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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Commander-in Chief AWOL - Obama "Fiddles Around" While American Troops Lose Heart

Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: Before proceeding it is only right to say that as a 22 year veteran, I am by nature a "hawk" and support all efforts to stop the enemies of America. However, I already saw one war - the Vietnam War - mired down by bureaucracy and lack of direction. [For those who prefer using the term "Vietnam Conflict," tell it to the American families, friends of the veterans who served and lost 58,159 comrades in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia plus all those who died from war related issues after that "conflict."]

Most career military have served under Presidents with whom we did not politically agree. Some Presidents were more competent than others. Most Presidents and Defense Secretaries who had not served in the military have made decision or failed to make decisions that resulted in the wasting of military resources and lives. Although not always understood by the general population, military leaders clearly understand that the military is both a tool in defending America including America's economic interests and a tool of diplomacy. However, when a president lacks declared interest or focus during a time of war - or major deployments with people at risk, military casualties increase and troop morale suffers and leads to more losses.

The Times Online is reporting a story about "American troops in Afghanistan losing heart." It is like "deja view" - a scene from the past when leadership and adequate direction was not shown by prior Commander-in-Chiefs and Secretaries of Defense. A few excerpts from the article:
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taleban [sic, Taliban]. Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them, . . . “They feel they are risking their lives for progress that’s hard to discern,” . . . “They are tired, strained, confused and just want to get through.” The soldiers are, by nature and training, upbeat, driven by a strong sense of duty, and they do their jobs as best they can . . . admitted that their morale had slumped.

“We’re lost — that’s how I feel. I’m not exactly sure why we’re here,” . . . “I need a clear-cut purpose if I’m going to get hurt out here or if I’m going to die.” . . . Asked if the mission was worthwhile, . . . “If I knew exactly what the mission was, probably so, but I don’t.” The only soldiers who thought it was going well “work in an office, not on the ground”. In his opinion “the whole country is going to s***”.

The battalion’s 1,500 soldiers are nine months in to a year-long deployment that has proved extraordinarily tough. Their goal was to secure the mountainous Wardak province and then to win the people’s allegiance through development and good governance. They have, instead, found themselves locked in an increasingly vicious battle with the Taleban [sic, Taliban].

They have been targeted by at least 300 roadside bombs, about 180 of which have exploded. Nineteen men have been killed in action, with another committing suicide. About a hundred have been flown home with amputations, severe burns and other injuries likely to cause permanent disability, and many of those have not been replaced. More than two dozen mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) have been knocked out of action.

Living conditions are good — abundant food, air-conditioned tents, hot water, free internet - but most of the men are on their second, third or fourth tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, with barely a year between each. . . . The men are frustrated by the lack of obvious purpose or progress. “The soldiers’ biggest question is: what can we do to make this war stop. Catch one person? Assault one objective? Soldiers want definite answers, other than to stop the Taleban [sic, Taliban], because that almost seems impossible. It’s hard to catch someone you can’t see,” . . .

“It’s a very frustrating mission,” . . . “The average soldier sees a friend blown up and his instinct is to retaliate or believe it’s for something [worthwhile], but it’s not like other wars where your buddy died but they took the hill. There’s no tangible reward for the sacrifice. It’s hard to say Wardak is better than when we got here.” "We want to believe in a cause but we don’t know what that cause is.” . . . The soldiers complain that rules of engagement designed to minimize civilian casualties mean that they fight with one arm tied behind their backs. . . “You get shot at but can do nothing about it. You have to see the person with the weapon. It’s not enough to know which house the shooting’s coming from.” . . .

The constant deployments are, meanwhile, playing havoc with the soldiers’ private lives. “They’re killing families,”. . . “Divorces are skyrocketing. PTSD is off the scale. There have been hundreds of injuries that send soldiers home and affect families for the rest of their lives.” The chaplains said that many soldiers had lost their desire to help Afghanistan. “All they want to do is make it home alive and go back to their wives and children and visit the families who have lost husbands and fathers over here. It comes down to just surviving,” . . . “If we make it back with ten toes and ten fingers the mission is successful,” . . . “You carry on for the guys to your left or right,” . . .

Lieutenant-Colonel Kimo Gallahue, 2-87’s commanding officer, denied that his men were and insisted they had achieved a great deal over the past nine months. A triathlete and former rugby player, he admitted pushing his men hard, but argued that taking the fight to the enemy was the best form of defense. . . . Above all, Colonel Gallahue argued that counter-insurgency — winning the allegiance of the indigenous population through security, development and good governance — was a long and laborious process that could not be completed in a year. “These 12 months have been, for me, laying the groundwork for future success,” he said. . . .
These reported comments depict more than just complaints by G.I.s. They are a clear signs of bigger issues both at the DOD, in the force structure and support of today's military, and with the direction of the war as defined by the President of the United States. As for the field commander on the record comments about his belief in the mission, this was expected but it is not a measurement of success. However, while failing morale and expressions like "you carry on for the guys to your left or right" are both true and admirable, they are also a definite indicator of failed purpose and direction.

