MY MEETING (ALMOST) WITH OBAMA
I had a first hand view of Barrack Obama's "fact finding" mission, when he passed through this base.
While I can't name it, it's one of the largest air bases in the region, with up to 8000 troops (depending on influxes and transients in mobilization/demobilization status), mostly Airmen and Soldiers, but some Marines, Sailors, Koreans, Japanese, Aussies, Brits, US Civil Service, contractors including KBR, Blackwater and Halliburton, among others in the news. The overwhelming majority of all of these are professional, courteous and disciplined. Problems are rare.
Casualties are also rare. This base has a large hospital for evacuation—twenty plus beds. I have yet to see a casualty in one, though I am told there are about three evacuations a week through this region, of which two on average are things like sports injuries, vehicle accidents or duty related falls and such. You can tell from the news that the war is going well. The ghouls are now focusing on Afghanistan, since there is no blood to type with here.
This oped is of course subjective and limited, but I will try to present the facts as I saw them. I wasn't able to see much, which makes a point all by itself.
When his plane arrived (also containing Senators Reed and Hagel, but the news has hardly mentioned them), there was a "ramp freeze." This means if you are on the flight line, and not directly involved with the event in question, you stay where you are and don't move. For a combat flight arriving or departing, this takes about ten minutes, and involves the active runway and crossing taxiways only. For Obama's flight, this took 90 minutes, during which time a variety of military missions came grinding to a halt. Obviously, this visit was important, right?
95% of base wanted nothing to do with him. I have met three troops who support him, and literally hundreds who regard him as a buffoon, a charlatan, a hindrance to their mission or a flat out enemy of progress. Even when the rumors were publicly admitted, almost no one left their duty sections to try to see him, unless they were officers whose presence was officially required.
Mister Obama's motorcade drove up from the flight line and entered the dining hall toward the end of lunch time. Diners were chased out and told to make other arrangements for food, in the middle of the duty day.
Now, there are close to 8000 troops on the base and its nearby satellites. No one came up from the Army side (except perhaps a few ranking officers). The airbase resumed operation, once he cleared the flightline, as if nothing had happened. The dining hall holds about 300 people and was not full. The troops did not want to meet him and the feeling was apparently mutual. In attendance, besides the Official Entourage, were the base's senior officers, some support personnel, and a very few carefully vetted supporters who'd made special arrangements. No photos were allowed. No question and answer with the troops. No real acknowledgment that the troops existed.
Obama left around 1530, during the Muslim Call to Prayer, so he's not a practicing Muslim. He was in a convoy guarded by (so I'm told) both State Department and Secret Service Personnel.
Less than three hours…
Within 48 hours he was in Afghanistan. It takes most troops longer than that to in-process and get cleared on safety, threats, policies and such. Yet he somehow made a strategic summary by not talking to anyone and not seeing anything.
Twenty-four hours after that, he was in Kuwait, back here, and then home, so fast we didn't even know he arrived the second time at this base.
I can't imagine any officer of the few he met told him anything other than what they tell the troops, and what their own leadership at the Pentagon tell them—we're winning. Our troops are stomping the guts out of the insurgency. The surge worked and is working. If the insurgents have to divert to Afghanistan, it means they can't fight in Iraq anymore. We should not change the rules and retreat with the enemy on the ropes as we did in Vietnam. We should finish kicking their teeth in. The Iraqi government now controls 10 of 18 provinces, with US assistance in the rest. Let us win the war. 90% of the troops I know, even those opposed to the war, say that is the way to win. Victory comes from winning, not from "change." In fact, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is on record as opposing Obama's strategic theory.
Since he obviously knew in advance that's what they'd tell him, and since he didn't care to talk to the troops (we're told by the Left that the troops are horrified, shocked, forced to commit atrocities with tears in their eyes, distraught, burned out, fed up with losing, etc) and find out how they feel, and was barely in country long enough to need a shower and a change of clothes, we can only call this for what it is.
A disgraceful PR stunt, using the troops as a platform for his ego and campaign.
In comparison, I've seen four star generals and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this base. They each held an all ranks call, met with and briefed the personnel, and took questions on every subject from tour length to uniform design to rules of engagement to weapon choice to long term policy, from the newest airmen to the senior NCO with TEN 120-180 day tours since Sep 11. It's very clear they want to know what the troops think, and to keep them informed of events. It's equally clear mister Obama does not.
From here we must move to my op part of the oped.
Obama clearly doesn't care about the troops, doesn't care about America, doesn't care about anything except hearing his own voice and the chance to sit at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…From where he'll bring us the proven Democratic wartime leadership of Bosnia and the Balkans (US forces still there), Somalia (US forces prevailed despite being ill equipped by executive order, and taking heavy casualties), Haiti (what were we doing there again?), Desert One (oops?), Vietnam (where we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory), Korea (still there), WWI, and the fluke success of WWII won by such wonderful liberal notions as concentration camps for Japanese Americans, nukes, FBI investigations of waitresses who dated soldiers in case they were "morally corrupt" and the (valid) occupation of and continued presence in Italy, Japan and Germany for 60 years, which they are conveniently pretending won't happen with Iraq.
That's not "change." That's "failure we can do without."