When I was a young Company Commander, we had this lieutenant who was even younger than I was. He had been to Airborne school. He had his jump wings and he thought he was special. He disparaged Battalion staff the few times he dealt with them. He talked big about what he would do as Platoon Leader. We were training up for a rotation to the National Training Center. That was a big deal for any Infantry unit, but especially for a National Guard Infantry unit. We would be the second Guard unit ever to rotate through the NTC. During our train-up, we had active duty soldiers watching us and training us. The pressure to succeed was strong. One weekend, the training consisted of lane training by platoon. The three platoons in  my company would take their turn going through a lane set up in the Louisiana woods attacking and seizing an objective. There would be smoke, grenade simulators, etc. It would look and sound very real.

As the platoon advanced, the brash, young lieutenant froze. He just flat froze. Like all of us at one time or another, he was suddenly seized with paralyzing fear as he realized he was in total control. Unlike when we practiced drills, the NCO’s were not running things. He was. And, he was too scared to speak and direct his some 30 soldiers. I had to step in just to keep the platoon advancing. The young lieutenant never did recover. He left our unit soon after.

I thought of that young officer when I read that Donald Trump visited with Pres. Obama yesterday and he said little. Gone was the braggadocio. Gone were the loud promises of victory and success. It is not easy being in charge. It is not easy being handed the keys to a 30 man Infantry platoon with smoke and explosions all around you. Assuming the keys to the White House are not any easier.

In the Band of Brothers book, 1Lt. Dyke was given the keys to an Infantry company. Like my young lieutenant, 1Lt. Dyke froze in the midst of his first attack. The movie portrayed him as confused and spouting incoherent instructions. But, in reality, he just froze in the midst of a complicated attack. While he sat there, his men were getting shot badly. The enormity of controlling people’s lives, even if just in training is just too much when you are not prepared. My young liuetant was too young. He was still in college. He was an early commissioned officer under a program unique to the Guard. He had not even been to the Officer Basic course, yet. Too much was expected of him. 1Lt. Dyke was a commissioned officer and was older. But, he had previously served on Regimental staff, which is much further back from the front. He was in charge of just a handful of men. When he came to Easy Company, he often disappeared. In combat a soldier can just walk off in the woods and hide. Usually, your superiors will find you and bring you back, or replace you. But, when you are the superior, you can get away with disappearing.

He did not bond with his men. He never chatted with them. He had no stake in their successes or failure. So, in the midst of an attack, he suddenly found himself in charge of 150 strangers and did not have the desire to deal with it. He just froze. He was not ready. He was not invested in his men. My young lieutenant never got to know his own soldiers, either. To him, they were just pawns on a chess board.

Donald Trump will get the hang of his new job. He is invested in some of us, perhaps not all of us. But, it will take time. He needs training and education. 1Lt. Dyke served honorably through the rest of the war in staff roles. He was apparently deemed not suited for a front line unit, again. My young lieutenant, I never heard from him. But, I am sure with time and military education, he did much better later. As for Pres. Elect Trump, I am sure he will get the hang of this new car, soon.

It is ironic that Donald Trump suggests that veterans suffering from PTSD are weak. He obtained several deferments from the draft during the Viet Nam War. He said “strong” soldiers do not suffer from PTSD. See ABC news report. The implication is that weak soldiers do suffer from PTSD.

That is nonsense. It is also simplistic. I do not mind admitting that I suffer from mild PTSD. Loud, unexpected noises will make me jump, or simply unnerve me a bit. I cannot stay around loud, unexpected loud noises. PTSD comes in degrees. It is not black and white. I know many veterans suffer from far worse cases of PTSD than I do. They are not weak and neither am I. We did our part, without hesitation or reservation.

One of the highlights of my Army career was seeing so many young men and women voluntarily enlisting in the armed forces during the two wars. I was a commander of a basic training unit for a time. The Drill Instructors appreciated the steadfast courage of those young men and women enough that hazing or harassing at boot camp was at an all-time low.

