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Trump: Military leaders shouldn't talk to the press

If he becomes commander in chief, Donald Trump won't let military generals speak to "the dishonest press," out of fear they'll spill national security secrets.

"I don't want them saying things like ‘our nation has never been so ill-prepared.’ Even though it's true, I don't want the enemy knowing that.""A general should not be on television," the Republican front-runner told a crowd of supporters during a rally at Carmel, Indiana, on Monday. "I don't want our generals on television. I will prohibit them.

The comments came during a wide-ranging speech where Trump attacked his Republican rivals, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and his critics.

He also blasted the media as "the most dishonest human beings in the world" and said military leaders shouldn't be discussing war strategy or operations with reporters.

"I don't want them going on television," he said. "You think Gen. George Patton or Gen. Douglas MacArthur, do you think they'd be on television saying about how weak we are?

"Number one, they wouldn't be on television because they'd be knocking the hell out of the enemy and they wouldn't have time."

Pentagon officials have held multiple public press conferences with high-ranking officers in the last few weeks, including a trio of events discussing operations in Iraq and a briefing by Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command.

Military leaders have said the goal of such events is to keep the public updated on military news.They frequently dismiss questions related to specific movements or strategic decisions.

Concerns about force readiness have been a frequent theme among top military officials during Capitol Hill testimony in recent months, often prompted by questions from lawmakers. Those events are typically televised and open to the public.

At the rally, Trump also appeared to criticize former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, referring to an exit interview by "a certain general, I don't want to mention his name because he's a high-quality guy."

"He's getting ready to leave a year ago, and he said, 'We are less prepared now than at any point in our history,'" Trump said. "So assuming that's true, which I believe it is, I don't want everybody to know about it."

Prior to retiring last summer, Odierno spoke out about his concerns with military readiness during several media interviews.

Instead of discussing military moves, Trump said, defense officials need to be "unpredictable" with their response to national security threats.

"We've got to get smart," he said. "We've got to get smart fast and we have to start investing money. And we have to get ISIS and we have to get ISIS out. And we have to build our military, which has totally been depleted."

Trump holds a sizable lead in delegates over remaining Republican candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich, with the Indiana primary taking place Tuesday.

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.

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