Retired General: General Milley did his job

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fairly difficult
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was right to reassure China during the turbulent final days of Trump's presidency that the US was not going to suddenly, recklessly start a war with them, writes Ret. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling. Milley was reacting to the realities on the ground, and those crying 'outrage' and wanting him to resign need to understand how these actions work, how they are extremely beneficial to the security of the United States, and how taking them is truly tied to the responsibility associated with the Chairman's position.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling is a national security, intelligence and terrorism analyst for CNN. He served for 37 years in the Army, including three years in combat, and retired as commanding general of US Army Europe and the 7th Army. He is the author of "Growing Physician Leaders." He has provided input informally to the Biden campaign on issues of national security. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely his. View more opinion at CNN.

These and other Republicans were fuming over a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, "Peril," detailing Milley's actions, which were reported by CNN and others on Tuesday ahead of the book's release next week. It apparently describes how , during the turbulent final days of Trump's presidency, Milley had reassured China that the United States was not going to suddenly and recklessly start a war.

The cries of outrage have been hyperbolic, vitriolic. But Milley is emphatically not a traitor. His actions also don't rise to the level of heroics, as some on the left are proclaiming. Rather, I'd say the Chairman was acting rightly on intelligence that America's adversaries and friends were extremely concerned about the violent turmoil surrounding the presidential transition -- and the uncertainty about what Trump might do before leaving office.

Given that the former president had already made worrisome comments about summarily pulling US forces out of various areas around the world, and given media reports of Trump's earlier threats to attack other nations, Milley found it necessary to communicate directly with his counterparts overseas, with whom he had a professional relationship.

He was right to do so, because he was reacting to the realities on the ground. Straight talk with our allies and partners, lowering the temperature when tensions are rising, is critical to avoiding misunderstandings and perhaps deadly unintentional consequences. America's generals and admirals around the world work hard to build…
Mark Hertling
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