US Cabinet of Generals Get Mixed Reviews

US Cabinet of Generals  Get Mixed ReviewsUS Cabinet of Generals  Get Mixed Reviews

Donald Trump’s move to pack his administration with military brass is getting mixed reviews, as Congress and others struggle to balance their personal regard for the individuals he’s choosing with a broader worry about an increased militarization of American policy.

No fewer than three combat-experienced retired Army and Marine leaders, with multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, are on tap for high-level government jobs normally reserved for civilians. Others are entrenched in Trump’s organization as close advisers, AP reported.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will serve as the president’s national security adviser, and Trump announced retired Marine four-star Gen. James Mattis Thursday night as his secretary of defense. In addition, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is a likely pick to head the Department of Homeland Security.

All three had high-profile military careers leading top commands. But their experiences can have markedly varied effects, making some officers a bit cautious when considering plans to send troops into battle but making others more likely to urge aggressive military responses to national security crises and less patient with the slow pace of diplomacy.

Some Democrats oppose passing a law overriding a prohibition on an officer leading the Defense Department before he has been out of the military for seven years. That law has been waived only once in American history, for George Marshall in 1950. 

Flynn’s appointment does not require congressional approval and there is no similar law for Homeland Security.

Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in June 2013 and Kelly retired early this year. Flynn retired in 2014 after being pushed out of his job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“While I deeply respect General Mattis’ service, I will oppose a waiver,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the Armed Services Committee. “Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.”

Rep. Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, echoed that concern, saying that while Mattis served with distinction, “civilian control of the military is not something to be casually cast aside”.

It is unlikely, however, that those trepidations will threaten Mattis’ nomination. He has broad support from Republicans, who hold the majority in both chambers, including from John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Still, national security experts raise concerns about the possibility of a greater reliance on military solutions to international problems.

    Jon Soltz, who leads the liberal political action committee VoteVets, said, “We should never lose sight of the balance in civilian and military roles that has served our nation well for centuries.”

The generals themselves have expressed little worry about any militarization of US policy.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints