The Twilight Of The Trump Generals

The Long March
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Flynn blew up on the launch pad. McMaster lasted a year as the national security advisor. Now Kelly seems to be slowly sliding toward the exit. Can Mattis be far behind?

This all makes me wonder: What is the bottom line on Trump and generals?

I’d be interested in what you all have to say. But, sure, I’ll go first.

I think Trump had a cartoon notion of generals out of DC Comics. He must have been taken aback when he found out that many of them, far from resembling Marvel superspy Nick Fury, are fact-based people who believe deeply in the American system and especially its post-World War II role as a key stabilizing force in the world. They think NATO is a good thing. They loathe Putin as a thug surrounded by rich parasites. They swore oaths to uphold the Constitution, not a person holding power.

And so I think that, Flynn excepted, these generals have been extremely frustrating to this president. Instead of just going out and doing what he wants, they tell him why he is wrong. (McMaster did so in public, on Russia, and got a Trump tweet smackdown in return).

So, in the long run, I think the generals will be remembered as emblematic of Trump’s first screwy year, when as the estimable Maggie Haberman observes, Trump was new and scared. By contrast, Trump nowadays feels he understand the job and is doing magnificently if only people would stop probing his past crimes. So he has turned away from the generals and instead is stocking his staff with people he has watched on Fox News.

Unlike the generals, this new crowd has demonstrated through their work at a corrosive organization that they generally do not believe in the rule of law and will do what the boss wants, when he wants it, and how it wants it done.

The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys)

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First came the explosion. Then, the cover-up.

"I held one [sailor] in my hands as he passed. He died in my arms."

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USS Iowa on April 19, 1989. (Wikipedia Commons)

It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.

"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."

On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.

Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.

"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"

Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.

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One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.

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In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.

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