The death of a SEAL trainee, Kyle Mullen, under the supervision of a highly renowned Navy SEAL training leader, has prompted three Republican legislators to seek answers about the credibility of the subsequent inquiry.
After Mullen’s death in February 2022, the Navy announced that Captain Brad Geary would receive Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) due to the investigation into his command. After her son died, Regina Mullen has worked to bring about change in the SEAL program and has demanded that its leaders be held accountable.
Reps. Morgan Luttrell (R-Texas), Nick LaLota (R-NY), and Cory Mills (R-Fla.) expressed concerns about potential prejudice in the Navy’s examination of the matter in a letter to the Navy’s chief of legislative relations, which was received three months after the punishment decision was announced. The Navy’s inquiry into Mullen’s death would paint Geary as a rogue leader whose team of instructors overworked SEAL candidates and put them in danger.
Captain Geary is being investigated for “negligent dereliction for breach of naval rule” and “dereliction of duty, for failing to file a safety report even though they implemented the safety provisions,” which are non-judicial offenses. Geary was charged with negligent dereliction, but his lawyer, Jason Wareham, says the charges are politically motivated and stem from a year-long effort to make Geary a scapegoat.
Two other top brass were also informed that they would be charged with NJP: former training center commander Captain Brian Dreschler and program chief medical advisor Cmdr. Erik Ramey. The military avoids legal sanctions such as jail time, dishonorable discharge, and fines using NJPs. Those threatened with NJP, however, can have their case examined by a court-martial instead. Geary put his faith in the admiral evaluating his case and accepted NJP.
The Navy seems to have ignored crucial evidence indicating Mullen’s death may have been caused by other circumstances, such as his alleged illicit use of performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals, which is problematic given the nature of the claims. The medical examiners classified “secondary cause” as Mullen’s abnormally large heart, which weighed 700 grams and was more than double the size of the ordinary male heart. The inquiry, the service’s public pronouncements on the issue, and the potential improper influence of Regina Mullen have all been the subject of six pages’ worth of challenging inquiries from politicians and lawmakers.
The Navy has not yet responded to the Republicans’ queries, but a spokeswoman for the service has said that the Navy places a high priority on its relationship with Congress and views as a severe obligation its need to reply to all inquiries from the House and the Senate.