Listen to professionals

As leaks from the Pentagon grow in the wake of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s decision to step down, it becomes apparent part of the problem has been White House micromanaging of the military.

President Barack Obama is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He has the authority to tell generals and admirals, not to mention secretaries of defense, to do whatever he wants. Our system of government insists on civilian control of the military.

But experience has shown while civilians ought to have the last word on the armed forces, allowing amateurs to make many military decisions is a bad idea. Armed conflicts are not political maneuvers. Bad choices mean people die needlessly and the nation’s security is put at risk.

Obama and his aides already have been criticized by Hagel’s immediate predecessors, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta. Whether Hagel will go public with more revelations is yet to be seen.

But it is known he left under pressure from the White House, perhaps because he, like Panetta and Gates, made his displeasure with the president’s management style too clear.

U.S. armed forces have scored impressive victories during the past few years. But there also have been failures, as in that involving Islamic State terrorists. Without any input from Hagel, it is apparent some of those problems have been because military professionals’ advice was not followed.

If Obama continues to ignore the professionals, dire consequences may result.


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