Donald Trump was too old to enjoy the wonders of School House Rock back in the day, so he may have missed a few things.
One thing that the nation’s defense officials want to make perfectly clear: A tweet is not a policy statement.
In fact, when President Trump sent out a series of tweets, declaring a ban on transgendered service members, it went up like a flare, causing both sides of the political aisle to scramble and either embrace or deny.
For most part, there was a bipartisan wave of denial, because there’s no such policy in place.
Furthermore, those who should be the most in the know about such policy changes were as shocked as everyone else.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, including chairman General Joseph Dunford, were not aware President Donald Trump planned to tweet a ban on transgender service members, three US defense officials told CNN — the latest indication that top military leaders across all four service branches were blindsided by the President’s announcement.
For now, Dunford has informed service members that there will be “no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidelines.”
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford wrote in a memo to the military that was obtained by CNN. “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”
Let me be perfectly clear, here. I completely agree with President Trump that those with diagnosed mental illnesses, such as gender dysphoria, should be kept out of the military. They are emotionally ill-equipped to handle the stressors of combat, which requires they look out for themselves, as well as others in their unit.
That being said, he jumped the gun.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who said he found out about the president’s tweets just like everybody else, has said that he has received nothing to indicate that the president intends to change policy, regarding transgendered service members.
“We will work through the implementation guidance when we get it and then we’ll move from there,” he added while speaking at the National Press Club.
In the meantime, nothing has changed. LGBT activists can calm down.
The military is currently under a six-month delay in allowing transgendered persons to enlist, as set by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The policy is being reviewed.
A US official told CNN that Mattis was consulted on Trump’s plan to announce a ban, but Sen. John McCain said on Thursday that he was surprised by the announcement.
“I think they realize they made a mistake,” the Arizona Republican said. “I think generally speaking, it’s accepted you consult the secretary of defense before you make a decision that has to do with defending the nation. Mattis was going through a study that they’d done for six months, and he had just extended.”
“I know what Mattis said, that he wanted to complete the study, and he was surprised,” added McCain, who chairs the armed services committee.
And perhaps Trump did consult with Mattis, but consulting with Mattis is not the same as meeting with his “generals” and “military officials,” as he tweeted. It’s hearing from one guy.
One of the heads of the military branches was informed by a staffer of the President’s tweets on transgender policy and had no idea it was coming, an official said.
Adding to the confusion is that Trump’s decision came without a plan in place to implement it.
I honestly don’t believe Trump thinks far enough ahead of any idea to get to the planning stages. I believe he says what he says, with no regards to how it will be done or what the consequences of his words may be, and then leaves it in the lap of others to work out the details.
Too often with this president, however, if the outcome doesn’t match his imagination, he will lash out.
The Pentagon has asked the White House for written guidance on implementing any policy changes they would like to see put in place, and I hope they get it.
Even more, I hope Trump takes advantage of some of the talent he has working for him, in order to craft those changes, in order to avoid the same snares the administration fell into, when implementing the travel ban in January.