While decisions like withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement have been met with their share of criticism both at home and abroad, the Trump administration’s foreign policy is receiving high marks from some of the military’s most elite.
Former special operations sniper Nicholas Irving, who has a unique perspective on the matter, recent defended the Trump military strategy.
During a total of six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2005 and 2010, Irving is said to have killed 33 enemy combatants — more than any other member of the 3rd Ranger Regiment before or since.
Under the direction of the Obama administration, however, he said he and others in special operations forces lost a key factor in their success.
Asked during a Fox News Channel interview how he views President Donald Trump’s general military leadership compared to prior presidents, Irving said troops can once again count on the element of surprise.
He described Trump’s approach as “tougher” and one that is “actually striking fear into the enemy.”
In Irving’s opinion, “having that fear in the enemy is one of the first things that the enemy wants to back down from a fight from.”
As a candidate and after his inauguration, Trump has frequently admonished other administrations for announcing planned military operations, something he vowed not to do.
“I don’t talk about military response,” the president said in February 2017, according to CNS News. “I don’t say I’m going into Mosul in four months — we’re going to attack Mosul in four months. Then three months later, we’re going to attack Mosul in one month. Next week, we are going to attack Mosul. Meantime, Mosul’s very, very difficult. You know why? Because I don’t talk about military, and I don’t talk about certain other things.”
Trump’s vague responses to military matters have made some in the U.S. uneasy. But more importantly, Irving claimed, those indecipherable messages put America’s enemies on edge.
“We didn’t really get that from prior presidents,” he said.
Former President Barack Obama attracted criticism from Trump and others for discussing more openly the military’s plans for dealing with certain national security threats. According to Irving, that approach presented unnecessary hurdles to the specialized mission he and others in special operations were deployed to complete.
“The last president we had, we didn’t have the ability to actually strike fear into our enemy and have that element of surprise going into Helmand Province,” he said.
“Fox & Friends” co-anchor Pete Hegseth, himself a decorated Army veteran, pointed out that Obama also announced an expected withdrawal timeline associated with the troop surge in Afghanistan.
“I did not understand that,” Irving said. “That was one of the first times I’ve ever seen that.”
The result of these announcements, he concluded, was the critical loss of the element of surprise, describing it as “kind of like fighting with handcuffs behind our back.”
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