Gates: Never mind that WTF moment

posted at 11:14 am on July 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Two weeks ago, National Security Adviser Jim Jones flew to Afghanistan to inform American commanders not to bother to request more troops for the Af-Pak theater.  The Washington Post referred to it as a “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” moment, as stunned commanders attempted to process the inflexibility this represented.  However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates quietly reversed Jones this week in a little-noticed statement about potential troop increases in the theater:

The Pentagon’s chief said Thursday he could send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan this year than he’d initially expected and is considering increasing the number of soldiers in the Army.

Both issues reflect demands on increasingly stressed American forces tasked with fighting two wars. …

Asked about Afghanistan by one soldier, Gates said: “I think there will not be a significant increase in troop levels in Afghanistan beyond the 68,000, at least probably through the end of the year. Maybe some increase, but not a lot.”

So far, the Obama administration has approved sending 68,000 troops to Afghanistan by the end of 2009, including 21,000 that were added this spring.

The White House has wanted to wait until the end of the year before deciding whether to deploy more, but Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that Gates does not want to discourage his new commander in Kabul, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, from taking a frank look at how many troops he needs.

That’s quite a bit different than what Jones told McChrystal and his commanders:

Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have “a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.” Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF — which in the military and elsewhere means “What the [expletive]?”

Nicholson and his colonels — all or nearly all veterans of Iraq — seemed to blanch at the unambiguous message that this might be all the troops they were going to get.

Gates didn’t exactly endorse the idea of more troops for the Af-Pak theater, but he explicitly held the option open — as he should.  Jones told the forces in Afghanistan not to bother asking, lest they find themselves on the wrong end of a presidential “WTF?”, with all that means for career advancement in the next three-plus years.  In other words, Jones sent the message that the commanders should STFU before getting that WTF, hardly a way of “listening to the generals” standard on which Democrats insisted for several years on Iraq, and the standard that Gates to his credit has implemented in his tenure at the Pentagon.

A month ago, Newsweek reported rumors that Gates wanted to push Jones out as the National Security Adviser and take the position himself.  Nothing has transpired since, but it seems clear that Jones and Gates are not on the same page on the war.


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but it seems clear that Jones and Gates are not on the same page on the war.

If I was the cynical type I would think that is what Obama wants. He can blame others (see my underlings cant get along and that disrupted my efforts in Afghanistan) for any failure.

Its called the “Poison the well for Hillary” strategy.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Are you saying Afghanistan is another country that didn’t watch Obama’s Cairo speech? Why in the world would we need any more troops after that?

JiangxiDad on July 18, 2009 at 11:19 AM

The Democrats have finally got what they wanted, a time frame on which to win or lose the war. And either or is fine with them.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Hey, Brigade and Division commanders in theater- Who do you trust?

Fletch54 on July 18, 2009 at 11:24 AM

I thought the SecDef reported to the president, not to the national security advisor. And that commanders in the battlefield were answerable to the president through the SecDef, not the national security advisor.

ProfessorMiao on July 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM

I don’t trust President Obama as our CiC. His ignorance and pettiness will destroy our country.
Here’s how we can save our country from Obama: in the 2010 mid-term election, take away his Democratic majorities in Congress. Every Democrat with a conscience should vote Republican, Independent, or stay home.
Without a Dem majority, Obama can by stymied. Separation of powers only works well when one side doesn’t have all the power.

Doug on July 18, 2009 at 11:27 AM

ProfessorMiao on July 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM

That is what happened. Gates overruled Jones who seemed to want to create his own National policy. Of course Barry O can overrule gates now.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:29 AM

FDR = President Roosevelt
JFK = President Kennedy
LBJ = President Johnson
WTF = President Obama

It works for me.

Laura in Maryland on July 18, 2009 at 11:30 AM

I thought the SecDef reported to the president, not to the national security advisor. And that commanders in the battlefield were answerable to the president through the SecDef, not the national security advisor.

