On Monday, President Trump made some comments about war and the military that gained a lot of attention in the media.
Trump said, via the Washington Times:
President Trump said Monday the U.S. has squandered trillions of dollars on military operations in the Middle East over the past two decades without winning any of the wars.
“We never win, and we don’t fight to win,” the new commander-in-chief told the nation’s governors at a White House meeting. “We’ve either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.”
Some people took Trump's comments as an insult to members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Independent Journal Review talked to five military officers about Trump's comments. They didn't hold anything back.
1. U.S. Marine Captain Jason Gold - Served in Iraq in 2009 in Sinjar, the town for Yazidis that ISIS overran.
"Any war we lose is a direct result of Washington incompetence and not the fault of the military or its members.
I don't think he is really that far off here. If we are in a war we should be in it to win it, but I don't think that's what's been going on for the past eight years.
I don't think Obama was trying to win. I think he was trying to pretend like he was i'n it to win it,' but did nothing but take half measures and not follow the advice of his generals. He withdrew us from Iraq ahead of schedule purely for political points, and against the council of his generals.
I think the argument against ever going into Iraq is a valid one at this point, so that's on Bush. However, Obama made it worse by withdrawing early and never truly trying to win."
2. U.S. Air Force Colonel and OSI Special Agent (Ret.) Michael Angley - Spent 25 years as a criminal investigator, served 5 tours around the world:
"In Afghanistan, we had a brief shock-and-awe campaign that routed the Taliban quickly and effectively. But then we seemed to pull back and engage in a war of attrition... in which we allowed the Taliban to regain itself both politically and militarily.
Additionally, the ROE under Obama were so restrictive that we never fully regained the kind of military advantage we had initially in Afghanistan.
Similarly, in Iraq the Obama administration was in too much of a hurry to withdraw combat forces and allow the Iraqi government, fledgling as it was, to provide for its own security. This allowed the terror group ISIS to form, and, taking advantage of Arab spring in Syria, consolidate power and begin to control large swathes of land in that region.
Our combat efforts since that time have been relegated to airstrikes and drone attacks that seem much less effective than the kind of warfare we waged initially."
3. U.S Army Green Beret and Captain Ben Bateman - Served in both Iraq and Afghanistan:
"President Trump doesn't like to lose and has built a career from decisive victories. However, the face of modern warfare has changed; many of our adversaries pose an unconventional threat to America, which will not result in decisive victory. President Trump's success in the future defense of our country will lie in his ability to build a strong team of military advisers that have gained phenomenal knowledge over the last three decades.
Our secure future, protecting the freedoms we know and love in America, is going to be to identify that what we have done over the past 16 years hasn’t worked and we need to chart a new course. Let’s review what has worked and increase funding towards that end, and cut funding from areas that aren’t working.
We don’t need to spend $400 million on an aircraft, when special operations on the ground will have the biggest impact versus unconventional enemies.
President Trump and his team will need to grow and empower SOF, without violating any of the SOF Truths/imperatives; specifically, SOF forces can’t be mass produced and humans are more important than hardware. Growing the forces is the right first step to 'not losing.'"
4. U.S. Army Warrant Officer Dan McClinton - Served three tours in Iraq:
"In a way, he's correct, but I would say it's not so much to do with the military and more about the national political will to do what is necessary.
There are times like during the Iraq surge where the military had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the president. Having been on the ground in Iraq then I can tell you that the war was essentially won by 2009-10, then President Obama pulled us out before the Iraqi Army was ready to take care of themselves.
It's a complex issue that isn't good for Twitter and sound bites. President Trump has a point, but I doubt that some people are willing to listen to anything he has to say just because of his track record, politics or just stubbornness."
5. U.S. Air Force Colonel Buzz Patterson and senior military aide to Bill Clinton - Flew operations in 69 different countries, carried the 'nuclear football' for Clinton:
"First, I agree with President Trump. We don't win wars anymore, but it's not due to our military or their heroism. It's due to the lack of political resolve at home. In fact, my book 'War Crimes' addresses this problem directly.
There are political leaders in this nation that use our military purely for political capital. Ronald Reagan had to rebuild the “hollow military” that Jimmy Carter passed to him and, now, President Trump is tasked with rebuilding a similarly hollow force bequeathed by Barack Obama.
Our military is tired, overworked and under-equipped. We will win wars again when we give our military what they need — and it's vital in this ideological world war."
These five experienced officers offer a valuable perspective into what Trump said. It's a perspective more people should be talking about.