Trump Revealed Sensitive Details During His Announcement Of Baghdadi’s Death
President Donald Trump revealed sensitive information about U.S. military operations in telling the story of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s takedown on Sunday.
Veteran military officials told Politico they were shocked by some of the details Trump offered during his 48-minute long remarks on the operation, including methods used to breach the building where al-Baghdadi was located and the route military helicopters took in their approach and retreat.
“I always get a little bit nervous when people without knowledge of operations start describing operations,” Michael Nagata, a retired Army lieutenant general, told the news outlet.
Nagata, “who was the senior special operations commander in the Middle East during the early stages of the anti-ISIS campaign,” said giving away such details could do immense harm: “It’s a good story, and I can understand the impulse to tell a good story. Telling it can have positive benefits. But the benefits are unpredictable and marginal, whereas the harm could be more substantial."
The retired military official noted that Obama administration officials had similarly revealed details after the operation that took down Osama bin Laden.
“This tradition two administrations have established of talking about the details of missions like these may actually make them more dangerous and more difficult in the future,” Nagata said.
Among the problematic statements Trump made on Sunday, according to those who spoke with Politico, were details about the compound where al-Baghdadi was located, how the compound was breached, the nature of ISIS’ communications, what was seized from the compound, and the number and route of helicopters transporting U.S. special forces.
That last revelation was most disturbing to former officials. Trump said the helicopters “took an identical route” back to friendly territory after conducting the raid.
“That’s the most worrisome," said Nagata. "The force is vulnerable throughout the operation, but arrival and departure by helicopter are very dangerous. For me, the idea that anyone would talk publicly about how we did the most dangerous part of the operation — the risks far outweigh the storytelling value.”
"I don’t know why the f--- he would say that, honestly,” another former special operations commander told Politico. “If we’re doing the same approaches and egresses, that can get helicopters shot down. It’s happened in Afghanistan.”