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Almost 500 Former Senior Military Leaders and Officials Show Support for Biden in Open Letter

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Almost 500 Former Senior Military Leaders and Officials Show Support for Biden in Open Letter

2020-09-25 15:23:13

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Joe Biden visiting troops at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo (Image source: Public domain)


With today's very divided country, it makes quite an impression when 500 former military personnel and officials, both Republican and Democrat, can come together. Assumably, that was the goal behind a recent open letter regarding the upcoming presidential election.

A group of 489 retired senior military officers, former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs, and other officials, signed an open letter spelling out their support for the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden.

The group, calling themselves the National Security Leaders for Biden, is yet another group publicly going up against Donald Trump. The group says the former vice president has "the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire."

"We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States," reads the letter. "We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans and Democrats and Independents. We love our country."

"Unfortunately, we also fear for it," said the respected group.

The group does collectively point out that not all of them agree with Biden's policy decisions. Yet, they still want to see him elected, as it is "imperative that we stop Trump's assault on our nation's values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy."

This group doesn't even include all the former Trump administration officials who have spoken out against him. Retired Gen. Jim Mattis, Trump's former Defense secretary, and former national security adviser John Bolton, have disagreed publicly with Trump and his policies before. Yet, neither of them have pledged to vote for Biden, nor have they signed anything regarding their position.

Some of those who signed the open letter have appeared in earlier groups announcing bold statements. A few of them were "Never Trumpers" in the last presidential election four years ago. Most are new to this position, however, of publicly urging the country to vote for Biden.

"I spent 36 years in the United States Air Force, almost seven of those as a prisoner of Vietnam," explains retired Air Force Gen. Charles G. Boyd, who signed the open letter and recorded a video posted to the Twitter account of the group. "Since my return, I've been a Republican, but quietly."

"I fervently believe that military officers should not be involved in presidential politics, even when retired," explained the former P.O.W., who is the only one to reach the rank of four stars. He served as deputy commander of the U.S. European Command.

"But this year is different. Donald Trump's assault on the rule of law that makes a democracy possible has been so egregious, I've decided to speak out, " added Boyd. "We need to vote for Joe Biden this year. I'm going to vote for him. I hope you do too."

Trump is quick to say he has the support of the military. Though after the Atlantic published a story that quoted him as saying American troops who die in battle are "suckers" and "losers."

After being heavily criticized for those comments, the president said some leaders at the Pentagon probably weren't "in love with me." Some, he continued, "want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy."

He also indicated that the troops are happy with him.

Yet, a poll of active-duty service members that was conducted in August by Military Times along with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University showed a drop in support for Trump by the military. Biden had the advantage of 41 percent to 37 percent. The remaining percentage were planning on either voting for a third-party candidate or not voting at all. In a Military Times poll taken around the same time in 2016, Trump held a two-to-one advantage over former secretary of state Hillary  Clinton.

The letter signed by the National Security Leaders for Biden addressed the open letter "To Our Fellow Citizens." The group explained that Trump "has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us.

"Climate change continues unabated as does North Korea's nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian Adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America's farmers and manufacturers."

However, the group has more glowing words of respect for Biden. The letter says he "has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next president of the United States, why we vigorously support his election, and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same."

Last spring, Retired Navy Admr. Charles S. "Steve" Abbot joined the National Security Leaders for Biden and is one of its leaders. He served as the U.S. Sixth Fleet commander and the U.S. European Command deputy commander. He was deputy Homeland Security adviser during the George W. Bush administration.

He said in an interview that during his time in the White House and after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, he gained "some appreciation for what it's like in the White House when you have to deal with a major crisis. ... I thought they did it with skill." 

He was led to speak out against Trump's leadership failures because of the way he dealt with the coronavirus pandemic. "I think the ship of state is listing badly, and we need a new captain," he said.

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