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James Stavridis
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Ross: Admiral James Stavridis explains when it’s OK to disobey an order

James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO. (File photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)

This would be an appropriate day to hear from a veteran. So here’s retired Admiral James Stavridis. He was in the Pentagon when the plane hit on 9/11, rose to Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, and developed a system to detect and prevent future terrorist attacks.

He believes that after you put out a fire in a place like Syria, you need to keep at least some troops in place to snuff out the embers that remain.

He knows the importance of obeying orders. But he also told me there are times when you have to disobey, if that’s what your experience and conscience tell you.

“We have a pretty clear example. General Mattis was given the order to pull all troops out of Syria, and he disagreed with that, and he resigned,” Stavridis said.

Admiral Stavridis himself was offered a job in the White House, but turned it down. He’s not a “Never Trumper,” but feels the president doesn’t quite understand the U.S. military:

“He hired a bunch of generals thinking they would immediately want to leap into combat, and instead he met the kind of people that I know, pretty thoughtful, pretty sensible, pretty moderate and not predisposed to sudden anger, but rather, let’s think our way through this,” Stavridis explained.

He’s put a lot of that military thoughtfulness into a book titled “Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character.”

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