Is Mike McCalister fibbing about his war record on Senate campaign trail?
For a guy who's running like Allen West Part 2, Republican Senate candidate Mike McCalister isn't so hard-charging when it comes to addressing questions about his military record. He sure boasts about it on the campaign trail, though.
An ad-hoc veterans group that calls itself "Stolen Valor" has been asking McCalister about his record for more than a month. They haven't gotten anywhere, but McCallister quietly changed facts and toned down his rhetoric on his website.
"To the degree he embellishes his record, I think he does a disservice to his own service and the service of people everywhere," said Chuck Winn, a veteran. Winn said McCalister still isn't answering simple questions (see below*). His spokesman Buzz Jacobs won't elaborate.
McCalister wouldn't talk about it at all directly today. This morning, he claimed he had bad cell service when a reporter called about the issue. Then, more than 7 hours later, his campaign issued a press release. Here's the closest McCalister comes to admitting error and changing the record.
"If some things that I have said or placed on my website have been misinterpreted, I take full responsibility for that. Whenever I learned that something I said or that was posted on my campaign website was creating confusion, I took action to address the issue," McCallister said in the press release.
So he's not sorry, and isn't quite admitting to being flat-out wrong. Others could have "misinterpreted" his record based on "confusion" he inadvertently created.
In some ways, the entire press release -- which exceeds 2,000 words (also below if you care**)-- might raise more questions than it answers (and it doesn't answer what "black ops" he claims to have been involved in). For instance, his curriculum vita and press release seem to clash here
On his curriculum vita, he said he was Florida A&M University's "Full-time Faculty Professor and Department Chair Senior professor and primary instructor of all senior and graduate-level management and marketing courses in Military Science. Served as Department Chair for two semesters. Developed, implemented and taught courses in: Policy & Strategy, Strategic Management, International Business, Labor Relations, Personnel Management, Management Systems and Problems in Management. Additional responsibilities included seats on Faculty Senate, Presidential Academic Task Force, Commencement Committee."
Today's release simply says: "AUGUST 1990 TO JULY 1992: Executive Officer and Assistant Professor of Military Science, Army ROTC Battalion, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL"
His curriculum vita lists: "The U.S. Army War College Defense Strategy Course: Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania Curriculum: Focuses on the theory, history, evolution, development and implementation of policy, strategy and tactics at the U.S. Government “Chief Executive Level." May 1994"
But today's release says: "* SEPTEMBER 1994 to JULY 1995: Major, Environmental Officer, Headquarters State Area Command, Missouri Army National Guard, Jefferson City, MO
* AUGUST 1992 to AUGUST 1994: Major, Communications-Electronics Officer, Headquarters, 35th Engineer Brigade (Corps), Jefferson Barracks and Ft. Leonard Wood, MO"
Mike McCalsiter’s long description of his accomplishments are impressive, but does not address the inconsistencies between his bio and campaign web site, and more importantly, the misleading inaccurate statements that were previously on his web site, and those he has verbally made in stump speeches. Of the 6 questions below, that former and retired military officers who are not affiliated with any of his opponents sent to McCalister over a month ago, he has fully answered question 1. Regarding question 2, he did establish that he served an additional 24 months on extended active duty in Florida, as an ROTC instructor. However he has not addressed the second part of Question 2 regarding overseas deployments. We never questioned that McCalister did a great job as a senior level staff officer at the U.S. SOCOM Headquarters at McDill AFB in Tampa, but his press release only partially answers question 5. McCalister’s statement totally evades a direct response to questions 3 and 4 as to whether he was a Special Forces branched officer or even airborne qualified. These qualifications are not necessary to be an Action Officer managing Special Operations projects at a high level headquarters. Regarding Question 6, McCalister modified a misleading statement on his web site that originally read: “appeared before Congress as a Subject Matter Expert” which obviously implied that he testified before Congress, which he did not. More importantly, McCalister still must explain the statements that many people have heard him make using cleverly worded statements that implied that he was involved in covert operations in deployed special operations units.
QUESTION SUBMITTED TO MCCALISTER CAMPAIGM PRIOR TO 15 JULY
1. The description of your military background is not very clear. How much of your 33 years was spent on active duty for other than training as a Reservist or National Guardsman; and how many overseas deployments were you part of (other than reserve overseas training deployments) and how long were they?
2. Please tell us the dates you served on extended active duty, the units in which you served, and their locations when you served in them.
3. Since you list both enlisted and commissioned service, how did you gain your commission and what branches did you serve in as an officer?
4. Your site describe you as a retired Army Special Operations Colonel. Did you go through airborne school and then become Special Forces qualified as an officer or enlisted man?
