side to Coronado, a glimmer where loyalty is understood as allegiance to basic principles of decency rather than membership to a deviant piratical group. If the Navy SEALs can be saved as an organization (and as a natural skeptic I am not convinced that it can be) it is because of the persistent, stubborn virtue of special operators like these. They’ve earned their place in US Navy lore.

  21. 4 out of 5

    L.L.

    As another reviewer stated my “blood boiled” after reading this well researched book. It’s shameful to think that Navy Seals like Eddie Gallagher exist. There is nothing brave or honorable about the “pirates” that exist in the Seal Teams. Eddie is nothing but a cold blooded murder who got away with it. Thank God for the Seals that turned him in and the others trying to push out the bad apples in the Seals. Eddie has his own book out as well, I will not give him my time or my money. He’s a disgra As another reviewer stated my “blood boiled” after reading this well researched book. It’s shameful to think that Navy Seals like Eddie Gallagher exist. There is nothing brave or honorable about the “pirates” that exist in the Seal Teams. Eddie is nothing but a cold blooded murder who got away with it. Thank God for the Seals that turned him in and the others trying to push out the bad apples in the Seals. Eddie has his own book out as well, I will not give him my time or my money. He’s a disgrace. Great book!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thrillers R Us

    Following a normal distribution, there are ups and downs, and the Navy SEALs are no different. Anyone who's actually read Richard Marcinko's ROGUE WARRIOR and the subsequent novels under the same series name knows that SEALs don't go collecting--either stamps or for the Red Cross. By selling books and making movies, a shining white mythology of the Teams was created, but darker things lurk just under the surface. Sheltered by secrecy, armored by public adoration and the halo of public goodwi Following a normal distribution, there are ups and downs, and the Navy SEALs are no different. Anyone who's actually read Richard Marcinko's ROGUE WARRIOR and the subsequent novels under the same series name knows that SEALs don't go collecting--either stamps or for the Red Cross. By selling books and making movies, a shining white mythology of the Teams was created, but darker things lurk just under the surface. Sheltered by secrecy, armored by public adoration and the halo of public goodwill the SEALs had created, the last 20 years or so have been pure heaven for those who pinned on the Trident. After UBL, America's public enemy #1, was finally pushed off the planet in 2011, the stampede to cash in started, establishing the mantra 'Every SEAL an author'. In ALPHA, David Philipps argues for 'every SEAL a killer'. If you want to preserve your fan boi perceptions about Navy SEALs, don't read this book. Those with an open mind and critical thinking abilities, wade right in. In the lull between major wars and paved by the shenanigans of the infamous Richard Marcinko (ROGUE WARRIOR), the Navy's elite commando force dabbled in the limelight on occasion but remained the quiet professionals most of the time. But when a pipe hitting member of the tribe who gets the job done no matter what and who sees death as a resume builder steps out of bounds, the Navy, an organization as any other, seeks to protect itself. Thus, ALPHA is the story of big Navy vs. the little, law-abiding, patriotic country-serving SEAL (who stabbed a subdued prisoner to death [allegedly]). As such, ALPHA reads what surely would sound like an episode of the NCIS TV series but it's also a story about hope. And not about William Munny; not some dead eye, mean hell cold blooded killer, who's killed men, women, children...anything that walked or crawled at one time or another. This is Eddie the Blade, a clump of American clay that was shaped into a tool by and for the Navy to deploy at its leisure & turned on him when discharging duty as prescribed. Under the spirited tutelage of Eddie Gallagher, ALPHA platoon morphed into a formidable weapon to make sure that bad things happened to bad people. Karma. Instead of lead, SEALs deal in Karma, friend. According to Alpha platoon, however, Eddie bought into the karma rhetoric a tad too deep and had gone way upriver. In the eternal words of Scarface in NO TEARS, 'There's a killer up inside of me. Eddie can't talk to his mother so he talks to his diary'... In building a defense, however, that's not all. It appears that all the years of war fighting have left their mark on Eddie's body and psyche, making him self-medicate with trammies, 'roids and other opiates, dulling the edge of that lethal dose of karma. There are multiple angles and perspectives to NSW and the one "bad apple" following the pirate life-style that cropped up in their ranks. It's a case that leaders tried to sink, lawyers screwed up, the jury believed, and the 45th president took credit for helping to resolve. In the end, take in the facts, batten down the hatches and see if the story holds water and convinces you to join Canoe Club USA.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John McDonald

