Friday, March 8, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is on the Ground in Afghanistan Today

That transition has to be done right,” Mr. Hagel said. “It has to be done in partnership with the Afghans, with our allies.” He emphasized the importance of “our continued focus and energy and attention on Afghanistan” even as the number of American troops sharply declines. 

The fact that Secretary of Defense Hagel is now on the ground in Afghanistan to visit the War Zone "in a surprise visit" should not surprise anyone as he is going to be a proactive Secretary of Defense for President Obama.
World News Syndicated New US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel in Kabul on surprise visit 
NEW US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel landed in Afghanistan on Friday on an unannounced visit nine days after he was sworn into office, vowing to ensure a successful withdrawal of international troops. 
Mr Hagel arrived in Kabul as the US-led military coalition prepares to pull out by the end of next year and leave Afghan security forces to battle the Taliban insurgency that has raged across the south and east of the country.
What I didn't realize was his last visit to Afghanistan as a Senator was made with then Senator Obama.  No wonder he was Obama's pick to be Secretary of Defense.  Obama knows he can trust Hagel as well as sharing similar views on the military.
His most recent visit was in July 2008, when he accompanied a Democratic senator from Illinois — Barack Obama, who as president nominated Mr. Hagel to his current post. Since retiring from the Senate in 2009, Mr. Hagel has not been as directly involved in Afghan policy as was his predecessor, Leon E. Panetta, who arrived at the Pentagon from a tour as C.I.A. director.
Secretary of Defense Hagel traveled to Afghanistan as put it:
"Sgt Hagel visits troops in Afghanistan" 
That is exactly what makes him the perfect choice for Secretary of Defense - he knows what it is like to be that infantryman on the ground.  The E-4 flying Command Post was used for the visit to Afghanistan by the Secretary of Defense:
Chillin' on the Doomsday. Hagel is on his first trip on the famed E-4B Airborne Command Post, a 1970s-vintage "survivable" flying command center from which the defense secretary can "execute emergency war orders" and is known affectionately as the "Doomsday" plane for its Cold War-era capabilities, antiquated-looking telephones, leaky roof and oddly-long tail antennae. Hagel, who's known for vectoring in on whatever enlisted people are around, visited with the Doomsday's Nebraska-based crew - Nebraska being his home state. "He mingled with them, the press corps, and the traveling DoD delegation," Situation Report is told. And began his remarks to the press with a tribute to the Doomsday's crew. 
Love the description of the E-4B which has been undergoing major upgrades and overhaul by Boeing - should have been upgraded long before the boondoggle of the F-22 and F-35 which were the brain child of the fighter pilots who move up the ranks with their 'shiny and new' philosophy.  Global Security has the unclassified information on the E-4B and its status.

Our troops have to be very happy to see SecDef Hagel because he has walked in their shoes during Vietnam  -- they know he will put the men and women of our Armed Forces with their safety first.  Obama will be getting a fair and honest assessment of the reality of what is being faced with the draw down in Afghanistan.  Hagel is a straight shooter who will deliver the facts to the President so he can make informed decisions.
New Defense Chief Visits ‘Reality of Combat’ in AfghanistanBy  
Published: March 8, 2013  
KABUL, Afghanistan — In his first overseas trip as defense secretary, Chuck Hagel landed Friday in Afghanistan, a country fast fading from political debate and public interest at home, but where 66,000 American troops continue to experience what he described as “the ugly reality of combat and the heat of battle.”  
“We are still at war,” said Mr. Hagel, who earned two Purple Hearts while serving as a combat infantryman in Vietnam. 
Before landing in the Afghan capital, Mr. Hagel said a significant focus of his visit would be assessing the detailed plans for transferring responsibility for security to the central government, army and the police here by the time the NATO combat mission expires in December 2014 (snip)
Mr. Hagel has visited Afghanistan four times before, while serving as a Republican senator from Nebraska. His first trip, in January 2002, came just a month after the rout of Al Qaeda fighters and the Taliban government that had provided Osama bin Laden safe haven. 

Given the evolving mission, Mr. Hagel acknowledged that another goal for his visit was “to better understand where we are in Afghanistan” as the American and allied role shifts from combat to a mission focused on training and advising. 
“Even as we move into more of a support role, this remains a dangerous and difficult mission,” Mr. Hagel said in a separate statement to American and coalition personnel issued upon his arrival. “But the goal we have established — to have Afghans assume full responsibility for security by the end of 2014 — is clear and achievable.
Read More at NY Times

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