Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Trump Shocked His Natsec Staff By Reading The Wrong Speech At NATO
When President Donald Trump addressed the other leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last week, he shocked them by demanding member countries pay their dues — even though they don’t have dues. But even worse, Trump ignored Article 5, the idea that an attack against one member is an attack on all. When you fail to mention a NATO founding principle — which has been invoked only once in the alliance’s nearly 70-year history, to support the U.S. after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks — that’s the diplomatic equivalent of egg on your face.
As it turns out, most of Trump’s national security advisers — including Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — were also horrified by the president’s speech for a simple reason: It wasn’t the one they’d approved.
The three men all had advised Trump “to include the language reaffirming the so-called Article 5 provision in his speech,” according to Politico’s Susan Glasser, “and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode.”
Trump aides told news media that a solid Article 5 commitment to NATO allies was originally included in the president’s speech, according to Glasser. “They had the right speech and it was cleared through McMaster,” a source told her. “As late as that same morning, it was the right one.”
But when Trump started talking, the infamously quixotic commander-in-chief went off script, and his national security team “realized their boss had made a decision with major consequences—without consulting or even informing them in advance of the change,” Glasser writes.
So what happened? According to Glasser’s sources, one of two things:
- Trump was being Trump: “The president appears to have deleted it himself, according to one version making the rounds inside the government, reflecting his personal skepticism about NATO and insistence on lecturing NATO allies about spending more on defense rather than offering reassurances of any sort.”
- Trump got new speech text from two “nationalist” advisers with little experience in national security affairs: “another version relayed to others by several White House aides is that Trump’s nationalist chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy aide Stephen Miller played a role in the deletion.” That’s consistent with what we know about Miller, the white nationalist-connected coauthor of Trump’s now-discarded original “travel ban,” and Bannon, the former Breitbart Media CEO, who believes in a clash of Christian and Islamic civilizations and describes his governing ideology thusly: “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
Whatever the explanation for Trump’s unexpected speech — and those two seem at least plausible — it’s opened a rift in his administration and suggests that the “cooler heads” advising the White House on national security, running the U.S. military and diplomatic corps, cannot prevail on Trump when Trump wants to Trump.
And that raises questions about what other counsels of prudence an increasingly erratic president might ignore down the line. “Are these people going to steer Trump,” one ex-U.S. official told Glasser, “or are they simply going to be made enablers?”
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.