    Any military officer, military lawyer and judge, and people who believed that even the most intense and delicate military operations should be conducted within legal and ethical limitations that do not prevent those asked to conduct combat operations from accomplishing objectives should read this book and keep it close bye. In this case, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, scuppered the Navy's prosecution of Eddie Gallagher, a cold-blooded and unethical with no regard for any ethica Any military officer, military lawyer and judge, and people who believed that even the most intense and delicate military operations should be conducted within legal and ethical limitations that do not prevent those asked to conduct combat operations from accomplishing objectives should read this book and keep it close bye. In this case, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, scuppered the Navy's prosecution of Eddie Gallagher, a cold-blooded and unethical with no regard for any ethical constraints whether or not those constraints prevented the carrying out of his missions. In addition, he was loyal only to himself and put his platoon directly in harm's way so that he could engage in conduct which, he thought, would result in being awarded medals for the campaign in Iraq. He was drug-addicted and even asked the mother of one of his young platoon members routinely to buy tramadol for him. He was, in a word, the worse sort of human being, undependable and heartless. The author's work is commendable, and even, I would say, courageous by memorializing the injustices that Gallagher perpetrated against civilians in Iraq and his own Alpha squad. Gallagher, though, got away with it because of the help of Donald Trump and some serious missteps by the naval investigators, and a very bad decision by the Naval Legal Services to grant immunity to many witnesses, some of whom later contradicted their own pre-trial interviews in Court, because they could not be tried for crimes other than lying under oath. Most of all, though, Gallagher was encouraged in his behavior by a Seal culture that ignored regulation, refused to report or follow up on troop complaints of war crimes in combat and where, in the author's view, permitted a "pirate culture that revered knife kills and canoe shots, where men were more loyal to the tribe than to the nation they served [which] hid under the halo of public goodwill the SEALS had created [and were] by the time Eddie was acquitted, pirates had reached every rank [in the SEALS] (page 368)." Further, the author concludes, "a warped sense of loyalty causes guys to give a turd like Eddie too many chances. He is put in charge of a small unit with almost no oversight. The trust and leeway the Navy sees as the advantage of the SEALS become the downfall. The chief [Gallagher] goes completely off the rails. (page 398)." This is not to say that there weren't then, and aren't now, officers and SEALS serious about limiting the influence of that culture, and I believe, although the author doesn't state it directly, that those at the command level in the Naval amphibious combat forces and in the Navy itself, including lawyers and Navy Judges, who are seriously at work to reverse and reduce the influence of this culture. Donald Trump poisoned the well of Navy justice and tradition when he pardoned Gallagher and permitted him to retain his Trident, that poisoner is gone and the Navy's work in this area continues. As a literary effort, this work is first class. It is detailed, written in a tight journalistic way, and gripping because of the way the author organizes the story. A lot of people at the command level will read or have read this book. They all should.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    For those familiar with the Green Beret Affair of 1969, the best response to the hypocrisy of this book is a quote from a classic film about war in Vietnam: “Charging a man with murder in this place is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.” The Brown University study of America’s 20-year war on terror reveals the staggering costs: several million people are dead, and nearly 40 million refugees in eight countries. The price tag from 2001 through 2022 is over $8 trillion. Most of that For those familiar with the Green Beret Affair of 1969, the best response to the hypocrisy of this book is a quote from a classic film about war in Vietnam: “Charging a man with murder in this place is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.” The Brown University study of America’s 20-year war on terror reveals the staggering costs: several million people are dead, and nearly 40 million refugees in eight countries. The price tag from 2001 through 2022 is over $8 trillion. Most of that wealth went into the pockets of grifters. Such as defense industrialists, security consultants, construction companies, think tanks, banks, investors, mercenaries who like to switch sides, and officials of the United States and host nations. Accountability starts at the top. If you think that Eddie Gallagher should be in prison for homicide and cruelty, then he should be joined by all senior military leaders and members of the U.S. Congress, state department, the three-letter agencies, and presidential administrations who have endorsed this mass murder campaign for the past two decades. Also guilty are the chickenhawks who parade themselves on corporate media, still grasping at lame excuses to justify a series of undeclared wars and other Pentagon spending that does not make America safer, and is largely responsible for the $30 trillion national debt. The Pentagon creates killing machines like the SEAL teams. More often than a show trial, they get medals and ribbons for the killing. Afghanistan might be at the forefront of the current news cycle, but since 2018 the United States has conducted counter-terrorist operations in 85 countries. Many soldiers, marines and special warfare operators will be victims of PTSD if sent to a war zone. Some will cope with this emotional stress by committing horrific acts, if they don’t receive proper attention and treatment from medical staff. David Philipps seems like a competent investigator, but I don’t believe that his goal was to be strictly objective. He makes a not-too-subtle play for the core audience, by keeping the former president linked to his story like a chained dog. Trump was mentioned 86 times in a Kindle search. The messaging of the author works most effectively in ways that were probably not intended. At a glance, the trial and sensationalist journalism looks like a smokescreen for the ceaseless war crimes that were ultimately caused by the leading officials who started these wars. Philipps did hint at this in the closing sentence of Chapter 16. But on a deeper level, the story is a microcosm for the abuses, lies and corruption of all big institutions that are no longer trusted by the public. That includes The New York Times.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elmwoodblues

    A story about a psychotic and narcissistic killer, somehow sanctioned by the United States to lie and mislead, using social media to distract and cover up facts while obtaining fringe followers and spreading a cancer on American values. But Trump enters the story later, so let's talk about Eddie Gallagher first. Like much of what the western world is going thru, Gallagher is not a cause but a symptom of greater problems. The SEAL 'halo', forged in 'Captain Philips', the killing of UBL, and man A story about a psychotic and narcissistic killer, somehow sanctioned by the United States to lie and mislead, using social media to distract and cover up facts while obtaining fringe followers and spreading a cancer on American values. But Trump enters the story later, so let's talk about Eddie Gallagher first. Like much of what the western world is going thru, Gallagher is not a cause but a symptom of greater problems. The SEAL 'halo', forged in 'Captain Philips', the killing of UBL, and many praise-heavy books, hid a growing core of 'pirates' in the ranks: warriors who used the loose license granted them as Special Ops elite to satisfy their own blood lust. Gallagher was excused training failures and poor leadership by higher-ups due to a loyalty ethos gone awry, even as a majority of SEALs watched with growing concern. The stabbing of an injured Taliban fighter pushed these brave Americans to finally act against their Chief, and the story should end as a sad but moral righting of a wrong, a course correction, an example of doing the right thing, however late. Enter Fox News, glorifying the daily 'recaps' of the trial from defense lawyer Parlatore, a former Mob lawyer; observe the circus of Trump interfering in military matters: firing Richard Spencer, the Secretary of the Navy; reinstating Gallagher's rank; removing medals awarded the defense team; rage-tweeting his paranoia that 'Anti-Trumpers' in the Navy would be found and fired; his tweet after the verdict: "Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallager, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family. You have been through much together. Glad I could help!" Having heard the author interviewed, I had to read the book to truly understand the outcome; I am still ambivalent about Corey Scott's testimony, and author Phillips is wise to leave things as vague as the reality of the military trial left them. A riveting, frustrating, and often frightening look at leadership and honor, misplaced loyalty, and psychotic uses of power.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tegan

    Classic Ethical Case Study Make no mistake- this book IS NOT about Eddie Gallagher as a total scumbag in life and in combat. This is a case study that could have been written about any Yankee Bravo in a leadership position that when given the choice, chose personal glory over integrity. What is most haunting and heart-wrenching about this story is how greed for power, notoriety, or acceptance consumed the decision making ability of individuals at every level. Keep in mind, these were people who sw Classic Ethical Case Study Make no mistake- this book IS NOT about Eddie Gallagher as a total scumbag in life and in combat. This is a case study that could have been written about any Yankee Bravo in a leadership position that when given the choice, chose personal glory over integrity. What is most haunting and heart-wrenching about this story is how greed for power, notoriety, or acceptance consumed the decision making ability of individuals at every level. Keep in mind, these were people who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; bear true faith and allegiance to the same; AND obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over them, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In addition to violating their pledged oaths, the greed displayed in this case resulted in a mockery of our justice system and calls into question- is it worth suffering the consequences to tell the truth and do the right thing? “What message does that send to the troops?” Spencer asked, his brow furrowed, his breath showing in the cold. “We have to have good order and discipline. It’s the backbone of what we do.”p383

