Pete Kiernan is the president and founder of the Ivy League Veterans Council, an organization dedicated to addressing the structural, cultural, and institutional barriers barring veterans from equal access to top colleges and universities. He is currently a student-athlete at Columbia University, member of the Truman National Security Project, and former MARSOC Raider.
Last year, retired Army Gen. David Petraeus ominously predicted that the divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric during the presidential election would not fade and would make our country less safe. This warning came to pass last week as President Donald Trump’s travel ban took effect on Friday afternoon and created the chaos across America’s major airports.
For over 40 years, every presidential hopeful has released his or her tax returns; this is the baseline standard. Tax returns are a significant mechanism of transparency showing how a person makes their money, who and where it comes from, what organizations they are affiliated with, and who they give money to. More importantly, it is a way for our highest office seekers to build trust with the American public.
There is no shortage of popular culture lionizing snipers. From movies to books, legendary exploits are laced with evocative imagery. Alone, unafraid, heroically holding back enemy hoards with only a bolt gun. This captivation is not without good cause, but Hollywood’s depictions often fall short of capturing what it truly means to be a sniper. Those hard lessons learned from the Marine Corps’ Scout Sniper School have been ones that have profoundly changed who I am and stayed with me for life.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kyle McNally
Occasionally, someone will ask me for advice on how to pass the United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command assessment and selection course, the first step to become a MARSOC Raider, which I did in 2008. These days there is no shortage of reading out there espousing what workouts one should do in preparation to become a member of Special Operations. Fear not, for I will not bore you with another calisthenic/Crossfit/SEALfit/bullshit routine, nor provide false tips on how to save your knees from the countless miles you should be spending with a pack on your back.
In the Fall of 2012, I was a days away from being one of the first boots on the ground in a military operation against Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had recently delivered bellicose remarks before the United Nations, drawing a “red line,” through the Iranian nuclear program. Many thought the remarks would be shortly followed by overt military action. It was the sort of thing the general public watches closely, but the military develops contingency plans around. As a member of special operations deployed to Afghanistan, I was that contingency plan.