Iowa congressional candidate Jim Mowrer has made his military service — both with the Iowa National Guard and as a civilian in the Pentagon — a cornerstone of his campaign.
At The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair in August, Mowrer, a Democrat, stumped on veterans’ issues, saying that serving alongside other young Americans is what gives him "such great hope for the future of our country."
Mowrer is seeking to unseat freshman incumbent U.S. Rep. David Young, a Republican in Iowa’s 3rd District, which includes Des Moines and Council Bluffs. And this week, Mowrer is up with his first television ad of the general election, highlighting his military record and history of service.
"True service is about putting others before yourself," the ad's narrator says over images of Mowrer in military uniform. "That is something Jim Mowrer has always done. After 9/11, Jim put us all first by serving for 23 months in Iraq, the war’s longest tour."
But, according to military records obtained by The Des Moines Register through a Freedom of Information Act request, Mowrer served one year, three months and 18 days of foreign service in Iraq — or about 16 months.
His campaign insists the ad is not misleading because his unit was deployed for 23 months, which included more than six months of training in Mississippi before departing to Iraq.
"Anybody who's involved in the military or is a veteran doesn’t parse between the time spent here training or in Iraq," said campaign manager Andrew Mulvey. "It’s all one deployment."
Col. Greg Hapgood, director of public affairs for the Iowa National Guard, declined to comment about Mowrer or the ad specifically. But he said there is a distinction between a "mobilization" or a "deployment," which includes time when soldiers are called up to active duty but may be training in the United States, and being "in country" with boots on the ground in a foreign combat zone.
"I think from a technical sense, if an individual is going to talk about their service and to be honest about that service, you’d need to differentiate between the total mobilization time and the time that was spent whether in training here in the U.S. or actually once you left the U.S. and went overseas into combat theater," he said.
"It is somewhat of a technicality, but if someone’s going to be honest about their service, that’s the correct way to characterize it."
Mowrer enlisted in the National Guard in 2003 and served for six years. He was part of a unit that was mobilized and deployed in the fall of 2005 to fight terrorism in Iraq.
According to a press release issued by the Iowa Army National Guard upon the unit’s return, the Iowans were mobilized in September and October of 2005 and were sent to Camp Shelby in Mississippi. After additional training, they were deployed to Iraq in March and April of 2006.
While in Iraq, Mowrer served as an intelligence analyst with the "Ironman Battalion," which was tasked with convoy security on the western region of the Iraqi theater of operations.
In January 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense announced an extension of that deployment from 12 months in Iraq to 16 months as part of the military's "surge."
The unit, which was in fact the longest-deployed unit of the Iraq War according to a congressional resolution, returned to Iowa in July and August of 2007, and Mowrer ended his service honorably in 2009 without being redeployed. He returned to Iraq as a civilian analyst and adviser to the commander of U.S. forces later that year.
According to military records, Mowrer was mobilized from October 2005 through August 2007 — almost 23 months. According to his discharge papers, he served one year, three months and 18 days of foreign service, or about 16 months.
The ad claims Mowrer served "for 23 months in Iraq, the war’s longest tour."
It’s true that Mowrer’s unit was deployed for 23 months, the longest continuous deployment of the Iraq War. But the ad says Mowrer "served in Iraq for 23 months," which is not accurate. Mowrer served in Iraq for about 16 months.
Being deployed, which can include training in the United States, is different from being "in country," with boots on the ground of a foreign nation.
We rate this claim Mostly False.