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charity

    It is obvious this work was a collaboration with the disgruntled SEALs of Team 7, which if fine, if the book would have been marketed that way. It is anything but an unbiased and critical review of events. The book reads like a Shamwow commercial of jealous school boys ratting out their headmaster, and when the first thing doesn’t stick it’s, “but wait, there’s more!” With the release of deployment videos, trial audio, and mounds of evidence this book is just silliness at this point. For instanc It is obvious this work was a collaboration with the disgruntled SEALs of Team 7, which if fine, if the book would have been marketed that way. It is anything but an unbiased and critical review of events. The book reads like a Shamwow commercial of jealous school boys ratting out their headmaster, and when the first thing doesn’t stick it’s, “but wait, there’s more!” With the release of deployment videos, trial audio, and mounds of evidence this book is just silliness at this point. For instance, why didn’t SEAL command step in if there’s an off the charts rogue Chief making his men sit in humvees, “like dogs at Walmart,” while he shoots at everything and nothing? How did the operation achieve success, much less ahead of schedule, if it was this dysfunctional or the Chief just sat around shooting at everything and nothing all day? Their answer, “Alazzawi had bigger things to worry about. He was overseeing three platoons in Iraq, and the other two teams of so-called elite commandos were barely functioning.” So essentially, every other SEAL and SEAL Team in Mosul was incompetent and “barely functioning” except these 6 whiny bitches on SEAL Team 7. Really? Come on? Gentlemen, you’re an embarrassment to our nation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    One of the most engaging history books that I’ve read. First, I’ll give the context that I believe the SEALs who spoke out against Chief Gallagher. War crimes trials should not be something that require political viewpoints, but here we are. I will say that if you take the side of Chief Gallagher, you will not enjoy this book. The evidence it presents is damning and well-supported. I’ve never read a historical account that places you this close to the events. David Phillips, through extensive in One of the most engaging history books that I’ve read. First, I’ll give the context that I believe the SEALs who spoke out against Chief Gallagher. War crimes trials should not be something that require political viewpoints, but here we are. I will say that if you take the side of Chief Gallagher, you will not enjoy this book. The evidence it presents is damning and well-supported. I’ve never read a historical account that places you this close to the events. David Phillips, through extensive interviews and gathered written evidence, places the reader in the boots of the SEALs on the ground in Mosul and back in the states. His style of writing gets you into the thoughts and actions of both Chief Gallagher and his men. The viewpoint of the novel is so engaging that I basically wanted to continue reading all the time. I wanted to pick it up at work, and as soon as I got home, and as soon as I got up in the morning. A super well written and meaningful account of some terrible events. It should be mandatory reading for all SEALs during training in my opinion.

  29. 4 out of 5

    a.t.m.

    Interesting book on war in the Middle East The author has written a compelling book about a seal team leader accused of war crimes and failure to lead his men, while trying to promote his own agenda. Is Gallagher a hero or a criminal? The allegations are serious and the doubt that has been cast is and will be far reaching. The sitting President at the time even intervened in this matter in support of Gallagher and like all politics of today, we are polarized as a nation. Everyone actually involv Interesting book on war in the Middle East The author has written a compelling book about a seal team leader accused of war crimes and failure to lead his men, while trying to promote his own agenda. Is Gallagher a hero or a criminal? The allegations are serious and the doubt that has been cast is and will be far reaching. The sitting President at the time even intervened in this matter in support of Gallagher and like all politics of today, we are polarized as a nation. Everyone actually involved in fighting a war loses, but, the politicians have no problem sending our young men and women off to war. I highly recommend this book, but, I will say there are no winners and eventually, the real truth will surface. Everyone in the team survived and came back home safe, but, in reality a part of them stayed in the areas where they did all their fighting. All of them changed forever, I wish all of them peace.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stevejs298

    I have read several books on Navy SEALs and this book is the best in describing the enormous moral decision-making that SEALs must confront. Of course, with any significant character issues, to borrow a phrase, you will end up with the worst of people and the best of people. Philipps describes the true, brave SEALs that were willing to stand up for what is right and to adhere to the principles upon which they took their oaths. But, the focus of the book is on Eddie Gallagher and a number of othe I have read several books on Navy SEALs and this book is the best in describing the enormous moral decision-making that SEALs must confront. Of course, with any significant character issues, to borrow a phrase, you will end up with the worst of people and the best of people. Philipps describes the true, brave SEALs that were willing to stand up for what is right and to adhere to the principles upon which they took their oaths. But, the focus of the book is on Eddie Gallagher and a number of other cowards, aided and abetted by the Coward-in-Chief, who lack moral character and thus have no allegiance to honesty, nor any appreciation for honor. It is frustrating to read how the losers are allowed to "win." But I remain confident that as time goes by the truth will win out and these dishonest cowards will get called out. This book is an important step in ensuring that the truth is told. I hope it is widely read.

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