Peter Buttigieg called out for overstating his military experience.

| February 17, 2020

I wish more veterans would run for public office regardless of their political leaning.   It does make me squeamish when Buttigieg tries to embellish his acts of daring-do for civilians.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed published by a pair of former US Marines has called presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s military experience into question.Greg Kelly, a host at conservative Newsmax TV and a former pilot in the US Marine Corps, and Katie Horgan, a Marine officer deployed in Iraq for 13 months between 2006 and 2012, wrote the piece.

Throughout the op-ed, Mr. Kelly argues that the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has overstated his military experience, painting the candidate instead as a careerist who used his connections to land a cushy paperwork job for the majority of his time in the service.

“The usual route to an officer’s commission includes four years at Annapolis or another military academy or months of intense training at Officer Candidate School. ROTC programs send prospective officers to far-flung summer training programs and require military drills during the academic year,” Mr Kelly wrote. “Mr. Buttigieg skipped all that—no obstacle courses, no weapons training, no evaluation of his ability or willingness to lead. Paperwork, a health exam and a background check were all it took to make him a naval officer.”

According to Mr Kelly and Ms Horgan, officers who entered the service through direct commission were begrudged by combat veterans and were often called “pomeranian princes.”

Most of Mr Kelly and Ms Horgan’s criticisms were rooted in the idea that Mr Buttigieg wasn’t actually involved in combat yet uses language to suggest he was.

“The closest he came to combat was ferrying other staffers around in an SUV: In his campaign kickoff speech last April he referred to “119 trips I took outside the wire, driving or guarding a vehicle.” That’s a strange thing to count. Combat sorties in an F-18 are carefully logged. Driving a car isn’t,” Mr Kelly and Ms Horgan wrote.

Mr Buttigieg does walk a fine line between presenting himself as someone who experienced danger and someone who experienced combat.

Mr Buttigieg’s first television ad in Iowa showed the candidate walking amongst rubble carrying a military rifle and starting with the phrase “As a veteran…” The image is clearly meant to evoke ideas of armed men and women fighting for the homeland.

However, Mr Buttigieg has refused to refer to himself as a combat veteran when pressed. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, Mr Buttigieg drew a distinction between himself and combat veterans during a bus tour in Iowa.

“It kind of felt like combat when the rocket alarm went off. But I don’t feel prepared to use that term for myself,” he said.

Rocket alarms “feeling like danger” are not enough to warrant his bragging, according to Mr Kelly and Ms Horgan.

“Candidate Buttigieg takes every opportunity to lean in on those months in Afghanistan. Questions ranging from student debt to Colin Kaepernick to gun control prompt him to reference his military stint, sometimes indignantly,” the authors wrote.

“‘I don’t need lessons from you on courage,’ he lectured former Rep. Beto O’Rourke in an October debate, “political or personal.” Two months later he told Sen. Amy Klobuchar, ‘Let me tell you about my relationship to the First Amendment. It is part of the Constitution that I raised my right hand and swore to defend with my life. That is my experience, and it may not be the same as yours, but it counts, Senator, it counts.’”

The duo also criticised the media, claiming that the press frequently brings up Mr Buttigieg’s military service, but frequently ignores his Democratic opponent Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s own experience. Ms Gabbard has been a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard since 2003 and was deployed for a year to Iraq in 2004 and for a year to Kuwait between 2008-2009.

“Debate moderators and other journalists—hardly a veteran among them—eagerly sell Mr. Buttigieg’s narrative. Debate moderators often point out that he served in Afghanistan and, if Tulsi Gabbard isn’t there, is the only veteran on the stage. When Ms. Gabbard is present, the moderators seldom mention her military experience, which dwarfs Mr. Buttigieg’s,” the writers said.

Ultimately, it seems the pair believe only those who have engaged in combat should exploit their military service to further their political aspirations.

“In our experience, those who did the most in war talk about it the least,” they said. “Serving in a support or noncombat role is honorable, but it shouldn’t be the basis of a presidential campaign.”

