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Congressman Roger Marshall

Representing the 1st District of Kansas

Marshall Op-Ed in The Hill: Trump needs a Sec. of Def. whose missions have a clear exit strategy

January 3, 2019
Press Release

Washington D.C.-Dr. Marshall wrote an op-ed in The Hill discussing our national security goals and objectives in the Middle East, and the role the new Secretary of Defense should play. 

“In April, President Trump asked Secretary Mattis to get our troops out of Syria,” Marshall wrote. “This request was, from any practical standpoint, ignored, and the decision to part ways with Secretary Mattis made by the President Trump, was anything but hastily determined. The resignation was due to Mattis’ determination to keep soldiers in Syria, despite his commander’s objectives being reached. It was an understandable break. It’s important to keep in mind that Gen. Mattis had only been separated from the military for three years before his nomination - federal law requires a seven-year separation, however the Senate approved the exception. In hindsight, I now better understand the logic behind the seven years of separation. At this juncture in the Middle East, perhaps we are now in need a secretary of Defense, not a secretary of War.”

Marshall compared the President’s need for a new Secretary of Defense to allowing Roy Williams to leave the University of Kansas in 2003, a bold and terrifying move for many KU basketball fans, but nonetheless the right move in hindsight when his successor Bill Self led the Jayhawks to 14 straight conference titles and a national championship.  

“The President found a Roy Williams for the mission at hand the last two years - it was a success,” Marshall said. “Now, President Trump will be on the search for a secretary of Defense whose mission objectives always have a clear and precise exit strategy - I trust he will find that person.”

Read the op-ed in its entirety here and below. 

The president needs a secretary of Defense whose mission objectives always have a clear exit strategy

BY REP. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KAN.), OPINION CONTRIBUTOR —  01/03/19

Not too long ago, University of Kansas head basketball coach Roy Williams announced, for the second time, he was leaving the program for his home school of North Carolina. Many sports pundits feared a future without Williams and suggested throwing unlimited amounts of treasure at him. However, KU leadership made the bold and controversial decision to allow Roy to move on. What came next was an up and coming coach named Bill Self, who would subsequently lead the Jayhawks to 14 straight conference titles and a National Championship. Today, Coach Self is now widely regarded as the top coach in the game.

Change gears towards Washington, D.C., where every week cable news and “political experts” find ways to overreact, negatively critique with hyperbole, chase activism as opposed to facts, and seldom tell the whole story or acknowledge the merits to every decision. All of the narratives are framed in silos, with the big picture and historical frame of reference largely ignored. The manufactured sequence of news described was no more evident than the recent departure of President Trump’s secretary of Defense, Gen. James Mattis.

In April, President Trump asked Secretary Mattis to get our troops out of Syria. This request was, from any practical standpoint, ignored, and the decision to part ways with Secretary Mattis made by the President Trump, was anything but hastily determined. The resignation was due to Mattis’ determination to keep soldiers in Syria, despite his commander’s objectives being reached. It was an understandable break. It’s important to keep in mind that Gen. Mattis had only been separated from the military for three years before his nomination - federal law requires a seven-year separation, however the Senate approved the exception. In hindsight, I now better understand the logic behind the seven years of separation. At this juncture in the Middle East, perhaps we are now in need a secretary of Defense, not a secretary of War. 

Our national security goals and objectives in the Middle East were to destroy ISIS and other terrorist organizations that are a threat to our National security. Secretary Mattis should be credited for his many successes - the greatest of these being the complete decimation of ISIS on the battlefield and capture of 99 percent of their controlled territory. He met the task, fulfilled his duty, and served honorably. A job well done.

As leaders, often times we have to say, “Weigh the anchor, full speed ahead,” and be willing to tact into the head winds. While the Middle East has many headwinds awaiting, I for one am glad we have a Commander in Chief whose priority is not just to win wars, but also get our troops home. An indisputable truth of the Middle East is that for the past 3,000 years, and for the foreseeable future, civil war and war amongst neighbors will continue in the Middle East, with or without American presence. We cannot continue to have our troops be drawn into these endless civil and ethnic wars. The cost of our young American lives is simply too high to justify in an endless mission like Syria. In neighboring Iraq, our 5,000 American soldiers have a much safer and more defined perimeter with drones and satellite technology. The United States can provide support for the Kurds from these safe-holds just across the border. Our footprint should remain small, agile, and quick in these conflicts, and only support those who share our country’s priorities, ideals and values.

The President found a Roy Williams for the mission at hand the last two years - it was a success. Now, President Trump will be on the search for a secretary of Defense whose mission objectives always have a clear and precise exit strategy - I trust he will find that person. 

Roger Marshall, M.D. represents Kansas’s 1st District.