US Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has reacted to President Trump’s comments about the Pentagon top brass’s alleged support for profit-hungry defence companies, saying that as a rule, the military only makes the recommendation to send troops into combat when all other options are exhausted.
“I can assure the American people that the senior leaders would only recommend sending our troops to combat when it is required in national security and in the last resort. We take this very, very seriously in how we make our recommendations,” McConville said, speaking to Defence One on Tuesday.
“Many of these leaders have sons and daughters that serve in the military, many of these leaders have sons and daughters who have gone to combat or may be in combat right now,” he added.
McConville did not specify what qualifies as US a ‘national security’ interest, and whether this includes some of the battlefields in countries around the globe which US forces have been engaged in in recent decades, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to US air campaigns in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.
McConville’s comments follow Trump’s remarks at a press conference Monday in which the president accused “the top people in the Pentagon” of “probably” not supporting him “because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
Trump boasted that his administration has been “getting out of the endless wars,” defeating the Daesh (ISIS)* caliphate “100 percent,” and has gotten America’s NATO allies to spend more money on defence relative to the United States. “Trump – me – I got the countries of NATO to spend one point - $130 billion, going to $400 billion a year. Think of it: $400 billion a year more for NATO,” the president said.
Trump’s comments on the alleged connections between Pentagon generals and defence contractors were have been compared to a less eloquent version of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address, in which the retired WWII general warned Americans about the power of the military-industrial complex, and its influence on US foreign policy.
As a candidate, Trump repeatedly criticized the 2003 US invasion of Iraq by President George W. Bush, calling it a “big fat mistake,” and attacked President Obama for turning Libya into a failed state with the 2011 NATO bombing campaign. During the past three and a half years, Trump has avoided starting any major new wars, but has also so far failed to fully withdraw US troops from any of America’s major conflicts, despite making commitments to quit Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The president has also ramped up tensions with Iran, with the two countries repeatedly brought to the brink of war over the past two years since the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.