Trump Just Unilaterally Expanded The Pentagon’s Emergency Wartime Powers

Donald Trump just issued another executive order, but this one is different because it expands emergency military powers by giving the Secretary of Defense the power to reactivate any retired servicemember. The order expands on George W.’s executive order giving emergency authority to the Department of Defense to address the threat of terrorism following Sept. 11.

Under current law, only 25 retired officers can be brought back in to serve in each branch. What Trump did was remove that limit, so now Secretary Mattis can give the Air Force the ability to reactivate up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years. And that’s part of the point of this – the Air Force has a shortage of pilots and they haven’t been able to attract enough new pilots to make up for it.

Okay, so, yeah, big deal, right? Wrong, because apparently Lindsey Graham, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that we are going to step up the fighting in the Middle East and expand our presence and fighting in Africa. Graham believes that Obama’s counter-terrorism rules were too tight, and therefore, totally ineffective. He said:

“The war is morphing. You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. You’re going to have decisions made not in the White House but out in the field. And I support that entire construct.”

So, basically, we’re going to be fighting more war in more countries in order to bring down ISIS and Al Qaeda-linked groups. Because that’s totally worked out well for us over the last 16 years. Despite that, it’s the Air Force that’s been doing most of the fighting against ISIS over the last few years. So to expand that war, the Air Force needs all the pilots it can get or this will “call into question the Air Force’s ability to accomplish its mission,” according to John McCain.

This follows Trump’s extension of the national emergency created by Sept. 11, which is the third time a president has done that. Experts are starting to warn that this particular power needs to be reviewed now, especially in light of the fact that the White House hasn’t been giving Congress its required six-month updates. This EO looks like it builds on that, and who knows where all Trump wants to go to war.

Featured image via Ron Sachs – Pool/Getty Images

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