By Daniel John Sobieski
It was not hyperbole when GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said that under President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. military had been “reduced to rubble” and left floundering without a coherent strategy or meaningful capability to win wars. It is a fait accompli, engineered by our commander-in-chief to reduce America’s global footprint, an America he has profusely apologized for, and one he blames for all the world’s ills.
Almost as soon as he took office, President Obama began a military purge not dissimilar to those routinely conducted by third-world despots, with the goal of eliminating voices that might oppose his withdrawing America from the world stage. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized:
We recognize President Obama is the commander-in-chief and that throughout history presidents from Lincoln to Truman have seen fit to remove military commanders they view as inadequate or insubordinate. Turnover in the military ranks is normal, and in these times of sequestration and budget cuts the numbers are expected to tick up as force levels shrink and missions change.
Yet what has happened to our officer corps since President Obama took office is viewed in many quarters as unprecedented, baffling and even harmful to our national security posture. We have commented on some of the higher profile cases, such as Gen. Carter Ham. He was relieved as head of U.S. Africa Command after only a year and a half because he disagreed with orders not to mount a rescue mission in response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi.
Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette, commander of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, was relieved in October 2012 for disobeying orders when he sent his group on Sept. 11 to “assist and provide intelligence for” military forces ordered into action by Gen. Ham.
Other removals include the sacking of two nuclear commanders in a single week – Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, head of the 20th Air Force, responsible for the three wings that maintain control of the 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the No. 2 officer at U.S. Strategic Command.
From Breitbart.com’s Facebook page comes a list of at least 197 officers that have been relieved of duty by President Obama for a laundry list of reasons and sometimes with no reason given.
Retired four-star general and Fox News analyst Jack Keane, architect of the Iraq surge that produced the victory Obama threw away, recently spoke on Kilmeade and Friends about Obama’s ongoing purge of the military of officers who oppose his isolationist and defeatist policies:
It’s also a fact that a number of our general officers, not all of them but a number of them, were asked to leave before what would normally be accepted as the routine tenure for that particular position, and General Mattis is a case in point who had very strong views on Iran. Most of us agree with those views but I know the administration did not agree with them. General Flynn, who you know very well and had on your show, was an outspoken proponent for understand radical Islam, how dangerous this particular threat was and was trying to communicate that, he was not able to server out his full tenure. So yes, that’s another fact that we can substantiate, that there were generals who did leave earlier than what their tenure would be and the characteristic they all shared together is they did disagree with the administration on various points.
General Mattis is an old-school warrior known for his colorful rhetoric and his commitment both to his men and to his mission. He, along with other generals like David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, did have a problem with Obama’s quest for a substitute for victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the New York Post reported:
Lost in the inaugural hullabaloo was Tuesday’s news that President Obama has relieved Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the colorful and highly decorated Marine who’s been in charge of the crucial US Central Command, which oversees the various wars in the Middle East, since 2010[.] …
But why? Could it be that, as Obama prepares to cede Afghanistan back to the Taliban, the last thing he needs is an obstreperous general gumming up the surrender?
For an administration whose relationship with the military is, to put it mildly, fraught with tension, Mattis is yet another wall trophy, to go alongside the heads of Gen. Stanley McChrystal (fired in 2010 as the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan) and David Petraeus, who left CentCom to be buried alive at the CIA (and later resigned over the Paula Broadwell sex scandal).
Officially, the administration offers a nothing-to-see-here explanation for Mattis’ departure, noting that his tenure in the crucial job was about average for the post.
Maybe. But politics is at play here as well. The brusque Mattis apparently fell afoul of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, an Obama apparatchik. Why? Because Mattis says things the Obama team doesn’t want to hear, especially about what might well become the next theater of operations – Iran.
Retired U.S. Army major general Paul Vallely, also a Fox News analyst, shares the view that President Obama has actively purged the military of “hawks” willing to give him contrary advice:
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, notes how the White House fails to take action or investigate its own officials but finds it easy to fire military commanders “who have given their lives for their country.” Vallely thinks he knows why this purge is happening.
“Obama will not purge a civilian or political appointee because they have bought into Obama’s ideology,” Vallely said. “The White House protects their own. That’s why they stalled on the investigation into Fast and Furious, Benghazi and ObamaCare. He’s intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged.”
As Donald Trump was making his remarks about our depleted and emasculated military, word came that President Obama wants to cut the Army further from its current depleted size of 475,000 to 450,000 by 2018. Obama wants to cut an Army that as it is cannot meet its military readiness requirements, according to retired Army major general Bob Scales, who noted the hypocrisy of President Obama’s tribute to Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg at the 2014 State of the Union address:
Gen. Bob Scales, a retired U.S. Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College who is now a military analyst for Fox News, told Greta Van Susteren the day after the State of the Union of the sad state of U.S. military preparedness and expressed a fear it would lead to more Cory Remsburgs.
“Yeah, it broke my heart,” Scales said. “This great guy, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, think of this, Greta: 10 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in 10 years. What does that say about the overcommitment of our Army? And here is a president who uses him as an icon for the State of the Union.
“And yet the very service that he comes from, the Army, has 85% of its brigades not combat-ready. It does not have one single developmental program for a combat system at all. Zero.”
President Abraham Lincoln kept firing generals until he found the likes of Sherman and Grant, with the will and ability to win. Somehow I don’t think victory anywhere is President Obama’s goal. Donald Trump was right: President Obama has reduced the U.S. military to rubble. And he is about to make the rubble bounce.
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.