President Obama just wrapped up a nearly two hour meeting at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs. Here is an initial read on the events from a press pool report filed by Jon Ward of the Washington Times:
Potus promises "difficult decisions" ahead on Iraq and
Afghanistan and says he will improve support for the military.
"We're going to have some difficult decisions that we're going to have
to make.," he said.
Most of his remarks were about support for the military and easing the
"We have for a long time put enormous pressure on our military to carry
out a whole set of missions sometimes not with the kind of strategic
support and use of all aspects of American power to make sure they're
not carrying the full load. And that's something I talked to the joint
chiefs about and something I intend to change," said Potus.
At 5:01, one hour and 52 minutes after his arrival, POTUS emerged from
the Tank and walked down the Joint Chief's corridor, where the offices
for the mil commanders are housed on the Pentagon's north side. Roughly
60 military personnel who work at the Pentagon, wearing uniforms from
all branches, had lined up on both sides of the hall to greet him.
Potus and Vpotus shook hands with the mil folks for about four minutes,
walking toward the pool, which was at the far end of the hall, giving
photogs a nice picture to make.
Potus could be heard asking people where they were from (Indiana?), and
talking with one woman about her pregnancy.
Potus also remained fascinated with the DC region's inability to handle
the winter weather.
"Aren't you a little surprised that they canceled school for my kids?"
he asked someone.
"Very nice to see you sir. Thank you for your service," he said to
"I know south carolina, I did a lot of campaigning there," he said,
eliciting some laughter from the otherwise quiet hall, where the mil
personnel stood loosely but at attention.
By the time Potus had made his way down the left side, Gates and the
chiefs were in the hall. Gates shook a few hands but kind of just
Potus then walked to sticks and spoke for a few minutes, with VPotus and
chiefs behind him. Transcript should be coming soon.
He apologized for being late -- "we kind of lost track of time" -- and
thanked the military for their service.
He said in addition to iraq and afghanistan, he and the chiefs talked
about "broader global risks that may arise" and how military and
civilian assets should cooperate in response.
And fyi, Potus' national security advisor, Gen. James Jones, was in the
Potus then talked about the "health of the force" and giving more
support for vets and their families and promised his "full support."
He then turned and walked down the right side to greet the soldiers he
had not yet shaken hands with.
Motorcade rolled at 5:27 and arrived at the White House at 5:36. Potus
went into the Oval.
-- Jason Sherman