TOMS RIVER-Until now, nobody has been quite sure what Democratic congressional candidate Andy Kim’s role was as an appointed civilian White House official during the Obama administration when he was dispatched to work in Afghanistan.
When he began his campaign, Kim stated on his official campaign website, “From the White House, I helped our nation lead a global war against ISIS, from our military headquarters in Afghanistan I served as a strategic adviser to Generals David Petraeus and John Allen, and from the Pentagon I helped our nation build a strong military.”
After being called out by his opponent, Republican Tom MacArthur, Kim walked back his claim on his campaign website.
The revised campaign claim then read, “I worked at the White House on countering terrorism and protecting our country, advised the Secretary of Defense and the Pentagon on national security, and I served in Afghanistan as a strategic adviser to Generals David Petraeus and John Allen,”
Still, the claim was too far fetched for many local veterans to believe. Working in an office, writing Microsoft Word documents, is not exactly, “…countering terrorism and protecting our country.”
For months, we have been trying to get Andy Kim to sit down and talk about his service in Afghanistan, to offer clarity, but he has refused.
This week, General David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan during Kim’s stint in the country gave more clarity on what Kim may have done overseas.
“Andy Kim was part of the Commander’s Initiatives Group (CIG) which included speechwriters and a handful of other very thoughtful, intelligent individuals,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus said that for part of his time as the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Kim was a staff member on the CIG. The general did not say exactly how long Kim worked for him.
“CIGs are essentially internal think tanks that typically provide direct support to high level commanders and members of the Joint Chiefs,” he added.
According to the U.S. Army website, CIG teams are often made up of current and ex-service members who advise generals. Behind those veterans and lower ranking officers are teams of research analysts and book smart individuals who help the CIG team perform research tasks and help the commanding officer. Their tasks can include anything from researching the history of engaged combatants or an area of operation to writing speeches for their commanding officer. They are essentially the back office for the CIG.
The Army employs civilian workers to assist the military side of the CIG team. Often times they are recruited by the commanding officer, such as the case of Adam MacAllister, who caught Petraeus’ eye after writing a paper in the “Small Wars Journal”. MacAllister, a former Army officer and war veteran was chosen to serve on the general’s CIG by the general himself.
Others are chosen to work on the CIG through political mechanisms and appointments.
“The Commander’s Initiatives Group provides essential direct assistance to the commanding general by developing, synchronizing and distributing key elements of his vision and strategic objectives to internal and external audiences in order to successfully execute whatever the campaign for that unit is,” one former U.S. Army Sergeant explained on Rallypoint.com.
Ryan Peters, a former U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. has been critical of Kim’s embellishment of his role in Afghanistan. Peters said this week that serving in the CIG is one of many jobs that are essential to the overall war effort, but like any job during a war, whether military or civilian, in Kim’s case, those who served should not embellish their war records.
Peters described Kim’s campaign claims as “Stolen Honor”.
“It’s completely laughable and offensive. I’ll give civil service its due but he wasn’t fighting the way John Kerry was and most veterans,” Peters said in an interview with the Burlington Times. “That line shouldn’t have been used. Once you start to equate yourself to guys who have experienced being shot at everyday, you’re going to get pissed off people. It’s not stolen valor … but I would say it’s stolen honor.”
While the key strategists and policymakers of the CIG teams consist of military officers and military advisors, the civilian component of that team does much of the administrative leg work.
Colonel James Seaton, III confirmed Kim’s role on the Petreaus CIG.
“Andy was the author of all the official preparation material for the high-level talks and was the point person for the State Department coordinating the Foreign Minister’s entire visit to Washington,” said Tom Nides, a former Obama White House official. “I asked him to take on the critical role of doing the official write up of that meeting so it would become a road map for our political engagement with Iraq going forward.”
What has been confirmed is that Kim, a Rhodes scholar and intelligent individual did serve on the general’s CIG team, but his role was clearly an administrative one, preparing documents and writing papers for the general and his staff. His duties on the CIG fell far short of his campaign claim, “I helped our nation lead a global war against ISIS.”
After leaving the CIG, Kim was later identified simply as a notetaker for the Bureau of Northeastern Affairs for the U.S. State Department.
As of Thursday, September 5th, Kim, the DCCC and his campaign team have refused to speak about his work on the CIG. t.