Congressman Mark Green on His Recent Statement Against Military Vaccines and Unbalanced Executive Power
- August 11, 2021
- / Tennessee Star
- / News
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed U.S. (R-TN) Rep. Mark Green to the newsmaker line to discuss his statement in response to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s COVID vaccine requirement for military personnel, executive powers, and our ability to defeat China.
Leahy: We are joined now by our very good friend, Congressman Mark Green. Congressman Green, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.
Green: Michael, thanks for having me on the show.
Leahy: It was great seeing you Saturday at the Secretary of State Pompeo event in Franklin. I guess the two of you were classmates at West Point.
Green: He and I and Esper. My class, I’m really proud of those guys. They’ve done a lot. We’ve got 19 generals. And, of course, Mike as well.
Leahy: There’s another guy who’s a West Point graduate, the current secretary of defense. His name is Lloyd Austin and he was a four-star general. You would think that he would, actually, I don’t know, be good at his job.
But I don’t think he’s very good personally. I don’t know what he’s doing. He has an announcement that you criticized. Tell us about that and your criticism of that announcement about vaccines.
Green: Well, first, let me say I served with Lloyd Austin. He was a Battalion Commander in the 82nd Airborne Division when I was a rifle company commander in a sister Battalion of the same brigade. And so I’ve known Secretary Austin for a very long time since the early 1990s.
And he was thought of as a competent officer then. What he’s doing now is he is following the directions of his commander in chief. This is all coming from Biden.
But the thing that really upset me was he made an announcement that they were going to mandate vaccines on soldiers and regardless of whether or not it was approved.
And that’s against the law. And the issue for me is the executive branch and the legislative branch are supposed to be co-equal branches of government. But over the last 20 to 40 years, the executive branch has continued to take power from the legislative branch.
And the legislative branches seeded that power. And when they basically assert that they’re going to break a law, that got my dander up, as we used to say. We sent the letter. Of course, he quickly put his date well past what is expected to be FDA-approved.
He’s going to wind up being fine because I think FDA approval happens within the first week or two of September. And his order gives the commanders 30 days to figure out a plan. So I think he’s going to wind up being safe.
But the assertion that the executive branch can just do what it wants contravening the law is illegal, and Congress needs to get some guts and stand up to the executive branch. And that’s what I was trying to do.
Leahy: I think you were very effective at that, Congressman Green. I never served in the military. You served in the military. Went to West Point, a decorated combat veteran, and served in Iraq.
Famously you were the physician at the time when Saddam Hussein was captured, and you spent an evening safeguarding him in his cell and talking to him. And you wrote a book about that.
Green: Yes. No, I’ve had an unbelievable experience in the military. I tell people I initially went into the military as an infantry officer. I figured if you are going to be in the Air Force, you should fly an aircraft.
If you’re going to be in the army, you ought to be an Army Ranger infantryman. Now, there are a lot of tankers and aviators out there who will argue with me over that. But basically the very tip of the spear.
And then about midway through my career, I became a physician. A doctor had saved my dad’s life. And it really put the hook in me. So I have this sort of kill them/save them dichotomy in my military experience.
Warrior healer. And it was an unbelievable life experience that taught me so much. And I thank God every day for it. And I thank the American people who allowed me to serve.
Leahy: You said something very interesting earlier in the interview, and I’d like to see if you could expand upon this. When you said – and I noticed this phenomenon – and it’s very troublesome to me.
It speaks to the politicization of the very top levels of our American military. You talked about how you’ve known the Secretary of Defense Austin for many years. And you said that when you served with him, your assessment was he was a competent officer.
My question to you is – and again – I never served in the military. I’m just looking at this from afar. What happens to competent officers who rise to the top and become overtly politicized in a very bad way? I think it’s like an epidemic in the American military right now. What’s your thought on that?
Green: Well, it’s a consequence of this wavering of law. Once again, they allow waivers on this one. But there’s a law that says a four-star general or any general officer can’t serve in the secretary of defense’s position.
I think they have to wait seven years. And in the case of both General Mattis and General Austin, they waived that rule. And you got a guy who hasn’t made that transition from being a military officer to being a politician because the secretary of defense is a political position.
It is a civilian in control of the military who works directly for the commander in chief. In that role, some would criticize my classmate Esper for not being a politician. There are arguments out there that suggest he wasn’t enough of a political leader in that position.
And that position requires a political leader and someone who can do that. I don’t have so much of a problem with him executing guidance. He just can’t do it himself. He can’t arbitrarily state himself that he’s going to make a mandate without following the law. Even the president can’t do that.
Leahy: I know you served with or in the same arena as the current Secretary of Defense Austin did. But I look at what he’s doing, and I’m just going to say, he looks like a political hack to me. He does not at all look like a competent military officer. And it makes me worried about our national defense.
Green: Yes. I mean, it should make all of us worry. It’s impossible for him to look good because he works for a terrible President. The President has cut their budget by $4 billion real dollars, and this guy has to come to the Congress and say, hey, it’s a great budget.
We love it. And I know Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley hate that budget. But they’re working for a guy who wants to spend 16 percent more dollars on everything else in the federal government. Trillions of dollars on Green New Deal stuff.
It’s startling that they’re cutting U.S. defense spending weeks after Russia announces its got nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles and they revealed a brand new competitor fifth-generation fighter aircraft, fifth-generation to the United States with the words in English ‘checkmate’ written down the side of it.
So Lloyd Austin’s problem is he’s working for a terrible president, and he’s trying to sell that crap. And it just isn’t selling to any American.
Leahy: Yes, that’s exactly right. And the other question is, does our military have the capability to defeat China in a war right now?
Green: Oh, absolutely. Hands down. It’s not even debatable. But there are significant areas where we will take the over matches gone. For example, with hypersonic missiles, our carrier strike groups, are going to have to compensate for the loss of overmatch in that area.
The Chinese aircraft carriers don’t even begin to compete with ours. And you have to remember this about the Chinese: they have never fought. It’s been since the ’79 invasion of North Vietnam that they brought a large-scale ground operation.
We have been managing combat at the theater level for 10, 20 years. Just from an experience standpoint, concentrating combat power at the precise moment in time is extremely difficult.
When you think about using satellites and radio and different forms of communication to put Naval, Air Force, and Army assets at a precise point on the battlefield perfectly coordinated to the second. That’s really hard. And we’ve been doing it really well.
Leahy: Congressman Mark Green, thank you so much for joining us today. Come back again and come in studio sometime. I’ll make you some coffee.
Green: Yeah, I should do that. My wife wants me to. Let’s do it! Let’s do it!
Listen to the third hour here:
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