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US Pentagon's Esper says military justice ready to hold troops to account

12:55  17 november  2019
12:55  17 november  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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“I have great faith in the military justice system,” Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons. Critics have said Trump’ s pardons would undermine military justice and send a message that battlefield atrocities would be tolerated.

Top military leaders have pushed back hard against clearing the three men. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy have argued that such a move would undermine the military code of justice , and would serve as a bad example to other troops in the field

BANGKOK (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

a close up of a person: FILE PHOTO: Naval Base San Diego is shown where jury selection begins in the court-martial trial of U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Gallagher in San Diego, California© Reuters/Mike Blake FILE PHOTO: Naval Base San Diego is shown where jury selection begins in the court-martial trial of U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Gallagher in San Diego, California

Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."

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Jeong said he and Esper shared the view that the cost-sharing pact being The South Korean foreign ministry announced another round of defense cost talks would be held on Nov. Japan restricted exports of key industrial materials to South Korea in July. Pentagon ' s Esper says it is crucial South

South Korea, Esper said , "is a wealthy country and could and should pay more" for the U. S . military deployment. "It is crucial that we conclude the (defence pact) Jeong said he and Esper shared the view that the cost-sharing pact being negotiated should be fair and mutually agreeable, but it was

"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.

Critics have said Trump's pardons would undermine military justice and send a message that battlefield atrocities would be tolerated.

Trump intervened in the cases of three men: First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, Major Mathew Golsteyn and Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs.

In 2013, prosecutors accused Lorance of illegally ordering the fatal shootings of two men on motorcycles while on patrol in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. He was found guilty of two counts of murder.

Last year, Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret, was charged with murdering an Afghan man during a 2010 deployment to Afghanistan.

US, S Korea postpone joint exercise criticized by N Korea

  US, S Korea postpone joint exercise criticized by N Korea The United States and South Korea on Sunday said they were postponing a joint military air exercise that North Korea has criticized as provocative. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his South Korean counterpart made the announcement in Bangkok, where they were attending an Asia defense ministers’ conference. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Esper told reporters he did not consider the postponement a concession to North Korea.

A Pentagon spokesperson said the US Department of Defense has confidence in the military justice system, saying that the president "has the authority to weigh in on matters of this nature." US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters last week that he had a "robust discussion" with Trump over the

Esper has publicly said that he believes in the process of the UCMJ. "I do have full confidence in the While the military has its own justice system, it is independent like the civilian justice system in Trump' s actions could give some troops the perceived authority to act illegally and unethically, and

Gallagher, a decorated SEAL team platoon leader, was accused of committing various war crimes while deployed in Iraq in 2017.

In July, a military jury acquitted him of murdering a captured Islamic State fighter by stabbing the wounded prisoner in the neck, but it convicted him of illegally posing with the detainee's corpse. That had led to his rank being reduced.

Esper said U.S. forces "are trained from day one about the laws of armed conflict and how to conduct themselves during wartime" and stressed they will behave accordingly.

"If they don't, then the United States military will take action in accordance (with the Uniform Code of Military Justice) to make sure that they are held accountable," he said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, editing by Louise Heavens)

Senators challenge Trump on military pardons .
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, are pressing the Department of Justice to answer questions about President Trump's pardons of U.S. soldiers accused of war crimes. © Greg Nash Senators challenge Trump on military pardons The Democratic senators want to know whether the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney was involved in the decisions to pardon soldiers accused of unlawful military executions, including fatal shootings of unarmed civilians.

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