Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Army's most senior officer rejects Donald Trump's claim that generals pursue war to enrich defense firms saying troops are ONLY sent to fight as 'a last resort'

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville made statements Tuesday that refuted President Donald Trump's comments that Pentagon brass sends American soldiers to war to make defense companies happy. 
'I can assure the American people that the senior leaders would only recommend sending our troops to combat when it's required for national security and a last resort,' McConville told Defense One. 'We take this very, very seriously how we make our recommendations.'
'I feel very strongly about that,' the top Army officer added.  
At Monday's North Portico press conference the president said that while the soldiers loved him, 'the top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.'    
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Defense One that American troops are only sent in as a 'last resort.' 'We take this very, very seriously how we make our recommendations,' McConville said
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Defense One that American troops are only sent in as a 'last resort.' 'We take this very, very seriously how we make our recommendations,' McConville said 
McConville tried to say his statements weren't a direct response to what President Donald Trump (pictured) said Monday: that Pentagon brass sent soldiers to war to keep defense companies happy
McConville tried to say his statements weren't a direct response to what President Donald Trump (pictured) said Monday: that Pentagon brass sent soldiers to war to keep defense companies happy 
McConville told Defense One he wasn't directly responding to Trump's comments but also offered that 'many' of the senior leaders have children who serve.
'When I take a look at the senior leaders in the United States military, many of these leaders have sons and daughters that served in the military,' he said. 'Many of these leaders have sons and daughters who have gone to combat who may be in combat right now.'
Trump's remarks seemed to indicate that he believed it was the nation's top military leaders who were behind an article in The Atlantic, where un-named sources claimed the president called those who fought and died in combat 'losers' and 'suckers.' 
Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Tuesday said the president's comment on military leaders was not directed toward any 'individual' but 'was more directed about the military-industrial complex,' a phrase made famous by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961 as a warning about its power. 
'He's not going to let some lobbyists here in Washington DC - just because they want a new defense contract - suggest that [soldiers] need to stay abroad one minute longer than they should,' Meadows said at the White House.
'He's been consistent about stopping these endless wars, he's going to continue to fight against the special interest groups here in Washington DC,' Meadows said of President Trump.   
Mark Meadows defended Donald Trump Tuesday after his boss attacked top military commanders on Monday, complaining they just want to keep defense contractors 'happy' as he argued soldiers in the field 'love me'
Mark Meadows defended Donald Trump Tuesday after his boss attacked top military commanders on Monday, complaining they just want to keep defense contractors 'happy' as he argued soldiers in the field 'love me'
Trump's comments were seen as suggesting top military leaders were behind an article in The Atlantic, which reported he made disparaging comments about U.S. troops - above the president is seen with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on June 1 as Trump walked to St. John's church for a photo-op
Trump's comments were seen as suggesting top military leaders were behind an article in The Atlantic, which reported he made disparaging comments about U.S. troops - above the president is seen with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on June 1 as Trump walked to St. John's church for a photo-op
President Trump - seen with the National Guard in Louisiana last month - has long touted his support for soldiers, saying he's given them a pay raise
President Trump - seen with the National Guard in Louisiana last month - has long touted his support for soldiers, saying he's given them a pay raise
Trump's attack comes as current and retired military officers have been notably quiet about the allegations in the article, which dropped like a bomb on the White House last week and left them launching a massive counter offensive, including statements from former aides and posting many photos of the president with soldiers on social media. 
Among those who have been silent are John Kelly, the retired Marine general who was Trump's chief of staff and at whose fallen son's grave the president is said to have said he 'didn't get' why troops signed up, and who was with him on the trip to Paris where he allegedly disparaged fallen World War One Marines.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper defended the president on Friday, citing Trump's support for the troops but his statement stopped short of an outright denial of the article's explosive allegations.
'President Trump has the highest respect and admiration for our nation's military members, veterans and families,' Esper said. 'That is why he has fought for greater pay and more funding for our armed forces.'
Esper, whom Trump appointed to the job, was defense contractor Raytheon Company's chief Washington lobbyist before he became Army secretary in 2017 and then Defense Secretary. 
The president also defended himself in an onslaught of retweets on Tuesday morning. 
Trump retweeted articles featuring former aides defending him including his former National Security Advisor John Bolton and his former deputy Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes. 
He also retweeted an op-ed from a soldier who described who Trump came to Dover Air Force Base after his wife was killed fighting in Syria.

Trump's remarks come as many current and retired military leaders including John Kelly (above), the former White House chief of staff and a retired four-star general, have been silent on the allegations in The Atlantic article
Trump's remarks come as many current and retired military leaders including John Kelly (above), the former White House chief of staff and a retired four-star general, have been silent on the allegations in The Atlantic article 
Trump was meant to join John Kelly in paying his respects to Kelly's son's grave and comfort the families of other fallen service members in Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2017 (above). However, Trump reportedly turned to Kelly and said: 'I don't get it. What's in it for them?'
Trump was meant to join John Kelly in paying his respects to Kelly's son's grave and comfort the families of other fallen service members in Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2017 (above). However, Trump reportedly turned to Kelly and said: 'I don't get it. What's in it for them?'
Trump has had a strained relationship with the military since he used federal forces to quell Black Lives Matters protests in Washington D.C. in the wake of the death of George Floyd. 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley expressed regret for walking through Lafayette Square to St. John's Church in what turned out to be a photo op during the June protests. 
Trump has been vigorously defending himself in the wake of the publication of The Atlantic piece last week. At least 14 former staffers who were on the 2018 Paris trip have denied the article's report, as has first lady Melania Trump.  
The president called the story a 'hoax.'
'Only an animal would say a thing like that,' he said Monday of the allegations in the article. 'There is nobody that has more respect for not only our military, but for people that gave their lives in the military.' 
Trump side stepped a question at his press conference on Monday as to whether he would ask Kelly to speak publicly on the matter. 

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