ProfessorMiao on July 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Thanks for catching that. Those were the same thoughts I was having. Has something changed in the chain of command?

Has Ogabe shuffled up the chain in order to shift responsibility in case of a foulup?

conservnut on July 18, 2009 at 11:31 AM

I thought the SecDef reported to the president, not to the national security advisor. And that commanders in the battlefield were answerable to the president through the SecDef, not the national security advisor.

Right. So it wasn’t an order coming down the chain of command. It was just advice from someone in the know. Heavy handed and not subtle advice…now there’s a surprise.

MamaAJ on July 18, 2009 at 11:39 AM

“Gates licked his finger and held it up in the air, it was then that he realized that the wind was blowing in a different direction than previously thought.”

ericdijon on July 18, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Of course Barry O can overrule gates now.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Who will ignore the controversy in his lame but unsurprising attempt to keep all options open and shift to wherever the wind (polls) blow.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Laura in Maryland on July 18,2009 at 11:30 AM

It works for me too.

volsense on July 18, 2009 at 11:42 AM

i think gates is backtracking. whether he wants NSA job or not, he doesn’t want the public to think that we are going to leave our soldiers over there under-strength & in harm’s way without re-supply.

obama is letting this AfPak war wind along, kill enough of our soldiers, then he’s going to bring them all home.

he will make all liberal one-worlders proud.

kelley in virginia on July 18, 2009 at 11:42 AM

gates has to be “in” this with obama or else he would resign. i cannot believe that the Bush military “posture” & that of obama are so much alike that Gates could feel comfortable implementing & defending both.

kelley in virginia on July 18, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Hmmmm, trouble in the Middle East, including 2 new bomb blasts in American hotels in Jakarta. All Islamic…

And here I thought Obama supporters said that Obama was going to “heal” everything involving Muslims. And, where are the idiots when the war in Afghanistan is now going to be “escalated”?

It appears that Islam will continue to hate us. Hope and Change!

13Girl on July 18, 2009 at 11:50 AM

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Which goes back to the very first post I made. That this is what Obama WANTS. He is allowing his underlings to screw up in order to blame them later. Hillary better cover her assets as Barry will throw it under the bus.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Darn, I was hoping for a reversal of the F-22 termination.

Count to 10 on July 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM

I thought the SecDef reported to the president, not to the national security advisor. And that commanders in the battlefield were answerable to the president through the SecDef, not the national security advisor.

ProfessorMiao on July 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Thanks for catching that. Those were the same thoughts I was having. Has something changed in the chain of command?

Has Ogabe shuffled up the chain in order to shift responsibility in case of a foulup?

conservnut on July 18, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Sounds to me like an NS advisor overstepping without BO’s permission, or doing it at BO’s instigation in order to undermine Gates. Or for other reasons without any thought about how it would undermine Gates.

BO can shuffle all he wants, but he has to know that he is responsible for any foul-up whether he’s set one or both of them up to be fall guys or not.

ProfessorMiao on July 18, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Which goes back to the very first post I made. That this is what Obama WANTS. He is allowing his underlings to screw up in order to blame them later. Hillary better cover her assets as Barry will throw it under the bus.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Ever read the back story for Palpatine and the structure of the Empire in Star Wars?

Count to 10 on July 18, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Which goes back to the very first post I made. That this is what Obama WANTS. He is allowing his underlings to screw up in order to blame them later. Hillary better cover her assets as Barry will throw it under the bus.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Agreed.

myrenovations on July 18, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Hillary better cover her assets as Barry will throw it under the bus.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM

I have a personal prediction, Hillary will resign her role as Sec-state next year after watching Palins rise in polls as she campaigns for folks in the midterms. Hillary will then begin (and perhaps before she resigns) to publicly criticize the administration for a number of issues, trying to position herself to take the nomination away in 2012.

Hope it comes true, would be fun to watch.

conservnut on July 18, 2009 at 11:58 AM

A month ago, Newsweek reported rumors that Gates wanted to push Jones out as the National Security Adviser and take the position himself. Nothing has transpired since, but it seems clear that Jones and Gates are not on the same page on the war.

