one of Obama’s top national security advisers, told the crowd at
But for many who once wore the
uniform, the jump from the military to the foreign world of campaigns was unexpected and
required a bit of adjustment.
Indeed, 11 retired officers supporting McCain — among them
are four from the Navy, where
McCain once served: retired Adm.
Ronald Hays, Adm. James
Holloway, Adm. Jerome Jackson
and Adm. Leighton Smith —
penned a letter this summer that
began with some telling words
about their initial reluctance to
join the political fray.
“As retired military officers, we
share a natural hesitancy to engage
actively in politics,” they wrote.
“There is a healthy discomfort in
our profession with any political
involvement because the country
rightly depends on our military to
support any commander in chief
with our best military advice and
But as the country continues to
wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan,
former officers who have rallied
behind the Obama and McCain
camps have said they see it as their
duty to lend their expertise and reputations to the candidates as they
craft national security strategies.
Retired officers “want to be
involved because they believe there
is a responsibility to be involved, to
make sure that the candidates and
the people understand national
security and the role of the military
— what it can do what it can’t do,”
said retired Army Lt. Gen. Donald
Kerrick, an Obama supporter.
Echoing the story of many of
the other former officers involved
in the campaigns, retired Adm.
John Nathman, former leader of
U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said
he had no intention of getting
involved in politics when he left
the military last year. But he soon
“It is my judgment that, in the time remaining to us, we can
no longer complete a competition that would be viewed as
fair and objective in this highly charged environment.”
Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
On the Defense Department’s decision to call off the hotly disputed aerial-refueling
Wall Street Journal
“There is no deterrent, so obviously for pirates, criminals and
warlords, it’s an easy way to make money. Nobody is going
to catch you, no police ... you make so much money.”
Head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur
On the recent spike in ship hijackings off the coast of Somalia.
found himself advising the Obama
campaign because he felt it was
“time for some change.”
Nathman and other retired officers supporting Obama have said
they were spurred to action by
frustrations over the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war.
Obama counts at least two recent
retirees with extensive Iraq experience — Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton,
former chief trainer of the Iraqi
security forces, and Army Maj. Gen.
Antonio Taguba, who was assigned
to report on detainee abuse at Abu
Ghraib — in his ranks.
McCain’s service supporters,
while on the other end of the
political spectrum, have the same
feelings of duty when it comes to
delving into the realm of politics,
and noted the importance of electing a president who they can trust
to handle the war.
“We are acutely aware that ill-conceived policies will have serious, if not tragic, consequences for
military commanders, the troops
they lead, and the nation,” the
retired officers supporting McCain
wrote in their letter.
Maritime Security Zone
Set Up in Gulf of Aden
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has established
a maritime security patrol area
(MSPA) in the Gulf of Aden. The
MSPA is the short-term focus of an
intensive coalition effort to counter destabilizing activities — such
as piracy, drug smuggling and
human trafficking — to enable
long-term solutions to take hold in
Coalition warships and aircraft
assigned to Task Force 150 — under
the command of Danish Royal Navy
Commodore Per Bigum Christensen
— will patrol the Gulf of Aden.
The MSPA also will support the
efforts of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is
implementing preventative efforts
in hopes of leading to long-term
solutions to the destabilization,
according to NAVCENT spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie Murdock.
“Successfully countering and
deterring destabilizing activities by
the coalition must be complemented by proactive measures by commercial shippers, regional govern-