As heads up, the following comments are directed to what appears to be an often AWOL (absent without leave) Commander-in-Chief: Mr. Obama, you choose to run for President of the United States. And, the American people elected you to be president. Most Americans know that a "chief" responsibility of the president is being Commander-in-chief of the military. It is not being the commander of the American people. While you have "fiddle around" tripping off to other countries expressing your regrets about the United States or to another location to promote or sign a bill that could have been done efficiently right in the Oval office; while you wasted time trying to recruit the Olympics or taking time for another sports event or White House party; while you expend a disproportionate amount of your time on agendas which have or will send the United States further into debt and on efforts to reshape the social fabric of America, you are not focused on your primary responsibility of being Commander-in-Chief.

American military are dying or at risk because of your lack of leadership. Members of the military understand sacrifice and giving their lives for a greater cause. However, they do not understand dying without purpose or a clear objective. Often they die for their comrades but they do not wish to die for absentee leadership or an undefined mission.

Mr. President, above all else, (except possibly for those who feel they must engender themselves to you for their jobs and their agendas or who happen to hate America) people on both sides of domestic issues expect you to complete your primary duties as president. The United States of America has men and women in harms-way risking America's chief treasure - American blood. For "Pete's sake" - Wake-up! You are the Commander-in-Chief! It cannot be delegated; nor should it continue to be ignored! It is a lonely sacred responsibility. Mr. President, no matter how important you believe your other agendas to be, you must focus on your primary responsibility as Commander-in-Chief!

Update: Story Cross Posted by:
America, You Asked for It!
America's Best Choice
BattleGround States
Conservative Voices
Local Republicans Net
Right in a Left World
The Blue Eye View
The NextRight
The Snooper Report

Tags: Afghanistan, ARRA News Service, Barack Obama, Bill Smith, Commander-in-Chief, military, President Barack Obama To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 10:39 AM - Post Link


Anonymous BobF said...

The biggest fear military commanders have is the troops talking to senior commanders and the press without them present. If the senior commanders want to know how the troops really feel, they’ll talk to them without their officers and senior NCO’s present. It won’t be long before these young GI’s low morale transcends back to their civilian friends and family. When that happens, enlistment rates are going to drop severely and along with that, reenlistment rates will go down the toilet too.

Anonymous HoosierArmyMom said...

Right now, I hate the fact that my son is serving under the Apologist-in-Chief, Comrade O. I would prefer he get out of the Army and sign on as a Mercenary where he at least in more control than to stay with an army under the worst President in history! My other son was talking Air Force, and I told him not to enlist right now, as he was going to see Obooboo betray our military before it was done. I’m glad he listened. He’s going to community college instead.

Anonymous Longstreet said...

This piece is “spot on!”. I have a piece coming tomorrow on the same topic but from a slightly different angle.

This now Obama’s War. And he is losing it! In the process a lot of Americans are being killed… for nothing.


Anonymous WhoBeen said...

Where’s all the noise from the Harry Reids and Judy Woodruffs of the world? They were very loud when Bush was at the helm. It seems I remember something about Woodruff
wanting the troops out of there ” by yesterday” as she indicated on Meet The Rest …aah excuse me, Meet The Press sometime back (’06 or ‘07 ?)

It seems like all the noise makers don’t mind the war in it’s present state…like no leadership and troops dying. Where’s Hillary? I don’t hear anymore anti-war noise from her either…it’s kinda like, “Awe the hell with it, we’re in charge now, let ‘em die!”
It’s hard to believe that these freakin’ mobsters will last four years…something got to give!

Anonymous Who Been said...

Ref: Longstreet’s comment…”Killed for nothing”

That will be the new acronym in the obituary coulumns “KFN” for the former indentifier “KIA” will no longer apply without a “CIC”

Anonymous HoosierArmyMom said...

Wow, great comments here and as much as I hate the idea in reference to our fine troops, I’ m afraid the “KFN” is how most of us are feeling who follow the casualties since Obama took charge. I am really feeling the hate for a do nothing CIC.

Anonymous Right Truth said...

Yes the troops must be feeling down, no real clear understanding of what their mission is, no faith in the Commander in Chief. But a lot of this we are seeing in the media now is cover, cover for Obama and Biden as they waffle and try to sway public sentiment against sending more troops.

I can tell you, from a source who is headed to Tora Bora as we speak, that this idea of “we can’t defeat the taliban”, ” the USG no longer views Taliban the focus of the US war effort in Afghanistan”, etc. is being put out there in bits and pieces to sway public sentiment.

My personal opinion is either send all the troops needed or get out.

Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt, writing in the NYT:

“…The official contrasted that with the Afghan Taliban, which the administration has begun to define as an indigenous group that aspires to reclaim territory and rule the country but does not express ambitions of attacking the United States.”

A first clear indication to points, previously made.
They go on to reference Hekmatyar:

“…The officials argued that while Al Qaeda was a foreign body, the Taliban could not be wholly removed from Afghanistan because they were too ingrained in the country. Moreover, the forces often described as Taliban are actually an amalgamation of militants that includes local warlords like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Haqqani network or others driven by local grievances rather than jihadist ideology.”

Anonymous Dr. Dave said...

Obama’s not only AWOL, he’s FUBAR.

Anonymous WhoBeen said...

Let me tell you a little story…
There is an automobile out there called a KIA. I’ve never been in one nor do I want to. When that model first came out I felt something that I don’t really know how to describe other than I thought of my close friend George. George was KIA in Vietnam…he was a close friend of the family and I was the last of the family to see him alive. So every time I pass one of those KIA dealers I don’t think of cars…Do I, George!

And when Army Sgt. Thomas D. Rabjohn died last Monday when Obama was out campaigning for his wonderful self, all I could think of was “KFN’” and I didn’t even know the guy…Did I, George!

Anonymous cary - Botan Ichihara said...

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again – as often as need be.

Screw the PC Rules of Engagement. Let the boots on the ground do what they have been trained to do. We will be out of Afghanistan and Iraq inside of six weeks, tops, and the areas will be completely pacified. We have the BEST armed forces in the world, with the possible exception of the Israelis, and there is NOTHING that could stop them IF THEY WERE CUT LOOSE.

Bush didn’t do it. Obama won’t do it. Maybe when we get a President with BALLS that person will do it – either male or female.

Anonymous HoosierArmyMom said...

Thank you for your service WhoBeen, and God Bless George and on the names on that Wall in DC.

One observation I have made while being in the PGR is the fact that everyone there doesn’t want the warriors of today to go through the feeling of serving a government and society that deserts them instead of honoring their service and sacrifice with a little gratitude. The very least a CiC can do is to provide them with the resources requested by the man he put in charge!

Despite Chairman O’s push toward destroying my country, deserting our troops, in my mind, is his greatest sin. People who believe in socialism are not necessarily evil, they just believe it is a good way to solve problems with a society and don’t understand all the facts, but anyone who doesn’t support the troops of this country in harms way… well, that is EVIL in my mind. JMHO.

Anonymous Always On Watch said...

I don’t have words to express my feelings about BHO and his effect on the morale of our troops. My cousin, the only male of his generation in this family, is in the last part of his training as a Marine right now and will likely ship out for Afghanistan by the end of 2009.

His mother, the apolitical type, voted for BHO. That adds even more sadness to the story of my cousin’s having to serve under this ASININE “Commander in Chief.”

Anonymous Bloviating Zeppelin said...

BobF hit it right off the bat.

What if you gave a “social interaction” in the words of the Demorats and no one came? Dems don’t mind using our military for all make and manner of social interventions but God forbid we should actually use them to kill people and break shit. What if the Dems held a SI and NO one signed up?

After only 9 months in office Our Hero is already breaking the spirit of the FINEST military force on the planet.

As TF and his readers already knew would occur.


Anonymous New said...

It is true Obama is hesitating or at least has the look of fumbling around. However, he is trying to determine what the best strategy is for today. There is a question in who we are supposed to fight.

Having said that, we saw the abandonment of Afghanistan for over 5 years by the Bush administration, as they left for Iraq. Another so called laissez-faire situation that Bush put us through. It is hard to put Humpty Dumpty together again with so much neglect. I hope we get it together.

Anonymous Bob C. said...

Excellent article. re: Commander-in-Chief AWOL.

Blogger Unknown said...

ya its all great to read about but how do we help out even if we do not have money and how do the right thing to protect them and us,

Anonymous Mark Dreher said...

Dr. Smith, Amen!! that was said about as well as it could be said.

Anonymous Josie Devlin said...

Funny thing is George Bush took more vacation days than any president....I guess he was really fiddling around.

Blogger Bill Smith said...

Josie - Evidence? The troops never doubted GWB was their Commander-in-chief. However, they are still wondering who BHO is? Well today, we found out the Norwegians at least loved him for doing "absolutely nothing" - such promise! Hope this makes the troops feel good.

Anonymous Irene May said...

W wasn't perfect, but he was THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF! He made decisions and kept us safe after 9/11. No one knew what was going to happen next and action had to be taken. I appreciate and respect GW Bush and Dick Cheney. I wish I could say the same about Obama/Biden.


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