Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is a Democrat in a Midwestern state who touts his military experience.
Buttigieg will join nine other candidates on Thursday June 27, 2019 for the second half of the first presidential debate in Miami, Florida. (You can take Heavy’s poll on the winner of Wednesday’s half, and read our summary of Wednesday’s winners and losers here.)
Buttigieg’s military experience is a highlight of his resume, and a cornerstone of the argument that he could play as a candidate in Midwestern states that helped give President Donald Trump the White House. According to ABC News, Buttigieg was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 as a U.S. Navy Reserve intelligence officer.
Here’s what you need to know:
Buttigieg Served in Afghanistan for the U.S. Navy Reserves
According to CNN, Buttigieg was deployed to Afghanistan for six months and spent six years “as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves.” He told CNN he mentions his military experience on the campaign trail because “It helps me demonstrate the difference between how I’m oriented and how the current President is. We responded to the country’s call to serve in very different ways.”
Buttigieg, 37, told The Military Times: “I joined the Reserves and started drilling in late 2009.” In 2015, Buttigieg wrote on his Facebook page, “I was honored to serve under General Joseph Dunford in Afghanistan, a tour of duty that ended one year ago today. Wishing him well as he assumes command this afternoon as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Buttigieg was mayor when he served. In 2014, Fox 5 shared a photo of Buttigieg in military dress and wrote, “We need more politicians like this! South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in the U.S. Navy Reserves and was deployed to Afghanistan in April. He still helps helps run the city via Skype while also protecting all of us.”
According to ABC, Buttigieg also spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq as a civilian contractor “for the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company,” where he worked from 2007 to 2010.
ABC reports that he hasn’t said much about what he did as a contractor but did say he worked on “war zone economic development to help grow private sector employment.”
Buttigieg Decided to Join the Military After Time on the Campaign Trail
What inspired Pete Buttigieg to join the U.S. Military? He told CNN that he worked as a volunteer for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama and, especially while in Iowa, he realized that a lot of rural youth were signing up for the military. He told the network it made him feel guilty because he had not done so as well.
“I might have dragged my feet on it forever if I hadn’t had that experience in Iowa and just realizing that some communities were almost emptying out their youth in the military and some were barely serving at all,” Buttigieg told CNN. “And I wanted to be on the right side of that gap.”
Buttigieg gave similar reasoning in an interview with The Military Times. “It was just really striking how many teenagers from these rural towns were headed straight to the military as soon as they were old enough,” he told that publication.
“And it prompted some soul searching for us. I got to thinking about how many of my Harvard classmates had served and there weren’t many.”