Mattis And Kelly Made A Secret Pact To Babysit Trump

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly pay respects at the funeral of Pvt. Harry K. Tye at Arlington National Cemetery, Mar. 28, 2017. Pvt. Tye was killed on Nov. 20, 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa. His remains were recovered by History Flight from Cemetery 27 on Tarawa and interned on U.S. soil. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dana Beesley)
DoD photo

You know you’re living in unusual times when the sanest person in the executive branch of the U.S. government is nicknamed “Chaos.”

That’s the primary takeaway from an Associated Press curtain-raiser on retired Marine Gen. John Kelly’s ascension to the rank of White House chief of staff. While the executive role traditionally considered gatekeeper to the commander-in-chief and the constitutional authority he wields, the AP hints at a different dynamic in the Oval Office:

[Secretary of Defense James] Mattis and Kelly also agreed in the earliest weeks of Trump’s presidency that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the administration’s internal dynamics.

“Orders rapidly emerging from the White House” is a delightful euphemism for the president's tendency to rule by decree tweet, a habit that has roiled a Department of Defense scrambling to interpret whether Trump’s unpredictable digital broadsides are, say, a signal of imminent attack on North Korea or something slightly more innocuous. Republican lawmakers who spoke to the AP are praying that Kelly, a retired four-star general known for his disciplinarian streak, will “forcefully clean the place up.”

Axing foul-mouthed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci less than two weeks into the job is certainly a good start for Kelly in terms of ending the turmoil that’s plagued the executive branch since Trump’s inauguration, but the AP story indicates that Mattis and Kelly — who, it's worth noting, recommended each other for Secretary of Defense in the weeks after Election Day — have been actively working to reign in Trump’s more quixotic impulses since his inaugural. Together with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford — another Marine general and reportedly one of Kelly’s closest friends — they form a troika of Marine Corps discipline around an Oval Office brimming with chaos.

This is far from, you know, a military coup: Trump’s prerogative has been to surround himself with the most generals since the end of World War II. And though observers of the imperial executive may cringe at the idea of an elected commander-in-chief vesting an unelected Cabinet official with constitutional decision-making authority as Trump did with Mattis and Afghan troop levels, a filter of generals seems like a more palatable option to realpolitik by tweet.

That said, there’s one more element of the AP story that really stands out: the date. Aug. 1 marks 5,777 days since the start of the War in Afghanistan, but more importantly, it marks the 31st anniversary of the publication of The Baby-Sitters Club — and something tells me it’s Mattis’s secret favorite.


The submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) sits anchored at Ulithi Atoll, Dec. 7, 2019 (Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Richard A. Miller)

The Navy is investigating dozens of videos of service members changing in a bathroom which were then shared on the website PornHub, according to a NBC News report.

According to the report, an agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service found the videos on PornHub earlier this month. The videos, which have since been taken down, show civilians, sailors and Marines, some of whom have visible name tapes.

Read More
U.S. Army/Jaerett Engeseth

We already knew that Army Rangers were a unique breed of badass, but performing real-time blood transfusions while under enemy fire on the battlefield takes it to an entirely new level.

Read More

An upcoming comedy show is boldly mocking what everyone else is, well, already mocking: The Space Force.

Read More
The Kremlin

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

A recent report from the Vietnam Veterans of America says that American vets are targeted by Russians and other adversarial governments online. Specifically, there are many Facebook pages and other social media catering to vets that are really operated by foreign entities.

Some may ask, so what? If the pages are fun, why does it matter who runs them? The intelligence officer in Moscow isn't running a Facebook page for American veterans because he has an intense interest in motivational t-shirts and YouTube rants in pickup trucks.

He's doing it to undermine the political and social fabric of the United States.

Read More