All four armed forces chiefs testified under pressure from GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sept. 15 that none of them had spoken with President Barack Obama regarding the dangers to the military posed by sequestration.
“Have you told the president what you’re telling us about the state of the military under sequestration?” Graham asked, according to The Washington Times. “Have you had a conversation with the commander in chief, telling him what you just told us?”
“I have not personally had a conversation,” Army Gen. Mark Milley said.
All other armed forces chiefs said the same thing. None of them had discussed the situation with Obama.
This complete lack of communication bolsters the narrative that Obama is cold and distrusting towards his top military officials, which former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stated in his memoir.
Gates recalled that Obama believed his officials were conspiring against him, and in one case, the president shut off discussion by saying, “that’s an order.”
“That order was unnecessary and insulting, proof positive of the depth of the Obama White House distrust of the nation’s military leadership,” Gates wrote.
“The controlling nature of the Obama White House and the staff took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level,” he added. “I think Obama considered time spent with generals and admirals an obligation.”
The defense secretary following Gates, Leon Panetta, said in his own memoir that any general who didn’t abide by White House talking points was viewed as a conspirator.
“The White House saw this as a coordinated effort to limit the president’s decision space, while Gates saw it as evidence that the Pentagon brass was unable to stay on message,” Panetta said. “For my part, it seemed that the leading generals saw the problem the same way and weren’t good about keeping quiet, but not that they were organizing a campaign against their president.”
Obama also never met with Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who served as deputy director of national intelligence and then later as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Richard Pollock.
“Here is the crux of my relationship with Obama,” Flynn told TheDCNF. “Here I am, running one of the largest intelligence agencies in the world. He appoints me twice — one as the assistant director of national intelligence and one as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. I’m also his senior intelligence officer. And I had almost five years in combat.”
Accounts from former defense officials and lack of communication between current service chiefs and Obama has led to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump saying earlier this month that generals have been “reduced to rubble” under the Obama administration.
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