Re: Oct. 15 column by Cindi Ross Scoppe, “Want a military ruled by merit?”
South Carolina voters have an important choice this coming election day. Will South Carolina remain as the only state that elects the commanding officer of its state military?
My experience as a service member and Defense Department employee for over 37 years taught me an important lesson. We need qualified officers leading our armed forces. Unfortunately, South Carolina’s current system of electing the state’s Adjutant General allows almost anyone to run for the office with no military qualifications.
It’s an important job. The Adjutant General oversees South Carolina’s 11,000-plus member Military Department, which includes the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, State Guard and the state’s Emergency Management Division.
Thankfully, we currently have an excellent Adjutant General in Bob Livingston, who is a two-star Major General in the U.S. Army. He is unopposed for another four-year term that will last until January 2019. Yet, as with all things, Adjutant General Livingston’s service to our state will eventually end. That’s why Adjutant General Livingston and many other military veterans endorse a “yes” vote on Amendment 2, which will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The responsibilities of the Adjutant General are too important to risk electing an unqualified military amateur in a political popularity contest.
A “yes” vote on Amendment 2 will allow the next governor, beginning in 2019, to appoint the Adjutant General from a qualified pool of South Carolina National Guard officers who are qualified and eligible to hold the rank of general. A “no” vote means our next Adjutant General following Major General Livingston could have zero military experience.
We live in a dangerous world. With threats including bad weather, terrorism, and disease, South Carolina’s military deserves the most experienced and qualified officer as its leader. Please join me and many others in voting yes on Amendment 2. Our safety and security could depend on it.
The writer, who lives in Myrtle Beach, is a retired U.S. Army colonel.