After several high-ranking staffers of Ben Carson’s presidential campaign abruptly resigned on New Year’s Eve, the former neurosurgeon tapped an even more conservative retired Army Major General to lead his campaign.
The New Civil Rights Movement reports that Carson has named Robert F. Dees Chairman of the Ben Carson for President 2016 campaign. Dees, a retired Army Major General and former infantry commander, currently serves as the vice president of Liberty University, the right-wing university founded by late televangelist Jerry Falwell — where Carson’s Republican rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, formally launched his presidential campaign last March.
Dees, a Texas native who reportedly first met Carson at a Houston church, has been a consistent antigay voice among right-wing thinkers, just last year bemoaning the inclusion of openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual troops in the U.S. Armed Forces as “social experimentation” that degrades the military’s “moral readiness.”
During last year’s conservative Values Voter Summit, which NCRM notes is organized by virulently anti-LGBT Family Research Council, Dees recycled a frequent antigay canard, telling attendees that letting openly gay people serve in the military “is not enhancing our [military’s] readiness,” according to NCRM. “It declines our readiness. We’re spending more time on some of these social engineering projects than we are on developing and maintaining readiness in our force.”
In December, Carson suggested that the U.S. military should reinstate its ban on out LGB service members known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and “deal with the transgender thing somewhere else,” instead of the Pentagon’s current plan to dismantle the long-standing military regulation that still bars transgender Americans from serving openly.
The 65-year-old veteran “has indulged in anti-Muslim bigotry and advocated for a national security strategy centered on Christian evangelism,” according to a November report from Foreign Policy. At the time, Dees identified himself as the “defense and national security advisor” for Carson’s campaign.
That’s important background for the GOP candidate and former neurosurgeon who has been criticized for lacking experience in in foreign and military policy. But while Dees graduated from West Point in 1972 and served more than 30 years in the Army, Foreign Policy notes that his resume does not list any combat experience.
That resume does, however, tout that Dees “speaks at numerous seminars and conferences,” including those hosted by certified anti-LGBT hate groups American Family Association and the Family Research Council. His resume also lists speaking engagements at Focus on the Family, Christian Broadcasting Network, and Wildfire Men’s Conferences.
At a 2013 Wildfire Weekend, an all-male Christian retreat, Dees sang the praises of evangelism within the military, telling attendees “My greatest pleasure has been being a private in the Lord’s Army,” according to Foreign Policy.
After he retired from the military as a two-star general in 2003, Foreign Policy reports that Dees spent six years directing a group called Military Ministry, an arm of the well-funded, highly conservative Christian Campus Crusade for Christ.
Foreign Policy unpacked Dees’s history with that organization:
“His Military Ministry was dedicated to converting members of the military to Christian evangelicalism. Under Dees, the organization oriented its mission around ‘six pillars,’ the first of which was: ‘Evangelize and disciple enlisted U.S. military members throughout their military careers.’”
In other speeches, Foreign Policy maintains that Dees has outright stated his desire to eventually “indoctrinate” the U.S. public to evangelical Christianity, and suggested that the U.S. can overtake enemy armies by converting them to his particular faith.
“The military may well be the mot influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure,” Dees said in a 2005 newsletter, according to Foreign Policy. “Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens.”