Military strategy, Trump-style

President Trump delivered his version of military strategy after almost 17 years of war in Afghanistan.  As he stated previously, his instinct was to limit the war and remove the troops after spending almost $1 trillion and over 2,200 deaths.  Trump decided that the quick ending of hostilities would result in a worse future for our nation.  As a lesson in this regard, he reminded us of the damage ISIS terrorists and the like have done in the past week in Barcelona, Spain. 

After al-Qaeda, which at the time was housed by the Taliban leadership of Afghanistan within that country, committed the 911 attacks in America, we united to defeat this ideology.  Today, a weary and divided nation was given an option by the president that includes continued involvement in the region.  This, he feels, is preferable to allowing the terrorists to re-establish their stronghold.  He offered the opposition a chance for discussions when they are a willing partner for peace.  Presently, the terrorists have no interest in peace.  He also rejected the option to engage private soldiers as the primary force, favored by former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Trump agreed to troop number increases, which he did not announce.  He has decided that this information helps the enemy.  He did not announce decisions based upon timetables and has switched the strategy toward one of outcomes or conditions.  He also has clearly indicated that our partners must contribute more money, material, and troops to the battle with the terrorists.  To this end, he indicated that Pakistan must contribute more honesty and stop serving as a haven for the terrorists.  He wants India to contribute more to the fight.  He recognizes that the two nations have nuclear weapons and have often been antagonists.

Trump has most importantly determined that nation-building is not possible in this region.  But victory is not a concept that should be discarded.  To this end, Trump has removed many of the shackles of Pentagon bureaucratic control to allow field commanders and operational officers to make decisions.  Contract employees have performed many tasks in the Middle East, but they were not given the role of managing this war.  The obliteration of our enemies is now a goal of the military, not containment.

This past week, another naval accident in Asia provides some questions for our leadership.  The Seventh Fleet clearly has some issues to resolve.  Could the reductions in military spending from the Sequester have limited preparedness and training?  Is it possible that promotions were given to personnel not best equipped to manage our military assets?

During the past eight years, the military was overruled by Obama on many occasions.  This led to premature drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As a result, the terrorists regrouped, and ISIS was born.  The Taliban now controls or influences almost 40% of Afghanistan.  This cannot be considered a winning approach to limiting the terrorists.  But our patience is not limited.  The nations of the region must contribute more, or they face the wrath of Trump.  These nations must recognize that our president will ensure help but not provide a blank check for government corruption. 

Trump started his speech by honoring our soldiers and their sacrifice for our freedoms and decency.  In this way, he pointed out that our country assists the military by being united and limiting our internal fights.  He had a poor week after the dissension in Charlottesville, Va.  This speech shows a broader strategy for our nation.  Our military is more successful when our citizens support it and unite against hatred and bigotry.  The battle with terrorism is a battle against hatred and bigotry in the end.

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