In a recent opinion portion of Newsweek Magazine, a list of 40 retired Generals and Admirals penned and signed a letter to President Trump urging him to be better, imploring him to “embrace the values” of all those brave men and women who currently serve in our armed forces.
The letter began with the call to action and the acknowledgement that this type of public proclamation is out of the norm for people of their status, “We write today to call on you to embrace the values of the men and women who serve you in our armed forces.
We knowingly break the culture of public silence expected of retired Generals and Admirals to urge you to exert national and global leadership to stem and reverse the rapidly receding tides of American moral authority.”
The authors of the letter stated that it has always been the status quo for current military leaders to encourage veterans to leave their own comments and opinions to themselves and let others do the talking.
While the retired leaders say they understand and respect that way of doing things, they believe they can no longer be silent, writing, “We also believe that compliance that leads us to silence in this instance would make us complicit with actions inconsistent with who we are and what we stand for as military veterans.”
They recount the hundreds of years they have served in every branch of the Armed Forces of this country, calling to mind that they served their country dutifully and without political prejudice and that they continue to value that principle today.
They point out that “Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines live by sets of similar core values and norms that help ensure we are able to serve together without hesitation, wherever and whenever called.”
The list of veteran servicemen and service women acknowledge the core values they live by and that propel their service.
Scroll down below to see the entire list of retired military leaders who penned the letter.
They continued, “When we meet an active, retired or veteran service member today, we know that they live a life based on loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. These values are exemplified by those who have served, fought, and died before us, under our flag and in our uniform.” Regarding those very values, they said, “To abandon them would undermine the foundations of our democracy, who we are as a country, and jeopardize the trust we have earned around the world.”
Then they turn their attention on the current issues, expressing their fear about the gap that points to the disjointed values of our uniformed men and women and those who give the lawful orders above them. “We fear it is widening to possible fracture.”
Regarding the recent controversial involvement and decisions in Syria, they wrote, “Nowhere is this gap felt more immediately today than in Northern Syria, where U.S. forces are in the process of withdrawing from the area despite the violent consequences the decision will have on our Kurdish partners. While withdrawing ground forces from Syria may be a noble goal, doing so at the cost of abandoning our Kurdish partners, who valiantly fought alongside us to combat ISIS, is not consistent with who we are as a military force. The potential release of thousands of ISIS fighters, enabling their migration to the nations that make up the heart of our NATO alliance, is not consistent with who we are as a military force.”
They point out that the very challenges that face the country and the world become intensified when forced to turn backs on loyalty, honesty, integrity, and commitment. “Allies and partners who have served, bled and died by our side will turn their backs on us. Such a development is not in the national security interest of the United States. And as Commander-in-Chief, you have the utmost responsibility to ensure it doesn’t happen.”
They ended their plea to Trump, imploring him, “Mr. President, we urge you to adjust course consistent with our vital national security interests and your own unequivocal support for our men and women in uniform.”
Below is the list of every military official who signed the letter.
Brigadier General Ricardo Aponte, USAF (Retired)
Lieutenant General Ronald R. Blanck, USA (Retired)
Rear Admiral Christopher Cole, USN (Retired)
Major General Paul Eaton, USA (Retired)
Major General Mari K. Eder, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General Robert J. Felderman, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General Evelyn “Pat” Foote, USA (Retired)
Vice Admiral Michael T. Franken, USN (Retired)
Brigadier General Robert A. Glacel, USA (Retired)
Vice Admiral Kevin P. Green, USN (Retired)
Major General Richard S. Haddad, USAF (Retired)
Major General Robert A. Harding, USA (Retired)
Rear Admiral Charles D. Harr, USN (Retired)
Major General Jerry Harrison, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General Don Harvel, USAF (Retired)
Brigadier General David R. Irvine, USA (Retired)
Lieutenant General Arlen D. Jameson, USAF (Retired)
Rear Admiral Gene Kendall, USN (Retired)
Major General Steven J. Lepper, USAF (Retired)
Major General Randy Manner, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General J. Scott O’Meara, USMC (Retired)
Rear Admiral David R. Oliver, USN (Retired)
Major General Eric T. Olson, USA (Retired)
Major General Gale S. Pollock, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General Lewis Spencer Roach, USA (Retired)
Lieutenant General Charles H. Roadman II, USAF (Retired)
Rear Admiral Harold L. Robinson, USN (Retired)
Brigadier General Ronald Rokosz, USA (Retired)
Rear Admiral Michael E. Smith, USN (Retired)
Brigadier General Paul “Greg” Smith, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General Robert L. Stephens Jr, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General Francis X. Taylor, USAF (Retired)
Major General F. Andrew Turley, USAF (Retired)
Major General Margaret Wilmoth, USA (Retired)
Major General Brett T. Williams, USAF (Retired)
Lieutenant General Willie Williams, USMC (Retired)
General Johnie Wilson, USA (Retired)
Brigadier General Daniel P. Woodward, USAF (Retired)
Major General Margaret Woodward, USAF (Retired)
Brigadier General Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D., USA (Retired)
The American College of National Security Leaders is a consortium of retired Admirals, Generals, Ambassadors and Senior Government Executives committed to strengthening the United States’ national security initiatives.
The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own.
This story has been updated.