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 strain...
"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 another.
"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 followed Potus.
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 meeting.
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.