Unlike his predecessor, President Trump listens to and has rapport with top generals

by WorldTribune Staff, April 21, 2017

President Donald Trump has bonded with his top military brass and places a level of confidence in their advice that was not seen in the previous administration, a report said.

Trump is “often in listening mode among his generals” and “they contrast the billionaire real estate developer’s affinity for the top brass with former President Barack Obama’s documented standoffishness,” Rowan Scarborough reported for The Washington Times.

President Donald Trump with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. /AP

“Perhaps no president in recent memory has surrounded himself on a daily basis with so many senior generals and their strategic brainpower.”

A retired Marine general, Jim Mattis runs the Defense Department. Trump’s top military adviser is Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Another retired Marine four-star general, John Kelly, heads up the Department of Homeland Security. National security adviser H.R. McMaster is an active-duty Army lieutenant general.

A retired military officer who knows the generals told the Washington Times that Trump has grown particularly close to Mattis and Kelly.

“No. 1, they get along very well,” said the former officer. “I call it street sense. They know how to talk the line, and Trump does too. Trump is like talking to a concrete worker. These two generals have got a man who listens and does not pretend like Obama and others to know everything. When the president is out of his lane and needs advice, these guys are right in there.”

Obama, on the other hand, had a famously icy relationship with his generals.

Obama’s first defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, wrote in his memoir, “Duty,” that Obama felt compelled in one meeting to command, “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,” a “shocked” Gates wrote.

“The controlling nature of the Obama White House and the staff took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level,” he said. “I think Obama considered time spent with generals and admirals an obligation.”

Retired Air Force Gen. Thomas McInerney, a veteran of Pentagon bureaucracy wars, said he believes Trump learned to love the military as a cadet at the New York Military Academy.

“Certainly Gen. Kelly and Gen. Mattis interviewed well because both are extremely talented leaders as well as former combatant commanders and know their areas of responsibility very well,” McInerney said. “In Gen. Kelly’s case, he was South Command commander where our greatest challenges of illegal immigrants as well as illegal drug importation are coming from, so his learning curve was zero. He could write a book on homeland security, which is why the president hired him so quickly.”