In today’s Wall Street Journal Admiral William McRaven—the former head of the Navy Seals endorsed Joe Biden for President, Like John McCain, Colin Powell, and other warrior politicians that have come before him, the good Admiral’s service should be respected, but the attempt to leverage and then insert their service into a public policy or political debate can be disastrous—think Colin Powell and John Kerry.
Prior to March of this year, I have had the opportunity over the past 20 years to work on a monthly bases at Ft. Sam Houston with members of all service branches, enlisted and officer, and special forces alumnae who have offered and even opined in the Washington Post a very different picture of our military under President George Bush and Barak Obama. There has never been a President in my almost 50 years of being involved with military that has been so respected and supported and appreciated than Donald Trump—Ronald Regan came close.
Every year the Military Times runs articles with graphs showing support for our President amongst all branches in the military sorted out by officer and enlisted. The numbers have flipped since the Obama administration low point in 2016 when only 25% of the military thought that BHO was doing a good job and 15% wee neutral. Today 60% think DJT is doing a great job and 15% are neutral. The numbers are significantly better if one looks at the enlisted graphs only.
Admiral McRaven may have been a “warrior” but there are many warriors who worked for and with him who have written and spoken about his being a “political Admiral”. This is not unusual. In order to make it to the top of any organization one has to be politic in manners and careful when expressing an opinion that rubs the culture of the organization the wrong way. The military is no different in this regard. This is how the “SWAMP” is formed. Sclerotic-inertia void of energy and new ideas is what rises to the top. There are no Senior Officer innovators or entrepreneurs in the military senor officer corps.
What has happened over the years is that we have very few Admirals and Generals who have actually been at the tip of the spear. All branches of the Special Forces, including the Navy Seals that Admiral McRaven headed are the only group that has seen what is called “contested contact with the enemy’. Very few Special Forces officers or Senior enlisted make it through the process above the 0-7 E-7 level. Administrative expertise and being facile with the military OPTAR budgeting process is more important for senior promotion than action against the enemy. And if you are really a good Admiral administrator you can go to work for Boeing or Lockheed or Marin Marietta and double dip your way to wealth.
Again anyone’s service is to be respected. I left the Navy with the rank of Commander and so did my wife at the time. Her father made the rank of Admiral and my father retired as a Navy Captain. I say that proudly because I am part of a military tradition that honors the service of anyone of any rank that has served and not just those in the higher officer corps. So if a story runs in the Wall Street Journal about a retired Admiral or General supporting a particular candidate it would seem only fair that a similar story be researched and published about what the troops think. The enlisted and officers currently on the line are less likely to be playing politics with their careers than the John McCain’s and Billy McRaven’s of the world.
Here briefly is why those on the line love Mr. Trump. They have seen three pay raises over the past 4 years. The have seen military medicine improve dramatically with improved outcomes and waiting times. It is probably the best socialized health care delivery system in the world, but still cannot come close to our private sector standards. It has seen the VA system improve dramatically from a 48% satisfaction level to a 91% level under President Trump.
In 2016 only 36% of aircraft were operational—an incredible number and today that number is at 85%. Out of 12 carrier groups in 2016 only 4 ½ were operational with one carrier in sea trials that didn’t have a functioning catapult system—The Gerald Ford’s new electromagnetic catapult wasn’t properly masked so every 24 seconds when the catapult was engaged everything magnetic in the ship went to the ceiling including silver wear and operating room equipment! —it was actually deployed with that major glitch not completely fixed!
John McCain, Admiral McRaven, and all the other war heroes in Congress for the last 40 years (since Ronald Regan) have been unable to increase the level of readiness of our military or make a career in the military competitive with the private sector the way Donald Trump has. And here is “the proof of the pudding”:
Donald Trump is the 1st President in 60 years to not take our country into war or engage a new enemy in combat.