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War Games

Did the White House jeopardize U.S. allies by misreporting the location of an aircraft carrier?

Earlier this month, President Trump told Fox News that America is "sending an armada" to the Sea of Japan as a deterrent to North Korea, but as of Saturday the USS Carl Vinson strike group was some 3,500 miles south of its alleged position, having just finished scheduled joint exercises with Australia. The misinformation from the White House made headlines — at that distance, the aircraft carrier in question wouldn't be able to make it to the Korean peninsula until at least April 25 — and now former Missouri Secretary of State and Army National Guard intelligence officer Jason Kander is sounding the alarm about why the mix-up is "A REALLY BIG DEAL."

On Twitter, Kander explained that "military timing is not about courtesy. It's about life and death. Units depend on this timing." And by reporting information that wasn't true, the White House might have jeopardized U.S. allies:

There is a reason for "military precision." Movement matters. Every military movement affects another. Most operations include another unit providing support. If they don't show and you thought they were there, you're in real trouble. We trained on the importance of precise movements, maneuvers, and timing. As an Officer Candidate School instructor, I trained others on it. It was a simple rule: Be on time, and if you're not going to be on time, tell someone immediately, because they must adjust accordingly. This is known as coordinating with left and right units. In this case, our left and right units were our allies like South Korea and Japan. If POTUS gave our allies the same bad information he gave the American people, our allied units operated believing that bad information. So, the questions that must be answered are did the president make up the armada, was he misinformed, and what did we tell our allies? [Jason Kander, via Twitter]

Defense Secretary James Mattis clarified since initial reports that "there's not a specific demand signal or specific reason we are sending [the aircraft carrier] up there," although White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed "it ensures ... we have the strategic capabilities, and it gives the president options in the region."