Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) often brags about his military service. It’s one reason why Arkansas voters sent him to Congress. But it turns out that he lied to them about one aspect of his service, which could amount to stolen valor.
It’s true that Cotton served in the legendary 101st Airborne during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. The 101st is an elite paratrooper division whose heroism during World War II has been well-documented. Just watch the Band of Brothers miniseries and you’ll start to understand why it’s held in such high regard.
But while Cotton did serve in that division, it apparently was not enough for him, so he decided to pretend that he was an Army Ranger as well.
According to Salon:
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.
Cotton told the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record in February 2012: “My experience as a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan and my experience in business will put me in very good condition.” The year before, he told Roby Brock of Talk Politics in a video interview that he “became an infantry officer and an Army Ranger.” A Cotton campaign ad placed in the Madison County Record in May 2012 identifies Cotton as a “Battle-Tested Leader” who “Volunteered to be an Army Ranger.”
The problem is that Cotton never actually served as part of an Army Ranger battalion in any way. He only attended Ranger School, which anyone in the country can do, but that doesn’t mean he’s a Ranger.
Cotton attended the Ranger School, a two-month-long, small-unit tactical infantry course that literally anyone in the military is eligible 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.
When asked about the duplicitous discrepancy, Cotton spokesperson Caroline Tabler antagonized Salon instead of offering an explanation or an apology.
“Senator Cotton graduated from Ranger school and is more of a Ranger than a Salon reporter like you will ever be,” she said, emulating the way former disgraced President Donald Trump’s White House press secretaries would treat reporters.
It’s not a good look, and neither is faking one’s military service. Serving in the 101st Airborne is prestigious all on its own. Cotton was even awarded a Bronze Star. There was absolutely no need to lie about being an Army Ranger. But he did. And that’s not a quality worthy of the military or the presidency, for which Cotton has ambition.
If Cotton runs for president in 2024, his lie about being an Army Ranger should come back to haunt him just as much as his past desire for Trump to use the military against American citizens.
Cotton’s lie is an insult to the all the real Army Rangers who have fought and died for our country and all those who are retired or still in uniform. This elite group of troops has an outstanding record of service, something that no one should pretend to be a part of like Cotton has pretended all these years just to enhance his profile. It’s pathetic and should be punished by voters, who surely have enough respect for our military to make sure a dishonorable man like Cotton never holds public office again.
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