Barack Obama and I have two things in common: we both profess a love for Chicago (more on that another day,) and the second thing we have in common? Neither of us has any experience in the military. Even on those two commonalities alone, the differences between us are stark. I was not raised in Chicago - although I DO have fond memories of a time in Chicago. I also would hazard a guess that I have spent more time around the military, listened to the military, far more than the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has. While my own lack of military experience will not impact the global community, BO's lack of military experience already is having a negative impact on that same community.
On a dark day when America hears of eight fallen heroes in Nuristan, Afghanistan - the heaviest loss in a single battle in over a year for America - the msm is reporting on the Obamas' wedding anniversary dinner, and Barack Obama still has made no decision on the future strategy in Afghanistan.
Back during the election, BO camapaigned on rhetoric that 'Iraq was a bad war, and Afghanistan was a righteous war.' His campaign speeches constantly berated President Bush over Iraq, as BO vowed that HE would focus on Afghanistan:
AP) U.S. President-elect Barack Obama pledged in a telephone conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and the region would be a top priority during his administration, Karzai’s office said Sunday. (Nov. 23, 2008)...
...“We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”
During the Presidential debates in 2008, BO said (in part):
“…every intelligence agency will acknowledge that al Qaeda is the greatest threat against the United States and that Secretary of Defense Gates acknowledged the central front — that the place where we have to deal with these folks is going to be in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.”
... until we do, Americans here at home are not going to be safe."
BO is also on the record as saying:
“We need to finish the fight in Afghanistan… George Bush and John McCain have been weak on terrorism. It’s time to finish the fight in Afghanistan.”
We all heard Barack Obama say that Afghanistan is not about "victory." We have all heard him rename the Global War on Terror to some other meaningless gobbledygook.
Since he took office in January 2009, BO has proved well the old adage that talk is cheap. Since he took office, he has talked ad nauseum, and yet has proved that he has no clue how to walk the walk. Oh sure, we have seen him apologising all around the globe for the nasty Americans. We have seen him genuflect to international despots. We have seen him on so many talk shows, yukking it up that I, for one, am quite dizzy with trying to keep up.
Mr Obama IS the Commander-in-Chief of the US military in name only. This past week it has come to light that BO has talked to General McChrystal just ONCE. Mr. Obama has had a report from the General for two months, wherein he requested more troops.
Back in March 2009, BO said:
“Today I am announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan…This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review. (my emphasis)
In September 2009, BO said:
... “Until I’m satisfied that we’ve got the right strategy I’m not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there — beyond what we already have,”..
This 'Commander-in-Chief' - who said back last year that Afghanistan was a priority, has met with the heads of SEIU more times than he has been in contact with his military leaders,.
While he gallivants - at the American taxpayers' expense - to numerous town hall meetings to push his befuddled health care plan/reform (whatever the label du jour is) - dozens of our troops have been killed as the US Commander-in-Chief waffles, or refuses to listen to his military leaders, the experts in how to win the Afghanistan theatre in this Global War on Terror. And yes, no matter what touchy feely label BO chooses to try and foist on today's war, it IS Global, and it IS a War on Terror.
It is not only General McChrystal who is calling for more troops. The newest commander of the British troops, General Sir David Richards, is also calling for more troops. Britain has now lost 219 military since 2001 in Afghanistan. For more insights on General Richards' interview, go to the BBC here.
In yet a later story from the BBC,:
A front-line UK soldier in Afghanistan has told the defence secretary "more troops on the ground" are needed.
Bob Ainsworth had asked Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes, a bomb disposal specialist, what was his "top desire from right here at the chalkface"....
After meeting the defence secretary, Staff Sgt Hughes, 30 - who is just days from returning home to his family in Shropshire after a six-month tour - said it had been a "ridiculously busy, ridiculously hard tour".
"We have lost two guys. Clearly more troops are needed on the ground - but then the same could be said for equipment," he added.
His commanding officer, Maj Eldon Millar, said: "Inevitably you feel you could do with a little more help.
"We are so stretched across Helmand because it is such a large area."...(here)
The NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, also is calling for more troops for Afghanistan. He met with BO at the White House last week, and said in part:
...the campaign in Afghanistan was one of necessity, not choice....
Mr Rasmussen also highlighted Nato's casualties in the campaign.
"While body count is no measure of solidarity, it is, unfortunately, a symbol of commitment. Over 20 countries have had their soldiers killed, some in large numbers," he said.
"I will not accept from anyone the argument that Europeans and Canadians are not paying the price for success in Afghanistan. They are."
He added: "If we are to succeed in Afghanistan, it will only be if we do it together."(read more at the BBC here.)
So, it seems there is a concensus among the militaries that more troops are needed. But what is BO doing? Oh, he has way more important things to do, like jetting off to Denmark to shore up Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, an Olympics that apparently the citizens of Chicago themselves are divided about (more on that another time.)