My disclaimer: I don’t like Gates. I’m a Rummy fan. But I will give Gates his due that he at least listens to his Generals. And while he served both Bush and Obama, I’d be happier with him at the NSC job than as SECDEF. But it all depends on whom gets appointed SECDEF at that point. Appoint someone with the military’s best interests and a firm grip on National Defense as the primary mission of SECDEF’s tenure, and not social engineering, and I’ll be happy with Casper the Friendly Spook. Gates would definitely be a better NSC Chair than Jones. Jones has forgotten where he came from. Gates at least remembers who brought him to the dance… the military.

But both men have so far decided to sacrifice the country’s best National Defense in favor of something demanded by their boss instead of bucking his goals. Obama will, like Clinton before him, cut the military to the bare bones and eliminate many programs we need to keep for the future conflicts that show up when you can’t ramp up to fix them. Whether you think the F-22 is wasteful or not, you damn well better quit complaining about building the best equipment if you insist on no American combat casualties and the smallest military you can get down to…..

…which is what every SECDEF has done since Dick Cheney last had the job.

Gates is a bureaucrat who does what his boss tells him to do, and make it seem like it is his idea. The sign of a good leader. But he also has to put on the brakes when his boss is wrong and insist the minimum standards be achieved. And that, he hasn’t done….

Subsunk

Subsunk on July 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Translation: 2 weeks ago-
Obama: Gates, I don’t want to increase the troop levels anymore.
Gates: Okay.

-WTF moment-

Obama: Gates, I’m taking a bath on this one politically. Can’t we fire that general?
Rahm: No sir, we used that to attack Bush politically in Iraq.
Obama: Okay, remember I said that we’d win in Afghanistan so if they really need more troops we’ll send them. But don’t send them.

Skywise on July 18, 2009 at 12:02 PM

President Obama, not knowing or caring to know about the concepts of chain-of-command and span of control, probably told General Jones to say that and didn’t even think that it was necessary to tell the SECDEF about it.

baldilocks on July 18, 2009 at 12:07 PM

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Our president is both ignorant and despicable, it is a lovely combination.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 12:09 PM

Why would we need more troops? With the new rules of engagement that prohibit them from firing on Taliban who shelter in houses, it would seem there isn’t much for them to do.

guntotinglibertarian on July 18, 2009 at 12:10 PM

Why would we need more troops?

Offensive operations. Wars arent won sitting in barracks.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 12:14 PM

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Considering how little Hawkdriver is able to post I think it is safe to say that things are rockin and rollin in Afghanistan as we speak. Add to the fact that the little truce that Pakistan made with the Taliban was an epic failure I think it is safe to say “We’re going to need a bigger boat”.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Obama lackey National Security Adviser Jim Jones was quote as saying:…if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have “a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.” Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF..

Shades of Vietnam. Democraps doing what they do best, losing wars.

Zorro on July 18, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Zawahiri himself was whining about how bad things are over there just a few days ago. I am getting the sense that Al Qaeda is dying but is also transmuting. Islamic terrorism wont be centered in Aghanistan or Pakistan as much now I think its leadership is passing to Indonesia and Somalia. That is the next critical areas of this battle I believe.

Osama’s “base” is no longer the centerpiece of the Islamic movement. If other Islamic groups start having success look for them to hoist the green islamic terrorism banner and Al Qaeda will be truely dead.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 12:23 PM

BTW I just sent to Hotair the news that Homeland security is putting radiation detectors in Pakistani ports. While I thought it was stupid to announce that it also just occured to me that US intelligence IS worried about Pakistani nukes getting out. That is a really scary thought.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 12:25 PM

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 12:23 PM

I barely have a working knowledge of these things but if Al Qaeda just moves to a different location it would appear to be dead in name only. It is a lead pipe cinch that Mr. Obama is not going to increase the theater so won’t the same old people rally the same old troops in a different location with the U.S. being the ultimate target? Although I have to admit that driving them from Pakistan, where the possibility of them getting hold of some nukes, is somewhat comforting.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 12:34 PM

