Major General Bob Livingston is the Adjutant General for the State of South Carolina. He is seeking a second four-year term as the only elected Adjutant General in the United States. Bob is a native of Lexington County. His father comes from the farming community of Sandy Run and his mother comes from the West Columbia Mill Hill. As a Traditional Guardsmen, he is also the owner of Gregory Electric Company, Inc. Since 2004, he has spent most of his time on Active Duty serving first on a national security mission and then in Afghanistan.
So I recently interviewed the Adjutant General about his desire to run again and he quickly gave me three big reasons:
“First, I want to complete the changes the National Guard has made over the last four years. Over the last 12 years, SC has deployed over 18,000 Soldiers and Airmen into combat to become the sixth most deployed National Guard in the Nation. Yet, we are in the top five of all National Guards in the Nation in strength, readiness and capability. Often our units exceed the readiness of the Active Duty. This past winter, our Emergency Management, our State Partners, our Industry Partners and the South Carolina National Guard were lauded by independent evaluations for our response to the bad weather. The citizens of South Carolina benefited. During the same period we have helped our Military Members and Families perform the transition from civilian to military service and back again. We have lowered our high-risk behavior and suicide rates from twice the civilian average to well below the civilian average, while nationally the Army suicide rate continues to rise. Our traditional military member unemployment rate is below 3.4%, down from over 16% three years ago through the cooperation of over 4,500 industry partners. While ethics seem to be a concern in our Military in general, in South Carolina, we have a highly ethical force that continually reinforces integrity and respect for one another.
Second, We must work with the Army and Air Force Leadership, the Adjutant General Association, the National Guard Association and the Congress to guide our Army and Air Force to a cost effective medium to low risk solution to our Nation’s Defense. This is an area where we must continue to show senior leadership. The Administration wants to reduce its reserve as it reduces its Active Force. This reduction makes little sense because it saves very little money and puts the nation at risk. The National Guard is 40% of the force and only 10% of the budget. A non-deployed Soldier costs less than 1/3 of an Active Soldier. The National Guard has proven its capability over the last 12 years to include being over 50% of the total ground forces in Iraq two separate times. Most importantly, the National Guard is the Military’s tie to the community because the Guard is community based. This attempt to reduce the reserves was tried in 1995 with Congress reversing the reduction. The Nation was rewarded after 9/11 by the response of the Total Army. Army leadership said they could not have done it without the National Guard. All 50 Governors and all 54 Adjutants General along with most of Congress oppose the reductions to include force reductions and attack aviation reductions. This battle will be fought over the next 2 years and requires exceptional senior leader experience. The experience of business ownership helps tremendously. Our Congressional Delegation has proposed to stop current changes and require an external commission to study the future of the Army. All 50 Governors and 54 Adjutants support this commission.
My third reason is I want to allow the people to decide whether to continue electing the Adjutant General with no set qualifications in a partisan election or allow the Governor to select the Adjutant General with advice and consent of the Senate. The selection would use a very strict set of criteria to include the candidate being able to be a real General Officer upon selection, senior experience in the National Guard and to not allow the Adjutant to serve past a retirement date set by the US Military. We are the only National Guard and only Military in the World that elects its Senior Military Officer and we do it with no qualifications. In addition to possibly electing an unqualified officer, our election process can damage the necessary political neutrality of our Military although we have taken steps to prevent bias behavior to include not soliciting support or donations from within the Active Guard. No matter how we end up selecting our Adjutant General, I will provide 15-20 well qualified officers to replace me. The method of selection will appear on the November ballot.”
As you can tell, I had a pretty dynamic and passionate conversation with our current Adjutant General. He does have a Lieutenant Colonel from the Army Reserves running against him in the June 10th primary. Please review the choices. I think you will find that, based on his experience and vision, Adjutant General Bob Livingston will do South Carolina well by completing the work he began.