- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2012


President Obama and his supporters are claiming that the decision to send the reinforcements requested by the generals in Afghanistan (the “surge”) was tantamount to taking decisive action to end the war (“Obama makes surprise trip to Afghanistan,” Web, Tuesday). I do not think so. More important, history gives lie to that claim.

It took Mr. Obama three months after the request to order those reinforcements. When he finally decided to send them, he did so in increments rather than sending a single, massive reinforcement, and in lesser numbers than requested. That was not acting decisively; it was dithering while American soldiers were being killed and wounded by a resurgent Taliban.

Gen. William C. Westmoreland, in response to the large-scale enemy offensive that began on Jan. 30, 1968, in Vietnam, made a request for reinforcements in early February 1968. The 3rd Brigade of the 82d Airborne Division was alerted at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 12, 1968, for deployment to Vietnam. The lead combat elements (including my battalion) departed Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina the following day, landing in Vietnam just before dawn on Feb. 14, 1968. That was decisive action by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, and it saved the lives of many of this nation’s fighting men.

In contrast, when our combat commanders in Afghanistan yelled for help, Mr. Obama took three months to make a decision and sent fewer troops that requested - and in increments.

I am glad I am retired from the military for two reasons: One, I cannot be forced out of active service for speaking disparagingly of the president. Two, and more important, I do not have to try to explain to the mother, wife or children of one of my men that a loved one died because the president could not make up his mind.


U.S. Air Force (retired)

Chino Hills, Calif.

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