Creating a Culture of Quality and Civility

Lieutenant General William J. Troy, U.S. Army (Ret.)

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photo credit: kjpargeter

As an Army officer for 38 years and a student of American history, I have long thought that the imperative of a non-political officer corps is a touchstone of American democracy. I have scrupulously kept my political opinions to myself throughout my active duty and post-retirement years.

However, as this election nears, I feel compelled to take a stand. I back Vice-President Biden for President and am among over 500 generals, admirals, former diplomats, and national security officials who have done so as part of the National Security Leaders for Biden. Let me explain why I and many of my general and flag officer colleagues have taken this action.

The alliances and international partnerships that have preserved our freedom and prosperity since World War II result from shared values and mutual interests. The NATO alliance, our defense commitments to Japan and South Korea, our defense cooperation with like-minded nations like Australia, keep potential adversaries in check.

Many of our allies and partners have fought side-by-side with us for almost two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan. During my deployment in Iraq as Chief of Staff of III Corps from Ft. Hood, Texas, we had Australian, Italian, British, and Polish officers on our staff and many of those nations had troops engaged in combat operations.

The world is a dangerous place, getting riskier every day. The idea that we can separate ourselves from our long-standing, traditional allies, as President Trump wants to do, is dangerously misguided. There is no creating a Fortress America in today’s world.

The most cursory glance at history, from World War I to 9/11, will demonstrate the futility and danger of trying to “go it alone.” President Trump has dismissed our partners and allies as freeloaders and second-tier players while engaging with some of the world’s most repressive regimes. In fact, our allies are a force multiplier for us.

Vice President Biden has a keen sense of America’s role as the free world’s leader, not to give everyone else a free ride, but to value cooperation with our partners as the best way to share the burden of keeping our nations free and safe. History has shown us that it is the best way to best preserve peace and freedom.

One of the best aspects of military service is the opportunity to work as a team with men and women of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths, united as a team to accomplish the mission.

I have seen what is possible when working in environments that demand everyone be treated with dignity and respect. Think what we could achieve as a nation if our political leaders had a similar commitment. Here in Milwaukee, with the racial tension we live with every day, we need that sort of moral and ethical leadership from our President. I have not seen it in the last four years.

Beyond this election’s national security, I want a leader whose words and actions make us proud of our country once again. I want my granddaughter to grow up in a country where political discourse is conducted with civility, where we can discuss our political disagreements vigorously but courteously, and where all our leaders exhibit the “respect due others.” In short, we need a culture of quality and civility.


General Troy graduated from Racine St. Catherine’s High School and West Point. After retirement from the Army, he was CEO of the American Society of Quality (ASQ), headquartered in Milwaukee for five years.

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