By Waldo Butters
November 13 2015 “I know more about ISIS than the Generals do, believe me” -Donald J Trump
Former, current and future service members of the US Military should be curious and wary about this statement.
When a young man or women decides to take the oath to protect the Constitution of the United States of America from enemies both foreign and domestic, they are volunteering out of a feeling of patriotism. They are given plenty of opportunities before this oath to back out and to focus their lives on something other than the military.
After they take this important oath however they are “green” or inexperienced with current military basic standards. That’s where basic training comes into play. This is where service members are stripped of everything they thought they knew about the military and, well, life. They heard rumors about “boot camp”, they heard how hard it is, how easy it is, how tortuous it can be, how they never put their hands on you… Brave Men and Women learn daily, that they don’t know “jack.”
Basic training thrusts them into a world of the unknown, and, no matter how much they thought they knew, each service member goes through his or her own “rite of passage.” They learn first hand, “holy crap, I didn’t know jack.” This is the point where the US military wants their recruits to be. The point of no return, the point where the US Military is able to build their Soldier, Marine, Airman, Sailor etc. into an effective fighting machine.
This is where said Soldier, Marine, Airman, Sailor decides that they want to now make a difference. They gain the confidence needed to become proficient with service weapons, grenades, land navigation, peak physical conditioning and much, much more.
However, if you were to ask any one of these brave men or women if they know more than the Generals, that, at this point are an impossible distance of rank between them? The most likely answer would be “Hell NO!”
So this begs the question: Why does a billionaire businessman, with not one day of military service, both from himself or his children, make an absurd statement as: “I know more about ISIS than the Generals do, believe me?”
The answer is easy: Ignorance and lack of respect for career military leaders. To add further insult, less than one year later, this same billionaire businessman (we will call him Donald Trump) made this reckless and appalling statement:
June 5th 2016 [The Generals] don’t know much because they aren’t winning.”
This statement alone should have infuriated the lowest ranked service member, let alone top officers. But Donald Trump instead tried to blame this on President Obama. He insisted that Obama tied the hands of military leaders and while disparaging the Generals and calling into question their intelligence and years of training, he also blamed the former Commander-in-Chief. Let’s not be fooled, the military has been and will continue to be used as a political tool for politicians.
Donald Trump, however, was praised for being a businessman and not a career politician. So why the cheap shots at the military? Easy answer: it was a way to fear monger a nation consumed with ISIS and the threat of domestic terrorist attacks from “immigrants.” It was an opportunity for a “non” politician to gain ground against his opponents.
Let’s say you’re willing to give, now president Trump a pass. On January 10 2018, President Trump was tested by a journalist during a joint presser with the Norwegian Prime Minister with a question:
“Recently, an American General, Robert Neller, told his Marines based in Norway, ‘There’s a war coming, a big-ass fight.’ Mr. President, how imminent is that big war and where will it take place?”
Instead of answering with an informative, even protective answer, Trump responded with this:
“When you say the ‘big war’ you’re saying what?”
President Trump answered as if confused and uninformed. He continued:
“Well, maybe he knows something that I don’t know. I would say this: We have a very, very powerful military, we’re getting more powerful by the month, by the day…. We are building up our military to a point that we’ve never been before. We were very much weakened over the last period of time, but not with me.”
Context is everything and something President Trump seemingly lacks. The quote came from Gen. Neller when he was visiting and speaking to 300 US Marines stationed in Norway on Christmas (away from their loved ones). The good General wasn’t suggesting a war with any particular country was imminent. But that “The US presence in Norway has drawn ire from the Kremlin” a spokesperson later clarified.
This should be another eye-opening statement from President and Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump as he seems to be totally disconnected from the US military global mission and with the US commanders speaking to the troops about the most basic impact we have around the world.
Most presidents say silly things during the campaign like “Read my lips, no new taxes.”. Now we have a President who, instead of growing after one year in office, returns to petty and irresponsible rhetoric, thus further putting our young men and women in harm’s way.