How will military greet Obama?
Sunday November 09, 2008, 7:22 AM
Barack Obama will enter the White House without any military experience and with a playbook that emphasizes diplomacy, behind a president who waged two wars and presided over some of the largest-ever defense budget increases.
So, how will President Obama be received at the Pentagon? Much depends on his first moves.
One of his senior security advisers, former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), said even though the president-elect has experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he’ll need a strong defense team that works together well.
“He will have to pay a lot of attention to a secretary of defense and the close advisers to the secretary,” Hamilton said. “The whole military, national security establishment will be watching that with care.”
And since the military is trained to follow orders, insiders say it is receptive to the change of command.
The military needs to be ready to offer its advice while scrupulously avoiding any attempt to shape the agenda, said a senior defense official familiar with the transition. “It is to everyone’s benefit to shorten the learning curve for whoever is coming in,” he said, especially because this is the first wartime transition since 1968.
Senior officers will be ready to follow the orders of Obama, who has not stirred any detectable negative response in the military command, said Dov Zakheim, who was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon comptroller. And if they balk, one former senior officer pointed out, there are plenty of other officers to be promoted.
President Bush wasn’t shy about using the military, but his relationship with top military commanders was sometimes sour, particularly over issues related to the war in Iraq.
Early on, Bush deferred to Rumsfeld, his first defense secretary, who dumped Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki after he told Congress more troops were required for the invasion of Iraq. And while active-duty generals muted public criticism for the rest of Bush’s term, retired generals spoke out.
In 2004, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni raised early concerns about the execution of the war. Then in 2006, six retired generals went public with their concerns.
Bush responded with a surge of forces, and extended officers’ tours of duty from 12 to 15 months for a force already strained by multiple, lengthy deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his book “The War Within,” Bob Woodward detailed how that decision was made over the objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008
A few things to consider here. First is that Bush said he listened to the commanders, but he ignored anyone daring to disagree with him. That is a fact and many experienced, loyal, dedicated generals resigned instead of following callous orders that would cause unnecessary deaths. The other is to remember that while President Elect Obama does not have military experience, he does have something Bush never did. A great respect and heart for those who serve. It came from his own family. He's shown this when as soon as the became a Senator, Obama joined the Veterans Affairs Committee and fought for veterans to be taken care of. Just look up his record and his speeches to know exactly how he feels about the men and women serving this nation.