WASHINGTON — The Army’s top officer said he found out about President Trump’s ban on transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military via news reports.
Speaking at the National Press Club on Thursday, Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, said that he did not have advance knowledge of Trump’s monumental policy change.
“I personally did not, but nor would I have expected to. I notice that’s been in the media out there. But like I said up front, it’s a chain of command thing and I render my advice through the chain of command which in my case would be Gen. Dunford and Secretary Mattis, and they would render it back to me.”
“So no, personally, no, the president didn’t say, ‘Hey Mark, I’m doing this.’ He didn’t do that, but nor would I expect him to do it and nor is there any requirement to do that,” Milley added.
When asked how Milley found out about the decision, he said, “same way everyone else did … I saw it on the news.”
“But again, we’re trying to make this out, or some people are trying to make this out as if that is particularly unique. If I could count on, if I had a nickel for every time I read decisions in the news over the last 10, 15, 20 years, I’d probably be a pretty wealthy guy right now,” he added.
“So, it’s not particularly unusual to read about things in the media. That’s why in my office I have like six screens and I have the scrolls going every which way and I’m always looking for the breaking news thing … So, you know, the people can say what they want about the media but the one thing you are is fast … accurate sometimes, but fast, fast all the time [laughs].”
When announcing the ban, Trump wrote in a tweet that he had consulted with “my generals and military experts,” however, the Pentagon’s top brass Gen. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, and Gen. Milley were unaware of the policy change.
What’s more, the White House has not identified the “generals and military experts” cited in Trump’s tweet and none have come forward thus far.