U.S. Commander in Iraq: 'We Don't Get 20 Questions' From Trump White House

By Susan Jones | September 1, 2017 | 6:21am EDT
Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, speaks to Pentagon reporters via teleconference from Baghdad to provide an update on operations to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Screen grab from DOD video)

(CNSNews.com) - In a candid exchange with reporters on Thursday, the commanding general of coalition forces in Iraq expressed appreciation for President Donald Trump's approach to the military.

Instead of micro-managing events on the battlefield, Trump leaves the decision-making to leaders in the field.

A reporter asked Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend how "this decentralization has helped in your campaign" to defeat ISIS:

Townsend replied:

I will say that the current administration has pushed decision-making down into the military chain of command. And I don't know of a commander in our armed forces that doesn't appreciate that. I'll -- I'll prefer not to go into specific examples.

I will say that probably a key result of that is that we don't get second-guessed a lot. Our judgment here on the battlefield in the forward areas is trusted. And we don't get 20 questions with every action that happens on the battlefield and every action that we take.

And again, I think every commander that I know of appreciates being given the authority and responsibility, and then the trust and backing to implement that. So, that's what I'll say.

In response to another similar question, Townsend said he believes both the Obama and Trump administrations are "all in" on defeating ISIS, but he said the Trump administration has "empowered the chain of command to make more decisions on their own, and has then given top cover to the chain of command, I think, for the decisions that are being made. And I think that's important.

"And that has -- just that alone has effects that reverberate throughout a military organization when they feel like they've been given the -- the authority and the trust to act and act aggressively. Then commanders...aren't constantly calling back to higher headquarters asking for permission, but they're free to act. And I think that's probably very empowering for any commander in our armed forces."

Former Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta both complained about the Obama administration's micro-management of the military:

According to Military.com, Gates in 2014 told a national defense forum that members of the Obama National Security Council staff directly called four-star generals to discuss strategy and tactics.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told the same forum that the Obama White House was even picking targets for airstrikes.



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