Even Republicans were appalled by Donald Trump’s lack of knowledge at NBC military forum

Even Republicans were appalled by Donald Trump’s lack of knowledge at NBC military forum
Source: AP
Source: AP

Donald Trump's stunning lack of knowledge about the U.S. military's most basic structure and functions during NBC's veterans' town hall Wednesday had even Republicans up in arms, questioning how someone attempting to become commander-in-chief could know so little about the troops he's seeking to lead.

In his roughly half-hour portion of the forum, Trump proposed setting up a military court system that already exists, wrongly suggested military generals are political appointees who change guard with the arrival of a new president, and continued his insistence that America should have "taken the oil" after leaving Iraq — an action that would have violated the Geneva Convention.

"[Hillary Clinton] is mediocre, but Trump is so far out of his depth on basic foreign policy and national security issues, it is truly alarming," Mike Murphy, a long-time GOP strategist whose advised everyone from Jeb Bush to Sen. John McCain, tweeted Wednesday night.

Throughout the night, Trump made a number of head-turning comments.

At one point, a veteran told Trump his daughter was thinking of joining the military, but he had reservations over allowing her to join because of the problems the military has faced over its handling of sexual assault.

Trump responded to that question by saying the military should "set up a court system" to better deal with those sexual assaults.

However, that proposal is moot, given that the military does have its own court system called the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In fact, the military court system has been widely featured in American pop culture in classic films such as "A Few Good Men" and the popular television series "JAG."

"For heaven's sake, the dummy hasn't even seen 'A Few Good Men,'" tweeted Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.

In another instance, Trump said the current military generals have "been reduced to rubble," and suggested if he were elected president he would have an entire new slate of generals who would do a better job.

It's likely that Trump would have to work with a number of current generals, which pundits say makes his attack on their knowledge and job performance all the more problematic. 

And Trump's call for the U.S. to "take the oil" from Iraq flouted international law, which bans "any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property," whether it belongs to private actors or the state.

Foreign policy experts added that even if taking the oil was allowed, stealing a lucrative oil reserve would likely only make America a bigger target, giving terrorists ammunition to tell potential followers that the U.S. is a threat to their prosperity.

In all, political analysts said Trump's 30-minute veterans' town hall showcased his weaknesses ahead of the first debate in two weeks. 

And it's unclear whether he can solve his lack of fact-based knowledge in that short period of time.