Tag Archives: Joint Chiefs of Staff

POTUS pays glowing tribute to those ‘who do the work’

Barack Obama said it as well as it can possibly be said.

The president bid farewell this week to the men and women who serve and protect us. They wear the uniform of the “greatest military in the history of the world,” he said.

The president reminded them — and the rest of the nation — that he is the “front man.” As commander in chief of that awesome military establishment, he gets his share of the credit for the successes achieved in defense of the nation.

“You do the work,” he told the men and women who he served as commander in chief.

Americans heard a lot of rhetoric during the recent presidential campaign about a military establishment in decline. They heard from the president-elect, who declared he knows “more about ISIS than the general.” Americans were subjected to put-downs and insults of our military forces who fight every day against international terrorists.

That kind of characterization does them a profound disservice.

I was glad to hear the commander in chief say the things he said to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, to Vice President Joe Biden, to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the service secretaries and to the warriors who take essentially the same oath taken by the president himself.

President Obama also stated correctly that the young Americans who answer the call to put themselves in harm’s way “are among the greatest generations.”

Let us never forget what they do.

Thank you as well, Mr. President, for your service to the country.

Hoping it’s true that we’re beating ISIS


Oh, how I want to believe this assertion.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter says we’re turning the corner in the fight against the Islamic State.

He is pushing back against criticism — chiefly from the remaining Republican candidates for president and their allies in Congress — that we are “losing” the fight.

Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford today told the media that the death this week of the Islamic State’s chief financial officer — the No. 2 man in the ISIS high command — illustrates the progress U.S. and allied forces are making in the fight against ISIS.

“The momentum of this campaign is now clearly on our side,” Carter declared.

Carter: We’re turning the tide

OK. Maybe it is. I have long endorsed the air campaign that we’ve launched against ISIS, believing that a concentrated aerial barrage of military targets could eventually destroy the monstrous terrorist cult.

Indeed, we keep killing ISIS leaders, not to mention the fighters who follow them.

Our allies in Iraq and resistance forces in Syria reportedly are taking back ISIS-held territory.

We keep getting news of “setbacks” and defeats of ISIS on the battlefield.

Is it true? Are these victories real?

Part of me wants to believe they are. Another part of me remembers a day when military leaders and their civilian bosses in government said the same thing about another war, the one in Vietnam. Americans were assured that more ground troops and greater concentrations of military power would demoralize the enemy and force them to give up the fight against a superior military machine.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

I know this fight is different. I also know that a victory declaration will be harder to come by.

We’ve all known when this war commenced that it required maximum patience among Americans.

My own patience is still pretty stout. It does, however, have its limits.

I just hope Secretary Carter and Gen. Dunford are telling us the actual truth this time.


Have we — or have we not — contained ISIS?


One of two key figures in the war against the Islamic State has it wrong about whether American military power has “contained” the terrorist organization.

President Barack Obama said ISIS has been “contained” on the battlefield. He said so the other day and then on the very next day, the Islamic State launched those horrifying attacks in Paris.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that ISIS is “not contained.”

Who you gonna believe? The politician or the career military man?

I am going to stick with the Marine on this one.

Do I think we’re losing the war? I tend to believe we will be able ultimately to destroy the Islamic State. It’s going to take a lot more than just U.S. air power to do it. More nations already have joined in the fight, most notably France and Russia, two nations that have paid heavily for ISIS’s terror tactics.

Gen. Dunford told the committee — chaired by Republican Mac Thornberry of Clarendon — that “technically we are not at war” with the Islamic State. The word “technically” is critical here. To be at war requires — in the strictest sense — a declaration issued by Congress at the request of the president.

But in reality, we’re at war.

As for whether the general has contradicted the commander in chief and the secretary of defense and whether that puts Gen. Dunford’s status in some jeopardy, I’ll just add one final point.

We put the military under civilian command. Gen. Dunford answers to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and President Barack Obama, both of whom have said one thing about ISIS containment; meanwhile, Dunford has said something else. Yes, I believe Dunford’s time as Joint Chiefs chairman might be coming to a close.


Powell endorses Iran nuclear deal


In another era, an endorsement of a controversial foreign policy agreement by Colin Powell might carry some weight among other members of Powell’s political party.

It won’t this time. In fact, and you might have to wait for it, you well could hear someone suggest that Powell’s endorsement doesn’t matter at all because he endorsed Barack Obama’s two successful elections as president of the United States.

Does it matter, though, that the former secretary of state remains a loyal Republican? Oh … maybe. Then again, maybe not.

Powell said today on “Meet the Press”: “The great concern from the opposition is that we’re leaving open a lane for Iran to create a nuclear weapon in 10 to 15 years. The reality is that they have been on a super highway for the last 10 years to create a nuclear weapon … with no speed limit.”

He said he’s studied the deal in detail, pored over it thoroughly and has concluded that this agreement is better than what we had before, which was nothing.

The retired four-star U.S. Army general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls the agreement brokered by the Obama administration a “pretty good deal.”

It’s not perfect, he said. But he’ll settle gladly for a diplomatic solution over a military one.

Given that he’s endured combat — serving two tours of duty as an infantry officer during the Vietnam War — I’ll accept his endorsement.

Who said this about Bibi?

A White House official called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickens**t”?

That’s all we know at the moment.

Here’s an idea: How about for once we find out who did the name-calling? Bring this individual out from the shadows and have him or her explain the reference.


This is the kind of thing that’s said behind closed doors all the time in Washington, D.C., and more than likely in Jerusalem as well.

I only can imagine what some of Netanyahu’s more strident inner circle members think of President Barack Obama or perhaps the Congress and what he or she might be saying about all of them in private.

