Pentagon memo on Trump’s priorities doesn’t mention Russia: report
A Pentagon memo outlining President-elect Donald Trump’s defense priorities does not mention Russia, according to a copy of the memo obtained and published Tuesday by Foreign Policy.
The absence of Russia as a top priority would be a departure from military officers’ warnings that the country is a top threat to the United States.
The memo will also intensify scrutiny of Trump’s policies toward Russia as the president-elect vows to improve relations despite intelligence community claims that the Kremlin tried to swing the U.S. election through hacks.
The memo was written by acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Brian McKeon to update his office after a Nov. 28 meeting with the transition team. It lists four subjects that Trump transition team member Mira Ricardel identified to the Pentagon as Trump’s priorities.
According to the Dec. 1 memo, those are:
— Developing a strategy to “defeat/destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
— Building a strong defense, including eliminating budget caps and increasing force size and readiness
— Developing a comprehensive, whole-of-government cyber strategy
— Finding greater efficiencies, including pursuing and building on “great work” by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.
An anonymous Trump transition official told Foreign Policy that the memo is a not a comprehensive list of Trump’s priorities.
“For the media to speculate that this list of issues represents all of the president-elect’s priorities is completely erroneous and misleading,” the official told Foreign Policy.
But the absence of Russia on the list is raising eyebrows in light of Trump’s comments on improving relations with Moscow.
Throughout the campaign, Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong leader.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia?” Trump asked.
Trump has also dismissed findings by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia hacked into Democratic Party systems during the election and officials’ conclusion that those hacks were done to help Trump win.
His pick for secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has also been seen as signs of a shift on Russia policy.
Tillerson opposed U.S. sanctions placed on Russia after it annexed Crimea. Those sanctions derailed a deal between Exxon and an oil company that the Russian government owns a majority stake in.
Tillerson is also seen as close to Putin and was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013.
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