President Barack Obama has never enjoyed being commander-in-chief. He finds it difficult to even believe that the U.S. military can play a positive role in world affairs. Therefore, we must have a Secretary of Defense whose strengths will offset the president’s weaknesses.
The Senate must be sure that the new secretary, the man on whom the president relies for military advice, will speak truthfully when it requires citing facts which the president does not want to hear. He must be willing to pass on the best military judgment of the joint chiefs.
If the national security of the United States requires a greater military commitment – even “boots on the ground”- he must tell the president. If the defense budget needs to be increased rather than cut, he must tell the president. If promising a swift withdrawal by a certain date will hand the enemy a strategic advantage, he must tell the president.
He must also remind the president of the need to obtain the approval of Congress before going to war. A debate and vote by Congress should be seen not only as obedience to the Constitution, but also as an opportunity to educate the public and win its support.
Peter J. Thomas