Senator Barack Obama Receives Endorsement of Admirals and Generals from Army, Navy and Air Force


CHICAGO—Citing his judgment and ability to lead, admirals and generals from the United States Army, Navy and Air Force that together have served under the last nine Commanders-in-Chief today announced their endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president.

In offering their endorsement, the generals and admirals recognized Obama’s judgment to oppose the war in Iraq before it began, his respect for the Constitution and rule of law, his leadership on behalf of America’s servicemen and women and his ability to conduct the diplomacy necessary to restore America’s standing in the world. 

"Those of us who have served, worn the cloth of our nation, and gone into harm's way know that to be successful we must have the strongest sense of trust in our Commander in Chief.  We must be confident that he or she has listened to the best possible advice, that he or she has garnered the best possible information from all possible sources, that he or she has analyzed and weighed all the possible consequences and outcomes, and that he or she has made the decision to exert military force as a last possible resort,” said Admiral (Ret.) Robert “William” Williamson (USN).  “Of this I am certain: Senator Obama will do all of those things and much more to ensure the safety and f reedom of our citizens, our allies, and coalition partners. He has all the great qualities and attributes required to carry out the most difficult duties of the Presidency.

“I spent a career involved in coalition warfare, and I am keenly aware of the importance of working with allies,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) James Smith (USAF).  “Senator Obama brings a powerful approach to dealing with national security challenges by truly leveraging multinational relationships.  He brings a new face of America to the rest of the world."

“Senator Obama has a profound, even scholarly knowledge of our Constitution and he has the deepest respect for the rule of law.  As a career naval officer, I trust his judgment, his temperament, and his ability to analyze complex international situations and relationships and to make military decisions that are in the best long term interests of the United States,” said Admiral (Ret.) Don Guter (USN).  “It will take the powerful leadership of Senator Obama to forge the consensus we need to right our ship of state, restore our honorable place in the world, and secure the safety of our nation."

“As a child of the Greatest Generation I learned that the attraction, glory and resilience of America come from the principle of “We the People.”  In my four decades in the national security arena I developed an increasing appreciation for the intent and expectations of this principle, particularly in terms of the Common Defense and Domestic Tranquility,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) David McGinnis (ARNG).  “In recent years, enticed to believe that these roles belonged to a chosen elite, each of us have paid an increasing price in loss of power, liberties, and national treasure. Today, by every measure, our current strategic situation is not good.   It is from that perspective I believe only Senator Obama offers us the opportunity to reclaim our Republic, restore our national dignity and ensure our overall security.  I salute his leadership, embrace his candidacy, and commend his courage.”

Obama is the grandson of a soldier who marched in Patton’s Army.  Throughout his career, he has exercised the judgment and leadership required of a Commander-in-Chief.  In 2002, he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, cautioning that it could lead to "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences” at a time when conventional Washington was lining up for war.  As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has worked across the aisle to secure the world’s most dangerous weapons and as a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he has compiled a record of standing up for America’s troops and veterans, leading a bipartisan effort to improve care for injured troops, passing laws to fight homelessness among veterans, and increase screening for Traumatic Brain Injury.  Over the course of the last year, Obama has unveiled a comprehensive national security agenda that includes detailed plans to secure America from the threat of terrorism, responsibly end the war in Iraq and renew American diplomacy to restore our standing in the world.  

The following admirals and generals endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president:  

Brigadier General Larry Gillespie.  Gillespie has led a distinguished 33-year career with the U.S. Army.  He served as the Assistant Deputy Commanding General, (ARNG) Army Material Command.  He is a recognized authority in many of the technical challenges and solutions associated with Homeland Security and National Defense. As a civilian, General Gillespie has held a series of increasingly important positions with the Air Transport Association, Hughes Aircraft Company, Raytheon Systems Company, NCI, Hampton University, and Eagle Force Association.  

Major General Scott Gration (USAF-Ret).  General Gration is a retired two-star general and was the Director of Strategy, Policy, and Assessments of the United States European Command in Germany. General Gration was raised in Africa and entered the Air Force in 1974 through the Air Force ROTC program at Rutgers University. He served as a White House Fellow, operations group commander and two-time wing commander. The general served as Director of Regional Affairs in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. General Gration served as the Commander of Task Force West during Operation Iraqi F reedom. His aerial combat experience includes almost a thousand hours of combat time with 274 combat missions over Iraq.  

Admiral Don Guter.  Admiral Guter served in the U.S. Navy for 32 years, concluding his career as the Navy’s Judge Advocate General from 2000 to 2002.  Admiral Guter currently serves as the Dean of Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh, PA.  He also is executive director of the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation.  

Brigadier General David “Dave” McGinnis.  General McGinnis was the  Chief of Staff of the National Guard Association of the U.S.  McGinnis served as director of strategic plans and analysis for the Honorable Deborah R. Lee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.  He served two tours in Vietnam before leaving the active Army in 1972 and joining the New York National Guard that same year. In 1990, he became branch chief of the force management division at National Guard Bureau (NGB) in Washington. Subsequent assignments included Deputy Chief from 1991-92 and Director from 1992-1993.  

General Merrill “Tony” McPeak.  General McPeak is a retired four star general and served as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force during Operation Desert Storm.  McPeak entered the Air Force in 1957 and was appointed Chief of Staff in 1990, holding that office until his retirement in1994. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, McPeak served as a top wartime advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council. General McPeak is the recipient of the Silver Star, Distinguished Service Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross.   He was a fighter pilot and flew over 300 combat missions in Vietnam.  

Admiral John B. Nathman. During his thirty-seven year career with the U.S. Navy, Admiral Nathman held a variety of positions in naval air and sea-based operations, finishing his service as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Admiral Nathman became a naval aviator, ultimately serving as an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School. In 1971, Admiral Nathman earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering from the University of West Florida. He attained Flag rank in 1994 and served in a number of command positions, including with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Naval Air Forces, and U.S. Fleet Forces.  Admiral Nathman also served as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.  

Major General Hugh Robinson.  A West Point graduate, Robinson was promoted to brigadier general and became the Corps of Engineers’first African American general officer.  He served as deputy director of Civil Works, and in 1980 assumed command of the Southwestern Division, a position he held until his retirement in 1983 as a major general.  In 1965, he was appointed as military aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson.  Robinson was the first African American to serve in that position and held the appointment throughout the remainder of Johnson’s presidency.  

Brigadier General James Smith.  Smith retired from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general and served as Commander, Joint Warfighting Center, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center.  He was responsible for managing the joint force exercise and training development program and the modeling, simulation and deploying of solutions that demonstrated high probability of operational success.  His previous assignments included Commander, 18th Wing; Vice Director for Operations, Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command; Commander, 325th Operations Group; and CSAF Chair, National War College.

Admiral Robert “Willie” Williamson (USN-Ret Rear Admiral).  Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Williamson served as military Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition and Director, Office of Program Appraisal. He was the senior military advisor on the Secretary of the Navy staff. Williamson commanded the aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, during Desert Storm, and his last operational assignment was Commander, Carrier Group Two, (John F. Kennedy Battle Group), Deploying to the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas in support of allied operations in Bosnia. 

Major General Ralph Wooten. Wooten is a former Commanding General of the Army’s Chemical Arsenal.  His civilian corporate career includes Management of large material management and control of multi-million Department of Defense programs. He served 31 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a Commanding General. During his military career he crafted strategic vision, formulated operations plans, developed investment strategies, controlled facilities and equipment, executed multi-million dollar budgets, and provided leadership, direction and advocacy to human resources numbered in the thousands, and corporate management to major military installations. He is currently the Executive Vice President of Management Systems, Inc. 

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Endorsement by US Admirals and Generals

Chicago History Museum
March 12, 2008

It is my privilege to be joined by some of the distinguished generals and admirals supporting my campaign. They have defended the American people and stood up for American values with honor and distinction. Between them they have served nine Commanders-in-Chief, and I look forward to continuing to draw on their counsel throughout my campaign and beyond.

As as a candidate for the presidency, I know that I am running to be Commander-in-Chief – to safeguard this nation's security, and to keep our sacred trust with the men and women who serve. There is no responsibility that I take more seriously.

This is something that I’ve talked about throughout this campaign. Because I believe that any candidate for President must present the American people with a clear vision of how we will lead. There are real differences between the candidates, and important issues to debate – from ending the war in Iraq, to combating terrorism, to devising new strategies and new capabilities to confront 21st century threats.

