True Colors

Having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan I think Obama's out of hand dismissal of McCain's proposal that he visit the two countries is patently and pathetically cowardly.

To me it stands in stark contrast to Senator McCain's willingness to visit Iraq (8 times) as well as President Bush's willingness to do the same.  Much is made of the security involved in such visits as well as their often secretive nature, but I don't recall hearing anyone point out a very key factor. Just flying into Iraq or Afghanistan is a risk thanks to the presence of man-portable Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) also known as MAN Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS).  Further, flying anywhere in Afghanistan at any time is risky business not just because of the missile threat, but also because of the mountains and the foul weather inherent to the region.   

Anyone who's experienced a combat landing on a C-130 or C-17 already knows what I'm talking about.  The maneuvers involved in landing in or taking off from an airstrip in a combat zone (intended to stymie shooters of rifles as well as the aforementioned missiles) are enough to make even experienced soldiers and airmen queasy.  That said, for those that might still doubt my point here's some personal experiential background. I was in Baghdad serving with the 447th EOD unit from fall 2003 ‘til spring 2004.  I'd been in country for about three days when a DHL plane was hit by a shoulder fired missile and forced to make an emergency landing. (Incidentally, if you read the Wiki article at the link, I was one of the personnel "giving warnings of possible buried explosives".  My friend and colleague Phil is the man sitting on the wing examining the damage in the second photo.) 

All told, during my tour we responded to about half a dozen incidents involving SAMs hitting aircraft that were coming into or leaving BIAP (as well as over 100 IED incidents "outside the wire").  All but one of the aircraft responses involved transport aircraft (C-17s and the like) and thankfully, none of the responses involved catastrophic or fatal crashes.  For those who might wonder, I never was clear on why they wanted EOD guys to check these bent birds out when they touched down. I think our response to the DHL crash landing set some kind of precedent and we ended up on a checklist somewhere.

Not even a week after the near disaster with DHL's plane and knowing full well that SAMs were a threat, President Bush still chose to fly into the country to join the troops for Thanksgiving dinner. This act showed true bravery and "testicular fortitude".  I don't recall him getting any credit for this though.  In fact, I know he got none, since most of the articles about the visit that I found using Google refer to the secretiveness of the visit and the security involved.  The only place I found the word bravery used in relation to the visit was in a Slate story that referred to it dismissively and mockingly as the only bravery he'd ever exhibited. 

I have to wonder if the writers of that article even know what the acronym SAM stands for.  I'm sure that they don't know that Soviet era SA-7, 16, 18s etc. in the hands of Jihadists were a major concern for us at that time.  They're probably equally clueless of the fact that even the best countermeasures are far less that 100% effective against SAMs.
All of the non military people who have gone into Iraq and Afghanistan for their various purposes(except for Sean Penn, there's no excuse for him), political and otherwise, deserve at least some credit for facing the threat of dying in a fiery crash due to a missile or (in the case of Afghanistan) the often terrible weather. Except for Sean Penn -- there's no excuse for him. I doubt if all of them fully understood the missile threat, but based on comments made by Robin Williams when he visited us in Baghdad, I don't think anyone is uninformed of the risk.  Speaking of Robin, it's worthy of note that Mr. Williams had to be dragged away from signing autographs and talking to troops.  I don't like his politics much, but Robin Williams earned my respect that day, and not just because he showed up.  I'm sorry I missed my chance to shake his hand.

Much was made of the threat to Dick Cheney during his visit to Bagram last year especially after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the main gate, killing 19 and wounding 11.  There was a lot of speculation at the time about how the Taliban could have known he was there.  I was on Bagram at the time as part of the 755th EOD team and any of us EOD types could have answered that one, had anyone asked.  It was obvious someone was there.  The increased security was quite overt and there's no doubt that Bagram is under constant watch by jihadists as well as otherwise neutral locals who sell them information.  The media made a huge deal out of the Taliban's post facto claim of targeting the VP, but once again, I don't recall the courage Vice President Cheney displayed in simply being there being mentioned in any of the coverage.   

With the unheralded courage of these people in mind, people who have put themselves at risk to visit war zones when they don't have to, I don't expect Obama's cowardice vis a vis the McCain challenge will get any attention.  Of course this is further proof that the MSM is biased, as if we needed it. 

Here's a thought experiment for any liberal readers.  Imagine that the challenge was issued by Obama and refused by McCain.  Care to detail how that would likely play out?  I ran this thought experiment in my head as I wrote this, and I'm certain that the refusal would be all over the news for weeks, with much made of what the denial said about McCain's "character".  

I look forward to the day when the truth about Obama, this agent of supposed "Hope" and "change", is exposed fully.  However, I'm greatly concerned that this may only happen in the same way that Carter has been exposed.  Now there's a sobering thought. 

Note: The views expressed here are those of the author and not those of the Department of Defense or the US Air Force

TSgt Daniel Montrose USAFR is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician
Having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan I think Obama's out of hand dismissal of McCain's proposal that he visit the two countries is patently and pathetically cowardly.

To me it stands in stark contrast to Senator McCain's willingness to visit Iraq (8 times) as well as President Bush's willingness to do the same.  Much is made of the security involved in such visits as well as their often secretive nature, but I don't recall hearing anyone point out a very key factor. Just flying into Iraq or Afghanistan is a risk thanks to the presence of man-portable Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) also known as MAN Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS).  Further, flying anywhere in Afghanistan at any time is risky business not just because of the missile threat, but also because of the mountains and the foul weather inherent to the region.   

Anyone who's experienced a combat landing on a C-130 or C-17 already knows what I'm talking about.  The maneuvers involved in landing in or taking off from an airstrip in a combat zone (intended to stymie shooters of rifles as well as the aforementioned missiles) are enough to make even experienced soldiers and airmen queasy.  That said, for those that might still doubt my point here's some personal experiential background. I was in Baghdad serving with the 447th EOD unit from fall 2003 ‘til spring 2004.  I'd been in country for about three days when a DHL plane was hit by a shoulder fired missile and forced to make an emergency landing. (Incidentally, if you read the Wiki article at the link, I was one of the personnel "giving warnings of possible buried explosives".  My friend and colleague Phil is the man sitting on the wing examining the damage in the second photo.) 

All told, during my tour we responded to about half a dozen incidents involving SAMs hitting aircraft that were coming into or leaving BIAP (as well as over 100 IED incidents "outside the wire").  All but one of the aircraft responses involved transport aircraft (C-17s and the like) and thankfully, none of the responses involved catastrophic or fatal crashes.  For those who might wonder, I never was clear on why they wanted EOD guys to check these bent birds out when they touched down. I think our response to the DHL crash landing set some kind of precedent and we ended up on a checklist somewhere.

Not even a week after the near disaster with DHL's plane and knowing full well that SAMs were a threat, President Bush still chose to fly into the country to join the troops for Thanksgiving dinner. This act showed true bravery and "testicular fortitude".  I don't recall him getting any credit for this though.  In fact, I know he got none, since most of the articles about the visit that I found using Google refer to the secretiveness of the visit and the security involved.  The only place I found the word bravery used in relation to the visit was in a Slate story that referred to it dismissively and mockingly as the only bravery he'd ever exhibited. 

I have to wonder if the writers of that article even know what the acronym SAM stands for.  I'm sure that they don't know that Soviet era SA-7, 16, 18s etc. in the hands of Jihadists were a major concern for us at that time.  They're probably equally clueless of the fact that even the best countermeasures are far less that 100% effective against SAMs.
All of the non military people who have gone into Iraq and Afghanistan for their various purposes(except for Sean Penn, there's no excuse for him), political and otherwise, deserve at least some credit for facing the threat of dying in a fiery crash due to a missile or (in the case of Afghanistan) the often terrible weather. Except for Sean Penn -- there's no excuse for him. I doubt if all of them fully understood the missile threat, but based on comments made by Robin Williams when he visited us in Baghdad, I don't think anyone is uninformed of the risk.  Speaking of Robin, it's worthy of note that Mr. Williams had to be dragged away from signing autographs and talking to troops.  I don't like his politics much, but Robin Williams earned my respect that day, and not just because he showed up.  I'm sorry I missed my chance to shake his hand.

Much was made of the threat to Dick Cheney during his visit to Bagram last year especially after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the main gate, killing 19 and wounding 11.  There was a lot of speculation at the time about how the Taliban could have known he was there.  I was on Bagram at the time as part of the 755th EOD team and any of us EOD types could have answered that one, had anyone asked.  It was obvious someone was there.  The increased security was quite overt and there's no doubt that Bagram is under constant watch by jihadists as well as otherwise neutral locals who sell them information.  The media made a huge deal out of the Taliban's post facto claim of targeting the VP, but once again, I don't recall the courage Vice President Cheney displayed in simply being there being mentioned in any of the coverage.   

With the unheralded courage of these people in mind, people who have put themselves at risk to visit war zones when they don't have to, I don't expect Obama's cowardice vis a vis the McCain challenge will get any attention.  Of course this is further proof that the MSM is biased, as if we needed it. 

Here's a thought experiment for any liberal readers.  Imagine that the challenge was issued by Obama and refused by McCain.  Care to detail how that would likely play out?  I ran this thought experiment in my head as I wrote this, and I'm certain that the refusal would be all over the news for weeks, with much made of what the denial said about McCain's "character".  

I look forward to the day when the truth about Obama, this agent of supposed "Hope" and "change", is exposed fully.  However, I'm greatly concerned that this may only happen in the same way that Carter has been exposed.  Now there's a sobering thought. 

Note: The views expressed here are those of the author and not those of the Department of Defense or the US Air Force

TSgt Daniel Montrose USAFR is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician