Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley Admits Mistake with Former President Trump
In a recent interview with GPS host Fareed Zakaria, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley opened up about a “mistake” he made during his tenure with former president Donald Trump. During the conversation, Gen. Milley acknowledged the error and expressed his conviction to never repeat it again. This admission has sparked discussions and raised questions about the role of the military in politics and the importance of maintaining the proper balance between civilian control and military expertise.
The Mistake Made
Gen. Milley revealed that the mistake he referred to was his involvement in a photo-op incident that took place in June 2020. During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, former President Trump wanted to walk across Lafayette Square for a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. The area was forcefully cleared of peaceful protesters by law enforcement officers, including military personnel.
Gen. Milley admitted regretting his decision to accompany former President Trump on that walk. He believed it was a mistake to involve the military in a politically charged situation and that it had damaged the perception of the U.S. military’s neutrality. The incident prompted strong criticism from both the public and members of the military community, who criticized the use of the military to suppress peaceful protests and the erosion of the principle of civilian control.
The Importance of Civilian Control
The principle of civilian control is ingrained in the fabric of democratic societies, ensuring that elected officials, rather than the military, have ultimate authority over the armed forces. It is a fundamental concept that helps maintain the delicate balance between military expertise and political decision-making.
Gen. Milley’s admission of his mistake underscores the importance of upholding this principle. While the military plays a vital role in ensuring national security, it must remain apolitical and refrain from involvement in partisan activities. The incident involving the photo-op highlighted the potential dangers when this principle is compromised.
Gen. Milley acknowledged that the incident served as a valuable lesson and expressed his commitment to ensuring that such a mistake is never repeated. In his interview, he emphasized the importance of maintaining the military’s apolitical stance and the need for stronger safeguards to prevent further politicization of the armed forces.
One of the key takeaways from Gen. Milley’s admission is the importance of fostering a culture within the military that promotes critical thinking and ethical decision-making. Leaders must be empowered to voice their concerns and provide guidance rooted in the principles of democracy and respect for civilian authority. It also underscores the need for leaders in the military to be knowledgeable and well-versed in the laws and principles that govern their actions.
Furthermore, this incident serves as a reminder of the broader challenges faced by societies in maintaining the appropriate boundaries between politics and the military. It calls for ongoing discussions and strategies to ensure that the military remains focused on its core mission of national defense and security, rather than becoming embroiled in politically motivated actions.
Civilian-Military Relations Moving Forward
Gen. Milley’s admission of his mistake and commitment to upholding the principle of civilian control is a crucial step in restoring public trust in the military. It sends a message that the armed forces are committed to maintaining their role as a non-partisan institution, dedicated to serving the best interests of the nation.
Moving forward, it is essential to continue the dialogue about the appropriate relationship between the military and civilian leadership. This includes ensuring that there are clear guidelines and protocols in place to prevent the politicization of the military, while also enabling military leaders to provide valuable expertise and advice to elected officials when necessary.
In conclusion, Gen. Mark Milley’s admission of his mistake regarding the photo-op incident serves as a reminder of the importance of the principle of civilian control and the need for the military to remain apolitical. The incident underscores the delicate balance required between military expertise and political decision-making. Gen. Milley’s commitment to learning from the mistake and upholding the principle of civilian control is a significant step in strengthening civilian-military relations and ensuring the continued trust of the American public in their armed forces.