Wanted: A President Who Doesn’t View Ohio National Guard Members as ‘Losers’

By Captain Steve Brock, U.S. Navy (Retired) and
Major General Mark Quantock, U.S. Army (Retired)

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Photo by Robert Conklin on Unsplash

As Ohioans head to the polls, we should not forget one of the most sacred considerations of voting — selecting leaders that will take care of those Americans we send into harm’s way. Recently, 100 soldiers of the Ohio National Guard deployed to Afghanistan, “guardian angels”, protecting military and civilians alike.

Voting with this sacred obligation in mind brought us back to a moment of principled leadership 11 years ago. On July 4th, 2009, Vice President Joe Biden reunited with his son Beau, a Major in the Delaware National Guard, while visiting U.S. troops deployed in Iraq. It marked yet another visit to honor our troops among dozens Joe Biden made over four decades — his way of keeping faith with those that answer a higher calling to serve.

From a forward deployed location afloat in the Middle East, and from the Pentagon, we watched the images of a proud father presiding over a U.S. naturalization ceremony for 237 of Beau’s fellow soldiers — men and women who literally fought for the right to be an American. These were people who understood service. One of us with the NIMITZ Carrier Strike Group provided air support to troops in Afghanistan; the other served with the Secretary of Defense’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Recognizance Task Force. Our missions were identical to the guardian angels — we were there to have our fellow soldiers’ and marines’ backs.

This is a mission the President has failed. His disdain for those in uniform manifests in many pernicious ways, none more deadly than his refusal to act on evidence of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. This is a man who has no use for service to America and displays outright hostility to it.

The President’s long-standing dismissal of U.S. intelligence, dysfunctional and chaotic national security decision making, and outright appeasement of Russia compromise our troops safety in Afghanistan.

But to people like us, who have decades of combined uniformed service, (including multiple combat tours to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan), this failure speaks to deep character flaws that make us all unsafe. We judge leaders by these three questions: 1) Would I trust him with the service of my son or daughter? 2) Do I trust him to make decisions based on national interest, not personal gain? 3) Do I trust him to make America’s allies respect her and America’s enemies fear her?

For the current president, our answer to all three questions is a resounding “no.”

A President who takes his duty seriously takes responsibility. This president instead deflects accountability, chronically offering excuses of “not knowing,” and dealing in untruths. Challenging intelligence findings or assessments is a healthy exercise — all good leaders do it. But the President’s disdain for, and distrust of, U.S. Intelligence is different than healthy skepticism. It puts our troops in danger.

Moreover, this President leads the most dysfunctional national security decision making process in memory. Having served with the National Security Council (NSC) during the Afghan surge, we know making effective national security policy in a complex world is extraordinarily challenging. The chaos this President sowed has crippled our government’s ability to respond to even egregious threats to our troops.

Americans may not agree on much, but we are united in keeping our nation secure and our troops safe. The President’s hollow reaction to Russia’s murder-for-hire operation targeting our troops sadly aligns with his unjustified low regard for those who serve our nation in uniform. Unlike their President, Americans don’t view those who protect us as “suckers”.

As a Buckeye and the colleague of a Buckeye, we join Ohioans in the fervent wish that their native sons and daughters succeed in their mission and all come home alive and well. If only we had a President who didn’t view them as losers and suckers, a President willing to honor and stand up for America’s troops. A Commander-in-Chief who, like Ohio guardsmen, is a guardian angel. Maybe then, more of our nation’s military families will experience the joyful relief of homecoming reunions.

Captain (Retired) Steve Brock is from Hudson, Ohio and served as Assistant Chief of Staff — Intelligence for the NIMITZ Strike Group and at the National Security Council. Major General (Ret) Mark Quantock served as Director of Intelligence for U.S. Central Command and head of coalition intelligence in Afghanistan.

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