I feel sorry for persons like Mr. Trump who have never experienced the selfless sense of duty that compels us to stand up for our country and our comrades. We faced our fears. We were well-trained and well-lead. We loved our country and we profoundly trusted our fellow soldiers. Mr. Trump talks with shallow understanding. He has not served one minute in a war zone. I still feel like my time in Iraq was one of the best experience of my life. One of the good guys, the word “strong” comes to mind, was Paul Clevenger. He committed suicide a year or so after we came back. He was a good, young soldier. The war affected us all in different ways. There is no weakness in facing your fears and following through on your commitment. So many soldiers exceeded their comfort zone. There was a young, Junior League, female JAG lawyer who went on a convoy for the first time at my request. Just a few weeks from the end of her tour, she hopped in her HMMWV with a smile, as far as I knew. She never let on that it was her first convoy. She never let her fear show.

There was the very young soldier who would never go out on a convoy. He was scared. But, you know, he was always there at work, everyday, on time. He stayed late working many times – to avoid forcing soldiers from distant FOB’s to make an unnecessary return trip. There was the young captain who went home on his six month break and did not come back. No one blamed him or accused him of anything. We all knew he had done his best, he had pushed his limit. All these soldiers were brave in their own individual way. War is too complicated for simplistic criticisms.

The Battle of Ia Drang Valley illustrates the complexity of war. The first battle is well known from the film, “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson. But, the book We were Soldiers Once and Young includes the follow-up battle. A sister battalion, the 2nd Btn of the 7th Cavalry Regt. left the scene of LTC Hal Moore’s battle to move toward a faraway Landing Zone (LZ). The 2/7th was commanded by LTC Robert McDade.

Unlike LTC Moore, LTC McDade was new to his battalion. A Battalion included some 700 soldiers. He barely knew his soldiers. The 2/7th was ambushed just a day or two out of their starting point. The battalion fell apart, in part because LTC McDade withdrew from his men and the battle. He made little or no attempt to coordinate there actions of his soldiers. The fight devolved into dozens of different, smaller battles. The men of the 2/7th were fighting with no coordination from higher headquarters.

LTC McDade was not a weak person. Far from it. He was a combat veteran of WW II and the Korean War. But, the thing about combat is that it is such a stressor that generals and historians alike cannot predict when and how certain persons succeed, while others do not. I think it likely that not being bonded with his men was a factor. Hal Moore was famously close to his men. LTC McDade was new.

War and PTSD involve people. When you discuss people, by definition you discuss varieties and differences. Even in war, most importantly in war, we cannot pigeonhole the human condition. LTC McDade was not weak. My friend, SGT Paul Clevenger was not weak. The true weak one is the one who dares to discuss things he cannot comprehend.

Listening to the debate between Clinton and Trump, I realized that some folks have already forgotten what really happened during the Iraq War. It ended just a few years ago, yet, there are some serious mis-understandings about it. For one thing, Donald Trump blames the Obama administration for leaving Iraq in a vacuum. Yes, when we left, there was a power vacuum. ISIS or ISIL has moved into that power vacuum. But, we had little choice. The date for our departure was set by treaty. That agreement was negotiated and signed by the Bush administration. The problem at the time was that Iraq as a whole was dearly afraid we would never leave. Many Iraqis, Sunni and Shia, were convinced we came for the oil. Even in my small corner of the war in Tikrit, we would hear stories about how paranoid the Iraqis could be about U.S. intentions.

One full colonel engineer was meeting with the Saladin Province chief engineer. They were discussing how to make the Tikrit airport operational once again. It had been destroyed during the war. It was a civilian airport. The challenge was finding some source of money to finance a rehabilitation of the damaged airport. The U.S. Army colonel suggested a partnership between military and civilian authorities. The Germans, he pointed out, had done that for some 50 years at a base in Germany. They formed a civilian-military partnership with the U.S. and shared the airport. In Iraq, the military had some money, after all. He offered it only as an option.

“What???” exclaimed the Salahadin chief engineer. “You are going to be here for 50 years??”  Whoa, whoa, the U.S. colonel tried to calm down the chief engineer and assure him we had no plans to be anywhere for 50 years. He was just searching for solutions.

That was what we faced. And, that Province Chief Engineer was Sunni. The Sunnis needed us to balance against the oppressive Shia ruling government. The heirs of a colonial country were very apprehensive that we were just another colonial power intending to “take” oil. That is the second mis-perception suggested by Donald Trump. We cannot simply “take” the oil. That is called imperialism. It would also violate several precepts of U.S. Army Civil Affairs doctrine. When I was in Iraq, I served as a Civil Affairs officer. CA folks are the men and women who administer territories held by US forces. In World War II. they would run a small town until the local town could elect its own leaders. In Iraq, unlike WWW II, we were very involved in the war. Essentially everything involved Civil Affairs. “Doctrine” is what we describe as our training manuals. Every Civil Affairs training manual specified clearly that our job was to manage things only until the locals could take over. That would, of course, mean that we let them keep their industries. If we “take” their oil, they would be dependent on us for generations. It would have violated every tenet of Civl Affairs doctrine. It would also have lead to many more of us being killed.

As one former general told one of my Civil Affairs colleagues, “I like you people in the U.S. Army. You come here and build schools and clinics. But, if you stay too long, I will kill you.” We were in a war. We did what we had to do to succeed while still keeping as many of us alive as possible. The former general said clearly that by building things and contributing money, we showed we were not imperialists. But, he warned, if that changed, he would join the insurgency. A ragtag group of amateurs is one thing. A former general is something else entirely. Our goal was to keep men like the general on the sidelines and perhaps, even occasionally, on our side.

So, yes, when it came time to negotiate some U.S. soldiers remaining in Iraq, the Iraq government pressed us to leave. And, yes, Pres. Obama did not press them to relent. But, really, it is hard to remain in a place where every Iraqi, Sunni and Shia, would prefer we leave. They liked us, but only if we did not stay too long.

It is an ancient principle of trials that jurors can only consider what evidence they hear or see in court. That is why every trial these days includes a warning against looking things up on the internet. And, that is why most judges and lawyers know they cannot comment on actual cases prior to the jury verdict.

But, what about a committed criminal defense lawyer whose faith is a large part of his practice? Can such a lawyer post on Facebook that his clients are the discarded, overlooked persons Jesus ministered to? Can he post on Facebook that he sees God as directing him in his fight for justice? One judge in Ellis County, near Dallas, has said no, Mark Griffith cannot make such posts, since jurors might see those posts. See San Antonio Express News report.

Mr. Griffith explains that these are the sort of prayers he often makes before and during a trial. To inhibit him will restrain his First Amendment rights of free speech. He did eventually agree to refrain from posting real-time posts on Facebook. One would hope so. A juror should not be able to access our private thoughts or expressions of good will. That could lead to a crazy race by both sides to express their “pure” inner thoughts.

That is the thing about Gold Star families. They are vulnerable in ways the rest of us are not. I heard a researcher say a couple of months ago that he believed we experience high rates of PTSD because our society here at home does not understand what we have gone through. He mentioned that in Israel, soldiers experience almost no PTSD when they return home. This researcher explained that is because most of Israeli society participates in their war effort. Every male is required to serve in the military for some period of time. Every family has someone who has served. Whereas, here in America, military service is quite uncommon. So, when we come home, yes, there is sympathy, but not actual understanding. If that is true for service members with PTSD, it is even more true for our Gold Star families.

In this piece in theSan Antonio Express News, one mother mentioned knowing the Khan family. She found Donald Trump’s remarks offensive. One Gold Star father defended Mr. Trump. But, I bet even he finds this spotlight on one Gold Star family brings back all those memories fresh. As one parent said, its like its all back in your face again, even now years later.

The Gold Star families do not all have one opinion. But, as Ami Neibereger-Miller said, you can respond in a compassionate way that you disagree. See San Antonio Express News report.

The remarkable thing about the whole Khan debacle, in my opinion, is that most people saw Mrs. Khan standing there on that stage with her husband and understood on some level that she was hurting. It took someone with little empathy to wonder why she was not talking. As a member of the military community, I find much reassurance that most people understood on an instinctive level. Unfortunately, some, like Donald Trump, just had no idea what she was going through. What we now know is that she saw the big picture, high definition perhaps, of her son behind her. She was overwhelmed with memories of her son.  That is a Gold Star mother.

Retired GEN John Allen spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week. He has since explained that he felt he had to speak up because Donald Trump advocates that the military violate the recognized rules of war. See ABC news report. Yes, there are what we call “rules of war.” One of those rules is that we do not torture captured combatants. We do not murder families of terrorists. The rules of war are developed from various international treaties and agreements. These rules have existed for the U.S. Army since before World War II. So, when Donald Trump endorses “enhanced interrogation techniques,” he places every commissioned and noncommissioned officer between a rock and hard place. I previously wrote about the candidate’s support for unlawful orders here.