This little term of non-endearment, however, has been let loose and has poisoned — perhaps — the sometimes-testy relationship between the two leaders.

And just when it had been reported that Netanyahu actually had expressed some warm feelings toward Barack Obama, well, this happens.

OK, if we’re not going to learn the name of the individual, perhaps someone on the inside — perhaps the press secretary, Josh Earnest — can tell us at what level this individual operates. Cabinet level? Sub-Cabinet? A member of “diplomatic” corps, for crying out loud? Hey, was it a national security team member? Someone from the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

We need to know who said it and why?

What’s more, the president ought to get on the phone and call his pal Bibi and tell him that the potty-mouth individual was speaking for himself or herself.

Then again, maybe the president should assure the prime minister that he — the leader of the Free World — himself didn’t say it.



Iraqi slope getting slippery

That slope that leads into Iraq is getting more slippery all the time.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said it is “possible” that American ground troops will be brought back into Iraq to fight the Islamic State.


I believe this is the kind of thing the commander in chief, President Obama, said won’t happen.

“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president,” Gen. Dempsey said in a testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Will the president heed the advice of his top military adviser? Therein lies the stickiest of wickets possible for the president.

His critics say the United States cannot defeat the Islamic State with just air power. They also suggest that our coalition-building, which worked pretty well in advance of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, is insufficient as well.

So, does the president act on his instincts and stay the course, which means “no boots on the ground” in Iraq? Or does he follow the advice of a team of four-star military brass — all of whom have substantial combat experience — and send “advisers” in with Iraqi troops to root out ISIL terrorists?

Can you say “conundrum”?

It’s my fervent hope that whatever “boots” hit the ground in Iraq remain on the feet of advisers and not on those of infantry or other troops trained in the combat arms.

Meanwhile, keep dropping bombs on the bad guys.

Professor Gingrich lectures on ISIS

Good Saturday morning, students.

Professor Newt Gingrich is going to lecture you on the link attached here about how little President Obama understands about the international terror threat being posed to the United States and, of course, he implies that he — the professor — gets it.


I don’t deny that the professor is smart. He knows how to win elections, he knows how to rouse them rabbles. He’s just not that good at governing, as his stint as speaker of the House of Reps demonstrated back in the late 1990s.

Here’s in part what he writes about the president’s remarks on the beheading of American journalist James Foley by ISIS terrorists: “I urge you to read President Obama’s full text. It isn’t very long. The most delusional line is his assertion that ‘people like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.’ Of course it is freedom and the rule of law that have been rare throughout history, and tyranny and lawlessness that have been common. ISIS and the ideology it represents won’t just wear themselves out.

“One has to wonder whether the President understands how serious a threat ISIS presents. ISIS is a fact. It is a religiously motivated movement that uses terror as one of its weapons. Beheading people is nothing new in history.”

One has to wonder? No, one need not wonder whether Barack Obama “understands how serious a threat” ISIS is to the rest of the world. He’s living with it. He is hearing constantly from his national security team, his diplomatic team, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — and from critics such as Professor Gingrich — precisely how dangerous this group of monsters is to the United States.

Gingrich has posed some fascinating notions about ISIS’s reach into mainstream cultures, such as Great Britain. He’s correct to suggest we’d better take this organization seriously.

However, he ought to stop there. Let’s not presume that the president of the United States doesn’t understand these things. The nation has one commander in chief at a time.

At the moment, it is not Professor Newt Gingrich.

Cool it with 'We told you so'

Congressional Republicans, quite predictably, are now declaring “We told you so!” while insurgents storm Iraqi cities and threaten to launch an all-out civil war in a country once occupied and governed by the United States of America.

Let’s cool it a bit, ladies and gents.


Sunni Muslims — from the very same sect that gave us Saddam Hussein — have launched full-scale attacks on key Iraq cities. They’ve taken Mosul and Tikrit and are believed to be headed toward Baghdad. The Iraqi armed forces are trying to defend the cities, but so far with little success.

The Iraqis are asking President Obama to supply air power to strike hard at the insurgents. Republicans are demanding it, too. That might be a good option for the president to employ if we can bring enough air power to bear.

Republicans opposed the president’s withdrawal from Iraq, contending that the country wasn’t yet ready to defend itself fully against terrorists and insurgents.

Thus, they’re yelling it loudly that they were right and Obama was wrong.

Sen. John McCain — who never met a war he didn’t want the United States to fight — has demanded the resignation of the president’s entire national security team, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Let’s look back, though.

* Was it prudent to launch a war against Iraq in the first place back in March 2003, when President Bush declared to the world that Saddam had chemical weapons and was going to develop nukes to launch against Israel? It turned out he had neither.

* Did the Republican president misread more than a decade ago the Iraqis’ ability to transition from totalitarianism to democratic rule when they had no history ever of living in freedom and liberty?

* Remember when Vice President Cheney said we’d be greeted as “liberators” and not “occupiers” when we invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein? It didn’t happen. The war continued for years afterward, costing us more than 4,000 young American lives.

* And aren’t Americans just sick and tired of war? Don’t public opinion surveys tell us over and over that we no longer have the stomach for wars with no end?

The Iraq War went bad from the get-go. President Bush made a colossal mistake in linking Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks and that, I submit, is what we are reaping today.

So … the current president ought to order air strikes at the insurgents and try to put down the attacks without the use of ground forces. We’ve got plenty of ordnance we can drop on the bad guys.

As for the carping and chest-thumping on Capitol Hill, how about speaking with one voice and letting that voice belong to the commander in chief, who’s got to make the tough calls?