Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled a list of 88 retired staff and flag officers backing his bid to become commander in chief, a direct response to a flurry of high-profile military-themed endorsements by his Democratic rival in recent weeks.

Since the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in late July, party nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign has released the names of dozens of former military leaders and advisers supporting her presidential bid, including former CENTCOM Deputy Commander Marine Corps Gen. John Allen and former Republican Deputy Defense Secretary James Clad.

In addition, last month a group of 50 Republican national security officials released a public letter questioning Trump's qualifications and charging that he would "be the most reckless president in American history."

But the long list of supporters released Tuesday includes an open letter with the opposite message, arguing that Trump is the only candidate who can make the military strong and the country secure.

"For the past eight years, America's armed forces have been subjected to a series of ill-considered and debilitating budget cuts, policy choices and combat operations that have left the superb men and women in uniform less capable of performing their vital missions in the future than we require them to be," the message states.

"For this reason, we support Donald Trump and his commitment to rebuild our military, to secure our borders, to defeat our Islamic supremacist adversaries and restore law and order domestically. We urge our fellow Americans to do the same."

Signees include retired Army Gen. Burwell Bell III, former head of U.S. Forces Korea; retired Air Force Gen. Alfred Hansen, former head of the service’s Air Force Logistics Command, and retired Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, a former intelligence chief who has become better known for his post-service remarks against the gay community.

The letter also accuses Clinton of planning to continue the current administration’s policies of "hollowing out of our military" and failing to aggressively pursue terrorist groups worldwide.

The move comes just a day before both Clinton and Trump are scheduled to discuss military and veterans issues at a New York forum organized by NBC and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Both candidates have increased their campaign attention on national security and Veterans Affairs reform in recent weeks.

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at


Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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