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Fact Check: Does Mayor Pete have more military experience than George W. Bush

Photo courtesy Pete Buttigieg/Twitter

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Since declaring his decision to explore a presidential run, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has touted his military experience while bashing the current president's non-military record.

“A commander-in-chief who himself pretended to be disabled in order to get out of serving when it was his turn." He said during an LGBTQ event.

While making his rounds on national media, Buttigieg has claimed to have more military experience than any president sine the early 1990s.

"I have more military experience since anybody to arrive behind that desk since George H.W. Bush.” Buttigieg said.

We requested his military records from the Department of the Navy. Most of his records are redacted, however, important information on his DD-214, the main record of service, is not.

While Buttigieg served for several years in the Navy Reserve, his DD-214 shows about 9 months of active duty service, 6 of those months were in Afghanistan. 

Presidents Trump, Obama and Clinton did not serve. But George W. Bush did as a member of the Air National Guard and had two years of active duty service under his belt. However, Bush was never deployed.

A further look at Buttigieg's military record shows he worked on the Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell while deployed in Kabul. The mission was to identify and disrupt terrorist organizations' finance and support.

Records state the mayor oversaw analysis and operations, coordinated intelligence and went to high level briefings. 

While the mayor says he was a Navy Intelligence Officer, the area on his DD-214 that describes his job is blank. And, despite only a portion of intelligence schools taking at least 13 weeks, his total active duty service prior to his time in Afghanistan is just shy of two months. Questions about his training were not answered by Buttigieg's campaign.

The mayor also does not appear to have seen any combat. Sailors who do receive what's called the Navy Combat Action Ribbon. The mayor received no such ribbon, according to his records.

However, during his official presidential campaign announcement, the mayor did say he went "outside of the wire 119 times," leaving the relative security of the base.

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Sk 4 days ago
NEVER went through BASIC
He was "appointed" an Ensign.
KirkFansher 124 days ago
As a career military pilot and a commander in Kabul it’s not hard to parse the facts. Great the Pete and GWB served in the reserves in our modern force it is vital. Pete was in the capital HHQ and on Bagram. The 2 safest places in Afghanistan at a des/clerks job and not fully trained in his specialty. No combat ribbon, safe desk job, I had an O-3 drive me everywhere and was outside the gate all the time. GWB did his time flying fighters that killed more US pilots than the enemy. He flew interceptors during the Cold War where I flew B52s, Vietnam was a dangerous side show but plenty of F-102 pilots died on training missions, Dean Martins don was killed flying with the California Guard. Mayor Pete was a tourist by comparison to GWBush
WilliamGreen 154 days ago
it states he was a Lt. I am not familiar with Navy ranks , but i believe it to be the same as an Army Captain. Pete states he is climbing behind the wheel ---- that rank has drivers, and since I had a grand daughter in the Army MP's, those type maneuvers almost always had an Army MP escort ----- and he was only involved in the flow of finances ----the Army would have called him a "Garret trooper" ---just thoughts from an old Vietnam Vet
Brad 256 days ago
Wow. To have a President I could admire and respect again. A nice, good-hearted, decent human being. Is that too much to ask in a President?
Pete Buttigieg served in the Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC) in Kabul, placing him in "an imminent danger pay area" from late March to mid-September 2014, while the then-32-year old was still serving his first term as mayor.The ATFC "identifies and disrupts Taliban, Al-Qaida and other insurgent financial support networks in Afghanistan."Buttigieg represented ATFC at "high level briefings," documents say, and "coordinated intelligence sharing and targeting deconfliction" methods with multiple organizations.

Buttigieg has talked about the 119 times he says he crossed "outside the wire," leaving the relative safety of the base as a vehicle commander on convoy security detail in dangerous parts of Kabul.

"In a ritual to be repeated dozens of times, I would heave my armored torso into the driver's seat of a Land Cruiser, chamber a round in my M4, lock the doors and wave a gloved goodbye to the Macedonian gate guard," Buttigieg wrote. "My vehicle would cross outside the wire and into the boisterous Afghan city, entering a world infinitely more interesting and ordinary and dangerous than our zone behind the blast walls at ISAF headquarters."

Buttigieg also wrote about the threat of roadside explosive devices and how he was constantly on the lookout for signs of danger.

MEDALS.......Military officials say Buttigieg received medals and citations, such as the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for service in a combat zone, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, and citations for rifle and pistol marksmanship.

There's less of a chance that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be called up to active duty now.He's been a part of the Naval Reserves since 2009, when he fulfilled his active service requirement. He's now part of the Individual Ready Reserve, which means he doesn't train as often and is less likely to be called up for active duty.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg was informed earlier this month that his transfer to the Individual Ready Reserve has taken effect. The Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) is a military reserve status often informally called the “Inactive Reserve.”IRR members retain their rank within the Navy, are eligible for promotion and may conduct training or other active duty work, but are not required to drill on a monthly basis and are less likely to be recalled to active duty than members of the Selective Reserve (sometimes called “Active Reserve”).He was a member of the Selective Reserve beginning with his commissioning as an Ensign in 2009.