I am not a big fan of Gabbard giving civilians the idea that she was under constant fire while rending life saving medical attention do dying soldiers.  My favorite enlistment was behind a desk as a Drawer Gunner, I cried went they sent me back to the Gun Line.

Peter should stop playing with that kind of thing in public and keep his hands to himself.

You can view Pete’s entire FOIA results HERE

Source: Marine veterans criticise Buttigieg for overstating his military experience

Category: Politics

Comments (96)

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  1. 5th/77th FA says:

    Embellish just enough, but not too much…then wiggle around when called out on it. Who wouldn’t want to parlay their REMF military time into a full time gig as a parasite on the taxpayer sugar teat. After all, it worked for Skerry and DaNang Dick, among others. Everybody wants that JFK, Ike, Harry, or Teddy mystique on their political resume’. Until it’s time to do what those actually did in combat. And having a military background doesn’t always relate to being a good servant of the people. Look at the multitude of WBTS Vets that became president for example, and compare what they did to others who didn’t serve in the military.

    Some of us helped put the rear and the mf into the term REMF. Might not of been what we volunteered or trained for at that point in time, but that’s the way it worked out. At the end of the day you should do your duty in all things; you can never do more, and you should never do less.

  2. Comm Center Rat says:

    I didn’t know that Buttigieg entered the Navy Reserve through a Direct Commission. I’m surprised since to my knowledge he had no prior enlisted service and was not in a health professions MOS (not sure of the Navy equivalent).

    I was enlisted and then commissioned (90 Day Wonder) in the AF pre 9/11. After a long break in service I enlisted in the Army Reserve post 9/11 as an E-5 and eventually received a Direct Appointment as a commissioned officer. The first Reserve unit I commissioned into had only 25% of its officer authorizations filled. I then served as a REMF officer on active duty in Iraq, AFG, and CONUS before retiring several years ago. The Army Reserve direct commissioning program required prior enlisted service, at least for non healthcare MOSs.

    Although I always wished for more and better training, I was able to learn the Army way through mobilizations and deployments. As a “double mustang” I never considered myself a “Pomeranian prince” and the enlisted troops I worked with appreciated my willingness to do the dirty jobs with them when other non-mustang officers wouldn’t.

    I don’t like the authors’ quick dismissal of the Direct Commissioning program in general. I also don’t like Pete’s portrayal of himself as a battle hardened combat veteran. Sometimes military units need REMF officers and often mustangs are there to fill that need, especially during our current Long Wars.

    • Dave Hardin says:

      That is the same kind of conundrum I face. I wish more veterans, regardless of political affiliation or particular military experience, would run for office.

      I just wish they did not find it necessary to be so melodramatic about it.

      I served with some Ring Knockers that needed constant supervision and a few 90 day wonders that were rather exceptional.

    • USMC STEVE says:

      Buttifag was at Bagram for one six month tour, so far to the rear that REMF’S were more on the line than he was. Bagram never took any incoming when he was there, that area was too secured and settled. And how or why was he Direct Commissioned? What vital skills did the little twerp have that were so vital to national defense to do that with him? And if he was so vital, why did he spend most if not all his time as an officer driver?

      • Dave Hardin says:

        I suspect the Navy was critically short on self-aggrandizing fools.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        And if he was so vital, why did he spend most if not all his time as an officer driver? – USMC Steve

        It’s probably because he’s a putz who talks a lot but has nothing to show for it.

      • Comm Center Rat says:

        While transiting through Bagram my worst memory was being woken almost daily with a 0 dark thirty message on the Big Voice announcing the aerial gunnery range was now operational. Pete may have thought those were incoming rounds and he was ITS.

        • Anonymous says:

          We did get incoming rocket fire at Bagram. (Occasionally, some guys got hurt or even killed with a wild shot.) Shrapnel from 107mm rockets wouldn’t penetrate the 1/4″ steel of our CHUs so except for a direct hit (which sounded like dumpster being dropped on concrete) it was more dangerous to go outside for the bunker.

          • Anonymous says:

            Here’s down at Khost (FOB Salerno) who made it all look much cooler w/ file footage, subtitles, editing, etc. than it was:

        • MSG Eric says:

          ITS? In The Shower? Because that would make sense.

