Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has harshly criticized the U.S. military through much of his campaign. Now, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has called out Trump and defended the military.
"Right now we have a military that’s depleted and in horrible shape," Trump told WAVY in a July interview, reports PolitiFact.
The following day, during an Indiana campaign rally, Trump doubled down on the accusation.
"You know, the United States they said had never lost a war,” Trump began. “Now we never win ... We don't win with our military. Our military is so depleted. Our military has fighter jets that are in use, flown by great, great American people that are so old and they can't get parts for the fighter jets.”
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“I can tell you the United States military is not any sort of disaster,” James said during an interview with Fortune magazine’s podcast “Fortune Unfiltered,” reports Time. “It is the best military on the planet.”
James is not the first high-ranking military official to attack Trump for his opinions on the U.S. military. Gen. John Allen, a retired four-star Marine general, discussed Trump during an Oct. 28 conference call with the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
"While [Trump] appears not to understand basic military activities, it's not clear to me that he's interested in learning them either because there's a number of experts who I think … would advise him otherwise, but he seems to be confident in that knowledge," Allen said, reports Business Insider.
Robert Gates, the former defense secretary who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, also chimed in on Trump, reports Politico.
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Gates said: "When you look at the other things [Trump has] said about the military, about how the senior officers are a disaster and so on and so forth, my guess is most folks on active duty don’t take seriously what he has to say.”