Donald Trump is stoking fears that he could be preparing for war after he issued an executive order that will allow the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots into active duty.
The order was announced by the White House and Pentagon on Friday and will address a shortage in combat pilots, USA Today reported. Existing law allows military branches to recall only 25 retired officers, but Trump’s executive order will lift that cap.
Though the order may by tailored specifically to address Air Force pilot shortages, it has stoked fears that Donald Trump could be planning to go to war. The USA Today report noted that it appeared to signal “a significant escalation in the 16-year-old global war on terror.” The Air Force has played a key role in missions in the Middle East, and that has already been ramping up. As Military.com reported, the Air Force bombed ISIS at record levels in March, dropping nearly 4,000 munitions during that period.
USA Today noted that the executive order was crafted in a way that it could expand to other branches of the U.S. military, allowing them to recall retired service members back into active duty.
In the immediate term, the executive order will help address what officials in the Air Force termed a crisis. As the Daily Mail noted, the Air Force had already increased pay and benefits to encourage more pilots to join the service.
“As the Air Force pursues a variety of initiatives to counter the shortage, it will take care to balance new accessions with voluntary programs for retired and senior pilots to ensure the service maintains a balance of experienced aviators throughout the coming years,” Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen said.
Though many pointed out that Donald Trump’s executive order appears to be geared toward the specific purpose of addressing Air Force shortages, it still stoked fears that the president may be preparing for a larger conflict or even a full-scale war. Trump’s rhetoric toward North Korea has become increasingly volatile, and Trump’s judgment regarding military conflict came into question after an attack on U.S. troops in Niger left four dead.
As Newsweek reported, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is planning a public hearing with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that will address war authorization powers. As the report noted, many in Congress have argued that presidents are allowed to apply war authorization too broadly and they could be looking to scale it back for Donald Trump.
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