The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. 
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Key questions surround Trump’s first military raid

Updated
It’s been described as a mission in which “almost everything went wrong.” As we discussed yesterday, the first military raid ordered by Donald Trump was launched on Sunday in Yemen, and the plan was to acquire intelligence and equipment at an al Qaeda camp.

What transpired was a fight that left three al Qaeda leaders dead, but also killed Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owen, a member of SEAL Team 6, and Nawar al-Awlaki, an 8-year-old girl born in the United States whose father was an al Qaeda leader killed several years ago. A New York Times report noted, “There are allegations — which the Pentagon acknowledged on Wednesday night are most likely correct — that the mission also killed several civilians, including some children.”

The piece added, “[A]lmost everything that could go wrong did.”

The question now is who, if anyone, bears responsibility for the deadly incident. This Reuters report suggests some in the military are looking at the White House.
U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.

As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.
To be sure, the details of what transpired on the ground are still coming together, and when a mission goes wrong, it’s not uncommon for fingers to be pointed in all kinds of directions. Those assigning and/or avoiding blame each have their own motivations, and it may be a while before we have all the relevant facts.

That said, the Reuters report suggests some American military officials believe Trump shouldn’t have approved this mission – his first as president.

Josh Marshall stressed an important angle: “Did Trump press for a more aggressive policy than his advisors counseled? Are they blaming the president for operational shortcomings in the military planning? Whatever the reality of the situation, what seems most germane is that military officials (at least on a fair reading of this Reuters report) seem to be throwing the Commander-in-Chief under the bus. That is a big deal whether they’re pointing out his poor decision making or covering up for their own.”

Looking ahead, the Trump administration appears eager to make changes that will expedite related missions. The New York Times’ article added:
Mr. Trump’s new national security team, led by [Michael] Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a retired general with experience in counterterrorism raids, has said that it wants to speed the decision-making when it comes to such strikes, delegating more power to lower-level officials so that the military may respond more quickly. Indeed, the Pentagon is drafting such plans to accelerate activities against the Qaeda branch in Yemen.

But doing that also raises the possibility of error.
Taken together, Reuters seems to be suggesting the White House rushed the decision on the Yemen raid, and the Times is reporting the administration intends to rush similar decisions in the future.

Maybe Congress should prepare to ask some questions about this?


Donald Trump

Key questions surround Trump's first military raid

Updated