As U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration navigates the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, along with ongoing tensions with North Korea, China and Russia, it is doing so with a Cabinet largely composed of active and retired military generals. While the presence of an active-duty general at the helm of the National Security Council is not unprecedented, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, isn’t the sole appointee with a military background; two recently retired Marines, James Mattis and John Kelly, are serving as secretary of defense and director of the Department of Homeland Security, respectively.
That Kelly and Mattis hold political roles so recently after stepping out of uniform places the military in a particularly influential position within the Trump administration, and, accordingly, puts its reputation and role in American politics and society at great risk.
Listen to Jason Dempsey and Amy Schafer discuss this article on WPR's Trend Lines Podcast. Their audio begins at 25:45: