Does Trump's shuffling of the Defense Policy Board mean something?

With the election up in the air, Trump decided to remove a number of old-guard members on the Defense Policy Board. Does it matter?

November 28, 2020
By Andrea Widburg

On Friday, news broke that President Trump had removed several members of the Defense Department's civilian Defense Policy Board. This follows hard on the heels of his decision to fire defense secretary Mark Esper. The question is why now? I've heard some interesting, informal theories suggesting that this has to do with those Scytl machines in Germany.
On November 9, President Trump fired Secretary Esper. In some ways, as Breitbart notes, it was a "long-anticipated move":
The relationship between Trump and Esper soured quickly after Esper preempted the president by declaring he did not support using active-duty forces to restore peace during a summer of violent riots.
Trump had not called for using troops, but had warned he might if the violence continued. However, Esper's preemptive declaration made it more difficult for the president to use the threat of deployment of troops as a deterrent to rioters.
That's a good reason to fire Esper, but the timing is still interesting. After all, if Trump has given up and believes he has only two months left in the White House, it was a fairly pointless move. Alternatively, if he has four years more in the White House, it seems peculiar for him to engage in administrative shuffles when he should be focusing all his energy on challenging the election.
Trump's choice for Esper's replacement — Christopher C. Miller — is also interesting: Miller is a Special Forces guy. Moreover, his appointment coincided with a Pentagon shake-up that has seen Special Forces cease to be subsets of the other branches of the military. As of November 18, they're now on par with them:
"I am here today to announce that I have directed the special operations civilian leadership to report directly to me instead of through the current bureaucratic channels," Miller said during an unannounced visit to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. "This historic step finalizes what Congress has authorized and directed and will put Special Operations Command on par with the military services for the first time."
The top Pentagon civilian official who oversees special operations had previously reported to the undersecretary of defense for policy, said Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Candice Tresch.
The latest military-related shake-up came yesterday, when Trump booted old-guard members of the civilian Defense Policy Board: Henry Kissinger, a realpolitik relic of the 1970s; Madeleine Albright, a Bill Clinton ally; David McCormick, a George W. Bush leftover; Eric Cantor, a RINO; and Rudy de Leon, another Clinton relic. Again, the move comes at a weird time when Trump's status is unclear.
Having said that, the move may make a lot of sense in light of that alleged "military" raid in Germany, although it's unclear if it was on Scytl (as Louie Gohmert said) or on the CIA's headquarters (as other internet rumors allege). For purposes of thinking about Trump's decision-making, I'm going to assume that something happened in Germany that relates to the election.
Scytl denied the raid, but we wouldn't expect anything different. What we also know is that the Army is tight-lipped, with a spokesman saying only that "[t]hese allegations are false." The Army's statement is decidedly ambiguous. It's not clear whether the Army is saying there was no raid or that the Army did not conduct a raid.
And that's where we get to Nick Chase's excellent post, "Listen closely to Sidney Powell…" Nick speculates about Powell's hints that there's a giant struggle taking place in Germany between "good guys" and "bad guys." He wonders if Trump hasn't been tracking election information on those mysterious German servers.
Trump's problem now is the same that it's been for four years: he has to work around a hostile administrative state. The FBI, the CIA, and many in the Pentagon, including old-guard members of the Defense Policy Board, are all against him. That hostility may explain how Special Forces, who are their own unit and who report directly to a Trump loyalist (Christopher Miller), come into the picture.
Trump may have a lot of balls in the air right now. Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis are attacking traditional voter fraud (cemetery votes, faked ballots, etc.). Sidney Powell is attacking both traditional voter fraud and election fraud using computers that were deliberately created to allow for vote manipulation rather than just straightforward vote-counting.
Finally — and this is all speculation — Trump could have a hidden iron in the fire: he might have been using military intelligence, run through Special Forces rather than the porous and disloyal Pentagon, to watch in real time exactly what the Democrats were doing during the election.
If that's the case, it would explain why, at this unexpected, almost irrational time, Trump is suddenly, and in a very focused way, shuffling the Pentagon's deck to remove traitors, leakers, NeverTrumps, and other weak reeds.
Image: U.S. Navy SEALS conducting training with SCAR rifles. Public domain.

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