5. During your campaign you have said that were involved in "black operations". Was this as a member of a deployed special forces operational detachment or as a member of a high level staff preparing plans? Answering this question will not violate an DoD security policies.
6. Finally, you stated that you "appeared before Congress as a Subject Matter Expert on national security and military readiness of all U.S.Special Operations Forces worldwide." That would put you in the same league as Oliver North since officers below general officer rank testify so rarely. Do you have copies available? If not please provide the date(s) you testified and the House and/or Senate Committee(s)/Sub-Committee(s) you appeared before to facilitate locating it.
Here's McCallister's 5-page, 2,157-word response:
"I am deeply disappointed that supporters of my opponents have attacked my military service the minute I'm showing a lead in the polls. That's dirty politics and I call upon them to identify the campaign with which they are associated."
"In full disclosure, I am releasing a fact sheet that provides an overview of my military service, including a chronology of duty assignments and direct quotations from Officer Evaluation Reports while I served at the United States Special Operations Command. I am also releasing the last two award citations I received while at the United States Special Operations Command. As soon as I receive clearance from the Department of Defense, I will publicly release all Officer Evaluation Reports from United States Special Operations Command as supporting documentation. I have requested an expedited release of these documents from the Department of Defense."
"If some things that I have said or placed on my website have been misinterpreted, I take full responsibility for that. Whenever I learned that something I said or that was posted on my campaign website was creating confusion, I took action to address the issue."
"I am very proud of my military service and feel confident that when the public reviews my record, they will see I have the best experience of any candidate to serve in the United States Senate."
Attachment: The Facts about Colonel Mike McCalister's Military Record
THE FACTS ABOUT COLONEL MIKE MCCALISTER'S MILITARY RECORD
FACT: Mike McCalister served honorably in the Army National Guard, Army Reserves, and on Active Duty for a total of 33 years between October 4, 1971 and September 30, 2005, when he retired. This does not include one year of Inactive National Guard service, which occurred from March 1981 to March 1982.
FACT: Mike McCalister is a recipient of the Valley Forge Cross for Heroism. According to the National Guard Association of the United States website, the Valley Forge Cross for Heroism "is presented to members of the National Guard who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of heroism that otherwise might not be recognized due to the National Guard's peacetime status." Colonel McCalister's award certificate states, "On April 4, 1989, [then] Major McCalister placed his life in jeopardy to save the life of a woman who had flipped her car off a steep embankment into a muddy creek with zero visibility. Diving into the water, it became difficult to find the individual because of the fast current and underwater obstacles. After recovering the body, which was unconscious and blue from hyposiz, Major McCalister immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the person was revived. Major McCalister's act of heroism exemplifies the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the Missouri National Guard and the United States Army." The Valley Forge Cross was numbered 179, engraved on the back of the Medal.
FACT: Mike McCalister served at the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) from September 1998 to September 2005. From September 1998 to September 1999, McCalister served as a Special Operations Action Officer, from September 1999 to September 2000, McCalister served as Research and Analysis Officer, and from September 2000 to September 2005, McCalister served as Assistant/Deputy Chief, Training, Doctrine, and Education Division, Center for Operations, Plans, and Policy. As stated in the "significant duties and responsibilities" section of the September 1999 Officer Evaluation Report (OER), McCalister was a "Special Operations Actions Officer for several classified and mission essential projects being conducted by this Unified Command. Actions and assignments included development, analysis, evaluation, implementation, and managing key aspects of national and worldwide special operation missions and supporting tasks. Mission requirements and directives of Command's projects were often from DA and JCS, as well as dictated by NCA. Assignments included projects critical to the command's ability to perform special operations missions as required."
FACT: Mike McCalister was recommended for promotion to Brigadier General by his Raters and Senior Raters. As stated in his September 2002 Officer Evaluation Report (OER), as McCalister's Rater, Army Major General (MG) Eldon Bargewell, Director of Operations, Plans, and Policy, USSOCOM, stated McCalister is "a must select for promotion to Brigadier General and Command immediately." In the same OER, as McCalister's Senior Rater, Army Lieutenant General (LTG) William Tangney, Deputy Commander, USSOCOM, stated McCalister is a "must select for Brigadier General and command." As stated in in his May 2003 OER, as McCalister's Rater, MG Bargewell stated McCalister is a "must select for immediate promotion to Brigadier General." In the same OER, as McCalister's Senior Rater, Army LTG Bryan D. Brown, Deputy Commander, USSOCOM, stated McCalister is "an absolute must for promotion to Brigadier General now!" As stated in in his May 2004 OER, as McCalister's Rater, Marine Brigadier General Dennis Jejlik, Director of Policy and Readiness USSOCOM, stated McCalister is a "definitely select for immediate selection and promotion to Brigadier General!" In the same OER, as McCalister's Senior Rater, Navy Vice Admiral (VADM) Eric Olson, Deputy Commander, USSOCOM, stated McCalister "definitely must be selected for promotion to Brigadier General!" (Brown and Olson later pinned on their fourth stars and became Commanders of USSOCOM.)
