From Zero to Hero

It wasn’t too long ago that the President’s foes, broadly known as “The Resistance” were saying that anyone serving on Trump’s White House staff are traitors.  Try not to be surprised that the Resistance is now outraged that the President dismissed two Army Colonels on detail to the White House NSC staff. This is the world of “Zero to Hero” where all you have to do to be a hero to the President’s opponents is do something anti-Trump and you are Ulysses reborn.

LTC Alexander Vindman is a Ukraine-Hawk, advocating for a vigorous armed defense of that country against Russian aggression.  This is not a shock given that his family are recent immigrants from that country.

In the previous administration, where armed assistance to Ukraine was denied out of a fear that it would provoke Russia, LTC Vindman would have been considered to be a man with dangerously subversive ideas contrary to the Obama administration’s policies. Had he told Ukrainian officials that they need not pay any attention to President Obama or his policies and that he would intervene on their behalf, he would have been in big trouble. Had he appeared before Congress saying that he was convinced that Obama’s non-interventionalist posture posed a danger to U.S. national security, he would be in big trouble. If he leaked to the media his displeasure with Obama’s policies towards Ukraine, he would be in big trouble. And the same people praising him now would say he was a traitor. These are all things LTC Vindman did working for President Trump, who relieved him of his duties at the White House.

He wasn’t “fired” as is being widely reported. Vindman is still a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. They will simply insert him in another job slot at the Pentagon or some other staff position until he leaves active duty. There is reporting by Catherine Herridge at CBS News that several other lower-profile staffers were also “returned” to the NSC along with the Vindman brothers.

Is his career and that of his brother over?  Yeah, most definitely. The military has an “Up or Out” culture: If an officer on active duty is passed over for promotion, it’s the end of things. It doesn’t take much either. OERs (Officer Evaluation Reports) use a numerical scoring system. The comments on the OER can be glowing with effusive praise for the officer, but if the performance number scores put him below his peers, that’s it, his career in the Army is over.

Let’s just pretend for a moment that one of the Vindman’s superior officers (suicidally) signs off on an OER that puts them with or above their peers in scoring for advancement. Promotions of all officers above the rank of O-3 go before the Senate and require unanimous consent of that entire body. If a single Senator objects to an officer being promoted, it’s over for him. Neither of the Vindmans could expect to make it past the Senate for promotion to Colonel.

“He is a political activist in uniform.”