The concern, as GEN Allen (R) points out, is that if Mr. Trump becomes president and does indeed order torture, every officer and every NCO will be required to refuse that order. We have been trained since the post-Viet Nam war era to refuse any unlawful order. So, yes, as John Allene points, his ascendancy to the presidency would have dire consequences for civil military relationships.

And, if we change our regulations to require that all order be obeyed? Then, we return to the days when a Mai Lai massacre can occur. Worse, in my view, military order and discipline become that much more tenuous.

I was fortunate to command three different Infantry companies, in two states. Two companies were top notch. The third was more challenging. In a unit with leadership issues, it is essential that the leaders set the example in every way possible. The troops see everything. Cutting corners, relaxing rules, allowing torture here or there would threaten discipline for every soldier. Donald Trump has no idea, just no idea.

Words cannot express how offensive I find Donald Trump’s remarks. He was speaking about Khizr Khan, the father of Capt. Khan. Twenty-seven year old Capt. Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004 while serving in the U.S. Army. The father, Khizr Khan gave an emotional speech about his son at the Democratic National Convention. During his speech, he challenged Donald Trump, asking him what sacrifices he has made for his country.

Well, a few days later, Donald Trump was asked that question. What sacrifices has he made? He said he has made a lot of sacrifices. Pressed for more details, he said he has worked very, very hard. He has created thousands of jobs. See ABC news report.

I do not know what to say. I lost friends in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have written about them here on this blog. They were part of my Army family, but not my blood family. I am no expert on Gold Star families but I know a couple. Gold Star refers to families who lost someone in the wars. I can say without hesitation that “hard, hard” work in no way compares to losing a spouse or a parent.

Back in the 1970’s, a football player, Rocky Bleier payed in the NFL. He was the first Viet Nam veteran to do so. Reporters would ask him if football compared to combat. He would try to answer, but how can you explain the extreme violence of combat? How do you explain the pain and deep sense of guilt of losing a buddy? There are no words to explain such profound losses. There are no words to explain that working “very, very” hard is nothing like giving up one of  your sons for your country.

When we lost 1SGT Saenz in 2006, I was shocked, scared, overwhelmed. A few weeks later, I saw my old buddies from Ft. Jackson. They were the ones who served in Baghdad with 1SGT Saenz. Everything I had felt before was magnified. These were good friends of mine. It rocked me to see the pain they felt, the unnecessary guilt they felt. Losing one good man literally knocks you on your heels. And, I was not a blood relative, just an Army friend.

I only hope no Gold Star family members hear about his remarks. His response trivializes a life-chasing event. There is a gulf between veterans and civilians. But, most civilians, perhaps 99.9% appreciate what they do not know. Most remain silent when it comes to comparing war time and peace time. Donald Trump does not.

A growing problem across the internet are online reviews. They are everywhere. But, online reviews represent a problem because they can be manipulated. Or, worse, for some professionals or small business owners, a person can post false, negative reviews and cause serious harm. One former client posted a false, defamatory review about a lawyer in California. The lawyer, Dawn Hassell sued her former client and Yelp. Ms. Hassell won by default and secured a $557,000 judgment for defamation.  But, Yelp appealed. On appeal, the California appellate court found in favor of the lawyer. It rejected Yelp’s arguments based on Sec. 230 of the Communications Dccency Act, claiming it was not responsible for a third party post. The higher court also remanded the matter back to the trial court to narrow the statements that Yelp must take down from its website. See ABA Bar Journal news report.

I find iDonald Trump’s comments about has said about us in Iraq. He has apparently said at least twice that U.S. soldiers were stealing money while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He even mentioned the soldiers who did indeed travel around the country carrying cash. “How stupid are we,” he joked? See Politico report. He said some soldiers are living “high on the hog” now.

Well, ok, first, neither Iraq or Afghanistan had a banking system. They had and still have cash based economies. Cash is the only option. That caused many logistical headaches. Trust me, Mr. Donald, we would love to have been able to make payments by check, or even, debit card. Sigh. There is just so much an army can accomplish in a given time period in a third world country.

Sure, some very few soldiers did steal money. But, at least to my knowledge, most or perhaps all of those convictions were of soldiers who were working back in the relatively safe areas of Kuwait and other Middle East countries. Those soldiers were operating with high dollar contracts.

