Panetta Is Safe After Breach Near His Plane at Afghan Base

An Afghan drove a stolen vehicle onto a runway ramp and then ran from it ablaze as a plane carrying Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta landed Wednesday.

Comments: 280

  1. “These kinds of events and incidents are going to take place, they’ve taken place in any war, they’re terrible events, and this is not the first of those events and it probably will not be the last.”

    This cavalier statement and this sort of attitude really sums up the frivolous nature with which Americans see war these days. That's the real tragedy.

    In addition, anyone who supports drones and the "collateral damage" that they have caused with the loss of almost 700 Pakistanis in small villages along the border over the last 8 years should definitely reconsider. Anyone who justifies the loss of those innocent lives would have their views ridiculed as non compos mentis in Pakistan!

  2. We've been told the massacre was at 0300 hrs and the individual immediately returned to base and turned himself in to authorities. He had been assigned to a Green Beret unit with a mission to pacify a village. Sounds like he sleep walked a rehearsal, and then he woke up.

    How unprofessional of Panetta to disarm his troops in a combat zone before a pep talk. Perhaps he has second thoughts about the legitimacy of this presidency.

  3. In a sense of the nervousness surrounding Mr. Panetta’s trip, some 200 Marines who were waiting in a tent here for the defense secretary to speak to them were abruptly asked by their commander to get up, leave their weapons - M-16 and M-4 automatic rifles and 9 mm pistols - outside the tent and then return unarmed. The commander, Sgt. Maj. Brandon Hall, told a reporter he was acting on orders from superiors.

    This was a bad call, you disrespected the troops in front of our allies and placed yourself in more danger.

    The troops respect you Mr Panetta, at least they did, now I do not know.

    I only know of one American that ever felt he had to have the troops disarmed to feel safe among him. His lack of integrity blinded him to their integrity that really kept him safe.

    You have shamed the nations Armed Forces to the world by doing this.

    Soldiers who are literally dying at the commands of the nation. For over 10 years they have stayed obedient to those commands over family, over friends, over their own lives in a war they know cannot be won.

    If it was done at the suggestion of someone in uniform, please take this advise.

    Sack him, put him out on the street immediately for he is not only not fit to command he is not fit to wear the uniform.

    The only thing I know that would cause an American official to rightly fear the troops would be if he was going to give an unlawful order.

    Our military is not the Praetorian Guard, and you are not Caligula, are you?

  4. Oh, come on. If this is accurately reported, it's not the sort of thing Panetta gives the slightest thought to--the Secret Service handles security measures.

    And besides, with trained snipers with brain damage out there, maybe it wasn't such an unreasonable security measure.

  5. A bit of an over-reaction, no? I'm sure Mr. Panetta did not make this request but military security staff did. Your rant is making a mountain out of a molehill, in other words, your bias is showing.

  6. I could smell the fear just by reading the article! What a strange and disrespectful request, essentially saying, "I don't trust you with my safety." Wow! I'm speechless. I don't know what to make of this. I guess Panetta was afraid someone else would go off his nut and start shooting.

    If someone else gave the order, that's another matter. But boy, the whole thing sounds strange.

  7. Mr. Panetta should reaffirm President Obama's compassion that we Americans "feel the loss of those murdered children as if they were our own" and that justice will be swift and fair. Then he and the president should immediately begin transforming the mission from a most unwise and ineffective counterinsurgency strategy, with a large, costly and clumsy footprint, to the only strategy that has ever been effective in Afghanistan, a counterterrorism strategy. It is highly adaptable, nimble and mobile-target-oriented, with a very small footprint -- like the successful effort captained there by the CIA's chief of counterterrorism in the fall and winter of 2001.

    This transition will require the accelerated removal of our main force, but with great care, so we don't have our departing warriors shot out as happened to Britain and Russia in past wars.This counterterrorism strategy needs to be adapted immediately -- not because of the recent tragedies -- but because it is the only strategy that has ever worked in Afghanistan. In concert, we should begin an overarching plan that avoids war for the next hundred years and allows us to build our own great country to its full potential -- not by isolation but with intelligent positioning and technology advances.

