Pete Buttigieg’s Military Service Isn’t All That


When ex-mayor Pete Buttigieg talks about his military service, he can’t brag too much or he would be caught lying.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Buttigieg Sunday if President Trump “deserves some credit” for the strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. “No,” the candidate replied, “not until we know whether this was a good decision and how this decision was made.”

He suggested it wasn’t a strategic move. People listen intently to him, giving him more credence than he deserves since he was in the military.

The reportedly-failed mayor of South Bend is the media’s Democrat go-to guy on questions of military strategy. That’s why all listened when he questioned the strike on terrorist Qasem Soleimani, who has killed over 600 U.S. soldiers.

They discuss military matters reverentially with Pete Buttigieg due to his military service. However, in an article at the Wall Street Journal, we learn the truth about that military service.

It’s not all that.



Buttigieg entered the military through a little-used shortcut, a direct commission in the reserves. He didn’t go through intense training nor did he go to the naval academy. The son of a famous communist professor skipped all the work — “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,” writes Greg Kelly and Katie Horgan in an article in January for the WSJ.

The authors state for the article that “He writes that his reserve service ‘will always be one of the highlights of my life, but the price of admission was an ongoing flow of administrativia.’ That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The paperwork isn’t the price of admission but the start of a long, grueling test.”

They continued, “Combat veterans have grumbled for decades about the direct-commission route. The politically connected and other luminaries who receive immediate commissions are disparaged as “pomeranian princes.” Former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus became a Naval Reserve officer in 2018 at age 46. Hunter Biden, son of the former vice president, accepted a direct commission but was discharged after one month of service for failing a drug test.”

Buttigieg settled into a cozy Naval Station in Great Lakes, Ill. He did paperwork and light exercise.

“Working eight-hour days,” Buttigieg writes, was “a relaxing contrast from my day job, and spending time with sailors from all walks of civilian life, was a healthy antidote to the all-absorbing work I had in South Bend.” He calls it “a forced, but welcome, change of pace from the constant activity of being mayor.”


From Paperwork to Driver

During a November debate, Mr. Buttigieg proclaimed: “I have the experience of being commanded into a war zone by an American president.” The reality isn’t so grandiose. In 2013, he writes, he “made sure my chain of command knew that I would rather go sooner than later, and would rather go to Afghanistan than anywhere else.”

He spent five months in Afghanistan, leaving as quickly as he could.

Most of his time was spent working in a secured intelligence office as “an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, his dozens of trips outside U.S./NATO headquarters in the fortified Green Zone make him a combat veteran in the eyes of Hollingsworth, Buttigieg’s commanding officer.”

When he left the secure facility, he drove a team of officials through Kabul in an armored SUV.

“Mr. Buttigieg spent some five months in Afghanistan, where he writes that he remained less busy than he’d been at City Hall, with “more time for reflection and reading than I was used to back home.” He writes that he would take “a laptop and a cigar up to the roof at midnight to pick up a Wi-Fi signal and patch via Skype into a staff meeting at home.” 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.”


“Buttigieg never fired his weapon nor was he fired on, criteria for the Combat Action Badge, which is Karweik’s definition of a combat veteran and the one Buttigieg observes,” the authors write.

His departure from the reserves was swift but he left with bragging rights he could trade in on.

His support service role is honorable, but in his case especially, it’s hardly the basis of presidential-level campaign expertise, explains Kelly, a host at Newsmax TV and a former jet pilot for the Marine Corps. Co-author Katie Horgan runs a New York logistics consulting practice. She served as an active duty Marine officer, 2006-12 and was deployed in Iraq for 13 months.

Basically, when they hear Pete acting like an expert, the authors give it the big eye roll.

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