President Trump is shifting more authority over military operations to the Pentagon, according to White House officials, reversing what his aides and some generals say was a tendency by the Obama White House to micromanage issues better left to military commanders.
The change is at the heart of a re-engineering of the National Security Council’s role under its new leader, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and reflects Mr. Trump’s belief that the N.S.C. should focus less on military operations and tactics and more on strategic issues. A guiding precept for the president and his team is that the balance of power in the world has shifted against American interests, and that General McMaster should focus on developing foreign and economic policy options in concert with the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies to respond to that challenge.
The new approach to managing military operations was evident this month when a Marine artillery battery and a team of Army Rangers — some 400 troops in all — arrived in northern Syria. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed off on the deployments and notified the White House. But General McMaster neither convened a meeting at the White House to discuss whether to send the forces nor presented the Pentagon with questions about where, precisely, the troops would operate or what risks they might confront.
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