A former commander of Joint Special Operations at Fort Bragg said Thursday that troops and their families should think about trust when deciding how to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, for president. In an interview after he made the announcement on MSNBC, he said he made his decision based on which candidate he felt he could trust and who reflected his values.
"Everyone should vote with their heart," McCrystal said. "They should do their own analysis, and they should vote for what they think is right."
President Donald Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about McChrystal's endorsement of Biden, but a spokesman for the Republican president's campaign released a statement last month saying the former vice president has an antagonistic relationship with the military.
"Our nation is safer at home and abroad thanks to President Trump's assurance to our men and women in uniform to have all the equipment, tools and resources they need in order to complete their mission," the statement said.
McCrystal's endorsement comes as Biden's campaign is launching a North Carolina Veterans and Military Families Leadership Council in an effort to reach out to nearly 100,000 active-duty troops and more than 665,000 veterans in the state. The council includes several retired officers and sergeants major.
State Sen. Kirk DeViere of Fayetteville will serve on the council, according to a statement released by the campaign.
McChrystal served at Fort Bragg for about 15 years. In addition to commanding JSOC, he was a battalion commander in the 82nd Airborne Division and chief of staff at the 18th Airborne Corps.
"In my experience at Fort Bragg in any of the units, it was about trust," he said.
Airborne troops jump with parachutes that were packed by somebody else, jump from planes that are flown by somebody else, and jump onto drop zones that are marked by somebody else, McChrystal said.
"The nature of soldiering is nobody's alone," he said. "You're part of a team."
McCrystal said he has concerns about where the United States fits in the world. He said that when he commanded U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, the coalition was made up of 46 nations.
"You rely on the participation of global partners, which means trust, which means consistency, which means respect," he said. "We can't send a message that we don't respect other nations."
McCrystal said he is concerned about the growing tribalism in the United States. He said previous divisions in the country have been over one or two issues, but when people start identifying more with a particular group they can become emotional to the point of willing to fight and kill.
McCrystal said leaders have to take responsibility.
"I want a president who's responsible for what happens," he said.
On the MSNBC show "Morning Joe," McCrystal talked about the relationship he had with Biden and former President Barack Obama. In 2010, McCrystal was forced to resign after a magazine article quoted him making negative statements about Biden and others in the administration.
McCrystal said he talked with Biden after the article was printed but hasn't talked to him about it recently. He said there was "more smoke than fire" in the situation.
"I never didn't respect Vice President Joe Biden or President Obama," he said. I think my willingness to endorse him now should signal to people that there was a respectful relationship then and just how important I think it is to replicate that kind of respectful relationship between senior military leaders now."
McCrystal said Biden and Obama demonstrated a willingness to listen even when the general disagreed with their policy decisions. He said he felt like they were trying to make the best decisions for the country.
"I can trust Joe Biden," he said.
This article is written by Steve DeVane from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.