Wednesday, April 15, 2009

First Failures As Commander In Chief.

I've heard a lot of mixed up rhetoric from those who are simply reaching to paint the Somali Pirates - Maersk Alabama episode as an Obama failure. And in the end it all sounds like the verdict is being delivered before the jury convened.

I did notice several inarguable facts about this, am able to relate this to what I know and draw some conclusions of my own.

First, the Navy's SEAL Team performed flawlessly under the circumstances. Any one with military experience knows the pain of Hurry-Up and Wait. Add to that the pressure of a life and death situation, now add to that the frustration that your own government is creating obstacles and distractions from your mission. The outcome speaks for itself. U.S. prisoner freed unharmed, three dead terrorists and one more taken into U.S. custody.

So why does BHO get a failing grade on his 1st unavoidable test as Commander in Chief?
Well, he failed to do what the job title suggests.
He failed to Command, to Lead, to be clear and unequivocal in a situation with only one possible course of action.

For a guy who's been on camera so much that there is reasonable criticism he is overexposed, now he has his first legitimate purely military situation that requires him to get up in front of the cameras and make a statement and he . . .

. . . let's his Press Secretary give a vague, non-committal response to the media that seems to want to downplay the situation.
Some would suggest they (Axlerod, Emmanual) were trying to get polling on this situation while Hillary was looking for the appropriate embassy to beg for release with an American apology. Maybe and if so, reprehensible but not surprising.

What veteran and active duty military alike well know that the dual role of President of the U.S. means there comes a time to take off the hat of the diplomat and put on the uniform of a Patriot. BHO failed miserably preferring to keep negotiations going with "Tribal Elders" which is all he could find because Somalia doesn't have an actual effectual national government for which to engage in a diplomatic dialogue. For those talking about a tactical aspect of not making our intentions known to the sea-born terrorists before the SEALs were ready to spring their trap, doubtful the four Somali Gilligans were keeping up with the world news of the day, they threw the 1st Sat Phone into the ocean, paranoid that the U.S. Navy was using it to listen in on their conversations. Keep in mind that they were tethered to the fantail of a U.S. Destroyer. Most of us aren't deeply acquainted with Naval warfare tactics and yet we were all puzzled by the naivete of that move by these "pirates." The end-game was all too obvious at that point.

Just like there was only one course of action for our military with only one possible outcome for the terrorists there was only one course of action a Commander in Chief could have taken. Get up in front of everyone and make it clear we weren't going to start negotiating with terrorists or those who harbor them and letting these terrorists know if they didn't stand down their day of reckoning was imminent. Swift, decisive, this commander is not. Now there was always the possibility that Captain Phillips could have been injured or even killed by the terrorist or in a cross fire. And this is where it becomes distinctly Obama-like.

Our perennial fence sitter and consistent ballot caster of the meaningless vote of "present", America's Dilettante in Chief chose to wait and see the outcome before making a declarative statement about a future course of action. Am I the only one that gets the feeling if Captain Phillips had been injured or killed that the declaration would have been entirely different, "Rahm, hand me the yellow envelope. That's the statement I will give. The one condemning the military for not continuing negotiations over the Sat-Phones and taking action in a preemptive and risky Bush-like manner. Make sure that's the one loaded in the teleprompter."

A military commander stands up in front of his troops even when the odds are not good, when death is probable and puts his reputation, his career and his full intent on the line. And his troops, respecting that certitude follow him anyway because of his leadership. He doesn't hedge. He doesn't wait to take action. He doesn't negotiate with an enemy who has made their deadly intentions very clear. He doesn't stay out of site in a bunker, sticking his head out after the last shots are fired in hopes of declaring victory.

Now reconcile the actions of this new CiC (Civilian in Chief), wet behind those giant ears but who has a military force that is unparalleled in the modern world and battle tested in the war on terror versus 4 teenage thugs with rusty AK-47's in an open boat. Is his choice to hide-and-go-wait really anything other than an EPIC FAIL ?