The Syria Pullout

General (retired) Mattis, former Secretary of Defense, resigned the SecDef position because he did not agree with the Commander in Chief on how to disengage from Syria. When you disagree with your boss and cannot in good conscience obey orders, resigning is the right thing to do, so good on him for doing so.

Scott Adams, who to my knowledge has never served in the military, clearly recognizes what went on with the DOD. Generally we call it “out waiting the leadership” when we use institutional inertia to avoid implementing a bad call. For example the DOD didn’t stop any transgender service members from receiving transition treatment after President Trump made that an issue, they essentially said, “carry on with business as usual, Congress controls the purse strings and we’ll see how it all shakes out in the future.” And Trump did not call out a single General for continuing to support gender re-assignment.

I’ve seen presidential administrations come and go, and policies shift left and right, and the only time the DOD acts fast is when Congress changes the budget. The DOD is very budget conscious.

Now there is one aspect to this whole thing that Scott Adams doesn’t address at all, and that is the complete and utter lack of transition from combat to non-combat for U.S. foreign policy. Syria (and Lybia) happened on Obama’s watch, and instead of directing the Joint Staff to conduct the analysis of how to achieve a particular end state that would be advantageous to the U.S. or at least bring about the “democracy” that the Obama administration seemed to want, they simply started tossing missiles.

Getting into war without a clear plan to get out of war is how we got Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (second time around, first time had a clear tactical objective of liberating Kuwait), Afghanistan, and Syria. Culturally this has left the military with the assumption that “boots on the ground will continue long beyond any political administration” and pulling out of Iraq under Obama before the Iraqis were truly able to provide for their own security assisted the rise of Isis (as did SecState Clinton arming the “moderate Muslim).

Just for the record, there are no “moderate Muslims freedom fighters.” There are moderate ethnic group fighters (such as the Kurds) but people fighting as “Muslim” and identifying their group by any sort of Islamic sect are bound to be extremists. Moderate religious groups don’t have armed gangs fighting for their cause.

Once President Trump forced the issue, the planners got to planning and started planning a withdrawal of forces. This is important because they either planned based on timetable (bad planning) or conditions based withdrawal (good planning). Under conditions based withdrawal, different requirements that were being conducted by the DOD can be passed off to the international community (including the host nation) without creating the “gap” that allows groups like Isis to rise up in the first place.

So am I sorry to see Mattis go? Not really. The job of SecDef is an important one but there are a number of highly qualified people who can fill that role. LTG(ret) Cleveland or GEN Votel would be excellent candidates, as would many others who are truly strategic thinkers with deep military experience (and maybe even try to hire back McMasters).

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