Military Officers Have A Wishlist For The Next President

Leadership
White House Photo by Pete Souza

As military leadership prepares for the proverbial changing of the guard — the election of a new commander-in-chief, senators, and congressional members — its officers have certain qualities that they hope those seeking government offices will embody.


Many of the men and women who choose to become officers pledge their entire careers to military service. And so Task & Purpose reached out to the Military Officers Association of America, the largest association for military officers across the country, to find out what they expect from their civilian counterparts — those that will make decisions that have can a lasting impact on the armed forces.

We spoke with MOAA’s vice president of government affairs and Air Force veteran Steve Strobridge to find out exactly what characteristics officers look for when voting for a commander-in-chief, and what their concerns are over the next election cycle.

What are the most concerning issues facing the military over the next four to eight years?

Readiness. Over time, we’ve tended to have some kind of crisis, like 9/11, and you build up all the forces, and then Congress thinks that’s passed, and then the public wants a peace dividend. So you get into a budget crunch, then you keep getting these yo-yo kinds of circumstances. I think we would rather have some kind of baseline level, and not have some arbitrary budget limit — like sequestration. It’s going to come back with a vengeance next year, and when you have this kind of political divide, it’s very hard to get consensus on how much of a defense budget to put out there.

In terms of the next commander-in-chief, what qualities do military officers look for?

Military officers are concerned with all the normal kinds of things: integrity, coolness under fire. And you know, you can probably find things in both candidates that people will like, and not like, compared to those standards. It’s hard to get into that without seeming to lean one way or the other, but I think it’s the standard leadership qualities that most Americans want.

What about politicians who use service members to garner votes or push an agenda?

We believe in civilian control of the military, and no matter who is president, you owe allegiance to the office. I think our view is that when you’re in office, you have our public trust. But once you are retired, you’re just like anyone else. You’ve got the same First Amendment rights as anyone else. There’s no problem with endorsement. Those are the personal freedoms that we stand for.

Related: 8 Smart ways veterans can win any election »

What advice would you give to a candidate looking to get officers’ votes?

I think one key thing is to be sensitive to the difference between veterans and career service members. There tends to be a lumping together of those people. They’re focused on the VA. But people are forgetting those who served 30 years in uniform, and there seems to be a concerted campaign to cut their benefits, to reduce the rewards of career service. We’re doing everything we can to take care of veterans who served and got out, but we’re more than ready to penalize those that stayed for 30 years and sacrificed the most, quite frankly.

What is the biggest threat facing the military today?

The biggest concern is making sure the country is prepared, no matter what, to have a military that is prepared to handle any threat. Nobody was expecting on Sept. 10, 2001, that we would be at war for a decade and a half, and I think people can get complacent. I think that’s a significant concern to military officers.

And what are your thoughts on Veterans Affairs issues?

We have some obvious problems. No matter who is in charge, it takes time to make those changes. We think the current secretary at least has some good efforts underway, but it’s almost like the minute someone takes over, the next day somebody is calling for them to be fired. These big things can’t be fixed overnight.

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less

A low-flying C-17 gave Nashville residents a fright on Friday when the aircraft made several unannounced passes over the city's bustling downtown.

Read More Show Less
George W. Bush/Instagram

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.

In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less