Obama must be the most gifted man in history at choosing the worst possible people for positions in his administration. Every one of them is an ongoing train wreck for America.

infidel4life on July 18, 2009 at 12:37 PM

infidel4life on July 18, 2009 at 12:37 PM

And we are the passengers on said train. I don’t know about you but I am not enjoying the ride.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2009 at 12:42 PM

How many cooks are in the kitchen now? What it appears on the menu today is a choice between a TV dinner, a home cooked meal or eating out at a restaurant. Who really is in charge of this practice of preparing a cuisine for victory? How it is being served up to the commanders in the Af-Pak theater? Disarray and mixed messages from those in principled leadership positions is not a morale booster for the troops. Solid plans for victory along with a clear exit strategy is tantamount for success abroad as well as on the home front for the American people. The coordinated success of the surge in Iraq should have been used as guideline only with a tendancy to expand on those kind of efforts and building upon which of those measurable events succeeded in Iraq and apply them to the Af-Pak theater.

Americannodash on July 18, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Obama has created his own personal meat grinder with our soldiers! This is his strategy to get the public to cry out against the war as they did in Iraq when we were losing so many so he can pull out and leave Afghanistan stranded once again by the US!!!!

xler8bmw on July 18, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Jones sent the message that the commanders should STFU

Yea, that was shocking. I would expect something like that from a Democratic administration, just never expected someone like General Jones to say it.

Good on Gates. Morale is a factor that can’t be overlooked. Telling our boys that they are on their own is a morale killer.

Hog Wild on July 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Well, everyone *I* know is being sent there. So I haven’t seen any reductions going to Afghanistan, from personal experience, anyway.

Lourdes on July 18, 2009 at 1:29 PM

Jones sent the message that the commanders should STFU

Yea, that was shocking. I would expect something like that from a Democratic administration, just never expected someone like General Jones to say it.

Good on Gates. Morale is a factor that can’t be overlooked. Telling our boys that they are on their own is a morale killer.

Hog Wild on July 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Gates, I have confidence in but I tend to nearly conclude by now that the Obama Administration is engaged in “mind games” where our troops are concerned.

Lourdes on July 18, 2009 at 1:31 PM

but it seems clear that Jones and Gates are not on the same page on the war.

I submit they are not reading the same book.

Gates: “101 Ways to Win a War”

Jones: “How to Sound Important (when you aren’t)”

BobMbx on July 18, 2009 at 1:35 PM

I thought the SecDef reported to the president, not to the national security advisor. And that commanders in the battlefield were answerable to the president through the SecDef, not the national security advisor.

ProfessorMiao on July 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM

There is the Legal Chain of Command, where authority rests with responsibility. That flows through the SecDef…

But just as with the Czars, Obama likes to have somone else, with no oversite from Congress, in the decision making positions… someone who does NOT have the responsibility that goes with those decisions.

If Afganistan blows up because of a lack of support for the troops… Gates gets thrown to the MSM wolves… NSA, who is making the real decision because he has Bambis ear? Will skate.

Romeo13 on July 18, 2009 at 2:01 PM

Separation of powers only works well when one side doesn’t have all the power.

Doug on July 18, 2009 at 11:27 AM
The American Founders must have been aware that somewhat likeminded men would often occupy the Presidency and both Houses of the Congress. They nevertheless saw great advantage in separation of the executive and legislative powers and the checks and balances of the bicameral Congress.

Kralizec on July 18, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Funny that Obama hasn’t been labeled an imperialist occupier yet…

CP on July 18, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Funny that Obama hasn’t been labeled an imperialist occupier yet…

CP on July 18, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Only Republicans can hold that title …

Partisan on July 18, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Gates to Jones: STFU,FU.

profitsbeard on July 18, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Is this the Jones TEXAS was glad to Peter Principal to DC ( a foreign country)?
When do the Clinton retreads/plants go into action and start leaking all the slime in the admin,August recess?

