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Leon Panetta On Why Civilian Control Of The Military Is Important
President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a slew of generals to serve in his cabinet, calling into the question the long-held U.S. tradition of civilian control of both the government and the military. His selection of legendary retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to serve as secretary of Defense has made lawmakers and constituents uneasy about how much influence the military will have in policymaking.
We talked to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who also worked as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Obama Administration. He told Task & Purpose that it’s not about keeping the military out of power — it is about understanding our nation’s history and balancing it with the needs of the whole country.
“I go back to George Washington on that,” he said. “When he resigned his military commission in order to become president of the United States, he made it very clear that our government ought to be headed by civilian leadership.”
However, he added, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have military experience or have not served this country in uniform.
“When you take these jobs, you now have a much broader responsibility, not just to the military, but to the civilian leadership of the nation both president as well as the Congress,” he said. “I think it is important that those who head the Department of Defense have an understanding of the broader concerns that you have to be aware of in this country related to our constitution, related to our rights and freedoms, related to our system of governing.”
As for the nomination of Mattis to his former job, Panetta believes he is a good choice.
“I worked with Jim Mattis. He was head of CENTCOM when I was [at the Pentagon]. I actually was pleased that his name was being considered,” he said.
Because Mattis has only been retired since 2013, he will still need a Congressional waiver to bypass the seven-year cooling off period required between serving in the military and being appointed Defense secretary.
“I knew that he would have to get an exemption from Congress and I understand that requirement. I also know that Congress ultimately would make sure that he understands the civilian role of secretary of Defense,” Panetta said.
He believes that Mattis is the right person for the job, particularly for Trump’s cabinet.
“I think he’ll be an anchor in this new administration that will hopefully try to steady the ship when it comes to national security issues,” he said.
Two Air Force pararescue Airmen were awarded the Silver Star Medal on Friday for saving dozens of lives during separate Afghan battles in 2018 and 2019.
Tech Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen both received the third highest military award for their bravery. Fisher also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government covertly moved to expel two officials from the Chinese embassy earlier this year, after they drove onto a military base, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
The newspaper reported on Sunday that one of the two Chinese officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.
The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this fall, and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.
Trump set to announce he's withdrawing 4,000 troops from Afghanistan amid troubled peace talks with Taliban
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.
This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.
Thomas Hoke can still recall the weather in December 1944, and the long days that followed.
The battle started on Dec. 16, but his company arrived Dec. 27 and would stay there until the battle's end, nearly a month later. By the time he arrived, snow had blanketed Germany in what was one of the biggest storms the country had seen in years.
"It was 20 below and a heavy fog encompassed the whole area," Hoke, 96, recalled from his Emmitsburg home.
The fog was to Germany's advantage because Allied aircraft were grounded, including recognizance flights, allowing the Nazis to slip in.
West Point is investigating a hand gesture made by several cadets and midshipmen during an ESPN pre-game broadcast at the Army-Navy game Saturday after clips of the signals went viral because of their association with white power.
"West Point is looking into the matter," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets."