President Joe Biden and his administration are continuing to purge and politicize the American military. Consistent with the totalitarian left’s effort to control curricula down to the grade-school level, their latest effort targets the education of America’s future military leaders at the service academies: The U. S. Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
This is not happening by accident. And there is no greater danger to the country than this effort to politicize the military by ensuring that all officers hew to the political party line of this administration.
Each of the service academies is overseen by a bipartisan “Board of Visitors,” comprised of accomplished members of Congress, retired military personnel, and distinguished civilians. By federal statute, these Boards of Visitors are charged with a duty to “inquire into the morale and discipline, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the Academy.” The members visit the academies regularly and by law are required to submit an annual “written report to the President of its action, and of its views and recommendations pertaining to the Academy.”
On January 30, less than two weeks after President Biden’s inauguration, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced he was suspending the Boards of Visitors for West Point, the Air Force Academy, and the Naval Academy, along with those of 39 other DOD advisory boards. This suspension of operations was to take place “immediately,” pending completion of what Austin called a “Zero-Based Review” of the boards. This was to include recommendations of “changes to mission or functions, membership balance, [and] membership size.”
Although the service academies’ Boards of Visitors’ operations were suspended, their membership was retained, at least temporarily. Austin could not fire the members of their boards because they are appointed, by statute, by congressional leadership and the president. That purge would have to come later, as it now has.
Austin ordered that the review of service academies’ boards was to be completed by April 30. This has yet to occur. However, on Aug. 27, Susan Gough, a Pentagon “Strategic Planner & Spokesperson,” announced: “Largely, the zero-based review committee-level work has been completed, and Secretary Austin is examining the recommendations to determine how he wants to move forward…. We don’t have any specific announcements to make at this time, but we should be able to communicate in more detail soon about what boards are going to be reconstituted and how they’re going to be both chaired and populated” (emphasis added).
The next shoe dropped on Sept. 8, when the White House purported to fire the service academies board members appointed by President Trump. Notwithstanding Biden’s self-professed policy of unity and “bringing the nation together,” this unprecedented action was calculated to be as insulting as possible.
Biden’s director of the Office of White House Personnel, Catherine Russell, sent letters to all the president-appointed members requesting their resignations that same day with a caveat that they would be terminated if they did not resign voluntarily by 6:00 p.m. She did not include any recognition of their past service, just a perfunctory “thank you” for their demanded resignation. Nor did she give any reason for the firings, or mention that each member had been appointed for a three-year term.
This message came from the top. Russell is not some third-tier millennial who is freelancing policy decisions without the president’s knowledge and approval. She is a senior, experienced Democrat political operative who is a “longtime adviser to both Vice President Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden.”
Among other things, she is a former chief of staff to Jill Biden, an “ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues,” and is married to President Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Her brother-in-law is Mike Donilon, a lawyer and political consultant who was the chief strategist of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and now serves as a “chief advisor” to Biden. These are top-level, plugged-in people who are part of the policy-making core group of political operatives running this show.
Another “Special Assistant to the President,” a thirty-somethingish Katie Petrelius, added (more) insult to injury in an email, curtly informing the distinguished members like Gens. Jack Keane and H. R. McMaster, Rep. Sean Spicer, and others that, “If we do not receive your resignation by end of day today, you will be terminated.”
Russell’s and Petrelius’s heavy-handed and dangerous effort to eradicate independent and diverse viewpoints are clearly part of a coordinated strategy. It fulfills the Pentagon’s promise “to communicate in more detail” about how the boards will be “reconstituted and how they’re going to be both chaired and populated.”
As of this writing, the administration and its allies in the press have not yet coordinated their defense of this political purge. The first weak effort was Jen Psaki’s in her Sept. 8 press briefing. She gave the game away when she defended the firings, saying among other absurdities, that “the president’s qualification requirements are …. whether you’re aligned with the values of this administration.”
Think about that: Those overseeing the education of our future military leaders must align themselves with Joe Biden’s thinking and values. Scary thought.
These lefties are saying retired vice chief of staff and four-star general Keane, West Point distinguished graduate and three-star general McMaster, and Spicer, however competent they may be, are not fit to serve this country overseeing the military service academies because they are too diverse—they may not be “aligned with the values of this administration.” What an utter disgrace. And a dangerous one.
The American people need to fully understand how dangerous a precedent this administration is setting for the country. It is not just part of the continuing Biden purge of anything Trump touched, although it is that. It is part of the political left’s relentless drive to force political conformity in thought, word, and deed on all segments of society, including the military.
It is also an attempt to overthrow the fundamental military ethos and tradition of being apolitical. The military has always had a long and valued tradition of being apolitical. In all this writer’s years of active service, all of which were during the Vietnam War, I never heard an officer criticize any president or push any political position.
Most officers and non-commissioned officers take pride in that. Their sworn loyalty is to the Constitution, not to any particular president or administration. This ethos and tradition also have the force of law. They are enshrined in Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It is commanded by law for good reason: A politicized military would pose an existential danger to our constitutional order.
The apolitical nature of the military, along with its competence, is one of our country’s crown jewels. It is a priceless tradition.
It is priceless because its elimination for a standard by which those overseeing the education of our future military officers must agree with “the values of this administration” would inevitably fully politicize the U.S. military (a process many fear is already underway). There is no greater danger to both the safety and the freedom of the American people.