WASHINGTON — Retired Gen. Paul Selva, who served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Donald Trump, is among the more than 480 national security leaders who today announced their support for Joe Biden to become the nation’s next commander in chief.
The list includes five former secretaries of the Navy, two former Army secretaries, four former Air Force secretaries, two retired governors, and 106 ambassadors
But the name that may raise eyebrows the most is Selva, a retired four-star Air Force officer who was re-nominated by Trump to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He filled the role for Trump’s first two and a half years in office and had multiple interactions with Trump during that period, which included high tensions with North Korea in 2017, strikes against Syria in 2018 and Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone in 2019.
Presidential campaigns frequently share lists of national security supporters as a way to boast their bona fides.
“We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it,” reads the endorsement letter, organized by National Security Leaders for Biden. “While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.”
The letter from Biden’s team comes 10 days after the campaign of President Donald Trump released its own endorsement list of 235 retired military officials, who warned that a Biden election will hand control of the country to “socialists and Marxists.”
The Biden endorsement letter includes signatures from over 200 retired general officers, including 22 four-star and 38 three-star officers. There are also nine retired sergeant majors and five retired command sergeant majors represented. The rest of the list is made up of civilian officials who have served in various national security roles.
Many of those supporting Biden will not be a surprise; figures such as former Secretaries of Defense Ash Carter, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, William Cohen and William Perry were all appointed by Democrats, while Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright have been vocal critics of Trump.
Among self-identifying Republicans who signed the letter: former Navy secretary and chairman of Airbus Group Sean O’Keefe; former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, and former undersecretary of defense for policy Eric Edelman, the latter of whom also signed the 2016 “Never Trump” letter.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.