There’s a Republican feud escalating in a Central Florida congressional primary. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Al Santos and candidate for Congress in Florida 7th District has been questioning Republican opponent Cory Mills about his truthfulness on a story he has been telling on the campaign trail and whether this is a stolen valor situation. Santos is even calling on Mills to withdraw from the congressional race.
“Cory Mills continues to exaggerate a story he is telling on the campaign trail about his alleged role in rescuing Americans from Kabul after the Biden Administration’s chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan,” said Santos. “As a Personnel Recovery Officer qualified by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency myself, there are components to his story that do not make sense. Goldstar Families, wounded soldiers, and all combat infantry veterans that in fact were in action at that time are offended. There is no honor on what he is doing for political gain and unfortunately this is an example of stolen valor. As there are so many veterans running for this seat, he should know better and I ask him to drop out of the race.”
Republican candidate Mills recently brought up a rescue story while appearing on FoxNews this week, saying “look, I know about rescues,” when talking about Brittney Griner during a segment on the Gutfeld! show. “Look, I know about rescues,” Mills said. “As you know, I conducted the very first successful rescue of Americans out of Afghanistan. We rescued a mother and three children.”
Fellow Republican Santos says Mills did not follow proper procedures.
“After the Biden’s disorganized withdrawal, on August 18,2021 the FAA published compliance guidelines on charter flights,” Santos added. “A pilot needs to get a Prior Permission Required (PPR) approved to land in Afghanistan. PPRs are an essential part of a flight plan. Cory Mills put in danger his crew and U.S. forces on the ground because he did not follow the procedures. The commander on the ground was furious, Cory admitted in one of his interviews. He has misled, veterans, media, political leaders, and the constituents of U.S. Florida District 7.”
Santos also expressed frustration with Mills announcing plans about rescue missions.
“Moreover, if a rescue team is going in to rescue a subject, then the extraction team does not announce when, where and who they are going to rescue or recover,” Santos said. “You don’t telegraph your plan to your enemies. It is shameful that Mills has fabricated a story like that and he must drop out of the race. He lied and his actions have driven many veterans to the conclusion that he has stolen valor from the teams that in fact have infiltrated under a period of darkness to recover Americans. As a United State Army Officer, my oath to the nation is never going to expire therefore it is my duty to report this. He could have been Court Martialed if he would have been in uniform.”
While in the military, Santos held a wide range of leadership positions from Senior Advisor to the Afghan Commander Special Operations Brigade South, Kandahar, Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, to Director and Team Leader Commando Course and, Cobra Strike Training Program Afghanistan. Moreover, in 2007 to 2008 he was the Commander of the Counter-Drug and Counter Narco-Terrorism Programs in Colombia and part of the effort to search and recover three Americans hostages held by the FARC.
“At the time, all relief flights into Kabul must have had permission from the Defense Department in accordance with FAA guidelines,” Santos said. “Without prior approval, U.S. air carriers were prohibited from flying over nearly all of Afghanistan. Santos was in Afghanistan when President Biden announced the end of U. Military Operations. I was on the ground as the Team Leader of the Afghan Commando Program”. “General Miller, the US Commander of US and Coalition Forces, called key personnel to tell us the Biden decision to withdraw. That meeting took place in Camp Command, and I was one of the few that was there.”
Al Santos, who was part of Special Operation Joint Task Force-Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) under the PAE contract, said that a search and rescue mission is not a joke. Also, Lt. Colonel Santos was the Commander responsible to design, establish and manage Operations Enduring Freedom Caribbean & Central America, a counter narco-terrorist program created to combat criminal and terrorist organizations operating in that region.
Santos’ campaign is also touting his own background and experience. He earned his Bachelor in Pre-Law, Bachelor of Business Administration from Columbia College, a master’s degree in National Security from American Military University, a master’s degree in National Strategy from U.S. Army War College, a Business Analytics degree from Harvard Business School, and is working toward a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Liberty University. As a decorated senior Army officer, a Bronze Star recipient, Lt. Colonel Al Santos says he is ready to get back on the front lines for families, communities, and country.