FACT: According to his May 2003 OER, Colonel McCalister represented "USSOCOM to the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) as executive and voting member on the T2 Senior Advisory Group [SAG] for the Secretary of Defense (3-star level board) and Executive Steering Group [ESG] (4-star level board)." Further, his Senior Rater on this OER, LTG Bryan D. Brown, Deputy Commander of USSOCOM, stated that Colonel McCalister "received accolades from the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) for his involvement in the SAG and ESG. He is the only voting member of either group that is not at least rank of Major General...He is an absolute must for promotion to Brigadier General now!" According to the May 2004 OER, then Deputy Commander of USSOCOM, VADM Eric Olson, stated, "McCalister continues to perform in General Officer capacities in outstanding form in critical assignments...McCalister definitely must be selected for promotion to Brigadier General!"
FACT: Colonel McCalister evaluated classified programs and activities conducted by Special Operations Forces globally. According to the "significant duties and responsibilities" section of his May 2004 OER, "In this senior management position, [McCalister] conducts critical role in budgeting, forecasting, risk management/resource utilization priorities for global overt/covert operations. [McCalister] conducts briefings and advises the Commander USSOCOM on issues with national security and global focus." Colonel McCalister has never claimed to be a combat "Special Forces officer," as accused by his opponents.
FACT: Colonel McCalister was ordered to Active Duty by USSOCOM. In his May 2003 OER, McCalister's Rater, MG Bargewell, stated, "Due to his representation of USSOCOM as lead on high-level priority missions, superior credentials (which include a Ph.D. in Business Management and post-doctoral work at Harvard University in Senior Executive Leadership), political savvy, superior leadership and strategic vision, Colonel McCalister was ordered to active duty by this Command in order to best utilize these tremendous assets to upgrade and enhance critical global missions and the War on Terrorism."
FACT: In the "duties and responsibilities" section of the May 2003 OER, it states Colonel McCalister serves as "USSOCOM's subject matter expert for congressional testimonies and Government Accounting Office inquiries concerning all special operations forces range issues on military readiness/national security." In this capacity,he accompanied General W. P. Tangney, Deputy Commander, USSOCOMM, as the Subject Matter Expert on national security and military readiness of all U.S. Special Operations Forces worldwide, when the General testified to Congress.
FACT: Colonel McCalister is a recipient of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (5 JUNE 2003, Permanent Orders Number 156-01). The award citation says, "Colonel Michael E. McCalister...distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious achievement as the Deputy Chief of the Training, Doctrine, and Education Division...from 28 March 2002 to 27 March 2003. During this period, while being mobilized in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Colonel McCalister's personal guidance, as the Assessment Chief for the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff-directed multi-national special operations forces exercise COBRA GOLD, in Southwest Asia ensured USSOCOM's ability to respond effectively and professionally to overseas contingency operations..." As the Assessment Chief, Colonel McCalister led a team of officers from USSOCOM headquarters to Southwest Asia in support of overseas contingency operations.
FACT: Colonel McCalister is a recipient of the Legion of Merit Medal (30 November 2005, Permanent Orders 334-03). The award citation states, "Colonel Michael E. McCalister...distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service as Deputy Chief, Training, Doctrine, and Education Division...A superbly capable senior officer, Colonel McCalister exhibited unparalleled professional skills, decisive leadership, and unrivaled planning and operational expertise. Colonel McCalister spearheaded numerous initiatives that ensured USSOCOM's present and future capability to conduct sensitive mission essential air, ground, and sea based special operations worldwide. Colonel McCalister quickly became highly recognized as one of USSOCOM's top experts in developing, planning, and conducting the initiatives, programs, and infrastructure investment requirements critical to the execution of compartmented, sensitive operations of national security objectives..."
FACT: Mike McCalister served on Active Duty during the following periods:
APRIL 2002 TO MARCH 2003: Assistant/Deputy Chief of the Training, Doctrine, and Education Division, Center for Operations, Plans, and Policy, United States Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base (AFB), Tampa, FL
AUGUST 1990 TO JULY 1992: Executive Officer and Assistant Professor of Military Science, Army ROTC Battalion, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
FEBRUARY 1972 to JUNE 1972: Private E1, Fort Jackson, SC - Basic Combat Training; Private E2 Advanced Individual Training, Fort Dix, NJ
The above is independent of any of the Active Duty For Training that is conducted annually for all Guard and Reserve Units, State Emergency Duty as the Company Commander of Company B, 1140th Engineer Battalion, Missouri National Guard, Florida National Guard, Army Reserves, or Active Duty Special Work time. Technically, if included, that would add well over another year of Active Duty service.
