Harold Hutchison / December 9, 2016

Trump Sets the Tone

His picks promise a new national security direction.

One thing that has become patently obvious with President-elect Donald Trump’s national-security selections to date: The era of apology tours is over. With General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as secretary of defense, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security advisor, and General John Kelly as secretary of homeland security, there’s a distinct message being sent: America’s back, and we’re not putting up with certain crap any longer.

This team is a good one. One dynamic that will be very positive is that both Mattis and Kelly served with Marine General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This working relationship bodes well for addressing some very unacceptable situations, including a chronic shortage of resources for securing our borders. Yes, that’s plural — because while the U.S.-Mexico border rightly draws attention, the Coast Guard is badly under-capitalized. And the U.S.-Canada border is more than twice the length of the one with Mexico.

Gen. Kelly famously revealed in 2014 that nearly three-fourths of drug smugglers were not stopped. Hopefully, he starts his tenure by telling the Coast Guard to ditch a planned new design for their Offshore Patrol Cutter, and to instead buy the Freedom-class littoral combat ship. For the planned budget of that program, they can buy 33 vessels instead of the planned 25. Eight vessels might not sound like much, but it gives SOUTHCOM a nice boost. Maybe some other construction can be done for the Coast Guard, too.

Mattis is a truth-teller as well, and in this case, telling the truth cost him. He was forced out of CENTCOM early by the Obama administration as it pursued a deal at any price with an Iranian regime that has vocalized its desire to carry out a Holocaust of its own. Mattis not only personifies the Marine saying, “No better friend, no worse enemy,” but he also famously advised his Marines, “Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” It’s safe to say that the highly restrictive rules of engagement under which our troops have labored will be history.

It also would be safe to expect a quick move to pause initiatives like Barack Obama’s eco-friendly Green Fleet, which is using over-priced biofuels in the name of mitigating whatever climate change is going on (and that may not even be man-made) by a minute fraction of a degree Fahrenheit. This policy comes at a time when fracking has given us access to vast new deposits of conventional fuels. We hope there will be no more of that nonsense. Our military should instead be focusing on fulfilling its core functions: Killing our enemies and breaking their stuff.

Gen. Flynn’s selection as national security advisor gives Trump a well-rounded perspective. With deployments to Grenada, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq under his belt, Flynn has put together the pieces of a puzzle in a variety of situations. Flynn pushed hard to take out Bashar al-Assad early on in the Syrian Civil War. Had his advice been heeded, we might not have the humanitarian crisis that confronts us today — a crisis that can be solved, but only if we do what had to be done to remove the causes of that crisis.

If we want to get the ship of national security turned around, this is a good team to do it. The War on Terror will also likely get back on track with this team. The sooner we deal with the Islamic State and let the world know that a new sheriff’s in town, the sooner we’ll buy time to both re-build and re-capitalize the military.

In short, Trump is setting a new tone for American foreign policy. As China found out when he took that phone call from Taiwan’s president, America is no longer rolling over. An assertive, confident America is back and means business — and regimes in Beijing, Tehran, Raqqa and even Moscow should realize that they provoke it at their own peril.

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