Army chief of staff Gen. James McConville on Tuesday refuted President Trump’s assertion that top leaders at the Pentagon want to keep waging wars in order to keep defense contractors “happy.” McConville’s remarks are the first public response from the Pentagon after Trump’s attack on the department’s leaders.
During a press conference at the White House Monday, Trump told reporters that he’s “not saying the military’s in love with me — the soldiers are,” before going on to suggest that Pentagon leaders don’t feel the same towards him because they are beholden to defense contractors.
“The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy,” Trump said on Monday.
Although McConville declined to directly address Trump’s remarks during a virtual event hosted by Defense One on Tuesday, the Army’s top general defended Pentagon officials against the President’s assertion.
After noting that he’s spoken with top military leaders — who he said includes those who have sons and daughters previously and currently in combat — McConville expressed that sending troops to combat is not a decision that is taken lightly.
“So I can assure the American people that senior leaders would only recommend sending troops to combat when it’s required in national security, or as a last resort,” McConville said. “I feel very strong about it.”
McConville argued that despite the “political environment” nowadays, the military needs to remain an “apolitical organization,” especially in light of the November presidential election.
McConville’s remarks came shortly after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows denied that the President’s remarks were directed toward an individual general, but that the comment was “more directed about the military industrial complex.”
Meadows’ defense of Trump’s comments regarding Pentagon leaders added to Trump administration officials’ defense of the President over the weekend following backlash that has ensued over The Atlantic report about his denigrating remarks toward fallen soldiers, which included calling the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) a “fucking loser” in 2018.