FACT: Mike McCalister's military service includes the following periods and assignments:
SEPTEMBER 2000 TO SEPTEMBER 2005: Colonel, Assistant/Deputy Chief, Training, Doctrine, and Education Division, Center for Operations, Plans, and Policy, United States Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL
SEPTEMBER 1999 TO SEPTEMBER 2000: Lt. Colonel, Research and Analysis Officer, Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL
SEPTEMBER 1998 TO SEPTEMBER 1999: Lt. Colonel, Special Operations Action Officer, United States Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL
APRIL 1998 to AUGUST 1998: Lt. Colonel, RC Readiness Project Officer for Plans and Force Integration, Attached to United States Specials Operations Command for Active Duty Special Work, MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL
JANUARY 1997 to MARCH 1998: Major/Lt. Colonel, Assigned to Army Personnel Command (Administrative transfer from Army National Guard to Army Reserves, and promotion to Lieutenant Colonel; good retirement year)
JULY 1995 to DECEMBER 1996: Major, Engineer Officer, Headquarters State Area Command, Florida Army National Guard, St. Augustine, FL
SEPTEMBER 1994 to JULY 1995: Major, Environmental Officer, Headquarters State Area Command, Missouri Army National Guard, Jefferson City, MO
AUGUST 1992 to AUGUST 1994: Major, Communications-Electronics Officer, Headquarters, 35th Engineer Brigade (Corps), Jefferson Barracks and Ft. Leonard Wood, MO
AUGUST 1990 to JULY 1992: Major, Executive Officer and Assistant Professor of Military Science, Army ROTC Battalion, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
SEPTEMBER 1988 to AUGUST 1990: Major, Communications-Electronics Officer, 135th Combat Engineer Group, Cape Girardeau, MO
SEPTEMBER 1987 to AUGUST 1988: Captain, Civil Engineer, 135th Combat Engineer Group, Cape Girardeau, MO
SEPTEMBER 1985 to AUGUST 1987: Captain, Battalion S-4 Logistics Officer, Headquarters, 1140th Combat Engineer Battalion, Cape Girardeau, MO
NOVEMBER 1982 to AUGUST 1985: Captain, Company Commander, Company B, 1140th Combat Engineer Battalion, Perryville, MO
MARCH 1982 to NOVEMBER 1982: Communications-Electronics Staff Officer, Headquarters, 1140th Combat Engineer Battalion, Cape Girardeau, MO
MARCH 1981 to MARCH 1982: Captain, Inactive National Guard
DECEMBER 1980 to MARCH 1981: Captain, S-1 Personnel Officer, Headquarters, 1140th Combat Engineer Battalion, Cape Girardeau, MO
OCTOBER 1979 to DECEMBER 1980: 1st Lieutenant, Company Executive Officer, Company A, 1140th Combat Engineer Battalion, Jackson, MO
FEBRUARY 1978 to OCTOBER 1979: 1st Lieutenant, AIDE-de-Camp to the Commanding General, 35th Engineer Brigade (Corps), Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, MO
SEPTEMBER 1976 to FEBRUARY 1978: 1st Lieutenant, Platoon Leader, Heavy Equipment, Headquarters, 1140th Combat Engineer Battalion, Cape Girardeau, MO
NOVEMBER 1975 to SEPTEMBER 1976: 2nd Lieutenant, Platoon Leader, Detachment 1, Company A, 1140th Combat Engineer Battalion, Charleston, MO (Reorganization)
JANUARY 1975 to NOVEMBER 1975: 2nd Lieutenant, Platoon Leader, 202ND Engineer Company, Charleston, MO
SEPTEMBER 1974 to JANUARY 1975: 2nd Lieutenant, Temporarily Assigned back to Headquarters, 135th Combat Engineer Group. Cape Girardeau, MO (awaiting Platoon Leader Assignment)
JUNE 1973 to AUGUST 1974: Sergeant E-5, National Guard Officer Candidate School, Missouri (Commissioned 2nd Lt. in August 1974)
JUNE 1972 to JUNE 1973: Field Wiremen, Private 1st Class, HHC 135th Combat Engineer Group, Cape Girardeau, MO
FEBRUARY 1972 to JUNE 1972: Private E1, Fort Jackson, SC - Basic Combat Training; Private E2 Advanced Individual Training, Fort Dix, NJ
OCTOBER 1971 to JANUARY 1972: Awaiting initial Active Duty Basic Training, 135th Combat Engineer Group, Cape Girardeau, MO