Top defense officials could not hide the daylight between the Pentagon and President Donald Trump on Wednesday as they faced withering questions from veterans in Congress about the president’s plans to withdraw from Syria and eventually Afghanistan.
The tense House Armed Services Committee hearing reached its climax during an exchange between Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Owen West, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.
Moulton was one of several veterans serving in Congress who picked apart the president’s rationale for leaving Syria and Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Earlier in the hearing, Moulton had pressed Air Force Maj. Gen. James Hecker, vice director of operations for the Joint Staff, about how the U.S. military could keep its boot on ISIS’ neck if all troops left Syria.
Hecker conceded that the U.S. military would be in “a very difficult situation” but would work with the Syrian Democratic Forces as well as surrounding countries, including Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey, to help allied forces inside Syria without having any of its own forces inside the country.