Service Of Convenience

Pete Buttigieg – whose race for president this cycle may be distinguished by “lasting longer than A-Klo’s” and not much more – stood out from most of the rest of the Democrat field by being a veteran.

This stands out among typical Democrats in more or less the same way a nun at a Mormon missionary at a Slayer concert does.

And, like those Slayer fans, they don’t really know what to do about the interloper from another universe – what questions to ask, what lessons to learn?

Which, Kyle Smith notes, conceals a lot of problems:

Three things stand out about his brief sojourn in the Navy: One, he joined via direct commission. This, to most veterans, is a jaw-dropper. To say the least, this isn’t the way it’s usually done. Many of us recall the intensive pre-commission training (in my case, four years of ROTC in Connecticut and Advanced Camp with the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg) as the most trying intervals of our careers. Others spent four years at Annapolis or West Point. Buttigieg just skipped all of that. He passed a physical. He signed some papers. Voila. To put this in terms a liberal might understand: Imagine you heard that someone got a “direct diploma” from Harvard but didn’t actually have to do four years of papers and tests. You’d never forget it. You’d probably think of that person primarily as a short-cut specialist for the rest of your life.

Then there’s the little matter of his political role model – John Kerry. As in, someone who explicitly used a brief tour in the service as a stepping stone to politics, over the bodies of his erstwhile comrades.

And Smith notes how “off” some of Mayor Pete’s schtick feels to peolple who have been there: Like Buttigieg’s references to the nujmber of times he left his camp in Afghanistan:

Has anyone who has ever served the U.S. military on overseas land not driven around? When he launched his campaign last April he bragged about “119 trips I took outside the wire, driving or guarding a vehicle.” That’s . . . not a thing. There are no such stats. Sorties in aircraft are an official military statistic. Motor-vehicle trips are so routine no one would bother to keep track, any more than someone would log how many times Pete Buttigieg took a shower. No one cares. So Buttigieg himself created this phony statistic. Picture it: He made himself a little Hero’s Log but all he had to put in it was “routine trips.” It’s pathetic. It’s hilarious. It’s apple-polishing, resume-buffing, box-checking, attention-seeking vaporware. Just like his whole career.

Democrats are well aware of the reverence most people have for veterans, and especially the reticence people have , after 18 years of war, for criticizing veterans of any kind in any way.

As someone who’s a fairly committed student of military history, I’m every more so.

But I read, and I listen, and I absorb things. And this passage in this account from Buttigieg’s book (related here) caused my BS detector to…,,well, not howl. Maybe chirp a little. I’ll add emphas

Buttigieg has talked about the 119 times he says he crossed “outside the wire,” leaving the relative safety of the base as a vehicle commander on convoy security detail in dangerous parts of Kabul.

And then…:

“In a ritual to be repeated dozens of times, I would heave my armored torso into the driver’s seat of a Land Cruiser, chamber a round in my M4, lock the doors and wave a gloved goodbye to the Macedonian gate guard,” Buttigieg wrote. “My vehicle would cross outside the wire and into the boisterous Afghan city, entering a world infinitely more interesting and ordinary and dangerous than our zone behind the blast walls at ISAF headquarters.”

I don’t know much – and I’ll defer to any combat-arms vets in the house – but I’m fairly sure that “vehicle commanders” don’t ride in the driver’s seat. Drives drive. “Vehicle commanders” in convoys in combat areas don’t; they focus on navigating, communicating, and above all maintaining situational awareness.

So yeah – I’ve got questions,.

9 thoughts on “Service Of Convenience

  1. Mitch – you are correct. The VC (Vehicle Commander) traditionally sits in the front passenger seat.

    Here’s an “alternative” happenstance: Pete is in the Stan. He is worthless as an intel officer, and they need something for him to do. They have him as a driver, but because the actual VC is an E-6, he gets called the VC. Although, on Wikipedia, it says that he was the driver for his commander.

    My tours were in Iraq, not the Stan. I have no idea how many times I went outside the wire on tour 1. We were QRF on Airport Road, so we got called out quite often. Tour 2 required a trip ticket to leave the base, so pretty sure it would be possible to count those up and determine how many missions.

    Last thought – look at his awards. He got a Joint Service Commendation Medal for his time there. Nothing wrong with that, but not exactly an indicator of great work.

  2. The question that needs investigation is “who was the payor and who was the payee in exchange his direct commission?”

    Everything else should shake out from there. As long as the investigation is a little more honest and intentional than that Mueller report.

  3. shaking;

    You are spot on. That award is akin to the Presidential Unit Citation; anyone that ever serves in that unit, can get the ribbon. Also, as everyone that served during Vietnam, I have the related service ribbon. Nothing special in having them.

    Bill C;

    Agreed! After all, if Hollywood types got prosecuted for paying to get into schools, then someone got paid off for Petey, too.

  4. Not having served (my father went through ROTC), I don’t understand the significance of the direct commission. Looking at the US Army now, I see that a direct commission is offered for occupations like medical, legal, religious, as well as cyber. Which one was Butter-gig? And for those occupations, why then would he be out acting as VC or being the driver? Wouldn’t he have things to do?

  5. The time frame that he served in was a bit of a low point for recruiting across the services. Direct commissions are pretty standard for what JDM referenced (non-combatant types), so in order to attract more potential officers, the Navy may have widened who can be directly commissioned. However, I’d doubt if any of them were for combat-focused careers.

    Boss – the PUC (Presidential Unit Citation) is a unit award, worn on the right side of the uniform. Joint Service Commendation Medal is an individual award. It’s about the same as an Army Commendation (ARCOM) or Navy Commendation Medal. It’s just awarded while serving in a Joint (more than one branch of service) unit.

  6. This stands out among typical Democrats in more or less the same way a nun at a Mormon missionary at a Slayer concert does.
    *In Simpsons Cpmic Book Guy Voice*
    Best. Line. Ever.

  7. Picture it: He made himself a little Hero’s Log but all he had to put in it was “routine trips.”

    But those trips are seared – seared! – into his memory.

  8. 1. It’s standard practice to keep a running list of what you did in the Reserves for eval purposes; in this case, he just went a bit overboard.

    2. Intel is a place to stick prospective officers who test well but aren’t trained in a maritime or professional field in the Navy Reserve. Sad but it’s true. A guy from a major consulting firm wants to do some time in? Make him a spook for a few years.

    3. Navy doesn’t have right side unit commendations. That’s an Army thing. PUC is worn between the Combat Action Ribbon and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.

  9. Points 1 and 2 are flat out wrong- direct commissions are common, rather it’s the West Point grads or ROTC officers that are the exception. On the 2nd point about number of trips outside the wire, I never counted but I know a lot of guys who did.

    But the last point is spot on- the vehicle commander sits in the right side, with access to the radios and Blue Force Tracker (or whatever the current version is). The VS is the brains of a gun truck- the driver is the legs and the gunner is the arms. I occasionally had an officer sub in for a driver or gunner, but when they did, they were not in command of the vehicle.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.