Command of the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif., changed hands Tuesday as Capt. Brian Drechsler handed over the reins a few months earlier than planned to Capt. Mark “Clint” Burke, Navy officials told USNI News.
Drechsler, who took command of the training center in July 2021, would have rotated from what’s typically a two-year tour as commodore sometime this summer. But SEAL training has been under greater scrutiny over the last year after the death of a trainee, Seaman Kyle Mullen, during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Class 352.
Rear Adm. Keith Davids, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, “made the decision to move-up the already scheduled turnover of these two leaders to meet the needs of the organization and properly focus on the remaining issues identified by the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) investigation into the (Center’s) supervision of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Class 352,” the command said in a statement issued Tuesday. “The outgoing CO was not relieved due to poor performance or any violations of rules/regulations.”
The command said that Drechsler was not fired from the position.
Mullen died on Feb. 4, 2022, after suffering from breathing and other problems over several days during the grueling training known as Hell Week. His death later prompted calls from his family and others over the lack of adequate medical care during the training, among other issues including the lack of oversight of the training cadre.
The Navy’s investigation into the Training Center’s handling and supervision of Class 352 “is under review,” the command said. “Once complete, the Navy will best determine what accountability actions should be taken.”
Drechsler, a 1998 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and graduate of BUD/S Class 224, is a veteran SEAL officer and 2017 Stockdale Leadership Award recipient. A combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he served with SEAL Team 1, commanded SEAL Team 5 and served with Naval Special Warfare Development Group, according to his official Navy biography.
Burke, a 1999 USNA graduate and member of BUD/S Class 228, is also a veteran SEAL officer, having served with SEAL Team 3, SEAL Team 5 and Naval Special Warfare Unit 2. He did combat deployments to Iraq and twice commanded joint task forces, according to his official biography.