Will Trump Really Purge Obama's Generals? By Josh Rogin, Washington Post
Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump promised to quickly get rid of the top level of senior military officers serving in uniform. But if Trump actually follows through on his plan to purge President Obama’s generals as his first order of business, he could provoke a crisis in civil-military relations at the very beginning of his presidency.
Last year, Trump claimed to more know than the generals on the ground about how to fight the Islamic State. In September, during a Commander in Chief Forum, he said the generals during the Obama administration had been “reduced to rubble” and that if he were elected, he would convene his top generals within 30 days of taking office to provide him with a new plan, but “they’ll probably be different generals.”
Traditionally, presidents have felt free to appoint three- and four-star generals they are comfortable with, but they wait until those officers’ terms in their posts expire. Also, presidents don’t typically interfere in the selection of generals at the lower, one- and two-star levels. What Trump is proposing, an immediate and thorough housecleaning, could provoke pushback from the military and accusations of political interference from the public.
“It would cost a lot to get rid of them. Is this a fight that they really want?” said Tom Donnelly, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “What would be the reward? Who do they think they would put in? The story will be that he wants to politicize the officer core.”
Those advising Trump on military matters contend that the current crop of uniformed military leaders need to go because they have refused to push back against an Obama White House that has pursued a military strategy against the Islamic State that is too slow, too restrictive and too focused on what Trump allies see as political considerations, such as the rights of detainees and the drive to minimize civilian casualties.
Trump has said he would bring back harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, kill the families of terrorists as a deterrent and “bomb the hell out of” areas where terrorists are located, regardless of the collateral damage. As president, Trump may want generals who agree with all of those things in advance…