    In the process we should ensure that no small group of Americans will ever again have to bear the entire burden of war and its ultimate sacrifices, as our brave warriors currently do. That burden must be borne by all of us.

  8. Outstanding input!

  9. The U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta has no any choice but to work out the total withdrawl of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The all directions and the all strategies have failed, the mission which was chalked out by the President Obama administration has also evaporated in the air. It's not the fault of Obama's administration but the conservative leader like John McCain who always advocated use of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now paving the way to launch an attack on Iran.
    The history will be always embedded by the U.S. brutality in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which about one million civilians have been killed and the same number of the people got injured. About 30 million people lost their homes and the promise by the USA to resettle them was never fulfilled. Urinating on the corpses of innocent Afghanis, burning the Qurans and massacring the civilians have enough reasons to get out of Afghanistan now, before it's too late and the whole world begins to watch at us that are we a civilized nation.

  10. Are we still working on General Petraeus plans?

  11. I could smell the fear just by reading the article! What a strange and disrespectful request, essentially saying, "I don't trust you with my safety." Wow! I'm speechless. I don't know what to make of this. I guess Panetta was afraid someone else would go off his nut and start shooting.

    If someone else gave the order, that's another matter. But boy, the whole thing sounds strange.

  12. The ostensible reason for disarming the Marines was to avoid offense to the Afghans who were present, and who were required to be unarmed.

    While this is plausible, one suspects that security considerations might also have entered into the decision. But, even if that's correct, it's unlikely that Panetta himself was the source of the decision--it was almost certainly made by lower-level officials responsible for his security. Officials at Panetta's level don't concern themselves with their personal security: they rely on staff to take care of mundane details like that.

    Besides, last Sunday's incident suggests that maybe disarming the troops wasn't such a bad idea in an environment where trained snipers with brain damage are recycled back into combat.

  13. Was this man a crusading Christian terrorist bigot like Timothy McVeigh/David Koresh/Jim Jones?

    Or was he a mentally ill victim of PTSD?

    Does he have anything in common with a member of either al Qaeda or the Taliban?

    And what differeance does it make to the Afghans and American policy?

    What has been the impact on the mental health and faith of the Afghan people of America's invasion and occupation of their land?

  14. Who do you mean by "this man," the man who shot the l6 Afghans? If so, he probably served too long, had too gruesome experiences.

  15. Pancetta's back in the frying pan. Poetic justice lives.

  16. What strategy is Panetta talking about? Giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban.
    Time to leave is now and let the Afghanistans do what they do best, fight and grow opium.

  17. Well said. That's what they do best. The British couldn't change that, the Russians couldn't and we can't change them. Leave NOW!

  18. Out Now. Period.

  19. This was all Obama’s fault. First, it happened on his watch (remember that line Democrats?). Second, Obama has failed to provide a clear mission for our troops and lastly, his weak ROE have made our troops sitting ducks for the enemy. I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. This was all Obama’s fault ;-)

  20. Under the doctrine of command accountability, as Commander in Chief he is ultimately responsible, but how about working up the chain of command to him.

    Let us first start imprisoning and executing Colonels and above. When we run out of them, we can start with the so call intelligence agencies who provide what they say is information.

    These same generals mismanaged the war under Bush and they continue to do so under President Obama.

    A perfect example is the 10th Mountain Div in Bora Bora Mts. Since the time of Roland's retreat from Spain, he who yields the ridge line is a goner. But the General Commanding the 10th, wanted his helicopter (and those of others) to be able to operate so he set up his base of operations in a valley. Easy pickings.

    An intelligent person adapts to the environment. He/she does not stay the course and then plain the technology.

    Know ye with what little wisdom this world is governed.

  21. Yeah, Bush/Cheney invaded, but "it's all Obama's fault!"

  22. @JungleCogs: Define victory in the context of Afghanistan. If the President did the right thing and pulled our forces out of Afghanistan immediately people like you would be screaming about him cutting and running. When our troops are fighting and dying harder for the freedom of the locals than the locals are willing to fight it is time to get out. There is no rational mission for most of our troops. The only way to "win" is to kill everybody then declare victory and go home. That is not going to happen because we as American don't work that way. The original spoiling action that was intended to weaken al Qaida and deny them the use of Afghanistan as a base was achieved years ago. The war morphed into an occupation that has descended into an unwinnable mess against forces aided and abetted by our supposed ally. Meanwhile, the candidates you support to replace the President are advocating war with Iran. What's your plan to pay for that war? How long do you want the troops to occupy Iran? What gas price are you willing to tolerate during a war with Iran?

