Senior Pentagon leaders have a lot to worry about — Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, China, Somalia, the Korean Peninsula. But chief among those concerns is whether their commander in chief might order American troops into any chaos around the coming elections.
President Trump gave officials no solace on Wednesday when he again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election. On Thursday he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be “honest.” His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has caused deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections.
“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process.”
But that has not stopped an intensifying debate in the military about its role should a disputed election lead to civil unrest. [Continue reading…]