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Trump Hints He Has Picked His Next Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman

Category: Political News,Politics

A Boston Red Sox fan, General Milley carries himself with the kind of earthy manner that screams Fenway Park. He does not shy away from the occasional ribald story, although he does sometimes pepper conversations with talk of “little engines that could” and red cabooses and other well-worn references to inspirational stories.

At the same time, anyone talking to him knows where they stand; he is direct, an approach that played well in Afghanistan, where he was the No. 2 American commander. He was popular among the troops he commanded and got on well with Afghan military officers and civilian officials, even when he pushed back against some of their wilder claims about the war.

His political skills — the same skills he used in the last two years to become a favorite of Mr. Trump — were on display during a day trip in summer 2013 to northern Afghanistan, where he listened patiently as a senior Afghan security official blamed Pakistanis and other foreigners for all the violence in the country.

General Milley responded politely but firmly, saying that while foreign insurgents were exacerbating the situation, the Taliban are an Afghan movement, and that it was ultimately up to Afghans to work out their differences if they wanted peace in their country. At the time, it was a message that Afghans had long ago tired of hearing from the Americans, but General Milley managed to deliver it without offending his host.

Five years later, American military officials are still delivering that same message, as the Afghanistan war continues on. As the Army chief of staff, General Milley has instead turned his attention to whether almost two decades of fighting in Afghanistan — and Iraq and Syria — has taken away from the Army’s ability to fight a land war against a more traditional military adversary.

“Today, a major in the Army knows nothing but fighting terrorists and guerrillas, because he came into the Army after 9/11,” General Milley said in an interview in 2016 with The New York Times. He described a loss of what he called muscle memory: how to fight a large land war, including one where an established adversary is able to bring sophisticated air defenses, tanks, infantry, naval power and even cyberweapons into battle.

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