Mike Pompeo Didn’t Serve in Gulf War (or Claim Otherwise)
In response to inquiries about frequent media mentions of the Director's wartime service, the CIA has confirmed he did not serve in combat.
Various stories are out overnight pointing out that current CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo never served in Operation Desert Storm.
The Splinter (“The CIA Says Mike Pompeo Didn’t Fight in the Gulf War“) seems to have broken the news.
In the frenzied game of musical chairs that is the Trump administration, CIA Director Mike Pompeo is set to become the next Secretary of State. It’s an ideal time, then, to clarify details of his biography, including a rather major one: did Pompeo, as numerous profiles have stated, fight in the Gulf War? We asked the CIA, who confirmed that he absolutely did not.
Pompeo is a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1986 to 1991. But he wasn’t deployed to the Gulf: In an email this morning, a spokesperson for the CIA told us, “Director Pompeo was in the U.S. Army at the time of the Gulf War – serving until 1991. He was not deployed to that theater.”
The question was first raised on Twitter Friday morning by Ned Price, a former CIA officer who served under President Obama, and who very publicly quit the CIA rather than work for President Trump, announcing the decision in a February 2017 op-ed in the Washington Post. Price pointed out that among other places, Pompeo’s Wikipedia page suggests that he was deployed. It currently states that Pompeo “served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the 4th Infantry Division in the Gulf War.”
More prestigious outlets including New York (“It Turns Out Mike Pompeo Never Served in the Gulf War“), The Week (“How did a false rumor about Mike Pompeo being a Gulf War veteran make it into major newspapers?“), and Washington Press (“Trump’s new Secretary of State nominee was just dragged into a military service scandal“) follow suit.
I’ve certainly seen Pompeo’s Gulf War service cited multiple times. But, as best I can determine, he’s never claimed to have served. Looking at both the Internet Archive and Library of Congress archive, Pompeo’s Congressional biography, going back to at least 2016, has always been consistent on his military service. His initial bio, going back to January 2011, states:
Mike attended the United States Military Academy, graduating first in his class at West Point. Following graduation, Mike served with distinction as a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, leading troops as they patrolled the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin wall.
Later, it evolved to this version, which he used until leaving Congress for the CIA:
As a teenager, he enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated first in his class from West Point in 1986 and then served as a cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the Fourth Infantry Division.
Mr. Pompeo graduated first in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1986 and served as a cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the US Army’s Fourth Infantry Division.
It’s his West Point time that he touts most proudly. Indeed, he named his tech company Thayer Aerospace, after the most important superintendent in the Academy’s history.
Presumably, a lot of publications and even Congressional profiles starting quoting from his Wikipedia page. I suppose Pompeo should have been aware that this was happening but it’s against Wikipedia’s terms of service for people or those connected with them to edit their bios. If he’d noticed people incorrectly attributing wartime service, he should have corrected it. But unless Pompeo was actively claiming combat service, there’s not much here.