      • MI Ranger says:

        USMC Steve,
        I recall from PO Buttigieg’s own comments that he was a driver when he was enlisted at Bagrahm. How he racked up 119 trips to the market in six months is beyond me!? When I was there in 2003, we would often scrounge up any Intel types to go with us to Kabul so the “spooks” could meet their sources. I often took advantage of these trips to coordinate with our Allies, and later NATO in Kabul. Sometimes, we would take my Kiwis’ truck (a repo that had no doors, and blood would leak out of the seats when they got wet) when we couldn’t find a seat in the “armored” convoy. Those were always cold trips and not as much fun until summer. That was back in the wild west days of OEF when landmines were all over the place and “check-points” were all the Afghan Army did. Pete probably had it a little easier and only had to worry about peeing his pants before he got to Kabul!

  3. STSC(SW/SS) says:

    Mayor Pete played chauffeur in Iraq. What, they couldn’t find an enlisted guy for the job?

    Nothing wrong with Direct Commissions. One of my Reserve unit CO worked for NASA and received his direct commission and worked out very well. He qualified SWO and when it was time to PT he would be a leader of the pack during the run.

    • USMC Steve says:

      It may have had something to do with the fact that he had no military qualifications at all to do anything.

  4. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I’ve heard rumor that Pete Butt-googly said that no matter how hard it is, he’ll take it in the end!

  5. USMC STEVE says:

    As for Gabbard, she was never a medic. She was a paper pusher in that medical unit. I have serious doubts that she was ever anywhere near any action either. She was awarded the combat medical badge, but anyone in her unit could be awarded that by their CO. I suspect this was one of those John Kerry things.

    • Anonymous says:

      More like (see below) but, even so, it was “Unless the building is on fire, don’t wake me up.” there.

    • MSG Eric says:

      In Iraq in 05 I slept through more attacks than I could count. My roommate would ask in the morning, “did you hear that last night?” “Nope” We also didn’t have bunkers in our area, so you didn’t run outside until the EOD types came through and accounted for all the rounds.

      Once or twice in Afghanistan outgoing was mistaken for incoming by the alarm clicker guy and that royally pissed off a couple higher ranks, but I thought it was pretty funny.

  6. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    “As a veteran, it’s my opinion…”

    The shittiest preface to any political opinion since the dawn of man.

    • Jay says:


      I second that opinion. I did my 20 in the Corps. Due to machinations of assignments (I&I duty and Recruiting) I missed a LARGE chunk of the fight beetween 04-11. I FINALLY made it to AFG in 2013, RIGHT before the drawdown. I was on Leatherneck. I left the wire…..ONCE. It sucked. The end. That is the beginning and end of tale of daring do. Why people can’t leave well enough alone. My worst tales of deployment are when we went ‘River City’ and they shut down the internet would be enough to boggle the mind of most people back home….the horror, the horror….

    • NHSparky says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Especially when the utterer took Barney Fie as his role model…

  7. JTB says:

    They should sit down with Hillary and talk about what being under fire was really like….

  8. Doc Savage says:

    Didnt Hunter Biden recieve a Direct Commission?

    I read he required a wavier, and then got tossed for failing a drug test.

  9. AW1Ed says:

    How did that direct commission work out for Hunter “Nose Candy” Biden?

    As for Buttigieg, yeah he has the coveted NDSM, but his sheet is full of participation awards and he performed the duties of a Navy Duty Driver, usually a junior enlisted job.

    BZ, Pete.

    • ArmyATC says:

      I found that rather interesting on his DD-214. I don’t know how the Navy does it, but when I was in Iraq for OIF 2, almost every officer and senior NCO received a Bronze Star at the end of our deployment. I know one senior NCO who received a Bronze Star for not accomplishing his mission. For a full year, his mission was to get the approach radar operational. He failed. The fact that Buttboi basically was a taxi driver and received a Joint Services Commendation Medal rather than a Bronze Star seems rather telling.

