Pete Buttigieg who served two terms as the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, drew attention to himself in 2019, a year after he stepped down as Mayor when it was announced that he was running for president. Serving in the military can often set candidates apart from each other, but was this the case for Pete?
Pete Buttigieg was in the military, he served as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan. Buttigieg’s work formed part of the war on terrorism that was launched by George W. Bush following 9/11 with his role being to disrupt the flow of money that terrorist organizations were getting their hands on.
You can read more below about Pete’s time in the military, including why he joined the military to start out with.
An Eye-Opening Experience in Iowa
From reports, it is evident that Pete was a useful individual in the military, with a reservist saying that “The only negative thing I can say is that we lost him. The unit would have been stronger if he had stayed.”
But what was his motivation for joining the military? Was it a political move or a personal one?
Put simply, Pete was taken aback by his experience as a volunteer in Iowa on Barack Obama’s campaign where he noticed the high volume of youths signing up to the military.
“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. And I wanted to be on the right side of that gap.” Pete told CNN in 2019.
And perhaps his motive to join the military was also a little bit political because later in the interview Pete added that his military experience has enabled him to separate and distinguish himself from other Democrats including Donald Trump.
“It helps me demonstrate the difference between how I’m oriented and how [Donald Trump] is.”
Let’s take a look at Pete’s military service.
In 2009, Pete Buttigieg entered the military through the Direct Commission Officer where he served as a part-time intelligence officer for six years.
To hold Pete’s title you’d need a four-year degree relevant to the role, such as a degree in computer science or international relations. In Pete’s case, he’d graduated from Harvard with a degree in literature and history which probably wasn’t the most relevant to his job role, to say the least.
Recruiters from the military can normally tell if you’re suitable for the role in around two hours, so for Pete to become a naval officer having never been in the military before would indicate that the recruiters were impressed by him.
For Pete to deploy to Afghanistan in 2014, he had to take leave from his mayoral term. It was during his deployment to Afghanistan that Pete was in charge of disrupting the financial networks of terrorists in the country.
Although his role in the military doesn’t seem like it would be dangerous from the forefront, Pete has claimed that being an intelligence officer was very far from being safe and that it was indeed a dangerous job.
Pete was often assigned as a driver for his commander.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds though because he had to ensure two people with rifles were in the vehicle at all times to defend against ambushes. With Pete being the only rifle trained person in his unit he was always either driving or in the back with his hands on a rifle and his eyes peeled.
If there’s one thing to come out of a challenging experience, it’s that being in the military helped Pete come to terms with his sexuality, and shortly after he left the military, Pete came out of the closet.