Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has come out in strong defense of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.
Esper is just one of many Republicans who is defending Milley after denigrating personal attacks on Milley by Fox show host Tucker Carlson and, now, by Trump.
Esper lauded Milley as a “person of impeccable integrity and professionalism” adding “His patriotism and commitment to the Constitution are without question…Attempts to denigrate him and politicize our military are wrong. I will always stand with/for him and the US military.”
Esper’s defense of General Milley is significant and especially persuasive not only because Esper is a prominent Republican, but also because the West Point graduate is a decorated combat veteran, served as Chief of Staff at the conservative Heritage Foundation, and finally served as Secretary of the Army and as Secretary of Defense under the same man who is now calling for Milley’s resignation claiming that Milley should “be replaced with someone who is actually willing to defend our military from the leftist radicals who hate our country and flag.”
After last week’s ruckus at a House Armed Services Committee hearing when Republican congressmen derided the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their efforts to address white extremism and promote diversity and inclusion in the military, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson could not help himself.
Carlson, who has not served a single day in the U.S. military, said that General Mark Milley, a four-star, combat-tested general was “not just a pig, he’s stupid.”
On Friday, Carlson piled on saying General Milley’s comments on the importance of our military being widely read on and understand issues and theories, such as critical race theory, were “disgraceful” and “disqualifying.”
Carlson also shamelessly claimed, “Mark Milley…didn’t get that job because he’s brilliant, or because he’s brave, or because the people who know him respect him…” Carlson added, “he knows who to suck up to and he’s more than happy to do it.”
One company that advertises on Carlson’s show is United Services Automobile Association (USAA) , an institution that, since 1922, has been ”proudly” providing insurance and financial services to military personnel who serve or have served in our armed forces and their families – 13 million of them today.
After Carlson’s offensive remarks, USAA members and many others, including veterans and other organizations, are appealing to USAA to stop advertising on his program.
Veterans for Responsible Leadership linked a clip of Carlson’s outburst to the message, “So, @USAA, is this who you advertise with? Asking for 18 million friends.”
Many others are promising to move their business elsewhere if USAA does not stop advertising on Fox.
• Travis Akers tweeted to his 153,000 followers: “Please accept this as my formal notice that you have until the end of June to cease all advertising during any @TuckerCarlson programming,” adding that otherwise, he will move his insurance policies and accounts “to a competitor that does not financially support Carlson.”
• Executive director of the Lincoln Project, Fred Wellman, who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years, tweeted: “I can’t for the life of me accept that @USAA still sponsors Tucker Carlson or even Fox News at all.”
• Kristofer Goldsmith, founder of the group High Ground Veterans, tweeted: “… It’s time for @USAA to #DumpTucker.”
This author who, next year, will have been a USAA member for 60 years will carefully watch the actions of this venerable company that “over the decades,” with its “roots in the military,” is committed to bringing its “values to [its] service.”
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, a smug Rep. Matt Gaetz,(R-Fla.) — under investigation for obstructing justice in a sex crimes probe — tore into Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for his efforts to address white extremism and promote diversity and inclusion in the military.
At one point, Gaetz accused Secretary Austin that he had heard complaints from officers and units on fear of retribution, on Austin’s “stand-down regarding extremism not helping the military,” impairing unit cohesion. Gaetz claimed he heard those sentiments “most frequently from units that are majority minority.”
At this point, Army Gen. Mark Milley tried to offer his view, but was rudely cut-off by Gaetz.
The Secretary of Defense then smacked down Gaetz.
“Thanks for your anecdotal input, but I would say I have gotten 10 times that amount of input, 50 times that amount of input, on the other side, that have said, ‘Hey, we’re glad to have had the ability to have a conversation with ourselves and with our leadership,’” Austin said.
When Gaetz interrupted the Secretary of Defense, with “It may be that you are receiving that input in the ratios you describe because it was your directive,” Austin did not miss a beat. “For you to say that people are telling me what I want to hear … maybe they are telling you what you want to hear,” Austin excoriated Gaetz.
Eventually, Pennsylvania Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran, was courteous enough to yield part of her time to Milley so he could respond.
Many press reports have summarized Milley’s remarks. That does not do justice to Gen. Mark Milley’s eloquence, passion, and patriotism.
Here they are in full.
“A lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is, but I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read.
The United States Military Academy is a university. And it is important that we train, and we understand ? and I want to understand white rage. And I’m white, and I want to understand it.
So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building, and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out.
I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians, they come from the American people. So, it is important that the leaders, now and in the future, understand it.
I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read — I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin — that doesn’t make me a communist.
So, what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, general officers, commissioned and noncommissioned officers of being quote ‘woke,’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.
That was started at Harvard Law School, years ago. And it proposed that there were laws in the United States, antebellum laws prior to the Civil War, that led to a power differential with African-Americans, that were three-quarters of a human being, when this country was formed.
And then we had a Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation to change it. And we brought it up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it took another hundred years [of segregation] to change that. So, look, I do want to know, and I respect your service ? and you [addressing Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., a National Guard colonel and Green Beret] and I are both Green Berets ? but I want to know.
And it matters to our military and the discipline, the cohesion of this military, and I thank you for the opportunity to make a comment on that.”
So there, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who “is tired of ignorant bulls*t from people who don’t like to read.”
Still, the cocky congressman who has not served a day in the military had the gall to tweet afterwards: “With Generals like this it’s no wonder we’ve fought considerably more wars than we’ve won.”
Watch the exchange below.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.