      • timactual says:

        Things don’t seem to have changed much in the last 50 years. When I was in RVN every E5 and above got an end-of-tour Bronze Star. Peasants got an ARCOM.

      • NECCSeabeCPO says:

        They change that around 2009 for the Navy and the Marines that went to Joint missions like this. They have to run all awards for Valor concurrently. So one would go through the Joint Task Force and then it goes through the Navy or the Marines at the same time, if no Valor then no Bronze Star. The Joint Task Forces would put them in for Joint awards, no concurrence required.This is why he has a JSAM, with no Valor. I would question why he just JSAM, ussaly Joint Com or better, so would like to see his close out evaluation.

      • AW1Ed says:

        Missed the JS Comm, apologies. Kinda like a kiss from a cousin, nice but meaningless. Again, BZ Pete.

      • MSG Eric says:

        We had a 1SG in my battalion who was relieved for cause within his first 30 days in-country. They sent him to go train Iraqis and he came back with a Bronze Star for the tour.

        Like, okay, so you can get fired and still be awarded huh? Good deal…

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      Shouldn’t that be Hunter “Hookers and Blow” Biden?

      • AW1Ed says:

        Whatever blows up your skirt, Senior. Still not over the .gif of my new attire on the Sheriff post. I will get back for that one…

  10. Roh-Dog says:

    “No shit, there I was. It was the day before The Battle of Leave and Earnings Statement, the station commander had given me the awesome responsibility to set up the amortization table for the Op. As I was adding pecuniary terrain features to the table someone accidentally drops their red Swingline stapler, it was chaos….”

    • Comm Center Rat says:

      Buttigieg yells, “damn it Johnson, holster your Swingline! I’m trying to find the equation for standard depreciation of operational assets in a combat zone for the CO’s spreadsheet. Go fuel my SUV, I’m gonna bust the gate soon on mission # 107 and counting.”

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Try running a battalion mail operation at Christmas.

      Oh poor me…. (Grin).

    • Jay says:

      I wonder how one annotates the duty logbook for a negligent discharge of a stapler?

      • Roh-Dog says:

        In the Infantry SOP is red crayon, assuming your juice box hasn’t spilled all over the duty log again.
        On CQ I was forced to use sippycup and 1SG said no cheeze its because lasted time I got the book all crummy.
        Nap time!

  11. MK75Gunner says:

    Hahahaha BootyJudge weighing in on gun control because of all his weapons knowledge and the dude shot fucking Marksman on the Navy qual courses? The lowest possible qual. Hahahahahaha.

    • NECCSeabeCPO says:

      No,he was a Navy individual Augmentee,that means he went through Navy ECRC (Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center)his would have been at Camp McCrady, Fort Jackson South Carolina. This is one of the Navys Expeditionary individual Combat Readiness skills Centers, that teach Navy personnel going to Joint billets or to fill gaps in Army billets forward deployed. The courses are taught by Army DI’s all Combat Vets. They go through Army shooting qualfactions, so not Navy,but would be listed as Navy weapons qualfactions. The IA NEC should be listed in his training,he did go through it. Not backing this shit head up, just pointing out, was not Navy qualifications.

      • MK75Gunner says:

        Still not impressed. Doing a one time qual course for shooting does not a weapons expert make, and yet during one of the debates he was out there lecturing about the powerful weapon of war aka the “AR-15” and how he was intimately familiar with it.

        • rgr769 says:

          That sure as hell wasn’t an AR-15 in that photo of him. It had to be and
          M-16 or an M-4. But he should know that. Personally, I think the only thing he is intimately familiar with is his “husband’s” ass.

  12. NHSparky says:

    Hmmm…no CAR.

    Granted, I don’t have one either, but I’ve been a lot closer to the bad guys than he ever was (and occasional posters who went underway with me will attest.)

    Doesn’t mean if I ran for public office I’d brag about it. I’m guessing people might be a little “upset” by what the dirt diggers would find if I ever did run for office.

    • ArmyATC says:

      I’ve often thought of running for political office just to see what dirt they could dig up on me. It would be nice to remember my 20s.