Col.John Wm. Reed on July 18, 2009 at 5:35 PM

No one should be surprised,the Liberal Party,screws up
every military operation that they come across!

canopfor on July 18, 2009 at 6:46 PM

Barry will yet snap defeat from the jaws of victory!

GarandFan on July 18, 2009 at 9:06 PM

Regardless, Gates is no friend of the armed forces; he’s nothing more than a liberal so-called Republican who seems to function best as one of Obama’s appendages, after his lackluster to piss-poor performance under President Bush.

I say bring back Rumsfeld.

All Gates has been good for is rubber-stamping Obama’s efforts to hamstring and shrink the armed forces, while he uses the money stolen from the armed services to pay for more of his social program bullcrap. Any secretary of defense that works under a crack-addled marxist like Obama needs to be drummed out, and quick.

Virus-X on July 18, 2009 at 10:01 PM

I thought the SecDef reported to the president, not to the national security advisor. And that commanders in the battlefield were answerable to the president through the SecDef, not the national security advisor.

ProfessorMiao on July 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Its time for a war czar.

Ed Laskie on July 18, 2009 at 11:31 PM

Solid plans for victory along with a clear exit strategy is tantamount for success abroad as well as on the home front for the American people.

Americannodash on July 18, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Complete victory should be the only exit strategy.

Johan Klaus on July 19, 2009 at 9:07 AM

BTW I just sent to Hotair the news that Homeland security is putting radiation detectors in Pakistani ports. While I thought it was stupid to announce that it also just occured to me that US intelligence IS worried about Pakistani nukes getting out. That is a really scary thought.

William Amos on July 18, 2009 at 12:25 PM

+1,000

There was a blurb about a week ago saying the Taliban had not given up trying to make its way to a location near where some of the nukes are located. And when I say blurb, I mean blurb. It was mentioned only once, and the hairs on my neck stood up. While our intelligence is not totally decimated, it is severely weakened, and this move signals they do not believe they could stop the Taliban from managing to get their hands on the nukes. Scary indeed!

And dittos to al-Qaeda moving to Somalia, and Indonesia in greater numbers. As if Somalia is not already filled to the brim with them already! Obama’s ties to both countries are rather striking as well, and most people seem to be ignoring this altogether. Al-Shabaab only appears to be growing in power. Based on his recent announcement he plans on trying two French military trainers under sharia law, and then of course beheading them, he seems to feel comfortable with his increased radical actions, and since no one is challenging him, he is sure to continue terrorizing anything and anyone. We all know what that leads to!

We also need to keep our eyes on Kenya. Raila Odinga has long since desired sole control of Kenya. To date he has not been able to do this. His desires have left scores of dead bodies in Kenya, and in particular Christian Kikuyus. There is a score to settle in Kenya, and we all have recognized the President has a slew of axes he likes to grind. Placing Odinga in total control of Kenya would be a score settled for Obama, and in the name of his dead father.

http://worldanalysis.net/modules/newbbex/viewtopic.php?topic_id=55&forum=3&post_id=236

http://www.weaselzippers.net/blog/2009/06/somalia-alshabaab-calls-for-invasion-of-christian-ethiopia.html

freeus on July 19, 2009 at 11:38 AM

Gates is a bureaucrat who does what his boss tells him to do, and make it seem like it is his idea. The sign of a good leader. But he also has to put on the brakes when his boss is wrong and insist the minimum standards be achieved. And that, he hasn’t done….

Subsunk

Subsunk on July 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM
>>>>>>

I thought it was insurrection to stand against your leader in favor of standards. That’s what everybody was telling me last week when Major Stefan Cook was reamed for questioning Obama’s eligibility to be at the top of the chain of command.

Somebody put it in simple terms for me since I’m obviously too stupid to get it otherwise: When is insisting on standards insurrection, and when it is it duty?

justincase on July 20, 2009 at 12:11 PM