But recently, we’ve seen a different kind of approach. Instead of a serious, substantive debate, we’ve heard vague allusions to a “Commander-in-Chief threshold” that seems to be about nothing more than the number of years you’ve spent in Washington.

This is exactly what’s wrong with the national security debate in Washington.

After years of a divisive politics that uses national security as a wedge to drive us apart, how much longer do we have to wait to bring this country together to confront our common enemies?

After years of being told that Democrats have to talk, act and vote like John McCain to pass some Commander-in-Chief test, how many times do we have to learn that tough talk is not a substitute for sound judgment?

After years of a war in Iraq that should’ve never been authorized, how many more politicians will appeal to the American peoples’ fears instead of their hopes?

This moment – in this election – is our chance to put an end to a divisive politics that has done nothing to keep America safe, or to serve our men and women in uniform as well as they are serving us. Because the real Commander-in-Chief threshold doesn’t have to do with years tallied up in Washington, it has to do with the judgment and vision that you will bring to the Oval Office.

On the most important national security question since the Cold War, I am the only candidate who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. This judgment was not about speeches, it was about whether or not the United States of America would go to war in Iraq. Because we did, we took our eye off al Qaeda; we have lost thousands of lives and spent hundreds of billions of dollars; our military is overstretched; and our security and standing has been set back. So don’t tell me that the decision to go to war was just a speech, because it was far more than that to the men and women who have served – and continue to serve heroically in Iraq.

When I spoke out against the war, I said that I was not opposed to all wars. In fact, one of the central reasons why I opposed going to war in Iraq is that we had yet to finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. That remains true today. That is why I have consistently called for an increased commitment to Afghanistan, and why I called last August for at least two additional combat brigades to support our mission there. And that is why I will end the war in Iraq when I am President, and focus on finishing the job in Afghanistan.

I will never hesitate to defend this country and our critical interests. That is why I am the only candidate who has made it clear that we cannot tolerate any safe-haven for terrorists who threaten America. But we must also use all elements of national power to combat the threats of the 21st century, and that means deploying the power of American diplomacy before we deploy our troops. That is why we must be willing to talk to the leaders of all nations – friend and foe.

The threats we face are increasingly unconventional, and they call for new approaches. I have worked on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to combat the challenges of the 21st Century – securing loose weapons and nuclear materials from terrorists; working to stop ethnic killing and genocide in Africa; and investing in our ability to combat epidemic diseases like avian flu that can be deadly at home and sew instability abroad.

And one theme that I hear in talking to military officers – whether generals and admirals, or the mid-level officers who will lead tomorrow’s military – is that we need new capabilities to respond to this century’s new threats.

We must maintain our overwhelming conventional advantage – and I will. We also need to increase the size of our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to relieve the strain on our troops, and to increase our capacity to put boots on the ground. We need to invest in capabilities like civil affairs, foreign languages, and training foreign militaries, so that we can confront nimble enemies. We need to give our civilian agencies the ability to operate alongside our military in post-conflict zones and on humanitarian missions. And we must inspire a new generation of Americans to serve their country, in the military and in a civilian capacity.

And let me be very clear: when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will seek out, listen to, and respect the views of military commanders. Under this Administration, too often we have seen civilian control turned into an expectation that the uniformed military will be punished if they tell the President what he needs to know, rather than what he wants to hear. When I am President, the buck will stop with me, but we will restore trust and open dialogue between the military and civilian leadership.

Finally, it is the sacred obligation of any Commander in Chief to give the men and women who have served the care and support they have earned. That is what I have tried to do on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee – working to improve care and benefits for wounded warriors and their families, and to enhance screening and treatment for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As President, I will ask myself every day whether I am serving our troops and veterans as well as they have served America. That means only sending them into harm’s way when we absolutely must; providing them with a clear mission and the equipment they need to do the job; standing by them when they come home; and helping them live their dreams after they leave the service.

Like the men who have joined me on this stage today, my story is only possible in America. It is the story of my grandfather, who marched in Patton’s Army; and my father, who crossed the globe to be a part of the dream that my grandfather defended. An America that secures its people, and stands as a light of hope for the world.

That is the America that I will defend as Commander-in-Chief, drawing on the counsel of military commanders and the courage and conviction of the American people. An America where we meet the challenges of the 21st century with sound judgment, clear plans, and a common purpose.

Entire post from Sam Graham-Felsen's Blog: