Trump didn't bother to tell his top general in the Middle East that he was going to pull troops out of Syria
Saul Loeb/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump made the decision to withdraw troops from Syria without consulting his combatant commander in the region, the top US general in the Middle East revealed Tuesday.
- "I was not consulted," Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
- The president's decision to withdraw troops from Syria shocked top US officials and allies and was reportedly the final straw for former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has since resigned from his post; Trump has claimed he forced Mattis out.
President Donald Trump did not consult his top general in the Middle East before he decided to withdraw US troops from Syria.
"I was not aware of the specific announcement," Gen. Joseph Votel, the Army officer who as head of US Central Command oversees the wars in Syria and Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. "Certainly we are aware that he had expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart."
"We were not, I was not consulted," he added.
The president declared victory over the Islamic State in a video message on Dec. 19.
"We have won against ISIS," Trump said, "We've beaten them, and we've beaten them badly. We've taken back the land. And, now it's time for our troops to come back home." An estimated 2,000 US troops are currently serving in Syria.
Apparently such a major decision didn't warrant a consult with or even courtesy call to the combatant commander, the commander who leads all military operations in the region. Even the president of Turkey has warned Trump that a rapid pull-out could be disastrous.
Last week, senior US intelligence officials testified before Senate Intelligence Committee, warning that ISIS "will exploit any reduction in [counterterrorism] pressure to strengthen its clandestine presence and accelerate rebuilding key capabilities."
This week, the Pentagon, citing CENTCOM, reported that ISIS "could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory" if pressure is not maintained.
Votel explained Tuesday that while the caliphate is crumbling, "the fight against ISIS and violent extremists is not over and our mission has not changed." He stressed that all that has been won on the battlefield can only be secured by "maintaining a vigilant offensive" against ISIS.
Trump has repeatedly disregarded the observations and advice of the US intelligence community and his senior military leaders. His decision to withdraw from Syria was reportedly the final straw for former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
"I think I would've been a good general," Trump said early last month.
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