On a trip to Afghanistan during President Barack Obama’s first term, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was stunned to find a telephone line at the military’s special operations headquarters that linked directly back to a top White House national security official.
“I had them tear it out while I was standing there,” Gates said earlier this month as he recounted his discovery. “I told the commanders, `If you get a call from the White House, you tell them to go to hell and call me.'”
To Gates, the phone in Kabul came to symbolize Obama’s efforts to micromanage the Pentagon and centralize decision-making in the White House. That criticism later would be echoed publicly and pointedly by Gates’ successor, Leon Panetta.
…the real issue rested with the president himself.
“When a president wants highly centralized control in the White House at the degree of micromanagement that I’m describing, that’s not bureaucratic, that’s political,” he said
U.S. military officials say the techniques include low-tech workarounds, such as Iraqi commanders using cellphones to request airstrikes.The requests are screened at a joint operations center far from the combat, where a team of American officials quickly verifies the information provided by the Iraqis before approving strikes. One center is in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, and one is in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
“This process usually runs its course in a matter of minutes, and if it takes longer it’s because the situation requires it,” Sholtis said in an e-mail. “It may not be an ideal system, but so far it has been pretty effective.”
There are about 1,400 U.S. troops in Iraq now, and Obama approved sending up to 1,500 more. Some are defending U.S. facilities and others will help train and advise Iraq’s armed forces.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said he does not see a need for U.S. advisers to accompany Iraqi forces now, but it may become necessary in the future, particularly when Iraqi forces launch an offensive to retake territory captured by the Islamic State.
Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army.
“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.
Lyndon Johnson/Obama faced many of the same problems in Vietnam that Harry Truman faced in Korea.Johnson’s principal problems were to fight the war successfully without widening the conflict to include intervention by the major Communist powers. This problem would color nearly every decision Johnson made about the war, would force him (from his point of view) to take personal command of the air war in North Vietnam, and would frustrate the military leadership, just as they had been frustrated during the Korean War.
Obamahas asked to personally sign off on all airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Syria, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Obama has reportedly set far more stringent requirements for bombing targets in that country than Iraq, where U.S. warplanes have already conducted over 160 strikes against targets associated with the terrorist group.
Update:Napolitano–Is the White House planning to run this war directly as LBJ did in Vietnam?
In another deceptive move, Obama announced on Monday that the operation against ISIS, whether authorized by Congress or not, will be directed by retired Marine Corps General John Allen. This is a novel use of government assets, as Allen is no longer a part of the Pentagon and thus not subject to the military chain of command. Apparently, the president does not trust his military advisers, whose advice he has repeatedly rejected, to run his war. Is the White House planning to run this war directly as LBJ did in Vietnam? Is the State Department? How can a civilian who is not the president command military troops?
“They might only be directing air strikes.” Hmmm, who does this task for the Air Force: Combat Control specialist. I suppose President
Jarret 0 (et. al.) can easily make the Air Force change reality terminology, perhaps, ‘Long Term Anti-Terrorist Gravity Assisted Prosecution specialist’
Yeahhhh…they don’t look like ground troops to me:
And JTACs certainly don’t get involved in major ground conflicts.