One of the most vociferous complaints from defense officials during the Obama years was obsessive micromanagement from the White House, but several officials and experts worry the problem may compound under President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.
To be sure, the worries of micromanagement are by no means unanimous. Only some experts and officials think the problem of interfering with Pentagon affairs may grow worse, Military Times reports.
But that fear is still there.
“It could get worse,” an anonymous military official told Military Times, a possibility voiced by several other officials.
Over the past year, Trump has claimed to know more about the Islamic State than generals, perhaps signifying a willingness to step in if need be.
In the past, Trump has claimed he knows more about the Islamic State than
“I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me,” he said. in September.
Additionally, Trump’s campaign has seen a lot of turnover among top advisors, although certainly it seems his completely unorthodox campaign management style has paid off in a win most of the political class deemed anywhere from unlikely to nearly impossible.
“He’s micromanaged everything. He disregards the advice of the people working for him, and he makes the final decision himself. So it’s hard to think that he would change that style,” Center for American Progress defense expert Larry Korb told Military Times.
In early November, a group of special operators and defense officials urged the next president to keep out of their business and let them conduct their missions without interference.
Micromanagement has been a frequent complaint under the Obama administration–and part of the reason he’s cycled through so many secretaries of defense, several of whom now have virtually nothing but criticism to lobby at Obama’s decisions.
“It was the micromanagement that drove me crazy,” former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said.
“For the past 25 to 30 years, there has been a centralization of power in the White House,” former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta noted. “Because of that centralization of authority at the White House, there are too few voices that are being heard.”
The National Security Council exploded in size during the Obama years, jumping from 100 staffers to 400 when Obama took over from George W. Bush.
In 2016, disaffected former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel complained of “operational micromanagement.”
Still, these worries may be unfounded.
GOP Rep. Randy Forbes, a military advisor of Trump’s, assured Defense News in October that “we are going to have an international defense strategy driven by the Pentagon and not by the political National Security Council.”