Under former-Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, the US military was increasingly faced with new restrictions and requirements, which were often designed to generate political points. President Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has a different focus: winning wars.
In a memo obtained by the Military Times, Mattis has ordered a review of all “requirements for mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks.” Mattis wants the military to focus less on social engineering. Instead, he wants to encourage each branch of the military to spend more time on counterintelligence training.
“I want to verify that our military policies also support and enhance warfighting readiness and force lethality,” Mattis said. This kind of straightforward focus could never have been achieved by Obama’s Secretary of Defense appointees.
Yet, this new review is perfectly in line with President Trump’s stated goal of removing the political correctness from our Armed Forces.
As a presidential candidate, Trump was asked how he would be different from the Obama administration in actions related to the US military.
A questioner asked, “Sir, the US military has been long successful because of the warrior ethos that’s part of its DNA. But under [the Obama] administration, that ethos has been under attack and in some cases, undermined by the forces of political correctness.”
“The military has become an institution for social experiments and as a result, the military’s undergone a number of changes through regulations with regard to women in combat, transgender rights, and other issues,” the questioner continued. “None of these PC actions were combat effective or readiness driven.”
Trump agreed and argued, “You’re right, we have a politically correct military and it’s getting more and more politically correct every day. And a lot of the great people in this room don’t even understand how it’s possible to do that.”
“And that’s through intelligence, not through ignorance, believe me,” Trump added. “Because some of the things that they’re asking you to do and be politically correct about are ridiculous.”
In line with that sentiment, Mattis sought to re-focus the military. In his typical “poetic” way of phrasing all matters of war, Mattis wrote in his latest memo that he wanted to see “a concentration on the art and science of warfighting.” The process for hiring civilian workers will also be reviewed during this process.
Additionally, Mattis emphasized the need for each branch to be allowed the flexibility it requires to prepare service members for their particular role in warfighting.
This review will be conducted by a working group under Anthony M. Kurta, the Pentagon’s Undersecretary for Personnel & Military Readiness. The position has yet to be filled by President Trump’s administration, though Trump has put forth a nominee, Robert Wilkie. Trump also intends on keeping Kurta to serve as the permanent principal deputy to the position.
Mattis wants the military to focus less on social engineering and more on the work of the military. Isn’t it about time?
Wilkie’s appointment has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, but already many have spoken in support of his nomination, according to a report from the Washington Examiner.
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has said Wilkie has, “unparalleled experience, wisdom, and insight when it comes to military issues and understanding of the challenges facing our men and women in uniform.”
It is unclear if Wilkie will be confirmed in time to contribute to this new review ordered by Mattis. It will be completed by December 1, 2018.