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Archive for October, 2009

Edwards Candidacy Called Into Question

Below is the text of a press release I issued today.

Democratic U.S. House candidate Doug Tudor today publically called on fellow candidate Randy Edwards to withdraw from the race for the open seat in Florida’s 12th Congressional District.

Tudor claimed, “By actively campaigning, speaking to groups, and requesting monetary contributions to his campaign, Major Edwards is in clear violation of Department of Defense Directives regarding political activities by members of the Armed Forces,”

Over the course of the past week, Edwards addressed various gatherings of Democrats. He did so at the Florida Democratic Party’s annual conference in Orlando this past weekend, as well as speaking to the Polk County Democratic Executive Committee in Bartow on Monday night and the East Hillsborough Democratic Club in Brandon on Tuesday night. At each event, Edwards declared that he is still on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he solicited monetary contributions to his campaign.

“Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of military regulations knows that having a strict ban on military members injecting themselves into partisan politics is vital to the sanctity of America’s civilian-led military,” said Tudor. He continued, “As a retired Navy Master Chief, it disturbed me to see an active-duty Marine officer trying to gain such an important office, who either didn’t know any better or deliberately violated the regulations.”

Edwards was granted a waiver signed by the Secretary of the Navy, which clearly stated that while he could file for candidacy, he was restricted from “open and active campaigning and all behind-the-scenes activities.”

Though Edwards’ infractions are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92, “Failure to Obey Order or Regulation,” Tudor stated, “I don’t want to see this junior officer punished. I just want to ensure that the political autonomy of our nation’s great military isn’t called into question, whether by intent or by ignorance.”

The regulation governing “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces” is Department of Defense Directive Number 1344.10 dated February 19, 2008. It is available on the web.

Eight Years Later

After eight years of combat operations in Afghanistan, “The Graveyard of Empires,” America needs to have a national conversation on our future in that hostile, unyielding country. To begin the conversation, I believe one point needs to be very clear: we were never supposed to go to war in Afghanistan. Instead, we were supposed to go into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and kill or capture (K/C) the leadership of al Qaida. We succeeded at the first objective and partially succeeded at the second.

Eight years ago today, America invaded Afghanistan. Operation ENDURING FREEDOM was born. On November 12, 2001, Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, fell to our forces. The Taliban was in full retreat. Objective number one accomplished.

In December 2001, conventional wisdom holds that we had Osama bin Laden trapped in the complex series of caves and fortresses in Tora Bora. Due to political pressures and cultural sensitivities, it was decided that, instead of using America’s overwhelming military force, our Special Forces should combine their efforts with the militia of Afghan warlords Hazret Ali and Haji Zaman Ghamsharik. When our efforts at Tora Bora did not realize the mission of killing or capturing al Qaida’s top commanders, America should have redeployed our forces for another phase of operations intended to achieve the K/C objective.

Instead, as often happens in wartime, mission creep set in. We had troops within Afghanistan’s border, so we figured we needed to find a mission for them.

President Obama is currently reviewing our current mission in Afghanistan. If he were to ask me for advice, which he hasn’t (yet), I would tell the Commander-in-Chief this: Stop counter-insurgency operations and concentrate on counter-terrorism operations. In other words, leave Afghanistan to the Afghanis and concentrate on killing or capturing the leaders of al Qaida.

To me, it really is that simple. After eight years of combat operations abusing America’s military force which is stretched dangerously thin, let’s concentrate on capturing or killing the people who killed nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens on September 11, 2001. We cannot make Afghanistan a Jeffersonian democracy. We cannot abet thousands of years of ethnic and tribal conflicts. We CAN use the awesome technological and intelligence advantages America holds to kill or capture the leadership of al Qaida. Not to be cliché, but “Yes, We Can.”

If you agree with me, Please Contribute to Our Grass Roots Campaign Now!. My only campaign promise is “I will always vote my conscience, no matter the politics of the issue.”

Thank you for all you have done, for all you are doing, and for all you will do.