The polls and prognosticators we have all been following tell us former President Donald Trump possesses a commanding lead in the GOP presidential primary. Could there be some hiccups and unforeseen happenings before the early political events in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina? Sure, but let’s make the assumption that the current polling data stands.
If so, and Donald Trump goes on to win the GOP presidential primary, then what is the most needed element for him to be successful in a general election? There are those who would say his vice presidential nominee, others will point to the litany of legal issues, and some will just say, he cannot win a general election.
I think the element former President Trump needs to acquire is a sense of self-discipline. I would offer that if that had been part of his character in his term as president, he would still be president.
Therefore, from a military perspective, I would present that what President Trump needs the most is a doggone tough Command Sergeant Major (CSM). In his first term, Trump would boast about his generals. That did not turn out so well. In my 22 years of military service I learned, rather quickly, that your Senior Enlisted Soldier is your best asset. Now, I speak from an Army career. In the Marine Corps they have Sergeant Majors (SGM) and Master Gunnery Sergeants (MGySgt). The Navy and the Coast Guard have Command Master Chief Petty Officer (CMDCM). The US Air Force has Command Chief Master Sergeant (CCM). These are the top enlisted ratings per our respective armed services.
If you need a primer on what I am referring to, think about tough characters like Sam Elliott’s portrayal of CSM Basil L. Plumley of the 7th CAV in the movie “We Were Soldiers.” Maybe even recall the award-winning performance of R. Lee Ermey in the movie “Full Metal Jacket,” and Louis Gossett Jr’s Academy Award winning performance as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Now, these were Hollywood portrayals, but I think you get my idea. A strong senior enlisted advisor to a commander tells him or her what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. They listen. They advise. Many times, they can prevent you from doing really stupid stuff, if you entrust them with that level of confidence. Which, as I have seen in my military career, is priceless.
In my time in the military, I had some stellar men who guided me. Starting with my First Sergeant Bernardo Aquino, when I was an Artillery Battery Commander, he went onto become a CSM. At Ft. Bragg — yeah, that is what we called it — there were three astute men, CSMs Mike Taylor, Norris Hand, and Larry Taylor.
When I was assigned as an exchange officer to the US Marine Corps II Marine Expeditionary Force, my senior enlisted advisor was the epitome of a Marine, MGySgt Shane Pitzer. As a Battalion Commander, I had the venerable and tough CSM Henry Burns. And, after retirement as a civilian/military advisor to the Afghanistan National Army, my right-hand man was retired US Army Special Forces CSM Pat Ballogg. Also, I have a dear friend who is a retired US Navy SEAL Master Chief Will Spencer. I have also come to have a great friendship with the former Sergeant Major of the US Marine Corps, SGM Carlton Kent.
These men have been, and some still are, instrumental in my development as a soldier, tactician, and leader. I always looked to them for guidance and to act as a sounding board. This is a necessary element that could bring success to Donald Trump. Someone who would have the cajones to close the door and tell him, “That is dumb, and you should not do it.” Someone who would instill the required discipline into Trump to preclude reckless social media ramblings. Now, I can already hear the Trump faithful saying “Shut up West, let Trump be Trump!” Well, how is that working out on a grander scale?
There is no debate about the success of former President Trump’s policies: economic, energy, national security, foreign policy, border security, domestic security, and education. When you can have an avowed socialist like Van Jones praising your State of the Union address, you’re dead on target. The problem occurs when, within 48 hours of a resounding success, you drop hand grenades on yourself — not recommended — and alter your own positive news cycle. That is when you need a trusted confidant, a CSM, who will pull you aside.
The progressive socialist left is not going to let go of January 6th. Even as we have witnessed those supporting an Islamic terrorist group, Hamas, taking over the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, with no equitable consequences. If Donald Trump had a good CSM back in the early days of January 2021, perhaps that person would have sat President Trump down and asked what could possibly go wrong with inviting hundreds of thousands to Washington, DC? Or said, “Mr. President, let’s do a risk analysis and ascertain how you can mitigate those risks. What will you say to this gathered crowd, and how could that be taken out of proper context?”
I think if President Trump were to read this missive, he would have to take it to heart, and probably agree. After all, humility is a key ingredient for a leader, it was the wise King Solomon who taught us in Proverbs that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” A good CSM will keep you humble. Recall the humility of Ronald Reagan, and his ability to take responsibility.
You know those men I listed above all taught me an important lesson that is one of my leadership maxims, “Good leaders never take credit, they only take responsibility.”
I want to see the restoration of my country as a Constitutional Republic. If Donald Trump is to be the GOP nominee, I will support him. However, he needs to support us – “We the People” – and instill in himself a degree of self-discipline that would elevate him and guide him to victory in a general election. Someone with the courage to tell him “Stop” and “No” is required. The best individuals in America who can do that are those who we revere in the military and call Command Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major, Command Master Chief Petty Officer, and Command Chief Master Sergeant.
Bottom line, Trump needs the kind of person who does not take a mess from anyone, and, if necessary, will provide some “woodshed” counseling. There is just too much at stake for America for sophomoric behavior and gimmicks. Yes, I would say this to anyone’s face.
Steadfast and Loyal.
This article first appeared at Townhall.com.