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expatriate's picture
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Obama Visits Dover

As a Gold Star dad, this one really gets under my skin.

So Obama goes to Dover to "honor" the 18 fallen returning from Afghanistan. Of course, he makes a public event out of it and makes sure cameras see him do it.

And oh, by the way...those 18 died while he has spent nearly 3 months dithering after Gen McChrystal asked for reinforcements via an assessment that Obama asked him to write.

In 2006, we faced a similar situation in Iraq -- an insurgency that seemed to be getting out of hand, and we risked losing control of the country. Gen Petraeus asked for more troops, and Bush sent the surge. Our son was killed in Dec '06 as the surge started spinning up.

Our son was one of 112 US soldiers killed in Iraq that month. Thanks to the surge, that number was down to 23 a year later. So far, four out of ten months this year have had casualties in the single digits. We lost ten last month, and only four of those were due to enemy fire. Similarly, there were 1,629 Iraqi civilians killed in Dec '06. Last month there were only 95.

What made the difference in Iraq? The surge...a surge that Barack Obama did everything in his power to oppose and stop. That surge meant a lot fewer families living with permanent scars left by the devastation of war. Those families got to welcome their sons home with hugs. I welcomed my son home in a box you couldn't fit a soccer ball in. And that's not just in the US -- it's far fewer grieving Iraqi families, too. If it had been up to Obama, the carnage would've continued and there'd be a lot more families like mine.

And now here we are again...our troops are under heavy fire against a serious insurgency, and they're calling for reinforcements. NATO has agreed with McChrystal's numbers. And yet our troops have been put on hold for almost three months while their CINC can't even make a decision about when to make a decision. Those troops died wondering whether their country was going to answer their call for help.

But he made sure the press knew he was making the trip to Dover, didn't he?

When President Bush put his travel itinerary on hold and met with our family privately about the death of our son, no one knew he'd done it. And during the visit, he made it a point of saying that he felt a heavy responsibility knowing that our son died because of a decision he made.

Do you think the families at Dover got that from Obama?

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/10/28/obama-honoring-return-fallen-...

CVC
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Obama Visits Dover

I disagree with much of what Bush did, but I respect him as a man. I respect a man who has morals and principles and sticks to them even when he is criticized. I believe Bush was a man of his word and he sought to do what was best for America.

I disagree with all of what Obama does. I do not trust him and believes he is after power for himself and only hnimself.

expatriate's picture
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Obama Visits Dover

Here's more...using our honored dead for a photo op:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125679653332815355.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDD...

What makes this even more outrageous is that he did this right after announcing that he's considering sending a smaller package than what McChrystal wanted. That's always a sure way to get more soldiers killed -- withhold the reinforcements they're calling for.

Sun Tzu said it best 2,500 years ago:

"There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army: By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey; This is called hobbling the army. By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army; This causes restlessness in the soldier's minds. By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers."

I'm not Sun Tzu, but I might add #4: By neither retreating from the battle or committing the forces needed to win the battle, but sending only enough forces to continue the battle. This is known as "bleeding the army white."

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Obama Visits Dover

All these photo ops and publicity for Obama is very distasteful and disrespectful. It should be done privately. I'm ok with a statement to the media honoring our war dead and was pleased to see a very serious salute, however I find all of this contradictory when he is sitting on his hands and not giving our military the help they so desperately need in Afghanistan. He's been silent on that and I keep hoping that he is indeed working on it and will of course send the necessary troops that McChrystal requested.

I personally do not believe he has the guts to do what needs to be done. He is not a leader, he is in perpetual campaign mode.

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Obama Visits Dover

Expatriate first off my prayers are with you and your family always. from someone with a military family I know the grief that you feel from such a great sacrifice . This is also why I get so hot on some of the posts on this site about what is going on in Washington . The truth is very few if any of the elitests in washington have a clue what real life is like . They are more worried about what to where to their next party. They are living in the hollywood life style hanging out with celebrities. The current president is all about himself and when he visited the military hospital before the election it was just about publicity. He cant even look the Men in the eyes . . . I'm at a loss for words right now he is an empty suit.

expatriate's picture
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Obama Visits Dover

What irritates me even more is the way the press just eats it up and feeds it.

This is supposedly a "surprise" visit, right? Since when does the White House notify reporters of anything "in the interest of secrecy?" So it's a secret publicity stunt?

