Opposition to Army secretary nominee grows

Opposition to Army secretary nominee grows
© Courtesy of Mark Green

Opposition to Army Secretary nominee Mark Green is ballooning, with current and former service academy faculty members and a former Pentagon official coming out against him Friday.

“The tone that you set as a leader matters,” Daniel Feehan, former principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for readiness from 2015 to 2017, said in an interview with The Hill. “The tone you set as the secretary of the Army has enormous ripple effects.”

Green, currently a Tennessee state senator, has come under fierce opposition from LGBT groups over his legislative record and past statements.

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Green said that “transgender is a disease” at a speech last year to the Chattanooga Tea Party. And in an interview on an online radio show, Green cited a Bible verse that he says calls on the government to “crush evil” to explain his opposition to transgender bathroom rights and Syrian refugees.

Green, whose 20-year Army career included being the first person to interrogate Saddam Hussein after his capture in 2003, has defended himself by saying the “radical left” is “blatantly falsifying” his past statements to “paint [him] as a hater.”

“The liberal left has cut and spliced my words about terrorism and ISIS blatantly falsifying what I've said,” Green said in a Facebook post Tuesday. “I believe that every American has a right to defend their country regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. It's the radical left that won't allow the latter.”

On Friday, 21 current and former faculty members at service academies, war colleges and other military universities said they are “alarmed” Green could become Army secretary.

“Mark Green would undermine good order and discipline by fostering dissension within the ranks and sowing confusion about what the military stands for,” they said in a statement provided to The Hill by the Palm Center, an independent think tank that researches issues of gender and sexuality and has been active on the military’s LGBT policies.

Signatories include two former West Point professors, four current Naval Academy professors and five current and former Air Force Academy professors. Other signatories come from the Naval Postgraduate School, the Army, Air, Marine Corps and Naval War Colleges, and Air University.

The statement cited not just Green’s LGBT record, but also past statements on Latinos, Muslims and birth control.

In the speech at the Chattanooga Tea Party, Green speculated that a rise in Latinos registering to vote was due to them “being bussed here probably” and agreed with a questioner who said “we need to take a stand on the indoctrination of Islam in our public schools.”

Green also told The Associated Press in 2016 that as a physician, he regularly declines to prescribe birth control to women, instead referring them to other doctors.

“All who wear the uniform and risk their lives to defend our freedom deserve the respect and dignity they have earned, including LGBT members, Latinos, women and religious minorities, but Green has a history of creating exceptions for those who don't want to treat others equally and respectfully,” the faculty members said in their statement.

“We cannot afford leaders whose priorities are inconsistent with military values. Mark Green is a serious threat to what makes our military great.”

Feehan, who was also acting assistant secretary of Defense for readiness, said Green would hurt readiness by deterring some would-be recruits at a time when the military needs everyone it can get.

“The military is an organization in which your reputation proceeds you no matter what position you’re in, whether you’re a sergeant, whether you’re secretary of the Army,” Feehan said. “And the reputation that will proceed Mark Green until it is addressed and corrected is that he has views that would make many different groups feel uncomfortable about joining the military in the first place.”

Another issue, Feehan said, is the military’s transgender ban was lifted less than a year ago and so the implementation of the new policy is still “fragile.”

“To imagine him coming in in this fragile state would very much — this is where the ripple effect works negatively here — would have a cascading effect to essentially turn people away from military service,” he said. “The secretary of the Army’s position on implementing transgender policy is huge, and he could completely disrupt that.”

Updated at 2:25 p.m.