"I have more military experience than anybody who’s arrived behind that desk since George H.W. Bush."
As many readers already know, this comes down to a comparison between Buttigieg and the elder Bush’s son, George W. Bush.
As Buttigieg indicated, the late George H.W. Bush had an extensive military background. He was a lieutenant (junior grade) bomber pilot in the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving from 1942 to 1945. He flew a total of 58 combat missions, was shot down in the Pacific and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
That leaves the elder Bush’s son, George W. Bush, also a Republican, who was president from 2001 to 2009.
So, is Buttigieg’s military experience more extensive than George W. Bush’s?
Yes. The gay and married Rhodes scholar served longer in the reserves and saw active duty.
Buttigieg’s official mayoral biography says he served eight years, from 2009 to 2017, in the U.S. Navy Reserve. A spokeswoman for his exploratory committee cited to us a first-person reflection that Buttigieg wrote for his hometown newspaper, the South Bend Tribune, about his wartime service.
The article was about his taking a leave of absence as mayor, in 2014 during his first term, when he was called up to active duty to serve for six months as a counterterrorism intelligence officer in Afghanistan. The article included a photograph of Buttigieg in Kabul, wearing fatigues and a rifle strapped over his back.
The war in Afghanistan is now in its 18th year, as the New York Times noted in a summary. In 2014, the Pentagon declared an end to American combat operations. Since then, a smaller number of troops have remained to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations against groups like the Islamic State.
Buttigieg said: "I have more military experience than anybody who’s arrived behind that desk since George H.W. Bush."
Among the four men who have been president since the elder Bush, only George W. Bush served in the military: five years stateside with the Texas Air National Guard. Buttigieg served eight years in the U.S. Navy Reserve, including a six-month war-time deployment in Afghanistan, in 2014.
We rate Buttigieg’s statement True.