War by Other Means: General Keith Kellogg on the Trump Years

By Ed Timperlake

Lieutenant  General Keith Kellogg, US Army (ret) has just written an extremely important and insightful book on the Trump years.  He is an exceptionally good writer ably supported  by the proven,  by number of New York Times  best sellers in publishing  the Regnery editor, Harry Crocker.

In his introduction, Kellogg, leads his book by reporting that President Trump encouraged him to write it.  It was Presidential confidence well placed because the book is very fair and without the sadly much too common over the top vituperative score settling which appears to be the norm today about one’s participation in politics during the Trump Presidency.

Because the book is written with a sense of grace and dignity and original sourcing insights, it should be read at all the War Colleges, Service Academies, and ROTC programs.

Kieth Kellogg is a proud graduate of a very good school the University of Santa Clara.  Another modest but truly heroic individual that graduated from same school was my friend, Commander Everett Alvarez, USN(ret) a Naval Aviator who was a very courageous long held prisoner of war in Vietnam. Those two officers, with Vietnam War service in the Army and Navy, are a Santa Clara legacy of great lasting pride.

The book is a linear detailed narrative journey from his early family life to being one of President Trump’s longest serving assistants dating from the very early primary campaign to the end of his term in office.

Before sharing some of the fascinating and factually authentic, “eye witness to history” incidents in General Kellogg’s life, one can recognize as he lists President Trump’s accomplishments in just one term what a lasting impact they had on world events now and for many years to come.

To name  just a few of the nineteen listed  accomplishments:

  • We defeated the largest terrorist caliphate in the world ISIS.
  • We killed its terrorist leader, Abu Baker al-Baghdadi.
  • We eliminated the foremost theorist in the world, Qasem Soleimani.
  • We wound down the Afghan War and passed the new administration a workable plan to finally end America’s longest war.
  • Through the Abraham Accords, we greatly improved the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
  • We withdrew from the flawed “Iran Deal.”
  • We initiated a public-private partnership, Operation Warp speed that delivered three new vaccines to the American people in record time.

I believe that the combat service in his brutal up close and personal Army service in the Vietnam war grounded Keith Kellogg in giving seasoned trust worthy advice in both war and peace. His early years serving as an Army officer on the ground in Vietnam, and in my words, not his, he was as they say was “really in the shit,” including losing troops to friendly fire.

Such brutal combat experiences gives one a lifetime grounding in the use and misuse of force.

One does not come away, being highly decorated, from very nasty Vietnam jungle fights without internalizing personal lessons learned about the use of combat force  and most importantly always “take care of the troops.”

Having a seasoned combat warrior present in the building for example when the Pentagon was attacked on 9/11 brings unique credibility to his insights into how people behaved during that historic nasty moment.

Having been part of the same flow of history experienced by the author from Vietnam years forward to service in the effort to assist Iraqis in rebuilding their country, with the Coalition Provisional Authority,  to also being an early Trump Campaign supporter, I applaud his leadership.

Donald Trump is my same age, his youth was in Queens New York  and mine Staten Island,  and immediately I  recognized not only his serious messaging but I also appreciated his New York sense of humor. The country has to realize it is an acquired taste.

General Kellogg has a sense of loyalty that the Trump personnel department lacked.

Consequently, because of the White House Personnel Office leadership and while having  Reince Prebus give top cover to the permanent Republican establishment, many who despised Donald Trump came onboard his Administration.

Johnny Destefeno  was made head of Presidential Personnel, assisted by Courtney Mullen, Katja Bullock in the White House, Jim O’Beirne and Mike Duffey at DOD and Carrie Cabelka at State and all helped bring many members of the permanent Republican establishment aboard who never lifted a finger to help President Trump get elected.

Many in fact anti-Trump individuals were appointed.

The results of such Personnel Office buffoonery cost the President and his loyal supporters dearly over time.

As a friend quipped when some disloyal individual tried to use President Trump for their personal agenda: “They did not appoint themselves.”

General Kellogg’s personal sense of mission and loyalty is commendable.

In his book, he documents facts that the media has tried to put into the memory hole.

Because of politics; such that Joe Biden being on the wrong side Trump shutting down China travel because of COVID, or very early both Biden and Kamala Harris were as the saying goes throwing “shade” on being vaccinated, or President Obama once stating a line from The Untouchables about bring a gun to the fight, Kellogg’s voice rings true.

General Kellogg has particular disdain for General Milley and SecDef Esper in their not grasping the importance  in understanding all aspects of the ebb and flow of American history and his quote to their face should stand the test of time.

When President Andrew Johnson had wanted to court martial Robert E Lee after the Civil War-General Grant replied “if you do that, you find yourself a new general.”

He told both men General Milley and Secretary Esper; “Neither of you is a Ulysses  S. Grant.”

One of his greatest insights was the challenge posed by the “habits and generals” given to President Trump as Trump was being his slow-rolled on his Presidential quest to end the Afghan War.

Trump often mused “why are we still there…It makes no sense; this is not in our vital national interest; we’re wasting money and our solders ‘ lives .”

We were in Afghanistan for two reasons; “habit and generals,” and no truer words were spoken. Although Kellogg does not put it in his book but on a great example of “habit and generals” is the tours, plural of Jim Mattis as first a four star and then Secretary of Defense who ran the Afghan war for over twenty percent of the time we were at war. He was certainly not a U.S. Grant but a General George  McClellan on both of  his lack of a strategic vision and political loyalty.

As the lingering horrific global ramifications on the worst strategic defeat of America in our history, the fall of Afghanistan, and the incredibly stupid Biden Administration evacuation planning and tactics of our  tragic deadly withdrawal play out, one can only have wished for President Trump and his solid brilliant advisor Kieth Kellogg United States Army to have had a second term.