As a former active-duty Air Force judge advocate, I found the Aug. 3 front-page article “Graham moved up in ranks as reservist” distasteful. Very few public figures serve in the armed forces in any capacity, yet the article cast aspersions on Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) domestic and overseas service. Rather than acknowledge the rarity of someone in Mr. Graham’s position maintaining a military position for more than 30 years, including overseas deployments in an active war zone, the article played down Mr. Graham’s role in the Air Force Reserve as a product of political favoritism and no-show assignments.
Mr. Graham is one of the strongest voices for an active and positive U.S. role in the world. He has used his intimate knowledge of military law and protocol to help shape the legal architecture in support of the global war on terrorism. His military service is testament to his commitment to national security and should be applauded regardless of political persuasion.
Joshua Slomich, Chadds Ford, Pa.
The article “Graham moved up in ranks as reservist” stated that Sen. Lindsey O. Graham was assigned to be a stateside instructor of lawyers and paralegals, and he stated as much in his biography. But, instead of teaching, he persuaded the military brass to ignore his official assignment so that he could serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. The article said he went there 19 times and served 142 days. He doesn’t mention this extraordinary service in his promotional materials for his presidential campaign.
Apparently, Mr. Graham was too modest to correct the record to reflect his far more impressive service. He stands even higher in my estimation than he did before I read the article.
Gary E. Guy, Derwood
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham served nine times under my command in his capacity as an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. This included three times in Iraq while I was commander there, three times in Afghanistan while I was commander there and three additional stints in Afghanistan when I was the commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in both countries. Each assignment was typically a week or more in duration.
While in theater, Mr. Graham did not seek special treatment as a member of Congress, nor did he seek to publicize his service.
On putting on the uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Graham made it clear that he wanted to be treated as Col. Graham, not Sen. Graham. He took on quiet assignments that capitalized on his expertise as a lawyer and judge advocate general officer and that typically required him to travel widely in each country. This included work in areas such as the reform of Iraq’s troubled detainee operations, contributing to the detainee review process that we ultimately established and a variety of other rule-of-law challenges we confronted in each country. His contributions were substantive and valuable.
No other member of Congress, while in office, served remotely as much time deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan as did Mr. Graham. Those of us who were privileged to serve with him remain grateful to him for the contributions he made to our nation while in uniform.
David H. Petraeus, Washington
The writer, a general, is retired from the U.S. Army.