Roger Sollenberger, a staff writer for Salon, has accused Sen. Tom Cotton of lying about his military service. Sollenberger writes:
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.
But Cotton has never claimed to be a part of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He has always said that he served with the 101st Airborne. Thus, there is no contradiction between what Cotton said about his service — the first sentence quoted above — and the fact set forth in the second.
The “reality” is that (1) Cotton is a Ranger School graduate, (2) graduates of the Ranger School earn the Ranger Tab, and (3) thereafter they are Rangers.
This is clear from this U.S. Army Ranger Association bulletin, which calls for nominations for the Ranger Hall of Fame. It states that candidates “must have served in a Ranger unit in combat or be a successful graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School.” (Emphasis added) Either accomplishment makes one a Ranger.
This reality is also clear from the statement by legendary Ranger Gen. Scott Miller at a ceremony for Ranger School graduates:
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.
That’s why Rick Merritt, the Regimental Sergeant Major for the Ranger Regiment, called Salon’s attack on Cotton is “almost slanderous.” “Cotton’s] 100 percent a Ranger, he will always be a Ranger,” Merritt stated.
Salon itself understands that graduates of Ranger School are Rangers. It described first female Ranger school graduates as “the first female U.S. Army Rangers,” even though they weren’t eligible to join the Ranger Regiment. And the bio of a Salon journalist describes him as a “Ranger,” apparently by virtue of having graduated from Ranger School.
Salon’s definition of Ranger seems to depend on a graduate’s gender or political leanings.
Tom Cotton is an American hero. After 9/11, he left a job in Big Law and volunteered, not for the JAG Corps, but for combat. In Iraq, he led patrols through the perilous streets of Baghdad.
When he was about to be discharged from the Army, Tom volunteered for a stint in Afghanistan. He told me he hadn’t yet done enough for his country.
None of this would justify lying about his service record. However, a journalist who chooses to accuse Tom of this better have a solid case.
Sollenberger has no case. He’s attacking Cotton for a claim he never made — service in the Rangers Regiment. He has concocted a definition of Ranger that’s inconsistent with that of the Rangers and even Salon’s.
Cotton’s heroism has always caused the left angst. When Cotton first came to the public’s attention, via his letter to Power Line, some questioned whether he existed.
His existence firmly established, along with his status as a GOP leader and his potential for national office, the left now wants to discredit Cotton’s military service. That’s what Sollenberger hopes to do in his hit piece.
He fails to accomplish his mission.