From an active duty office with 26 years in, including combat experience:
Can the Republicans Still be Trusted?
Two months prior to the mid-term election I composed a piece that argued Democrats could not be trusted with American national security. The reasons for that argument are self-evident and a rehash of it completely unnecessary given the poisonous pronouncements from the Pelosi-Reid cabal. What is of far greater concern to the American republic and its future is the defection of Republicans from the president’s fold and a commitment to victory in Iraq.
Since the 1968 presidential election, the Republicans have held the mantle of national security and they have deserved it. The Democrats have been the party of pacifism and retreat. History simply will not allow the Democrats to run from this label as their forced retreat from Vietnam demonstrated and their softness with regards to the former Soviet Union proves. On EVERY MAJOR NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE the Democrats have been WRONG. At least they are consistent. In opposition for most of my life, the Republicans have stood with America and argued for greater American security at nearly every turn. They argued consistently for a tougher stance against communism both in Eurasia and in South America. They favored programs designed to challenge the Soviets and ultimately produced Ronald Reagan who defeated the Soviets by confronting them and competing with them on every front. It was as he said, “Simple, we win they lose.” Ultimately it broke their backs and not the US bank. But today, Republicans risk something far greater than self-defeat in Iraq; they face demoralizing permanently the armed forces that protect this country.
The morale among America’s armed forces following Vietnam was abysmal. Drug use flourished, ships could not put to sea, and army divisions were divisions in name only. It was the era of the hollow military and it corresponded with the Carter administration and continued Democratic majorities in Congress. Democratic Senator Frank Church systematically dismantled the US intelligence apparatus; a legacy that haunts America today as it still suffers from the loss of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) assets. After Vietnam the US decided that an all-volunteer military was the best avenue towards a professional military capable of meeting all threats along the spectrum of conflict. From low-intensity conflict to global nuclear conflagration, a new armed force was created but still remained undermanned and under-funded. Throughout the bleak times of Democratic leadership, the Republicans consistently fought to keep America’s fighting forces second to none and were willing to gamble political capital to make their case. Ultimately they were successful and the election of President Reagan ushered in better funding and most importantly better morale.
America began to respect the armed forces once again as they time and again demonstrated their professionalism and dedication to the nation whether in the skies over the Gulf of Sidra, taking down the Achille Lauro from terrorists or on Grenada. No longer were soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen ashamed or embarrassed to wear their uniforms. They wore them with pride and their fellow citizens respected them for their service. The point to be made here is that the armed forces were supported consistently and often at great political cost by ONE party, the Republicans and that support was rewarded by fidelity and electoral support. Today, Republicans risk discarding that trust for crass political expediency. Instead of demonstrating leadership “under fire,” political fire, the type of leadership they demand of their armed forces under REAL FIRE, they are now joining the sirens song of cut and run orchestrated by the Democrats and their wholly owned subsidiary, the mainstream media.
The cost of this strategy by Republicans will leave a vacuum for military members. Who among us in uniform will trust ANY politician with her life? Who among our professional VOLUNTEER military class will willingly allow his children to serve knowing that neither party can be trusted to lead? The threat to American society and freedom is that no one will serve because the political class cannot be trusted with our lives and the lives of our children. Today the army and marines are enjoying tremendous re-enlistment rates despite onerous and dangerous deployments? Why is that? It’s really quite simple, leadership, the leadership of the president and his steadfast willingness to put his political life on the line and the leadership of America’s commissioned and non-commissioned officer corps. Most members of the armed forces reflexively expect the Democrats to pay lip service to supporting them while doing all they can to see their mission fail for political gain but they have always expected the Republicans to be resolute and to stand by them. Today it appears the curtain is failing on those times and with that the morale and effectiveness of the all-volunteer force.
If the Republicans continue on this suicidal path, members of the armed forces will leave their services in droves and simply not vote. The Democratic elite have falsely assumed that military professionals serve because they cannot get meaningful work in the private sector. A cursory look at today’s force will show something very different. Our officer corps is comprised of young men and women who have attended our nation’s best colleges through ROTC programs, or have graduated and then joined via OCS. Of course Annapolis, West Point and the Air Force Academy graduate a combined 3000 elite new officers each May. How many of our “elite” media scribes could even be considered intellectually competent to be considered for appointment to our prestigious service academies or awarded ROTC scholarships? How many members of Congress? Few if any would even get past the academic requirements let alone the physical and character hurdles.
But it’s not just the officer corps that possesses a high degree of intellectual firepower. The all-volunteer enlisted corps is the brightest and most capable this nation or the world has ever had and perhaps ever will have. Anecdotally, on my last ship, a nuclear aircraft carrier, 85 % of my enlisted sailors had college degrees and many were seeking graduate work. The number of sailors working towards commissioning as officers was astounding. These sailors were not even the nuclear trained members whose training IS at the graduate level. Beyond their academic skills, they practice amazing leadership and management skills daily that corporate America yearns for because these young people produce at a very high level, are technologically savvy and they show up to work on time EVERY DAY! They don’t call in sick, they stay late and given a task, no matter how difficult, they get it done on time and on budget without complaint. Ask any employer lucky enough to have lured a noncom away from his service and he will tell you he has a dedicated employee going places in his business.
The era of young convicted felons being offered the choice of jail or the services has been over for 30 years. In 1982, the then Chief of Naval Operations instituted the “Not in MY Navy” Campaign of drug testing that has all but eliminated drug use in the navy. Similar programs now exist not only in all of the armed forces but in the private sector as well. Ask any American parent whose son or daughter has dropped out of high school and who thought the military a viable option. They will tell you it is nearly impossible to gain entry without a high school diploma and many fields require some college. I know such parents and they now know the armed services are not a dumping ground for Americas juvenile delinquents and high school dropouts. Born of military necessity and the respect engendered in the 1980s, the armed forces raised their standards because they had to and because they could. This selectiveness may be discarded if the all-volunteer force decides service is no longer worth the sacrifice.
Republican Senators such as Chuck Hagel, John Warner and Olympia Snowe have publicly stated that the president’s planned strategy adjustment will not work and that they will not support it. I challenge each of these august public servants to go over to Bethesda Naval Hospital TODAY, find a seriously wounded Marine and say to him, “Son your sacrifice was in vain.” GO TODAY Senator. Stand up and be counted. If your vote for the war was wrong, say so today and do what any decent officer would do, resign. Resign immediately. What we are witnessing is a replay of the Vietnam War NOT on the battlefield where we continue to have successes albeit slowly, but in the gelatinous spines of our public servants and political masters. Remember Senator we serve but we are not YOUR servants. We swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution and the survival of America, not your political career which far too many of you associate with defending America. We serve because we believe in America, its founding principles and we believed our leaders, mostly Republicans but some Democrats, would support us and use our capabilities well. Now Republicans risk shredding the trust that fully 66% of servicemen and women have given them since 1968. They risk the future of their party but far more importantly they risk the all-volunteer force and with it America’s security future.