Questions still linger over claims made by an Arkansas congressional candidate who said he served as a Green Beret even though official records did not substantiate his entire story.
Kenneth Aden, a former Army staff sergeant who is running in Arkansas’ 3rd District as a Democrat against incumbent Rep. Steve Womack, has said in interviews that he served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Green Beret.
Aden’s campaign has circulated several documents to support his claim, including June 2008 orders awarding him a Special Forces military occupation specialty, or MOS. But according to a spokeswoman for the Special Warfare Training Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., that order tells only half the story.
The other half would be the subsequent order rescinding that MOS, said Jennifer Martin.
“When the students were entering the 18 Bravo training they would issue the orders [for the 18B MOS], and if they didn’t pass the training they would issue new orders to revoke” the first, Martin said.
She said the Training Center has directed a copy of the revocation order be located and pulled from the storage files.
Aden did not respond to Military.com’s request for an interview but acknowledged in a statement released Thursday by his campaign that it had “misspoke about serving with a Green Beret unit.”
But the candidate also insisted he earned the Special Forces designation. Aden’s campaign released a statement in response to an article published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Thursday questioning his SF background.
Campaign spokesman Vince Leibowitz defended Aden’s claims in phone calls and emails to Military.com over several days.
Leibowitz said Fort Bragg officials are mistaken, that Aden successfully completed the Special Forces Qualification Course -- known as “the Q-Course” -- and became a Green Beret.
“The orders were not temporary, and the 18B MOS was listed on his DD-214,” Leibowitz said, referring to the military document that represents a snapshot of a servicemember’s career. He said Aden maintained the MOS throughout his service and that it was noted on multiple documents.
The documents Leibowitz provided included the second page of an evaluation report and a recommendation for an Army Commendation Medal.
Because Aden was injured very soon after completing the course -- losing parts of two fingers on one hand when a door slammed on it -- he was never assigned to a Special Forces unit, said Leibowitz. Instead, Aden was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Leibowitz said.
The DD-214 released by the campaign lists Iraq as a duty assignment and also notes an 18B Special Forces weapons sergeant MOS underneath his 11C specialty code. There are no references to Afghanistan, where he said he also served. The military education block makes no reference to SF training and there is no listing of an SF Tab authorization in the box for decorations, medals and badges.
When asked by Military.com to provide a copy of the diploma given to each graduate of the Q-Course Leibowitz said Aden could not find it and would have to order a copy from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which houses veterans’ service records.
Word that Aden was embellishing his service record first broke on the blog ThisAintHell, according to retired Special Forces Master Sgt. Jeff Hinton, who regularly “outs” phony veterans on his own website, Professionalsoldiers.com.
Hinton said he began contacting his own sources in the Special Forces community and quickly learned that Aden wasn’t being honest about his Green Beret background.
“Ken Aden is just another example of a fraud using the Green Beret reputation for political gain,” Hinton said. “Aden, like many others, has been exposed by the real Green Berets. We are not fooled or amused and as Aden now knows, we are watching.”