Usama’s (rta) Army

The prophet (SWS) ordered the army of Usama to move to the boarders for war. This took place when the prophet was already suffering from the illness that resulted in his passing away. The historical records are evident that:

1. Even when the prophet was in his difficult moments of illness he did not asked the army to stop.

2. All the major pioneers of Muhajers and Ansar were in the army, including Abubakr and Umar.

My question is:

Assuming that the prophet knew that he was passing away (as apparent from many historical documents), why he wanted to send the closest companions (and in fact the potential candidates for Khelafat) far away? I was thinking that in such circumstances a wise decision would be to keep the potential candidates for khelafat close and in access. This is particularly important if we agree that Shora is the basis of the affairs after the holy prophet.

Imagine if the army had prepared a couple of days earlier and they had all gone to war. Then the prophet would pass away while almost none of his close companions where there. The main companions of the prophet were absent only for a short time and the leadership was going to be given to people (Ansar) who might not have been accepted later by the rest (Quraysh). What would have happened if the companions where far away near the boarders and then the remaining people wanted to choose a Khlifa among themselves.

Please explain the idea behind sending the army in that critical time.

On a side note, please also let me know the status of two companions, Abubakr and Ali with regrad to the army. It appears like Abubakr left the camp of the army soon and went to his place out of Madinah. Was this because he was excluded from the army by the prophet when he was ordered to lead the prayers? As for Ali, his name is mentioned no where with regard to Usama army. It appears as if he never joined the army, was he also excluded?
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