Salon Smears Tom Cotton on his Military Record

National Review:

The progressive outlet falsely claims the combat veteran and Arkansas senator falsified his military record.

Over the weekend, Salon published an article accusing Arkansas senator Tom Cotton of “repeatedly falsify[ing]” his “honorable military record” during his congressional campaigns.

A 2012 Cotton campaign ad says he “volunteered to be an Army Ranger,” but Roger Sullenberger writes that Cotton was never an “actual Army Ranger.”

According to the Salon staff writer:

In his first run for Congress, Cotton leaned heavily on his military service, claiming to have been “a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and, in a campaign ad, to have “volunteered to be an Army Ranger.” In reality, Cotton was never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Rather, Cotton attended the Ranger School, a two-month-long, small-unit tactical infantry course that literally anyone in the military is eligible to attend. Soldiers who complete the course earn the right to wear the Ranger tab — a small arch that reads “Ranger” — but in the eyes of the military, that does not make them an actual Army Ranger.

Salon can’t point to a single instance in which Cotton said he served in the 75th Ranger Regiment because Cotton — an infantry officer who served a combat tour in Iraq with the 101st Airborne and another combat tour in Afghanistan with a provincial reconstruction team — never claimed he served in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

While Salon belittles the grueling Ranger school as something “that literally anyone in the military is eligible to attend” and claims that graduating from Ranger school does not make one an Army Ranger, there are many veterans, Democrats in Congress, and media outlets that do, in fact, call Ranger school graduates Army Rangers — even if they don’t serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Retired Command sergeant major Rick Merritt, who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, told the Arkansas Times over the weekend that Salon’s attack on Cotton was “absurd,” “unfair,” and “almost slanderous.”

“He’s 100% a Ranger, said Merritt. He always will be a Ranger.”

“It’s a slap in the face for any veteran — any Ranger — to be attacked that way,” Merritt said in an interview with National Review on Monday evening. “It’s not a controversy. It’s a fact that he is a Ranger, just like I’m a Ranger. They’re just playing semantics on the unit in which he served as a Ranger.”

Merritt served for 25 of his 36 years in the Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment. “[Cotton] was a Ranger serving in the 101st Airborne Division. He never said that he was a Ranger serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Plenty of Rangers out there are serving in more units than the 75th Ranger Regiment,” says Merritt. “I served with plenty of Rangers in the 10th Mountain Division. My Ranger buddy was General Milley, who is now the chairman of the joint chiefs.” General Milley didn’t serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment, but an article at Army.Mil identifies him as an Army Ranger.

Other military officials also believe all Army Ranger school graduates are Army Rangers. Major general Scott Miller, commander of the Army for infantry and armor training and education, told Ranger school graduates in 2015: “You’ll leave Victory Pond today with a small piece of cloth on your shoulder, but more importantly, you carry the title of Ranger from here on out.”

Until 2015, a woman had never graduated from Ranger school. When two women, Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest, graduated that year, they were widely hailed as the first female Army Rangers.

A bipartisan resolution with 38 cosponsors was introduced in the Senate in 2015 honoring Griest and Haver as “as our Nation’s newest United States Army Rangers.” The resolution passed the Senate by unanimous consent. An identical House resolution honoring Griest and Haver “as our Nation’s newest United States Army Rangers” had 32 cosponsors, including veterans Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

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Salon Smears Tom Cotton

By John McCormack

January 25, 2021 6:42 PM

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Sen. Tom Cotton talks to reporters following a classified national security briefing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 8, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

The progressive outlet falsely claims the combat veteran and Arkansas senator falsified his military record.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE O ver the weekend, Salon published an article accusing Arkansas senator Tom Cotton of “repeatedly falsify[ing]” his “honorable military record” during his congressional campaigns.

A 2012 Cotton campaign ad says he “volunteered to be an Army Ranger,” but Roger Sullenberger writes that Cotton was never an “actual Army Ranger.”

According to the Salon staff writer:

In his first run for Congress, Cotton leaned heavily on his military service, claiming to have been “a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and, in a campaign ad, to have “volunteered to be an Army Ranger.” In reality, Cotton was never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Rather, Cotton attended the Ranger School, a two-month-long, small-unit tactical infantry course that literally anyone in the military is eligible to attend. Soldiers who complete the course earn the right to wear the Ranger tab — a small arch that reads “Ranger” — but in the eyes of the military, that does not make them an actual Army Ranger.

Salon can’t point to a single instance in which Cotton said he served in the 75th Ranger Regiment because Cotton — an infantry officer who served a combat tour in Iraq with the 101st Airborne and another combat tour in Afghanistan with a provincial reconstruction team — never claimed he served in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

More in Tom Cotton

While Salon belittles the grueling Ranger school as something “that literally anyone in the military is eligible to attend” and claims that graduating from Ranger school does not make one an Army Ranger, there are many veterans, Democrats in Congress, and media outlets that do, in fact, call Ranger school graduates Army Rangers — even if they don’t serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Retired Command sergeant major Rick Merritt, who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, told the Arkansas Times over the weekend that Salon’s attack on Cotton was “absurd,” “unfair,” and “almost slanderous.”

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“He’s 100 percent a Ranger,” said Merritt. “He will always be a Ranger.”

“It’s a slap in the face for any veteran — any Ranger — to be attacked that way,” Merritt said in an interview with National Review on Monday evening. “It’s not a controversy. It’s a fact that he is a Ranger, just like I’m a Ranger. They’re just playing semantics on the unit in which he served as a Ranger.”

Merritt served for 25 of his 36 years in the Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment. “[Cotton] was a Ranger serving in the 101st Airborne Division. He never said that he was a Ranger serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Plenty of Rangers out there are serving in more units than the 75th Ranger Regiment,” says Merritt. “I served with plenty of Rangers in the 10th Mountain Division. My Ranger buddy was General Milley, who is now the chairman of the joint chiefs.” General Milley didn’t serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment, but an article at Army.Mil identifies him as an Army Ranger.

Other military officials also believe all Army Ranger school graduates are Army Rangers. Major general Scott Miller, commander of the Army for infantry and armor training and education, told Ranger school graduates in 2015: “You’ll leave Victory Pond today with a small piece of cloth on your shoulder, but more importantly, you carry the title of Ranger from here on out.”

In 2015, Secretary of the Army John McHugh told graduates of the Ranger school: “Congratulations to all of our new Rangers.” All Our Opinion in Your Inbox

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Until 2015, a woman had never graduated from Ranger school. When two women, Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest, graduated that year, they were widely hailed as the first female Army Rangers.

A bipartisan resolution with 38 cosponsors was introduced in the Senate in 2015 honoring Griest and Haver as “as our Nation’s newest United States Army Rangers.” The resolution passed the Senate by unanimous consent. An identical House resolution honoring Griest and Haver “as our Nation’s newest United States Army Rangers” had 32 cosponsors, including veterans Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

“History will be made on Friday when these two female soldiers graduate as @USarmy Rangers,” Gabbard wrote on Twitter.

Over the weekend, Colorado Democratic representative Jason Crow, who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment and was elected to Congress in 2018, joined the progressive pile-on of Cotton. “Hey @SenTomCotton, unless you wore one of these berets you shouldn’t be calling yourself a Ranger,” Crow tweeted. “Truth matters.” On Monday, National Review sent an email to Crow’s spokesman asking if the Colorado congressman thought it was wrong to refer to Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest as Army Rangers. Crow’s spokesman has not yet replied to the request for comment.

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