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Military strained by Obama trip
The spokesman also said budgets for Afghanistan and presidential travel come from different accounts. “The taxpayer does indeed pay for strategic lift for our warfighters in Afghanistan, but they also pay for presidential support,” he said. “These missions are distinctly separate and are therefore funded separately.”
Mr. Obama and his group, which includes medical personnel and food specialists, will spend eight days in Europe visiting five nations for the G-20, NATO and European Union summits and side visits to the Czech Republic and Turkey. After the first three days in Britain, the party will travel to Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, for NATO’s 60th anniversary summit before traveling to Prague on April 5 and then to Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey on April 6.
Capt. Aandahl would not say how many transports were used to move the presidential group, nor provide costs.
So long GWOT
The U.S. government is playing down the Obama administration’s decision to do away with the term “global war on terrorism,” known for the past eight years by the acronym GW0T.
A survey of several departments and agencies shows that the term “global war on terrorism,” while not specifically banned, is in disfavor due to the new administration’s decision not to label counterterrorism efforts a war.
A White House official said the terminology change is less about semantics and more about the focus of the Obama administration, “keeping America safe.”
A military official close to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said budget guidance from the White House recommended ending use of GWOT for budget documents. Instead, the favored term will be “overseas contingency operations.”
Adm. Mullen for the past two years avoided using the term and has encouraged others not to use it, the official said.
An FBI official also said there is no ban on using the term GWOT within the main domestic counterterrorism agency.
“The administration has stopped using the phrase, and I think that speaks for itself,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters en route to Europe earlier this week. “I haven’t gotten any directive about using it or not using it. It’s just not being used.”
A Pentagon spokesman referred to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ response Sunday to a question about war terminology. Mr. Gates did not answer directly but suggested that dropping the term was part of a “broader kind of strategy” and noted that “people [are] looking for differences where there are none.”
A CIA spokesman pointed to recent comments by CIA Director Leon Panetta, who, like Mr. Gates, sidestepped directly answering a question about the terminology change. “Well, there’s no question this is a war,” Mr. Panetta said. “We are engaged in a war in which, you know, when our men and women are at risk and are being killed on the battlefield and when there are those who threaten to come here and kill Americans, there’s no question in my mind that we are facing the terrorists, and we are facing a threat to this country that requires we do everything possible to try to protect our safety….”
A counterterrorism official explained that jettisoning the term “war on terror” is more rhetorical than political.
“The people fighting against al Qaeda and its sympathizers understand both the nature of that fight and the nature of the enemy. It is not a war against a tactic. It is a war against terrorists who want to attack our country,” the official said.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...
By Tammy Bruce
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