The people carrying the cash, those were my people. We dealt in CERP money – Commander’s Emergency Response Program. I was a CERP manager of sorts at Division level near Tikrit, Iraq. I did not supervise but did help train the PPO’s – Project Pursing Officers – at the battalion and Brigade level. As the name suggests, CERP was strictly a fly by the seat of your pants operation. We created it when the two wars were started. No one, not one person was trained on CERP before the wars. It was way beyond anything any of us had ever imagined could occur in a war. Yet, there we were spending huge some of money. at Division level, we spent some $90 million per year. At the Brigade level, they were managing budgets of $10-15 million per year. It was a huge amount of money for lieutenants, Staff Sergeants, and Sergeants First Class to be monitoring. But, this was war. War is all about adjusting to the plans and moves by the enemy. We deal with the unexpected. Some famous amatory historian once said, all war plans fail to survive first contact with the enemy. Plans change. So, we had to deal with reconstruction projects.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were pubic relations wars. Yes, in theory, we could kill all the bad guys – but only if we could find them. To find them, we needed cooperation from the average Iraqi citizen. To build trust, we had to spend money.

I cannot remember his name. He was a former Brigadier General in Saddam’s army. When I got to Tikrit in 2005, he was now the Deputy Governor for Salahadin Province. He was a key guy in a key province. He told one of the Civil Affairs officers: “I like you. You Americans fix schools and build medical clinics. But, if you stay too long, I will kill you.” We appreciated his honesty. But, he also encapsulated our strategy. If we simply chase bad guys, then we are no better than the British imperialists from a 100 years earlier. We had to prove we were different. It was CERP money and the larger multimillion dollar projects that showed we were different.

We may never know how many U.S. lives were saved by CERP money. CERP was not supposed to be used in a straight tit-for-tat deal. We could not tell a Sheik that if he makes sure no attacks are launched from his tribal controlled area, then he would get a new medical clinic in his town. But, I am sure some deals like that were actually made. As the CERP guy at Division level, I was the one person who as supposed to ensure no such deals were made. We were required to abide by a series of operations orders that required we spend CERP money and any other money in accordance with Civil Affairs doctrine. That meant each reconstruction project had to be sustainable. It could not be a project that would end once the U.S. soldiers left.

The PPO’s had no training on CERP until my predecessor devised a very good three hour block of instruction on CERP. I was the main person to organize the classes. But, the classes required a JAG officer for a small portion, the CERP money manager and I forget the fourth person. We would travel from FOB to FOB giving our class. Apart from the class, I would personally travel to a FOB once a month to check on a project.

Yes, it was possible fro one of the PPO’s to create a nonexistent project and pocket the money. An NCO or young lieutenant could conceivably create on paper a project and pocket the money. The only control on something like was me. I deliberately would pick a random project once a month and ask the PPO to show me that project. I prayed every time that the project would indeed be there. And, thank goodness, those projects were always there. They did exist. But, I checked less that ten percent of the projects. There just was not enough time to check on all these projects. The PPO”s themselves could not check any given project more than a few months. Here in the U.S., when you are the government and you are spending $50,000 to rehabilitate a school, you would check it everyday or close to everyday. In Iraq, we were doing well to check every few months.

The PPO’s had to go outside the wire about 5-6 days per week. They were the brave ones incurring the risk of IED’s everyday. One PPO team I rode with looked back after some 11 months and recounted the number of IED’s they had driven through. They could could recall about half a dozen. The roadside bombs were big, but not big enough to stop the convoy.

Yet, no PPO ever asked me if they really had to go outside the wire to check a project. No one ever even asked if there was a minimum number of checks they had to make. Non one ever suggested they need not go outside the wire as much as they were.

No, the PPO’s never asked about his or her own personal safety. On the contrary, the only fear they conveyed to me in my 12 months was liability. Some were very concerned about getting into trouble for losing money. What could happen to them, they wondered. My lawyer background helped. They would listen to me when I counseled them to follow these CERP procedures and they should be okay. And, I have to add that when I would go outside the wire with these very brave and bright young men and women, you could feel their pride in their projects. They were doing exceptional work in a very constrained environment. I was very proud of all those PPO”s with whom I worked.

Did some of those PPO’s take home some of that CERP money? It was possible. We just did not have the time to implement controls. I heard that yes, early in the war, the pay agents would travel around with backpacks full of cash to pay Iraqi contractors. All the contractors and builders were Iraqi. The minimal level of controls we had were developed slowly with each year of the war. But, in my time, at least, midway through the third year of the war, it was indeed possible for a young sergeant or lieutenant to pocket $5, 10 thousand.

At the time, while wearing the uniform, I would have indeed turned in anyone I found doing that. As I mentioned above, my biggest fear was that we would get to one project and nothing would be there. In fact, I depended on the PPO teams completely when I went outside the wire. If they claimed to be showing me the Mohammed School for Girls school project and it was actually the Ibn School for Boys, I would have no way of knowing that. That is, if they showed me a project other than the one named, I might not have known.

So, Mr. Donald has a point. But, really, from a man who never served, who appears to have no knowledge regarding the limitations of the wars, his comments are quite offensive. Those PPO’s are the ones who could have taken home money. And, those PPO’s had no training, no background for this sort of work. They were exposed to liability issues and physical safety issues for which Mr. Donald has no appreciation. All of us wanted to take care of Uncle Sam’s money. None of us wanted to be subject to investigations after the war. But, even more important, we all wanted to come home with all our fingers and toes. Unless Mr. Trump wants to talk to someone who was there or has actual knowledge of our limitations, he should keep his comments to himself. It is not too late for the candidate to become educated about what it was truly like over there. Until then, in my opinion, he remains an arrogant blowhard.

 

One of the frightening things about Donald Trump is his tendency to shoot from the hip. He makes decisions, important policy decisions based on unfounded assumptions. One policy matter with which I am familiar is the military. Some months ago, he said a couple of times that he would insist that the military engage in torture, or, at least the sort of torture advocated by the Bush Administration. Water-boarding is a low level torture, but it is still torture.

The things is, as I learned in Infantry Basic Officers Course in the 1980’s, is that we as military officers and non-commissioend officers are required to disobey unlawful orders. This requirement was incorporated in the Uniform Code of Military Justice in response to the military abuses of the Viet Nam War.

So, what is an unlawful order? Well, an order to engage in water-boarding would come quite close. It would come close enough that many military members will be placed between a rock and hard place in a Trump Administration.

Now, I read that Donald Trump has also decided that he would forbid generals and admirals from appearing on television. He does not want them to discuss military matters in public. According to the May 30, 2016 edition of the Army Times, he wants to bar open discussion of military strategy or operations by top generals. The Times says he bases these decisions on the false assumption that generals and admirals have been overly critical of military capabilities and have openly disclosed military strategy.

That is silly. Generals and all top officers are trained to be discrete. We are required to discuss military strategies while still safeguarding classified information. Duh. That job requirement is well known to any officer or NCO.

More importantly, in a democracy, we must discuss strategic issues to some degree. In early 2003, Gen. Shinseki testified before Congress. He famously estimated it would require several hundred thousand soldiers to pacify Iraq after a war. That estimate was more than double the estimate of the civilian war planners for the Iraq war. See CNN news report. Now, we know how right he was.

Yet, Donald Trump would forbid such public disclosures. His policies are anathema to a democracy. I remember a year or two after my time In Iraq, I met a Lieutenant-Colonel in a Reserve training battalion. During his time in the war, he served as a senior officer in charge of training the Iraqi army. He told me, almost as an aside, that he had lied to the media about the capabilities of the Iraqi soldiers. Instead, he painted a rosy picture of the progress of the training. This was a time when Pres. Bush was telling the public that the U.S. soldiers would leave Iraq when the Iraqi soldiers could take over. As they stand up, Pres. Bush assured us, the U.S. would stand down.

That Lieutenant-Colonel should not have lied. In effect, he was lying to every American voter. People voted based on perceptions. Policy makers set policy based on perceptions. And, now, look where we are. The Iraqi Army does not function. The current advance on Fallujah is being carried out by Shiite militias controlled by Iranians. Two years ago, the Iraqi army panicked and fled when a handful of ISIS soldiers advanced on Mosul.

In a democracy, it is imperative that military experts discuss military matters publicly. Mr. Trump’s assumption is not correct. There has been little, if any public disclosure of military secrets by actively serving leaders. But, more importantly, when military “secrets” come to include broad strategy, then civilian control of the military becomes non-existent.

It frightens me that he would issue broad proscriptions based on poor understanding. He once said that he employs no advisers on international policy. He has a “good brain,” he assured his listeners. Okay, but that brain is poorly educated on some very important matters.