Monday, September 19, 2016
Rubble is a noun that describes waste or debris from the demolition of buildings in the form of stone, brick, and/or concrete. After saying U.S. “generals under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have not been successful,” and that under their leadership “generals have beenreduced to rubble, reduced to a point where it is embarrassing for our country” during a media extravaganza produced by NBC, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been deluged with criticism for his assertions. Unfortunately criticism aside, there is both truth and merit to his statements whether the word used was rubble or rubbish.
By definition rubbish is something very bad, worthless or useless, it means that something has lost its utility (the state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial). If one looks at how the military leadership has been rendered impotent (utterly unable to do something for lacking in power and strength) he is correct. Since Obama began his term in 2009, with respect to the U.S. military and armed forces, one thing has been clear – he has removed more of the top military leadership brass than any president in modern times. Let us just look at his record to start with. Since taking office, high ranking military officers have been removed from their positions at a rate that has never been seen before by a U.S. President. In fact it is somewhat reminiscent of what we have just observed Erdogan do in Turkey. One report notes that President Obama has removed or purged the military of at least 197 top admirals and generals in his first five years.
Obama fired Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette, commander of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, for disobeying orders when he sent his group on Sept. 11 to “assist and provide intelligence for” military forces ordered into action by Gen. Carter Ham. By the way, Gen. Ham. was also 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.
Then there is the strange issue of President Obama’s approach to defeating the Islamic State. It is well documented that President Obama typically silences any general that advises the use of US groundtroops in Iraq. The Whitehouse has done this publically and behind closed doors. His consistent mantra, regardless of the advice of those with military and combat experience is that the US will not fight another ground war in Iraq nor will he put US boots on the ground.
This albeit US commanders inform him that it is improbably that the United States military will ever be able to defeat ISIS via air power alone. Gen. Lloyd Austin was the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Gen. MartinDempsey was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2011 to 2015 both advised President Obama that ground troops would be required t defeat ISIS. Yet still, any advice offered that didn’t match Obama’s political aims (not military aims) were rejected, in particular the use of ground troops. Instead, President Obama unilaterally decided that he knew better and would only send an additional 475 U.S. troops to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Even General Austin’s predecessor, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, said Obama’s decision not to send ground troops basically makes the mission to defeat ISIS improbable.
It is true Obama had to reduce the number of troops on the ground in Iraq, but namely because he failed to even try to argue against the levels outlined in the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq. At the time there were around 45,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and generals on the ground had requested a reduced number but did not foresee the military's troop-level going below 10,000. But such a number was too high for the Obama administration which preferred a number closer to 3,000, which meant that this was never a combat mission but rather served a training only commitment.
The same can be said for the mission in Afghanistan as well. It is well know that the Afghan military do not have the necessary combat troop levels and power to protect every part of the country let alone to be in the position to effectively counter the Taliban. Gen. Martin Dempsey replacement, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated that he didn’t agree with Obama’s decision to pull all troops out by the end of 2016. His purview was that such a troop reduction seems to place policy over military implications.
This has been noted by several military experts. Retired Army Gen. John Keane, who devised the 2007 Iraq troop surge and has advised Afghan commanders in the past question Obama’s approach to Afghanistan as well as Army Gen. John Campbell, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, among others.
Keane pointed outthat Gen. Campbell wanted to retain the current force of 9,800, but Mr. Obama “cut that in half,” adding that President Obama frequently “does not listen to his combat field general,” and on six occasions ignored “field commander recommendation on force levels for troops in combat.” And like ISIS, the Taliban is becoming more brazen and powerful while claiming more area without any real push back from the Afghan security forces or police.
In addition, Obama’s plan will have to depend on an unlikely assumption: that the formation of an inclusive Iraqi government under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi can manifest. This is the only way President Obama will have a 1 percent chance of defeating the Islamic State without U.S. troops being on the ground. In addition, this means that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will have to make significant inroads into healing sectarian wounds that were engendered by Nouri al-Maliki. But bringing the new Shia-led government to a Kumbaya moment with Iraq’s Sunni minority may proffer to be a lot more difficult and could result in Sunni tribesmen moving towards ISIS instead of away from them. This approach is not only mousy and incoherent; it also involves serious risk (mainly having to depend on an incompetent and dysfunctional Iraqi military).
So Donald Trump may be more accurate than some may desire. When the President fires, without hesitation, top Brass the likes of the aforementioned, and never even considers firing or disciplining appointed member of his staff when they break the law, there has to be some additional motive and or reasoning behind such. Obama. The question is why deliberately reduce or military leadership to rubbish?