President Trump has done some low-down, rotten things in his cushy life, but shifting the blame for the death of U.S. Navy SEAL Senior Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens during a covert mission in Yemen to his military commanders will go down as one of the most contemptible and cowardly acts ever committed by a U.S. commander in chief.
Asked during a Fox News interview about the mission which resulted in Owens becoming the first U.S. service member killed during the line of duty during his administration, Trump said the operation was something his generals “were looking at for a long time”; it was “something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do. And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected.”
Then the president of the United States declared “And they lost Ryan.”
Stomach-turning. A worst cut-and-run on your troops may be hard to find in the annals of American history.
Yes, the Yemeni operation was in the planning stages by the military during the Obama administration. And yes, it had reached the White House for a green light just before then-President Barack Obama departed the White House. But, yes, too, Obama’s “go” was not given.
The plan was approved by Trump.
And when the abortive raid ended up leaving Owens and civilians in Yemen dead, Trump resorted to the Pontius Pilate routine and washed his hands of the whole mess.
One of the first things drilled into my head as a newly commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, and which is a golden rule of leadership, is that you — “Yes you, Lt. King” — are responsible for everything that your subordinates do, or fail to do.
The message to me then, and to all the other officers in our armed services now, was this: “You are in charge. You are responsible. You, decide, and no one below your chain of command can authorize which course of action to take. If it works, you and your unit can take a bow. If it fails, you — and no one else — must accept responsibility on behalf of yourself and your subordinates. You must, and should, be held accountable.”
But by no means are you allowed to do what a two-faced, double-crossing, weakling of a commander might resort to when faced with a failure: utter the disgusting cop-out that “This was something that . . . they wanted to do.”
Donald Trump, commander in chief.
Be strong, my brothers and sisters in arms. Be strong.