Top U.S. General Mark Milley’s recent retirement has reignited discussions over his turbulent term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, characterized by a complex relationship with President Donald Trump and a series of contentious decisions during his service. While Joe Biden lauded Milley last week as a “warrior,” not all view his tenure with the same rosy lens.
Indeed, as Victor Davis Hanson wrote last week on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, Milley’s exit spotlighted his “politicalized and weaponized” role as a 4-star Chair of the Joint Chiefs — the most contentious since the position’s inception. Hanson rightfully questions the inclusion of divisive literature like Professor Kendi’s works in military curriculums, especially during a period when military recruitment has seen historical lows. The evident politicization of the military’s top leadership under Milley’s helm raises serious concerns about its future role in upholding America’s values and safeguarding national interests.
As Gen. Milley leaves office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, on his last day he goes out ranting about his loyalty to the Constitution and not to a “dictator,”—blasting Trump without mentioning Trump, and thus trumping as it were Trump’s own excesses with those of his own.…
— Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) September 29, 2023
Milley’s decision to accompany Trump to St. John’s Church in 2020, following a contentious clearing of protesters, became a particularly sour point in his relationship with the former president. He later apologized for the move, stating it created “a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” This marked one of the significant rifts between the two, culminating in President Trump accusing Milley of “treason” due to alleged clandestine communications with China.
JUST IN: Woke Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley appears to slam former President Donald Trump in his retirement speech, calling Trump a "wannabe dictator."
Milley, who once arguably committed treason by promising China he would alert them of a US attack, also accused Trump of… pic.twitter.com/Rl83P12TQn
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) September 29, 2023
It’s intriguing to consider Hanson’s hypotheticals regarding Milley’s actions. How would Milley respond if one of his subordinates undertook a similar rogue diplomatic maneuver, contacting a foreign military entity without presidential knowledge or approval? Such a precedent, set at the highest military level, raises concerns about the potential erosion of the revered chain of command, a linchpin of American military discipline and efficacy.
Former Vice President Mike Pence also weighed in on this matter, finding Trump’s treason and death accusations against Milley “utterly inexcusable.” Yet, it’s impossible to ignore the broader implications of Milley’s actions. As Hanson points out, if a president as significant as Trump were diagnosed as “dangerous” by a high-ranking military official like Milley, what’s stopping other subordinates from making similar power grabs, potentially undermining national security?
General Charles Q. Brown now takes the reins, succeeding Milley as the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In marked contrast to Milley’s outspoken nature, Brown presents himself as a reserved leader, emphasizing the military’s need to “focus on modernizing” with innovative strategies. Brown’s ascent, alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, marks a historic moment, with Black Americans now holding the Pentagon’s two highest posts.
While many are keen to move forward, embracing the fresh leadership that Brown offers, it’s vital to reflect upon the effects of Milley’s term. His controversial decisions, particularly those that appeared to bypass the civilian leadership, remain a significant point of contention, demanding careful consideration for the future of American military leadership and its role on the world stage.
As America ushers in a new era with General Brown, one can only hope for a renewed focus on unity, integrity, and the bedrock principles that underpin the nation’s defense forces.