An intelligence officer specializing in counterterrorism, Buttigieg holds the rank of Lieutenant. His service included a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014, where he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his service.

If elected, he will be first president who served since George H.W. Bush.
Out of the 24 democrat nominees, Buttigieg and Klobuchar are veterans.
SB 267 days ago
I’ll grant Buttigieg that he volunteered to serve and served honorably. However, his righteous flouting if his service when attacking President Trump or his Dem political rivals is disgusting. He sat at Bagram AFB, akin to a small city in Afghanistan with all the creature comforts of America, shops, coffee and ice shops and his “longest” trips were to Kabul, a very short trip away. There are scores of combat vets who saw 5x the danger he did in Iraq & Afghanistan and don’t brag about it. As a matter of fact, many of us don’t talk about it all, because when you see actual combat and the loss that comes with it, it’s extremely painful.
We haven’t had a combat veteran POTUS for many decades; his “combat” experience no better qualifies him for POTUS than any of the other candidates, including President Trump.
I have no problem with him saying he’s a combat vet, and then climbing off his high horse and shutting up about it. To actual combat vets, he did very little.
Raf SB 266 days ago
Sounds like you know what you are talking about. I’m a vet (Army, 82nd ABN) and what you say is consistent with someone who served as it appears you have. Thanks bro!
Justin SB 245 days ago
I understand your ire if he has said he was a "combat' veteran. But I've yet to see him refer to himself as anything other than a "military" or just plain a "veteran". Please link a video or article if he calls himself a combat veteran. I'd like to know myself.
StevenFiske SB 141 days ago
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deflatehate SB 5 days ago
"his “combat” experience no better qualifies him for POTUS than any of the other candidates, including President Trump." Really, now. You see no difference between volunteering to put yourself in harm's way despite an Ivy League education and becoming fatter by the day in a gold-toilet palace while spouting off on how you'd run into active shooter situations to save kids after pleading bone spurs. You came here with one agenda, and it wasn't to parse an honest examination of a man's service. "Sir."
Sk Raf 4 days ago
Thank you guys for your service. Pete did not go through any basic training or officer's candidate school
MarsBlackmon 296 days ago
Buttigieg joined the Navy AFTER finishing an Ivy League education and took an unpaid leave while mayor to serve a 6 month deployment.

George W. Bush used his daddy's clout to stay in the Air National Guard, then shirked his responsibility and went to the Ivy Leagues (where he hardly made an effort) to avoid serving in Vietnam despite being in favor of that war.

Yeah, I would say it's not even close who has more military experience. But I can taste the bitterness in this article that he criticized the Republican chickenhawks.
mcgees 305 days ago
GWB's daddy was director of CIA an pulled every string to get GWB to the top of the reserve list. mayor Pete volunteered. no comparison
SteveWestlake 308 days ago
Petey knows that he would have gotten at least the first 4 years deferments as did millions of males that were enrolled in college. The bone spur deferment was a short term deferment. The draft lottery was redone. Every male of draft age got a lottery number. The higher the number...the less likely you were to be drafted. So Petey let's get your slander under control. And were you anywhere deployed around Kabul, Kanduhar or in the Helmand Province? These are the names we are familiar with!
SteveWestlake 309 days ago
This should be interesting. Let's see Bush was a reserve fighter pilot. Trump was in college and after graduation received a high lottery number. But Clinton milked the system for sure. Lied and was admonished but he had the juice! And Petey received NO Navy Combat Ribbon. I'll Blumenthal schooled Petey!
Bush never even deployed. Donny faked a disability to dodge the draft, then claimed McCain was only called a hero because he got captured and said he "prefers people who weren't captured."
Raf MarsBlackmon 266 days ago
I think he is referring to Bush Senior.

The fact that the mayor has no combat service ribbon says it all. It will be a problem for him if he makes it through the current democratic mess of candidates that are all competing for a presidential run.

The problem today is that communication capabilities between people are seamlessly easy. And, although the Mayor appears to have had a top secret security clearance while serving in the military, so access to his records are protected for good reasons, there are so many people out there that someone is bound to dispute his combat claims - like SB has. If he did serve in combat, he will get combat soldiers/sailors/marines that will validate his story; but, if he did not he will upset quite a few who did serve proudly because it’s disrespectful to them and the friends they lost.

I suppose we will see. The mayor seems like he is a good guy and is most definitely very intelligent. He came out as a moderate Democrat but endorses the Progressive agenda. That is inconsistent with not only Classical Democratic platforms, but is also inconsistent with the Spirit and Heart of proud combat veterans and even proud non-Combat veterans who served.

Thing about publishing books is that your very words are out there for all to read. There are very resourceful people out there who are able to obtain just about everything (some rare ones can access everything) in regard to information as cyberspace is a permanent record that is very difficult to erase permanently.
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