For four years, from 1977 to 1981, I had the privilege of serving our nation as Secretary of the Army. I spoke with and observed thousands of women and men around the world who were competently carrying out their assignments in more than 400 different military occupational specialties. They exhibited professional respect for both their leadership in uniform and for the civilian leadership.
That was and is what is expected of our military. Our system is based on what is known as civilian control. It's one of the things that sets us apart from most other countries in the world. Civilian leaders are confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and those in uniform know that is where policy is set. The chain of command is sacrosanct, and at the top of that chain is the president of the United States. That was true when I was the civilian head of the army, and the same is true today.
Recently, governor Perry implied that our men and women in uniform today have less respect for president Obama than they would have if the voters were to elect Perry as president next year. Governor Perry insults the people in uniform when he pretends to know how they feel about our president, or would feel about him. He has no way of knowing what our military personnel think of President Obama, and he certainly can't be so egotistical, with no evidence, to think that our soldiers and sailors would respect him more than they do president Obama --- if the people of the United States were to elect Perry as our president.
For Governor Perry to presume to know what most of our people in uniform think is laughable at least, and despicable at worst.
Our men and women in uniform have and should have personal opinions about their leaders. In the history of this nation those opinions have never affected the quality of their service. Governor Perry, bite your tongue.
Clifford L. Alexander was Secretary of the Army from 1977 to 1981. He also served on the White House staffs of both President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.