Category Archives: military news

Gen. Mattis comes clean: ‘I had to leave the administration’

James Mattis is showing his class, his devotion to country and his dedication to public service. How? By revealing that Donald Trump’s shamble-driven management style forced him to resign as secretary of defense.

He quit because of policy differences with the commander in chief. Trump, quite unsurprisingly, dismissed the differences he had with Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, a combat veteran and — to my way of thinking — one of the few actual grownups who has served in the Trump administration.

Mattis became frustrated with Trump’s policy pronouncements by Twitter. He couldn’t function while there was no clear line of communication between his staff and the White House.

So, he quit.

I, along with other Americans, was struck by tone of Mattis’s statement announcing his resignation. He took great pains to salute the men and women who served under his command; he paid tribute to his Pentagon staff and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn’t say a word of praise for the president of the United States.

Gosh! Can you imagine that?

Atlantic magazine has published a story telling how Mattis told those close to him about his decision to leave the administration. See the story here.

The bottom line for James Mattis is that he just “couldn’t take it any more.” Who knew?

Welcome home, Col. Knight

Roy Knight Jr. has come home.

It wasn’t the way he ever would have wanted. But he’s home. Finally. Fifty-two years after dying in battle during the Vietnam War.

But that’s only part of this drama.

Knight was an Air Force fighter pilot who perished on May 19, 1967, when his jet was shot down during a mission over Laos during the war. His remains were only recovered early this year. Authorities were able to identify through thorough examination of dental records.

But wait. There’s much more.

Knight said goodbye to his young sons at Dallas Love Field as he left to fight in that war. One of those sons, Bryan Knight, grew to become a pilot. He flies today for Southwest Airlines, based at Love Field.

Bryan Knight had the singular honor today of bringing his father home, transporting his remains aboard the Southwest flight. I am trying to wrap my arms around the emotional burden the younger Knight must have felt knowing he was bringing his father home so long after he said goodbye to him.

Good heavens. I am getting emotional just writing these few words.

What’s more, Col. Knight’s arrival aboard the plane piloted by his son was announced through the Love Field public address system. When the announcement came through the intercom, employees and passengers stopped what they were doing to watch Col. Wright’s casket being removed from the plane that brought him home.

Knight received full military honors upon his arrival. “Our Southwest Airlines family is honored to support his long-hoped homecoming and join in tribute to Col. Knight as well as every other military hero who has paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces,” the airline said in its statement.

My goodness.

Welcome home, Col. Knight.

Shut up, Lou Dobbs!

Lou Dobbs doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he calls American general-grade officers “snowflakes.”

The Fox News business correspondent/talking head stepped in it with a comment about the generals’ opposition to the militarization of the Fourth of July celebration set for tonight in the nation’s capital.

“No wonder” they haven’t won a war since 1991, Dobbs wrote on Twitter, which lit up in return over Dobbs’ ridiculous bloviation.

Dobbs takes heat

Just for giggles, I sought to look up Dobbs’ background and came up empty in the hunt for any military experience. I am not suggesting that military critics who didn’t serve are not qualified to offer criticism of the brass. I am suggesting, though, that service in the military might have tempered Dobbs’ statements about the brass’ opposition to what Donald Trump is seeking to do with the nation’s tradition of honoring its independence.

And what, therefore, does the commander in chief think of the criticism from the ranks?

For his part, the president has been tweeting all day, apparently, about the thrill of seeing the finest military hardware on Earth while the nation commemorates its independence from colonial rule in the late 18th century.

What I should tell readers here, given Dobbs’ apparent lack of understanding of these matters, is that the military high command dislikes being used for political purposes. The men and women who serve do so to protect the nation, not to be used as props.

The generals’ opposition is not a matter of “snowflake” sensibilities. It’s a matter of understanding the mission of the world’s mightiest military establishment.

Get a grip, Lou Dobbs. Stick to business reporting and steer far away from — dare I say it? — “fake news.”

Once more, with passion: Military display is a bad idea!

I feel the need to restate once again something about which I feel quite strongly.

Donald Trump’s method of saluting the United States of America is a ridiculous sideshow. He wants to militarize the event. He wants to make some kind of speech that I fear will be highly political. He intends to divert attention away from what the founders created back in the late 18th century and focus more on himself.

