WASHINGTON – More than 200 retired generals and admirals endorsed Joe Biden as president in a letter released Thursday. He said he had the character and judgment to serve as commander-in-chief rather than President Donald Trump failing to “face big or big challenges” small. “
Some of the officers who signed the letter in support of Biden had only retired in recent years, including Air Force General Paul Selva, who served as vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under Trump before retiring in August 2019 . Vice Adm. Gardner Howe, a Navy SEAL leader who also retired last year; and adm. Retired Paul Zukunft who oversaw the Coast Guard until 201
The list of signatories included 22 retired four-star military officers, including Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear, who oversaw all U.S. forces in the Pacific from 2012 to 2015, and Adm. Harry Ulrich, who commanded the US Naval Forces in Europe during President George W. Bush’s administration.
The retired Top Brass along with nearly 300 other former national security officials and diplomats signed the letter to Biden. William Webster, the former director of the CIA and the FBI, was among the signatories along with five former defense ministers: William Perry, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta and Ash Carter.
“My personal view is that I have a duty to participate in the civil affairs of the nation of which I am a citizen,” said the retired adm. Steve Abbot on his decision to sign the letter.
Abbot was the commander of the US Sixth Fleet and commander of the Navy’s strike and support forces in southern Europe. He later became Bush’s acting homeland security adviser. He said he believed he had a duty to speak up as a citizen and was initially concerned about Trump’s comments on the late Senator John McCain in 2016.
“To hear someone say that John McCain is a loser and they don’t like people who become prisoners, I just knew that I would have trouble getting on with someone who held those views,” he said.
“Over the past four years I have seen what a clear manipulation of our military is to meet their personal needs,” Abbot said. “The military, by its apolitical nature, has been a loyal, reliable constant in this country. And here we had a president working to undermine it.”
In August, more than 70 former senior national security officials – most of them Republicans who had worked in previous GOP administrations – issued a similar letter backing Biden, arguing that Trump had undermined America’s role in the world. In the 2016 election, dozens of former senior Republican security officials ran against Trump and became known as “Never Trump” Republicans. Many were blacklisted for jobs in the Trump administration for signing the letters.
According to the law, members of the military in uniform must remain apolitical, but most senior officers remain outside the political arena even after their uniforms are hung. Though the number of retired senior officers diving into politics has steadily increased over the past two decades, Thursday’s letter was notable for the sheer number of the best minds from all branches of the military who chose Biden.
“We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we fear that too,” they wrote.
The retired officials and officials said the country needs a principled, honest leader who shows empathy for fellow citizens, values alliances, makes informed decisions, and takes personal responsibility.
“While some of us have different opinions on certain policy issues, we trust Joe Biden’s positions to be based on sound judgment, understanding and fundamental values,” they wrote.
“The current president has shown that he is not up to the enormous responsibility of his office. He cannot face challenges, big or small. Thanks to his contemptuous demeanor and failure, our allies no longer trust or respect us and our enemies no longer.” Fear us longer, “says the letter.
“Climate change continues unabated, as has the North Korean nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian opponent who is bounty on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war with China has only harmed American farmers and manufacturers,” it said .
Several retired African American military leaders signed the letter, including retired Lieutenant General Walt Gaskin, who commanded Marines in western Iraq; Retired Lieutenant General Willie Williams who served as Number 3 in the Marine Corps; and retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Coleman, who became the second African American to reach three-star ratings in the Marine Corps.
A number of retired ambassadors were also hired, including Robert Blackwill, who was Bush’s deputy national security adviser. James Cunningham, who was ambassador to Israel and Afghanistan under both Republican and Democratic administration; and Robert Ford, a former ambassador to Algeria and Syria.