Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced this week he was beefing up his campaign with some top brass: more than 300 retired general and flag officers, who will serve in a consultant role on his campaign’s military advisory panel.
The list, which contains more than two dozen retired four-stars, includes Gens. James Conway and Paul X Kelley, former commandants of the Marine Corps; Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the initial assault of the Taliban in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and oversaw the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003; and Army Gen. James Joseph Lindsay, the first commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.
A wildcard choice on the list is retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, who endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2008, but made a stir four years earlier by pointedly declining to endorse a fellow retired Army four-star on the Democratic ticket,, Gen. Wesley Clark.
Shelton’s 2010 book, “Without Hesitation”, has been billed by some an indictment of neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.
Shelton’s selection for the panel has the potential to create waves for Romney, who has shown a penchant for neoconservative thought in his policy statements on foreign affairs and defense.
Human Events has reached out to Shelton for comment on his selection to the board.
While Conway, who served as Marine Corps Commandant from 2006 until his retirement in 2010, advocated for the continuation of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy while in office, few of the prominent names of the list have a public political stance or a clear agenda.
According to Foreign Policy’s The Cable, the panel members are not set to have any official meetings, but have indicated their willingness to support Romney publicly and to offer advice as needed.
In a statement released by the campaign, Conway said he had joined Romney’s campaign because of a conviction that he “gets it.”
“I consider the unprecedented national debt amongst the five greatest threats to the security of our great nation,” Conway said.
“And yet, I see no indication the current administration, if re-elected, is intent on changing that trajectory. Clearly Defense should bear a portion of the burden in order to regain control of our debt, but the idea of massive military cuts – at a time of increased global instability-should not even be in the cards.”
Franks also published a statement, saying he was endorsing Romney because of the country’s need for “level-headed leadership which will protect our interests and defend our values with clarity and without apology.”