Now, of course, presenting my thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the matter of our withdrawal from Syria puts me at risk. I have come to realize that even presenting a cogent, objective, assessment on any issue, if it does not fully agree with President Trump, you will be assailed, and even called a “never Trumper.”
Let me reiterate, my oath was, is, and always shall be to the Constitution of the United States.
So, with that being said, let’s talk about the Syria decision by President Trump. A decision that may have had a good bit to do with SecDef James Mattis’ resignation letter.
As reported by Fox News:
“President Donald Trump is pulling all 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria, officials announced Wednesday as the president suddenly declared victory over the Islamic State, contradicting his own experts’ assessments and sparking surprise and outrage from his party’s lawmakers who called his action rash and dangerous.
The U.S. began airstrikes in Syria in 2014, and ground troops moved in the following year to battle the Islamic State, or ISIS, and train Syrian rebels in a country torn apart by civil war. Trump abruptly declared their mission accomplished in a tweet.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” he said as Vice President Mike Pence met with top leaders at the Pentagon. U.S. officials said many details of the troop withdrawal had not yet been finalized, but they expect American forces to be out by mid-January.
Later Wednesday, Trump posted a video on Twitter in which he said is “heartbreaking” to have to write letters and make calls to the loved ones of those killed in battle. “Now it’s time for our troops to come back home,” he said.
A senior administration official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said Trump made the decision based on his belief that U.S. troops have no role in Syria beyond combatting Islamic State, whose fighters are now believed to hold about 1 percent of the territory they did at the peak of their power.
The president informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of his decision in a telephone call, the official said. Turkey has recently warned that it would launch combat operations across its southern border into northeastern Syria against Kurdish forces who have been allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State.”
Having been a 22-year career Army officer who has deployed into combat, there is only one thing we ask of civilian leadership: give us the mission and let us see it to the end. I can also attest that having spent some time in Kurdistan, the Kurdish people are, in my estimation, our best allies in the Middle East after Israel. The Kurds have put it all on the line for the United States more than once. And, more than once, have we abandoned and betrayed them. There would have been no success against ISIS if not for the Kurds . . . certainly not the Iraqi Army. There can be no doubt that Turkey’s president Erdogan is not an ally to the United States. Matter of fact, we all know that he possesses Islamist tendencies and has supported Islamic jihadist groups.
If anything, the decision, coming after the call from Erdogan, will look like a capitulation.
Back in 2011, I was on a congressional delegation visit to Israel, and we met with Israeli PM Netanyahu who warned us of creating a vacuum. I do not want to see a repeat. Having a small but potent presence of US military troops in Syria keeps some very bad actors somewhat honest — Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, to name a few. The great thing under this administration is that we do not have restrictive rules of engagement. Also, we have a clear ability for the commanders on the ground to execute the missions necessary to attain, and maintain, a victory.
President Trump must be careful to not have a “mission accomplished” moment that plagued one George W. Bush. Now that President Trump will not have a friendly House of Representatives majority, you can bet that if anything goes south in Syria, there will be investigations, and along with the complicit liberal progressive media, he will be blamed. That is quite different from the insidious withdrawal decision of Barack Obama which Joe Biden hailed as a great foreign policy decision . . . hardly. With SecDef Mattis’ resignation coming the day after the withdrawal from Syria tweet, the media is salivating and hoping for things to backfire.
One of the mantles of leadership is to commit our greatest treasure into battle, it should never be taken lightly. However, it is a commitment that those of us who have served fully understand, and know the potential consequences. We just want to know that the sacrifices we, and our fallen comrades, have made were not in vain. And that is why we simply ask to see the combat operation to the end. We know that we must be deployed away from our families at many special moments. Please do not use that as any type of excuse; it is our commitment. However, while we are deployed, let us fight and kill the enemy, and have our backs . . . unlike the cases of 1LT Clint Lorance and Major Matthew Golsteyn.
We, in the military, know the vile and vicious nature of Islamic jihadists. We do not want to see them have sanctuaries anywhere. Yep, I am — and we are — more than happy to go back and fight, to pursue and destroy them wherever they seek to thrive and find shelter. We do not want to build roads, schools, and governments . . . we want to kill bad guys, and our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are really good at it.
Okay, if y’all are mad at me, so be it. But remember, how many chided Obama for sticking to a campaign promise and withdrawing all our troops from Iraq? National security is not about fulfilling campaign promises that do not agree with the situation on the ground. A leader has the courage to articulate the commander’s intent, vision, and issue guidance. And the bubbas on the ground have to be trusted . . . after all, we did not like it when Obama did not trust the generals.
Just remember, we did not bring the troops home from World War II after Paris was liberated for Christmas. They had to stay and fight to eliminate the enemy . . . and in December 1944, our Army faced a full-out assault from the Nazis that we came to call the Battle of the Bulge.
I pray that we will not face another resurgence and reconstitution of Islamic jihadists in the Middle East, a major counter-offensive. I pray President Trump made the right decision. If he did not, he must understand that the progressive socialist left, and their media allies, will brutalize him over it.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
He is a Fox News Contributor, Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom, and, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, published October 16, 2018, from Brown Books Publishing Group.