The Teddy Roosevelt Incident Is Just The Tip Of An Iceberg!

After a brief synopsis on the USS Theodore Roosevelt incident, this article from the Military Times treads into the morass that is the Trump regime’s treatment of the US military. It’s worth digging into the whole thing. But some highlights:

Unfortunately, this astonishing episode was no isolated incident, but rather another disturbing manifestation of the current administration’s drive to politicize the military. The skipper’s relief and the secretary’s self-immolation were interesting grist for the news cycle, but this dismal story points at a darker problem.

As several commentators have recently observed, the norms of civil military relations have over the last three years have steadily been eroded. When norms are continuously violated without anyone making a stand to defend them, they simply cease to be norms — the exceptions accrete into a new rule. That should be of concern, not just to the US military which has always prided itself on being apolitical, but to the country as a whole, whose democratic values depend in part on a healthy relationship between the military and its civilian leadership.

Imagine a military in which senior ranks are awarded according to political affiliation, in which political proselytization of subordinates becomes commonplace, and in which displays of political allegiance become a regular fixture of professional events. These scenarios may appear to be somewhat far-fetched, but senior uniformed leadership has already tacitly accepted the first steps down the road to a military in which this kind of behavior is the new norm.

From the beginning of this administration, it became clear that this president didn’t necessarily understand or respect the terms of the implicit contract, grounded largely on Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington’s 1957 classic The Soldier and the State, that has, throughout successive administrations, helped maintain what has been mostly a well-balanced civil military relationship, based on mutual respect and trust.

One of the terms of this unique social contract is that the men and women who comprise the armed services, who are all taught at entry that they must keep their political beliefs and military duties separate, should not be used as political props. Instead this president never misses an opportunity to shape what should be morale boosting visits to the troops into campaign rallies. He even uses the traditional presidential holiday phone calls to personnel serving overseas as an opportunity to vent about his political opponents and boast about his accomplishments as president. This behavior is more than unseemly. It is dangerous to the health of the republic.

Another term essential to healthy civilian-military relations is the understanding that civilian leadership should involve, well, leadership. Recent actions by those in this administration, to include the president himself, indicate a failure to understand this aspect of leadership, by displaying an attitude approaching contempt for their uniformed subordinates.

Since the passing of the late Senator John McCain, I don’t know which House or Congressional members are retired military or at least veterans. But there certainly must be some and I would hope that they have been silently cringing at the President’s mistreatment of our armed services. It’s time for them to speak up…all of them…and right the balance between civilian control and military chain of command.

The last term of the implicit contract between the military and its civilian leadership is a reminder to both of the obligation that all military members take to support and defend the constitution, not the president or his administration.

emphasis mine

the author of this piece: Andrew Milburn retired in March 2019 as the Chief of Staff at Special Operations Command Central. Over a 31-year career he commanded Marine and Special Operations forces in combat at every rank.

h/t ~ SPM


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