The President once again was tweeting wildly after the chemical attack in Syria, and was hinting at a military strike operation being planned, and possibly spelled out a decision timetable while pointing out the weapons the U.S. may employ.
“Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” he tweeted on Wednesday, referring to advanced weaponry at least 24 hours before any operation in Syria is likely to begin.
The U.S. military maintains strict discipline when it comes to discussing such operations in advance, taking the position that removing the element of surprise can render operations less effective and put troops in danger.
“The department does not comment on potential future military actions,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said Wednesday when asked about Mr. Trump’s tweet. “I refer you to the White House to characterize the president’s tweet.”
But the commander-in-chief’s statements have telegraphed U.S. military intentions, appearing at odds with Mr. Trump’s own criticisms of former President Barack Obama and catching the Pentagon off guard.
“The last thing in the world any military organization should be doing is telegraphing what you’re going to do,” said retired Army Gen. Ben Hodges. If the U.S. now opts not to conduct strikes in Syria, it would weaken Mr. Trump’s word the next time, he said. “I don’t like it.”
Gen. Hodges, now a senior consultant at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for European Policy Analysis, said he was “appalled” by Mr. Trump’s tweet early Wednesday, not only because it signaled a potential future military move, but because it could box the U.S. into a course of action.
By telling the world that the strike was imminent, the president could have put the USS Donald Cook, which is in the region’s waters and expected to be a part of any operation, in danger of harassment flights and maneuvers by Russian forces, one defense official said.
“It’s a consideration,” he said.
The issues brought forth are reasons for legitimate concern, the Syrian’s are already moving their aircraft to a Russian airbase since the thought is the U.S. will not attack and risk an escalation with the Russians. And while the Russians would know that the ship in the area would be used in any action, it makes no sense to put them in undue danger.
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