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Obama Throws South Korea Under The Bus

Posted by Larry Barnes on May 20, 2010

South Korea Must Determine Attack Response, Gates Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2010 – It is up to South Korea, not the United States, to determine how it will deal with a North Korean attack on one of its ships, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.

Gates was asked by reporters at a Pentagon news conference whether a recent determination that North Korea sank the South Korean frigate Cheonan, killing 46 sailors on March 26, was an act of war.

“This was an attack on South Korea, and South Korea needs to be in the lead on the way forward,” he said.

Gates said the Defense Department supports the findings of a multilateral investigation into the attack that found a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo that sank the ship. “They’ve laid out some paths forward, and we will be consulting closely with them as they move forward.”

The military has not changed its normal readiness status in light of the findings, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the news conference. Mullen said he spoke with his South Korean counterpart yesterday, as well as with Navy Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Army Gen. Walter “Skip” Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea.

“We’re all focused on the stability of that region,” Mullen said. “Certainly, we’re concerned. They are a great friend and a great ally.”

Asked if U.S. forces are stretched too thin to increase operations in the area if needed, Gates said “absolutely not.”

“We’ve known for a long time that if there were problems in Korea, our main arms would be the Navy and the Air Force, and they are not stretched the way the Army and Marines are.”

Gates and Mullen also took questions on several other hot spots around the world.

Asked about the latest NATO military campaign in Afghanistan, Mullen said the Kandahar campaign already is under way, and that leaders are not surprised at the increasing insurgent violence there.

“We expect this to be a tough year,” Mullen said. “The poppy season is over, and they’ve gone back to get their weapons. That violence would rise doesn’t surprise me at all.”

The admiral added that he is optimistic about the Kandahar outcome. “We’ve got the right strategy and the right leadership,” he said.

Turning to Pakistan, Gates and Mullen said Pakistani leaders are fully on board with fighting terrorist groups in the country, and recognize they share that interest with the United States. Pakistan is planning to execute a mission in the volatile North Waziristan region, and has seven divisions and 140,000 troops there, they said.

“We now have a mutual interest in trying to stop this group, to stop them from carrying out attacks outside of Pakistan, especially in the United States,” Gates said.

On Iraq, Gates said the military is on track to complete President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce troop strength there to 50,000 by Sept. 1. Some of the drawdown was postponed due to the delayed national election in March, but, Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, “has total flexibility” with how he wants to manage it, he said.

Asked about the recount of Iraq’s election results, Gates said it was “a positive development, in that it reaffirmed the original count and the legitimacy of the election.”

Finally, on the United Nations resolution for sanctions against Iran, Gates said it is “somewhat stronger” than he expected. The resolution is important, he said, because it is a reminder of Iran’s isolation, and it provides a legal platform for countries and organizations such as the European Union to take more stringent actions of their own against Iran.

There is evidence that the resolution is making an impact inside Iran, Gates said, noting the extent to which Iran is trying to keep it from passing. The resolution, coupled with any action by individual countries, “has the ability to change behavior” in the Iranian government, he said.

U.S. officials say they are considering a variety of options, ranging from useless U.N. Security Council action to additional insignificant U.S. penalties.

“North Korea should know that provocative acts have consequences,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, of course they need not be significant.

But looming over the discussions is concern that a harsh reaction could escalate tensions to the point of clashes. There is also concern an aggressive response could trigger the collapse of what is arguably the world’s most isolated and authoritarian regime, U.S. officials said. It must be pointed out that the Obama administration is planning negotiations over which sides of the streets in Seoul that the North may occupy.

Posted in China, Korea, Military, Music, Navy, Obama, Politics, War Crimes | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Vince Gill

Posted by Larry Barnes on August 14, 2009

Posted in Military, Music, Obama, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Toby Keith Entertains Troops in Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 29, 2009

By Army Capt. Michael Greenberger
American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, April 28, 2009 – Country singer and troop supporter Toby Keith finished up a 15-show tour in Afghanistan yesterday as he drew near the end of his seventh tour with the United Service Organizations.

Service members crowd the stage April 27, 2009, at Bagram Air Field, to catch a photo of Toby Keith during his concert in Afghanistan. This was Keith's seventh tour with the United Service Organizations. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Michael Greenberger

Service members crowd the stage April 27, 2009, at Bagram Air Field, to catch a photo of Toby Keith during his concert in Afghanistan. This was Keith's seventh tour with the United Service Organizations. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Michael Greenberger

Keith spent five days criss-crossing the war-torn country visiting bases large and small in a whirlwind of handshakes, autographs, photo-ops and of course – country music shows.

Whether it’s hundreds of Marines at Camp Bastion or a crowd of thousands at Kandahar Air Field, countless hours of preparation and manpower go into making each show special.

“It’s a three-pronged attack,” said Rachel Tischler, USO vice president of entertainment operations. “The crews get to work setting everything up for the larger shows as most of the band goes to see people at the larger bases. While they are doing that, [Toby] and a few others visit the more remote locations.”

Keith’s tour visited Forward Operating Bases Tillman and Boris, near the Pakistan border, in addition to the larger bases, like FOBs Sharana and Salerno.

“It was important to Toby and the crew to visit as many of the smaller, remote locations as possible,” said Tischler. “Never mind getting entertainers – some of them don’t have running water!”

Keith, was taught early on to respect the military and those who serve in it.

“My father was a soldier. He taught his kids to respect veterans,” said Keith. “It’s that respect and the thank-you that we have a military that’s in place and ready to defend our nation; our freedom.”

Toby Keith

Toby Keith

Since 2002, Keith and company have visited war zones, military bases and ships at sea to bring a little levity and light into the lives of those in harm’s way. He loves his job, he said.

“It’s a break from the monotony in their life,” Keith said of his duty to the troops. “They’re under fire and tremendous workloads trying to accomplish their goals, so when we show up, it changes that for a little while. We try to put smiles on their faces.”

According to the roaring crowd in the “clamshell tent” on Bagram, he succeeded.

“The energy level was so high,” said Army Spc. Jennifer Cook. “It brought all the soldiers in, no matter what kind of music they liked.”

Keith’s forte is playing country music. He’s been doing it for more than 23 years. Some of the hits he poured into the night sky over Afghanistan have been staples of country music for years – as well as favorites of those in uniform, such as “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” and “American Soldier.”

Toby Keith

Toby Keith

Written after his first visit to Iraq, “American Soldier” is a tribute to service members everywhere. Keith salutes military mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters — ordinary people all over who volunteer to serve their country and give their lives for it if necessary. Keith took many of his first interactions with the military in Iraq, such as a remembrance ceremony for a fallen service member, and turned it into something many could understand.

“Those kinds of things just bore into your soul,” Keith said. “I would have never been able to complete ‘American Soldier’ if it weren’t for the experiences I had.”

The troops appreciate Keith just as much as he appreciated them.

“This show was awesome,” said Air Force Senior Airman Patrick McGuire. “I saw Toby Keith stateside and it was smoky and the crowd was just different. Here, it’s like he was here for us, not just a show. It just felt like he was here for us.”

Keith doesn’t just raise spirits though, he raises awareness too.

“It’s great to be supported by someone in the music business,” Cook said. “It also keeps us on people’s minds back home.”

Keith ended more than an hour of guitar whompin’, foot stompin’ music with a promise he’s echoed over 150 times: “I’ll see you next year.”

After departing Afghanistan, Keith and company head to Italy to finish their seventh USO tour.

(Army Capt. Michael Greenberger serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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