That’s what narcissists do.

I don’t want to see tanks. I don’t want to see jet fighters zoom overhead. I don’t want to see the Joint Chiefs of Staff standing at attention next to the commander in chief. I don’t want to see military personnel dressed in their finest marching down the street.

We all know the obvious, which is that the U.S. military is the strongest the world has ever seen. Really! It is! I get it. I once wore an Army uniform and went to war for my country. I love the military. I just don’t want to see it used as a political prop for a president who has no understanding of just why we celebrate our nation’s independence.

Flexing our military muscle is not what we normally enjoy when we celebrate the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital.

Donald Trump is changing all of that. He can do whatever he wants. He is the president. It’s his call. It just is the wrong call.

That’s it. I’m out.

Here come the questions about the canceled strike

The questions have started coming forth about Donald Trump’s statement that he called off a planned strike against Iran after hearing about the potential for civilian casualties.

Hmm. Let me see how this played out.

The president assigned the Pentagon to draft a strike plan against the Iranians after the Iranians shot down an unarmed drone over international waters.

The brass followed the orders and then got the planes, ships and personnel ready to launch the strike.

Then the president decided to inquire about potential loss of life just as the planes were about to take flight? Is that right?

What kind of military planning didn’t divulge that information from the very beginning? Thus, we now have suspicion over what the president told NBC News’s Chuck Todd, that he was “cocked and loaded” to deliver punishment to Iran, but only found out at the last minute to cancel the strike because it would have been a “disproportionate” response?

This is the kind of suspicion that haunts Donald Trump. He seems unable or unwilling to execute a plan the way it should be done. He wants us to believe that the Pentagon’s military planners didn’t tell him from the outset about the casualties that would be inflicted by such a strike?

Please.

Wanting to believe POTUS on canceled strike, but then …

I truly want to believe Donald Trump’s statement that he called off a strike against Iran because it wasn’t “proportionate.”

I want to believe that he asked about the potential for civilian casualties and then decided the strike was too heavy a punishment against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran had shot down a drone aircraft over international waters. The Iranians allege the craft, which was unarmed, was flying in its territorial air space.

Trump then sought to retaliate for the shooting down of a U.S. military asset. He said our forces were “cocked and loaded.” He said he was set to send the craft against the Iranian targets, but then he thought differently about it.

The brass told him there would be civilian casualties, possibly 150 people, Trump said.

So he backed off.

Do I believe him? Do I take him at his word, that he’s telling us the truth? Hah! How is that even possible, given this individual’s penchant for prevarication?

I am left to presume the president is giving it to us straight, absent any public rebuke from the military brass that took part in developing the response.

I stand at the moment highly relieved that the president didn’t heed the advice from the uber-hawks among his national security team who argued for a military strike that might have produced a seriously dangerous response from a seriously rogue nation.

Another ‘acting defense secretary’ set to take over

How is this going to work?

The United States well might go to war with Iran. We’re still fighting terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and who knows where else. The Pentagon has just ordered another 1,000 American troops into the Persian Gulf region.

Against that backdrop, the acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, today has pulled out of the nomination to become the permanent defense boss.

Is this another example of Donald Trump’s “fine-tuned machine” in action? Is this how we’re supposed to believe that our national security network is in steady hands?

Trump has named Army Secretary Mark Esper to be the latest acting defense secretary. For how long will Esper be the “acting” Pentagon boss?

Oh, my.

I’m still trying to get over the resignation of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who quit because of serious policy disagreements with the president, who then lied about Mattis being “fired.”

Shanahan said something today about wanting to spend more time with his children. Trump said Shanahan had done a great job as the acting defense secretary. There were reports of a domestic disturbance in 2010 with his now former wife, which might have played a part in his decision to pull out of the effort to be confirmed as permanent defense secretary.

The revolving door keeps on turning at the Pentagon. It is happening at a time of tremendous national peril.

What in the world can possibly go wrong without a strong hand at the Pentagon helm?

Frightening.

Mr. POTUS, your service now isn’t the same as it might have been

I want to visit one more — and I hope final — time the manner in which Donald Trump avoided military service during the Vietnam War.

He received medical deferments related supposedly to bone spurs. Young Donald received several such deferments while young men were dying in Vietnam, a country that was “so far away,” as the president noted recently in an interview with Piers Morgan.