The American Legion (veterans all) have added their voices to the chorus calling for more troops:
Legion to White House: We must not lose Afghanistan
INDIANAPOLIS (September 24, 2009) - The head of the nation's largest veterans organization is urging President Obama to give commanders the troops that they need to succeed in Afghanistan.
"According to The Washington Post, General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO Commander, is warning us that without more forces within the next year, the mission in Afghanistan ‘will likely result in failure.' Considering that Afghanistan was the breeding ground for the 9/11 attacks, we cannot allow that to happen," said American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill. "We have seen a successful troop surge and counterinsurgency strategy work in Iraq. We owe it to our men and women who are serving in Afghanistan to do the same there. We must give them the tools they need to succeed."
Hill said he is troubled that civilian officials in Washington appear reluctant to grant McChrystal's request, which many believe could be as high as 40,000 additional troops. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert Gates will not consider escalating the military mission in Afghanistan until President Obama and his national security team "are ready to consider it."
"More than 800 brave American heroes have died in Afghanistan so far," Hill said. "They died replacing and then protecting us from an evil regime that harbored terrorists. We must not try to ‘fight a war on the cheap' and let our losses be for naught. General David Petraeus and Admiral Mike Mullen both support General McChrystal's report."
Hill's position is also shared by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said in Fortune Magazine, "It's that simple. If you want another terrorist attack in the U.S., abandon Afghanistan." ... (read the rest of this well-informed piece here.)
Mr Obama, where ARE you? Who WILL you listen to? Your military leaders have spoken, they have submitted reports. Your veterans have spoken, your boots on the ground are still telling you what they need and must have to get the job done. Yes, I understand you might be confused now, when you seemed so eloquently unambivalent during your campaigning for the highest office in America. There are, as anyone who reads knows, dual missions to be fought and won within the Afghanstan theatre. The first is of course, safety and security of the Afghan people as the rebuilding of the country continues. We know there are international PRT's in country doing their best to give the natives a chance at a new life. We know that our troops are there training the Afghans to build their own security forces and military to protect their own people.
Victory cannot, will not, be achieved, unless our coalition troops keep out the Taleban while the neophyte Afghan army is still learning. This is not rocket science. This IS common sense. I am no military strategist, but even I know enough to listen to the men and women leading our military, and accept their recommendations. The military leaders have years of extensive training to inform their requests and recommendations. Mr Obama, why are you not listening? Is it because, like so many other of your campaign promises, your assertions to win in Afghanistan were just so much empty noise? Meanwhile our troops give their all, and more families join the ranks of the Gold Star Families.
If you will not listen to your military commanders, maybe you should try listening to the Gold Star Families. Time and again, I hear grieving families tell of how much their loved ones - their soldiers, OUR soldiers - believed in their mission in Afghanistan. Time and again I hear the families say how much they - the ones left behind - totally understand and support the very mission their loved ones gave their lives for. They "get it", they understand the urgency, yet you do not.
Remember Lance Cpl Joshua Bernard? He is the Marine whose picture was flashed around the world, against the express wishes of his family, and SecDef Gates.
Like many of the Gold Star Families, Joshua's dad, John Bernard - a former Marine - is continuing to fight for, to support, the mission his son died for. In a Stars and Stripes article:
...Bernard is campaigning not to end the fighting in Afghanistan, but to intensify it.
He launched a blog last week called "Let Them Fight or Bring Them Home" and contends the new "immoral rules of engagement" put troops at "unreasonable risk." Troops are being hamstrung, he said, by the civilian-centric counterinsurgency strategy.
"We went in with a very defined mission: to seek al-Qaida and destroy them. All of a sudden it’s turned into a quasi-military mission to help the people of Afghanistan," said the New Portland, Maine, resident....
"There is a bigger picture here," he said. "I can’t do anything about my son, but there are hundreds, thousands of other sons that will be killed or maimed if we continue down this road."
"When you make the decision to send in an armed force, you fight," said Bernard, whose son Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard was killed Aug. 14 during a fight with Taliban insurgents....
[Bernard said] ..."When you try to make nice with one side of the population and try to fight the other, you end up bringing the enemy into camp with you," said Bernard, who believes the Taliban fighters who killed his son were tipped off by Afghans working with the Marines...(read more on this one here.)
Mr Obama, I must ask you: WHAT is it going to take for you to do the right thing here? The demands for more troops, more materiel, are so loud now, why are you being wilfully deaf? The cries of more fallen heroes' families are deafening to most of us, yet you refuse to make a decision.
Mr President, this is YOUR 3AM call. Your election campaigning is over. You ARE now the Commander-in-Chief, behave like it. Time to make the decision to either send our military what they have said they need, to ensure victory, (yes, VICTORY!) or bring them all home - NOW!
INTERNATIONAL TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN
Note: Map shows only Isaf troops - the US contributes additional forces
This is a full list of troop contributing nations to the International Security Assistance Force, Isaf: Albania, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Rep, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, UK, US (source)