  13. Rich says:

    Navy direct commissions seem to be the way for the Washington elite to pad their resumes with none of the sacrifice that those of us who truly EARNED a commission had to endure. Three weeks of charm school in Newport! No TAC officers or drill instructors riding you like a pony. Look at the cast of Capital Hill naval “officers”: Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus……… and let’s not forget the Ensign who literally pi$sed his commission away: Hunter Biden.

    • Trent says:

      I’m not a big fan of Spicer, but to his credit, he commissioned in 1999 and is still serving. He may have joined in a self-serving effort to start a political career, but it appears he’s serving well in his position.

    • rgr769 says:

      Well he followed the same route as Hunter. Privileged assholes from Ivy League colleges always seem to get over on the rest of us, with little or no effort. It took me four years to earn my commission and I participated in every ROTC extra-curricular activity available. I worked at becoming a soldier and officer the entire time; that is why I was given an RA commission. So, unless you are a doctor or lawer, I say you should not have a direct commission. Another asshole politician who was given a direct commission is ol’ LBJ, the guy who was given a political Silver Star to go with his professional politician’s officer commission.

      • Rich says:

        rgr769: While you’re at it, look up LBJ’s phony Silver Star if you’re not familiar with it!

        • rgr769 says:

          I have read about it. He was a strap hanger on a bomber mission; but his aircraft had a mechanical failure and returned to base with no contact with enemy aircraft. But LBJ liked to pretend they were attacked by a Zero. Even if true, he wouldn’t have warranted any award, as he was just an ass occupying a spare seat. The SOB wore that SS lapel pin for the rest of his life.

  14. Commissar says:

    The guy is a manufactured Ken doll of a politician. He adopts whatever position is polling well as long as his major donors approve.

    He will says whatever he thinks will help him win. Including embellishing.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Look, whoever is dumping these in the comments trash can, knock it off. I’ll just go back in and approve them. Agree or not, Lars is a Vet and gets a voice here.

      Save us both the time.

      For the record, he’s made a great call here.

      • Roh-Dog says:

        I know you don’t need a toady but agreed on all the above.
        He may be 1024th douchenozzle but he’s OUR brave douchenozzle!

        • AW1Ed says:

          -Dog, you are no “toady” and I actually need your disagreements if I am to be a better Admin. Not using “idiot” and “flaming asshole” in your critique, while not banned will be appreciated.

      • USMC Steve says:

        So what? Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Old Lars may be a vet, or may not be. He is also a leftist so far gone that he sounds extremely divorced from earth reality.

    • SFC D says:

      Nailed it, Commissar. And funny, too!

    • rgr769 says:

      Wow, you got that right! Except, he is an extremely small Ken doll. He appears to be about 5’8″.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’ve got it. Right on the money.

  15. Ret_25X says:

    In my years of service, I think I actually experienced enemy fire 4 times…maybe 5, but I was actually asleep once…LOL.

    Total of what? 25 minutes? I’m not counting the live fire maneuver range we called Desert Storm…that was all combat time, but I was an 11M then.

    As a signaleer, I was near a lot of combat, but shooting gomers was not my job, not my people’s job, and therefore, not what I did.

    To sum up…I spent a shit ton on time in battle rattle outside the wire, but I wasn’t a line doggie…

    • Ret_25X says:

      I had one job…make my commander a more efficient killer.


      I used IT, telecom, and radios to do that.

      Not a rifle…carried one…never used it.

      • SFC D says:

        My last Iraq excursion (08-09), my most effective weapons were a backhoe, ditch witch, and fusion splicer. On both sides of the wire.

    • Stacy0311 says:

      I slept through a rocket “attack” last time I was in Baghdad (2017). Slept through the 100% accountability check also.
      Another mil or two to the left on the rockets and we would’ve have had to shut down operations. They missed the Green Bean by about 50 meters!

