In the not-too-distant past communicating with the President of the United States was a more complicated process than it is today. What once required a trip to our nation's capital and an assist from someone with the right connections, now can be accomplished by simply including the President's Twitter logo (@realDonaldTrump) on a tweet. Chances are he won't read it personally, but you can be sure that some flunky at some desk in basement of the White House or the Executive Office Building is tasked with reading everything directed at the POTUS - and flagging anything of interest for further scrutiny.
What I didn't realize until recently was that the U.S. military now has a major presence on Twitter. Perhaps that is their most effective way of staying in contact with the Commander in Chief. The main branches of our nation's military tweet at the following: Army (@USArmy), Navy (@USNavy), Marine Corps (@USMC), Air Force (@usairforce), and Coast Guard (@USCG). Additionally each of the branches have special twitter accounts for their recruitment efforts, sports teams, and other specialty areas that they wish to highlight.
But it doesn't end there. Some of our nation's most sensitive military activity centers also tweet. As an example, the Air Force Global Strike Command has a Twitter account (@AFGlobalStrike), one supposes as a way to collect suggestions on where to launch air strikes.
There was a story in the news this week about the U.S. Strategic Command, a branch of the Department of Defense that is in charge of our nuclear arsenal. Strat Com tweets at @US_Stratcom. Yup, when those guys aren't busy counting and recounting our nuclear weapons, they can while away their time posting tweets. The news story noted that the U.S. Strategic Command had recently tweeted a link to an article by Breitbart News, a thinly veiled right-wing extremist site accused by many of having a decided tilt toward a neo-Nazi philosophy - and the former employer of Trump aid, Steve Bannon.
The article in question was headlined: "Nearly All Elements of Nuclear Triad Outdated," a notion that Strat Com apparently wanted to push - and what better way to get the President's attention than to highlight it on Twitter. In addition to an important component of the military lowering itself to grovel for money on a commercial web site, the fact that the agency associated itself with Breitbart also raised eyebrows - and anger levels.
Last week the Pentagon also sought to enhance contact with the White House by inviting unpaid presidential aid (and Trump son-in-law), Jared Kushner, to visit the troops in Iraq. Kushner traveled to the war zone with Marine General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was a trip that appeared to be designed as much for photo-ops as it was for learning about the never-ending conflicts in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, as far as photo-ops go, Kushner was probably not the best choice for the trip. One photo of him that got a lot of press attention showed the diplomat-by-marriage looking all Ken Doll in a shiny dark suit that was over-laid with a desert cammo flak jacket. It was a sadly comical prissy-boy-tough. The only way he could have looked sillier would have been if he was wearing a tiara - and that wouldn't have been by much!
But give the military its due as it struggles to be prepared for any contingency. Always before they have had to deal with crafty politicians, but those sands have shifted, and now suddenly the generals find themselves working for rich celebrities. Today they are fighting Muslims in Iraq, but tomorrow they may find themselves trying on uniforms designed by Ivanka.
War is hell.