One of President Trump’s most effective war tactics is the element of surprise. By avoiding transparency with military operations, the enemy is unable to mount a proper opposition in advance.
According to Newsmax, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) doesn’t like that he and other politicians are being kept out of the loop. McCain has announced that all Pentagon nominations will be blocked until Trump discloses more details about his Afghan war strategy.
Trump announced his Afghan war strategy in late August, but kept the details intentionally vague to avoid tipping off US enemies to exactly what would be executed. He did reveal that more than 3,000 troops would be sent as advisers to the Afghan government and its military, but did not specify what they would be advising on.
This lack of transparency is a deviation from former President Obama’s policy of revealing almost everything about his war plans, as reported by The Federalist. In Obama’s mind, if the American people knew the details of war planning, US enemies would be privy to impending engagements and, therefore, the nation would be forced to pursue diplomacy to avoid confrontation.
Instead, it resulted in the enemy being kept in the loop on nearly every engagement, attack, level of defense, and other details useful for them to mount an effective and costly opposition, giving them the upper hand throughout his administration and stagnating military pursuits.
Trump’s refusal to give the enemy details to potentially use against US military has already worked successfully in the Afghanistan war efforts. According to Chicago Tribune, Secretary of Defense James Mattis informed Congress that for the first time in 16 years, Afghanistan security forces are being fully utilized, and there are fewer casualties during engagements.
Despite this increased level of success, McCain is upset that he and other politicians are being left out on the details. They intend to hinder Trump’s efforts to fill appointments until they get more information. The announcement came during a committee hearing with Secretary Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Joseph Dunford. There, McCain announced, “We’ve been holding nominations… from the Pentagon to fill in those Pentagon jobs.”
He explained the reason for the holds is because he and Congress feel entitled to the details of the war strategy. “In the six weeks since the President made his announcement, this committee and Congress, more broadly, still does not know many of the crucial details of this strategy. This is totally unacceptable. I repeat, this is totally unacceptable,” McCain said.
According to Defense News, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was similarly upset about being kept out of the loop and wanted Mattis and Dunford to commit to being more open about the details of each mission and the exact number of troops utilized.
McCain has announced that all Pentagon nominations will be blocked until Trump discloses more details about his Afghan war strategy. Really? Is he under the delusion he is Commander in Chief?
Mattis replied that any details the committee desired would be given in private, but under no circumstances would the information be made public. “No, ma’am, if it involves telling the enemy anything that will help them, and yes, ma’am, if it involves honesty with this committee in private, at any time, at closed hearing, we will get as specific as you wish. No reservations at all in private,” Mattis said.
Mattis’ response shows that they are willing to reveal the details to McCain and other politicians in a private setting to avoid leaking the information to the enemy. It is unclear whether McCain was demanding these private meetings specifically or for the information to be released publicly.
It is frustrating that McCain has no trust in Trump’s war strategy, despite the recent success experienced in the region and the overwhelming success in the war against ISIS, especially when compared to Obama’s efforts. While Congress and the Senate should be kept in the loop if they can keep the details secret, McCain’s threat to hold Pentagon nominations until he got his way seems very elitist of him.