    • rgr769 says:

      I also experienced enemy fire five times (shot at three times and mortared twice). The last was the worst, since I watched the AK47 rounds come up through the floor of a Huey around my feet. I also experienced friendly fire twice (effed up arty fire and a pair of dropped 500lb bombs that just barely missed the OV-10 Bronco in which I was riding). I was a “line doggie” for eight of my fifteen months in the RVN. (I don’t count my Ranger company time as I had three hots and a cot except for two missions when I went out with a LRRP team.)

  16. EOD Rick says:

    I think he confused the tip of the spear with the tip of the butt-plug.

  17. OWB says:

    Oh, good grief. Even I had more Imminent Danger Pay than this clown. And to NO ONE have I ever claimed, implied, or suggested that I am a “combat vet.” And never will. Yes, there were times I was within range of the bad stuff, but never to a point that they unlocked my assigned weapon.

    Will I give this guy credit for military service? You bet. Support his apparently embellished “career?” Nope. He doesn’t get a pass.

  18. timactual says:

    “119 trips I took outside the wire, driving or guarding a vehicle.”

    An O3 used as a driver and/or guard. He must be a real fuckup.

  19. timactual says:

    “Peter should stop playing with that kind of thing in public and keep his hands to himself.”

    Well, which is it? Frankly, I don’t care if he plays with that thing as long as he doesn’t do it in public.

  20. rgr769 says:

    Dave, thanks for posting the DD214 of lying Mayor Buttplug. He does have an extra couple of weeks more time in a combat zone than the vaunted “I served in Vietnam” Kerry. I wonder if LT Buttplug has put in for VA disability for PTSD, as he must have been worried sick every time the admiral wanted a ride outside Green Zone.

  21. MSG Eric says:

    119 trips in a 6 month tour?

    6 months in theater = 180 days

    So he’s claiming that on average pretty much Monday through Friday every week he was going outside the wire and stayed on the FOB on the weekends?

    Even the Infantry and Cavalry platoons on my FOB didn’t go outside the wire that many times in 6 months.

    I’m guessing if he were a Republican, CNN and MSNBC would have 50 veterans talking a day about how missions outside the wire and how full of shit he is on this one.

    Maybe he’s claiming that he went from the nice cushy side of Bagram (Air Force) to the Army side and that was like going outside the wire to him?

    • rgr769 says:

      I think he is counting those SUV trips to the Green Bean to get a double macchiato for his admiral.

      • MSG Eric says:

        Ironically enough, the battalion HQ that replaced ours in Baghdad counted missions they took anywhere off Liberty to other joined bases as a “mission”.

        They literally got armored up, did a mission plan, etc., just to go over to the Bde HQ on Slayer where E4s were driving brand new SUVs in their soft cap to the PX.

        So, it wouldn’t surprise me that a squid out of water would do that.

        • Roh-Dog says:

          What the actual f*ck.
          What type of unit?
          I had a ‘terp that had an unregistered BMW I’d drive him around VBC in. That place was awful.

      • Comm Center Rat says:

        Fortunately for Pete all the coffee and fast food emporiums at Bagram were up and running during his tour. A few years earlier he would’ve had to endure hardship when GEN McChrystal shuttered the shops.

    • Anonymous says:

      He actually kept count after two dozen? Does he have OCD?

  22. USAF E-5 says:

    So this guy was a trained Intel Officer in EuCom till 2014 when he was transferred as an Intelligence Finance Officer to Iraq? Same grade. I don’t know but the Officers used to get up to O-3 if you kept your nose clean. Not that way anymore? Oh, and he’s a Yugoslavian Intel Specialist? Yugoslavia, which ceased to exist in 1992. Wow, you can sure see a pressing need to direct commission that guy. Need some haberdashers too!, Maybe some chimney sweeps, boiler tech’s, some coal men for those high tech sea going ships.

  23. OWB says:

    Unless I’m reading it wrong, he didn’t quite make it to 6 months. That may or may not be significant.

    For instance, there were times in USAF that would indicate something almost punitive, while at others it simply meant that they did not want to award reservists certain awards which required 6 months in theater.

    Dunno. Whatever it might mean, he wasn’t really there for 6 months.

    And, yeah, his definition of “mission” must mean something other than the way it is commonly used by the rest of us.