This Might Be A Problem For The Obama Legacy

On Wednesday, The Washington Examiner posted an article about Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, a book written by General James Mattis about his time as leader of U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some parts of the book do not portray President Obama in a positive light.

The article reports:

“From my first day at CENTCOM, I knew we faced two principal adversaries: stateless Sunni Islamist terrorists and the revolutionary Shiite regime of Iran, the most destabilizing country in the region,” he writes. “Iran was by far the more deadly of the two threats.”

That’s not how the president under whom Mattis served saw it, though, and Barack Obama eventually fired the storied Marine general for what Mattis believes were his insistent warnings about the Iranian threat.

Mattis says Washington didn’t even inform him when Iran committed an “act of war” on American soil.

The duty officer at his Tampa, Florida, headquarters on Oct. 11, 2011 told him that the attorney general and FBI director had held a press conference to announce the arrest of two Iranians who had planned a bomb attack on Cafe Milano, a high-end restaurant in Washington that was a favorite of the rich and famous, including Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.

As Mattis writes, “Attorney General Eric Holder said the bombing plot was ‘directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Qods Force.’ The Qods were the Special Operations Force of the Revolutionary Guards, reporting to the top of the Iranian government.”

The article concludes:

Mattis says his reaction to the Cafe Milano bomb plot contributed towards Obama’s decision to fire him abruptly.

“While I fully endorse civilian control of the military, I would not surrender my independent judgment. In 2010, I argued strongly against pulling all our troops out of Iraq,” Mattis writes. (Earlier in the book, he recounts a discussion he had on the subject in Baghdad with Vice President Joe Biden, who was in charge of Iraq policy but “ignoring reality” and uninterested in the considered opinion of the general in charge of operations there.) “In 2011, I urged retaliation against Iran for plotting to blow up a restaurant in our nation’s capital. In 2012, I argued for retaining a small but capable contingent of troops in Afghanistan. Each step along the way, I argued for political clarity and offered options that gave the Commander in Chief a rheostat he could dial up or down to protect our nation.”

The commander in chief chose another option: fire the CENTCOM leader.

“In December 2012, I received an unauthorized phone call telling me that in an hour, the Pentagon would be announcing my relief,” Mattis writes. “I was leaving a region aflame and in disarray.”

And the biggest threat in the region, Mattis says, then as now, was Iran. He predicted the Obama administration’s reluctance to punish Tehran for its bad behavior while the two sides negotiated a nuclear deal would come back to haunt the U.S. He concludes that “the Iranians had not been held to account, and I anticipated that they would feel emboldened to challenge us more in the future.”

Unfortunately I think that in the future we will see more situations where President Obama put his own search for a diplomatic victory ahead of the safety of Americans.

Remembering The Purpose Of The Military

On Tuesday, The Daily Caller posted an article about a military policy recently ordered by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The article reports:

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has ordered a full review of any military training not directly relevant to warfighting.

Mattis told the services to conduct a review of the “requirements for mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks,” according to a Friday memo obtained by Military Times.

In other words, Mattis wants a full examination of all the hours of burdensome, irrelevant training service members have to undergo before deployment.

“I want to verify that our military policies also support and enhance warfighting readiness and force lethality,” Mattis said.

Mattis also asked for a review into what should be done about permanently non-deployable service members.

We are sending our soldiers into war. They need to have the best military training possible, but we need to remember that there are only so many bits of information that a brain can handle. It is time to reconsider our priorities in order to protect our national security.

The recommendations resulting from the review of current training are due by Dec. 1, 2018.

The military is not a social experiment. Any policy or training that interferes with the readiness or cohesiveness of a military unit needs to end quickly. This is a very definite step in the right direction.

 

How To Solve A Problem

The first step in solving any problem is identifying the problem. Once you have identified a problem, it can be broken down into small parts and easily solved. That is exactly what needs to happen with the current state of the American military and our treatment of our soldiers and veterans.

On Saturday The Daily Signal posted an article about the steps President Trump is taking to rebuild our military.

The article reports:

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an exceptionally important executive order initiating both the beginning of the rebuilding of the U.S. armed forces and the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

Because he signed this order on the same day he signed the order on immigration it hasn’t yet gotten the attention it deserves. That’s a shame.

The order, titled “Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces,” has not yet been officially posted to the White House website. But a draft of the order, accompanied by news reports, gives us enough details to be able to assess it.

The order directs Secretary of Defense James Mattis to conduct a 30-day review of the readiness of the armed forces to assess their ability to conduct the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and other forms of radical Islamic terrorism, as well as near peer competitors and regional adversaries.

The article includes some disturbing information:

The Heritage 2017 Index of U.S. Military Strength assessed our overall military capability as “marginal, trending towards weak” because of many years of budget cuts and overuse. Our assessment found that the U.S. Army today is the smallest it has been since the start of World War II; the Navy is the smallest it has been since World War I; and the Air Force suffers from crippling shortages of pilots and maintenance personnel. For example, the average age of the Air Force’s planes is 27 years old.

The evaluation and rebuilding of our military could and should have been done through Congress, but unfortunately Congress has chosen not to make military preparedness a priority. Hopefully President Trump will be able to lead Congress to a place where they understand the necessity of a strong American military.

Fired For Being Good At His Job

This story is based on two sources–one at Breitbart.com on Monday and one at The Weekly Standard on Tuesday. Both sources report that General James Mattis, the current commander of U.S. Central Command, is being moved out of his job before that would normally happen. What was his crime?

The Weekly Standard reports:

…Pentagon insiders say that he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way — not because he went all “mad dog,” which is his public image, and the view at the White House, but rather because he pushed the civilians so hard on considering the second- and third-order consequences of military action against Iran. Some of those questions apparently were uncomfortable. Like, what do you do with Iran once the nuclear issue is resolved and it remains a foe? What do you do if Iran then develops conventional capabilities that could make it hazardous for U.S. Navy ships to operate in the Persian Gulf? He kept saying, “And then what?”

Inquiry along these lines apparently was not welcomed — at least in the CENTCOM view. The White House view, apparently, is that Mattis was too hawkish, which is not something I believe, having seen him in the field over the years. I’d call him a tough-minded realist, someone who’d rather have tea with you than shoot you, but is happy to end the conversation either way.

This is not a White House that embraces the idea of secondary consequences of their actions. If the White House had looked at secondary consequences, it is possible that the Arab Spring might not have turned into the Arab Winter.

The article at Breitbart reports:

Mattis also expressed concern over the consequences of certain aspects of the U.S. approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It seems this line of reasoning didn’t sit well with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

The Obama Administration does not seem to take kindly to people who ask probing questions.

The article at the Weekly Standard concludes:

We should all be worried. The combination of President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense—to be his hatchet man to slash the defense budget without regard to geopolitical realities—and the early retirement of a general renowned for his powerful blend of strategic sense and candor, bodes ill for the security of the United States. With a yes man as secretary of defense and a signal to the uniformed military that the frank and forceful presentation of the military’s view throughout the strategy-making and implementation process is not welcome runs counter to the principles of sound civil-military relations.   

Of course, a president has every right to choose the generals he wants, but it is also the case that he usually gets the generals he deserves. By pushing Mattis overboard, the administration is sending a message that it doesn’t want smart, independently minded generals who speak candidly to their civilian leaders. The message that generals and admirals may receive that they should go along to get along, which is a bad message for the health of U.S. civil-military relations.

By removing Mattis, the President has taken a wise voice out of defense discussions. Because we currently live in a very dangerous world, that is not a good thing.

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