The recent allegations about Trump’s comments on war heroes have disturbed many people even close to him. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the vice-chair of the Armed Services Committee, said that commanders are often reluctant to go into a battle as they have seen the damage it does to troops very closely. He added that their motivation is to serve the country and not fight wars, as indicated by Trump in his recent comments. Trump is getting a lot of flak for his comments on the armed forces, as alleged by the Atlantic magazine. According to reports in the magazine, Trump described war heroes as losers and suckers. However, Trump has denied all such allegations.
As though this was not enough, a new book was released by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward who said that Trump used even coarser language while talking about generals. According to Woodward, Trump used such derogatory words while talking to White House trader adviser Peter Navarro. In the early days of Trump’s presidency, the military leaders were happy to see him back generous pay rises and increase in military spending. As the military had a not so good relationship with the Obama administration, they liked Trump’s approach in the initial days. However, this has taken a new dimension as they often get to hear such comments made by Trump about the armed forces.
David Lapan, a retired Marine Colonel and former spokesman for the Department of Defense, said that this is the heart of everyone who served the country. Experts who observe the relation between Trump and the military say that the discord did not come just because of one statement. It has eroded slowly and led to this situation. Recently Trump had made a statement that senior military leaders advocate endless wars so that they can keep their defense contractors happy. This did not go down well with the military, and the Army Chief of Staff Gen James McConville said that they went to war only as a last resort, and they did not want to harm their troops in any manner.
The White House, however, denies all such reports and said that Trump is a strong supporter of America’s armed forces and its veterans. He loves brave men and women of the military and is honored to be their chief commander. White House Spokesman Judd Deere also added that Trump holds the families of armed forces in the highest regard as they have sacrificed a lot for the country.
Hal Brands, who specializes in American Defense policy, said that the relationship between the military and Trump was always shaky from the start. He added that Trump does not exactly model personal integrity or honesty and has always shown a lack of respect for the military officers. This has led to some clashes with the Pentagon, but his latest comments talking openly about war heroes in a derogatory manner has hurt it badly. When he initially addressed them as my generals, most veterans got a feeling that he did not want to understand the structure of the military, and he thought of it as his personal force and not something belonging to the country.
The military also lost trust in Trump after he intervened on behalf of the troops accused of war crimes. In the same way, his abrupt order to withdraw from Syria also caused tension with the Pentagon. Not stopping at that, Trump’s treatment of Kurds who have been US allies prompted Jim Mattis to resign from the post of defense secretary. Mattis and many others believed that withdrawal from Syria betrayed Kurdish allies, and this hurt their fight against the Islamic State Group.
Trump also used the active-duty troops to control the radical justice protests that were held in support of the Black Lives Movement after the death of George Floyd. Many veterans felt that it was sad to see security personnel, including the National Guard, clear protesters for a photo-op of Trump near the White House. Thornberry said that the military officials are incredibly grateful to the Trump administration for the budget increase that allowed them access to vital equipment repair and other things. Apart from that, more authority was given to commanders to make on the ground decisions when they were dealing with ISIS.
However, Thornberry added that Trump’s decision to send National Guard troops to Lafayette Square and other controversies have raised a lot of concerns among the military officials. Commenting on the Atlantic reports, Trump has said that he never made such comments and held the war heroes in high regard. He could not visit the cemetery on that day due to bad weather conditions. According to the Atlantic report, Trump denied visiting the cemetery to honor war heroes and said that it was filled with losers and suckers. He was referring to 1800 marines who lost their lives fighting for the country.
The White House has condemned the reports and said that the cemetery visit was canceled due to heavy fog, and it was unsafe for the President to go by car in such a crowded place. They also released statements from dozens of officials who said that Trump did not make such disparaging remarks about the armed forces. Some veterans, however, did not agree to such statements and said that they were not surprised to hear such comments from Trump. They said that even though the comments were disgusting, they were not surprising considering how Trump has behaved with the military in the last few years. They believe that Trump has always mistreated the military community and used them as props whenever needed for his political gains.
The military officials are also particularly concerned with the use of security personnel for domestic incidents. They believe that the US military holds such high ranks compared to other public institutions because the public trusts it to be apolitical. But how Trump has been using them in recent months shows that they are just like another government agency. This has done a lot of harm to their reputation built over many decades.