And if it was a "surprise", why were there families there? Dover is just the point of debarkation for remains. They all fly to Dover for processing at the Air Force Institute of Pathology, which takes a couple days, and then are flown on to their families. It took 10 days from the time our son was killed until we got his remains, and we didn't find out about his arrival at Dover until hours before it happened. Families don't go to Dover, and the article says that the caskets came off the plane and went straight to the mortuary. So if the families were there, it's because they were notified ahead of time and brought there for the event -- and that's not done.

I'm intimately familiar with all this. I've stood with hundreds of others on the ramp in Afghanistan to pay respects to fallen comrades as they were loaded on C-17s. My son went through Dover. And I've stood shivering in uniform with the honor guard on the ramp in Montana to render honors to my son as his remains came off the plane. I've been involved with planning a quick presidential visit and know the logistics involved. And I've also done time in TV news.

This wasn't an impromptu event. It was highly choreographed. Families had to be located and brought in. The arrival of the C-17 and Marine One had to be choreographed, to include parking locations. You don't want the president standing around waiting. Security had to be addressed, to include screening everyone in the area. They had to figure out which press members to invite (undoubtedly the most pro-Obama ones). The entire event had to be staged in minute detail, to include where the press would stand, who would be in the official party, where each of them would stand, how much light would be out there, etc. What goes into the press release? What do staff members say to the press about the president's thoughts and intentions?

When the honor guard and I greeted my son's remains, our backs were to the terminal and the people behind us. Note that Obama and his people are all lined up facing the press as the caskets are carried in front of them. Note how they even included an anti-Bush dig in there to insinuate that Obama is honoring our war dead more than Bush did.

Make no mistake about it -- this wasn't about honoring the dead or their families. This was a tightly organized photo op put together to add gravitas to the Afghanistan debate and the announcement that Obama wants to send less than what McChrystal and NATO think is needed. The "restrictions" on the press had nothing to do with respect for the dead -- it was because they knew that too much press coverage would jump the shark and people would see it for what it was.

The men in those caskets didn't give all so a politician could exploit them and their families for a photo op.

cowgal's picture
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Obama Visits Dover

Thank you for the explanation Expatriate. I'm guessing most Americans do not know what the proper protocol is. I know I didn't, so obviously wouldn't have known just how staged this was.

Makes me sick to my stomach to know that Obama used our war dead in that manner.

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Obama Visits Dover

Ditto to what Cowgal just said. I was rather inclined to think you were over-reacting untill you clarified the protocol.

expatriate's picture
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Obama Visits Dover

Here's a taste of the level of organization involved. Last year Bush made a refueling stop here and gave a quick speech in a hangar.

We had meetings for days ahead of time with an advance team of White House staffers and Secret Service. The day before arrival, we had to have all the refueling trucks for AF 1 fueled, sampled, sealed, and put under security. We developed contingency plans in case someone got ill or anything was needed. We had walk-throughs to practice with stand-ins for the visitors. Everyone that was to be in close contact with the President had to be pre-screened and approved. Who got to meet him? Who operated the refuelers? Who got a handshake? Who would get a coin? Who would be behind the president on the stage? A seating chart was developed for everyone in the VIP seating section.

On the day of the arrival, everyone had to process through the metal detectors and security screening to be inside the hangar 2 hours prior to arrival. No one was allowed in or out. Multiple layers of security were set up between the police and various Secret Service teams, and the half-mile route between AF 1's parking spot and the hangar had to be swept for security. The highway running alongside the base (outside the fence on the other side of the runway) was closed. Arrival and location of the press were carefully choreographed. After the speech, no one was allowed out of the hangar until the president was back on AF 1.

Putting the thing together was a full-time job for some of my friends. This was for a visit that comprised roughly two hours on the ground.

That's a highly simplified version of what we went through. Bottom line is that anything involving the president requires an enormous security and logistics effort. In terms of the Dover visit, look at it from the Secret Service's perspective alone. You have the President of the United States standing perfectly still for several minutes out in the open on a concrete ramp in a pool of light surrounded by all kinds of shadows and places where people can hide. And your agents in the inner circle have to stay far enough away from him that they don't show in the pictures. The most notorious snitches in the world (D.C. press) have been given advance notice. What measures are you going to put in place to protect him, and how much coordination, planning, and effort will it take to do so?

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