He says that his time now as president is making up for his lack of service when he was of age to wear a military uniform.

I also recall Trump telling us when he was running for president that his military school enrollment passed as more or less the same as serving in the actual military. No … it wasn’t even close to the same as what many of us were enduring in the late 1960s. Really, I know what I went through in the Army and I am quite sure that Donald Trump didn’t experience the things millions of us did during that time.

Trump says now he would have been “honored” to serve. Really? Well, I don’t know how one can refute such a contention, except to remind the president that he could have sucked it up, locked and loaded a weapon and, well, served his country.

He didn’t do it, just as his father didn’t serve during World War II.

Instead, according to congressional committee testimony delivered by his former friend and lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump once said, “Do you think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam!”

Mr. President, I don’t believe my service in Vietnam was a “stupid” act. I also don’t think others of us who did answer our nation’s call believe they were acting stupidly.

We merely did our duty, Mr. President.

OK, on this matter I am out … I hope.

‘OK … we’ll go’

U.S. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had to make the most difficult of decisions on this day 75 years ago.

Does the supreme Allied commander of all forces in Europe send men into a storm, or does he wait for the sky to clear enough for these men to save the world from the tyranny that had conquered much of Europe?

The weather over the English Channel had forced one postponement of the launch of an invasion. The general waited and waited. Then Ike told his high command, “OK, we’ll go.”

On the morning of June 6, 1944, thousands of men from the United States, Great Britain and Canada climbed into landing craft and proceeded to launch an invasion that many historians believe turned the tide toward victory in Europe. Ships from many nations bombarded the shoreline. Warplanes dropped thousands of bombs and strafed the enemy. Paratroopers flew during the night and dropped behind enemy lines to begin the attack.

The main invasion force landed on five beachheads on the coast of France. Normandy became the bloody battleground where those men fought their hearts out to liberate a continent.

Dignitaries from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada — and many other Allied nations that played a role in that liberation — will gather at Normandy to pay tribute to the men who answered humanity’s call. The president of the United States Donald Trump will be there, along with British Prime Minister Teresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

They will no doubt be joined by a few of the dwindling number of men who are still among us. They are old men now. The next landmark commemoration, in five years, when we mark the 80th year since the D-Day landing, well could occur without any of those brave warriors. They are well into their 90s now and, of course, time is not their friend.

It’s been reported many times that Gen. Eisenhower wrote two statements prior to sending those men into battle. One of the statements referred to a failed mission. Ike was prepared to take full responsibility for that failure.

He didn’t have to read that statement to the anxious world. The mission, which was fraught with error and misjudgment, nevertheless succeeded. The men secured the beachhead, caught their breath, gathered up their equipment and then began the march across Europe.

So, we will honor those men’s untold bravery. We must always honor them for the valor and the righteousness of the cause for which they fought — and died.

Actually, Mr. Acting WH CoS, it is a big deal

The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, went on the record this morning by declaring that the kerfuffle over the USS John McCain is “much ado about nothing.”

It’s not a big deal, he told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd.

OK, actually it is a big deal, sir. It’s not the stuff of political cataclysms. But it’s a big enough deal for the Pentagon to implore the White House to stop politicizing the military.

You know the story. Donald Trump traveled to Japan for a state visit. The U.S. Navy, it has been confirmed, issued an order to hide the name of a U.S. destroyer, the USS John McCain, from the president’s view. Trump and the late senator from Arizona, Republican John McCain, were political adversaries. They had said some nasty things about each other. Trump once denigrated McCain’s heroic service as a Vietnam War prisoner by saying he was a hero “only because he was captured.”

The idea that the Navy — where McCain served with distinction until he entered politics in the early 1980s — would be used as a cudgel to beat on the namesake of a warship is an act of cheap politics. It has no place in the military.

The White House has said that Trump played no role in the shielding of the name. The president has said he “wouldn’t do that.” I’ll accept the denials of direct presidential involvement.

However, the matter is a big deal insofar as it dragged the military into a political dispute.

Once more, with extreme vigor: The men and women who serve in all branches of the military do not act as tools in political struggles; they take an oath to protect the rest of us from foreign adversaries.

Thus, the political directive that drags the military into the midst of a domestic dispute is a big deal.