  23. What ever happened to General Petraeus? Wasn't he supposed to be America's silver bullet. The military genius? The know it all for victory in Afghanistan? Where has his magic gone? Is he still working?

  24. He swapped jobs with Panetta. Gen Patreus is now head of the CIA and Leon Panetta is Sec of Defense.

  25. He swapped jobs with Panetta. Gen Patreus is now head of the CIA and Leon Panetta is Sec of Defense.

  26. General Petraeus retired.

  27. The use of ground troops in this era & in that theater is utterly useless - and has been useless for 65 years - unless the policy is to hold, to eliminate the enemy, and to remain (a la Germany). If the policy is otherwise, Air Force and Navy assets should have been deployed & sustained from afar without the endangerment of our militiary personnel and with much less armament & logistical costs than a committed ground force. The woefully deficient results from a policy with 100,000 ground force has demonstrated that a ground force is less effective than the highly lethal, technical resources that are available. Yet, after only one military victory in the East (Japan) the U.S. Congress, White House, and a large 5-sided building in Washington, D.C. still cannot read nor understand military history but commits thousands of our military personnel to their graves when other available means of the nation's defense are gathering dust.

  28. Tell it to the many people, from Alexander the Great to the Russians, who tried to subjugate the Afghans. It doesn't matter how many troops. The Afghans don't lose on their home ground.

  29. at 15 billion per month.....(and the times indicates that 4.5 billion per month is being flown out of Kabul airport by the wealthy thieves of Afghanistan) we could give a stipend to every Afghan man woman and child of 500 dollars. This war has lasted ten years. If we had done that for ten years it would have transformed the nation. Instead the money will buy nice homes in San Marino and Westchester and the Washington suburbs for the Afghan oligarchs and pay for the Ivy League educations of their children.

  30. Making US Marines disarm before meeting the Secretary of Defense says it all. We have transcended into a banana republic-style mentality within our own military establishment. How much more surrealism do we need? Time for departure and a total reset.

  31. Since the Marines were disarmed in the tent ("...sign of nervousness...") for Mr. Panetta's inspirational speech, who provided security for THE MARINES? Mr. Panetta has armed guards for him. But the Marines? How 'bout "the militants" (terrorists) OUTSIDE the tent?

  32. The politicians responsible for our expensive foreign policy blunder in Afghanistan should be held accountable. If they are not identified and held accountable, history will continue to repeat itself.

  33. It's easy to identify them: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Holding them accountable is a different story.

  34. That would be Bush/Cheney.Rumsfeld for invading Afghanistan.

  35. Yes, wholeheartedly agree. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perl, Wolfowitz, Gonzalez, and the entire criminal regime should be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.

  36. I guess I would have DISOBEYED the request and if it was an order I guess I would have ask to be put on Guard duty as not to be around the DIS-respectful J.O!

  37. This is the second article in the Times suggesting that the shooter of 16 Afghan civilians "slipped" away from the military base --- the second time the Times has used the word, "slipped," without defining what it's supposed to mean, attributing a source, or clarifying whether use of the word,"slipped," is just conjecture or artful language by the writer and not intended to be taken as FACT. Meanwhile, other news sources state that an overhead blimp recorded a video of the shooter returning to the base alone, and that this video has been shown to Afghan officials as proof that the shooter acted alone. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy or that the shooter didn't act alone in doing the actual shooting --- I'm questioning the basis upon which this video constitutes proof of anything other than that the alleged shooter returned to the military base alone. Where's the video of the soldier LEAVING the military base. Didn't the blimp get that? In the absence of RELEVANT facts being released by the military, and with the sort of slipshod reporting by ALL media outlets, this story is getting stupider by the hour. And where are the FACTS concerning the investigation of the marines that posed for a video of themselves urinating on dead bodies. Why is the media publishing so many government promises of investigation and not returning to the stories to let readers know about the progress of the investigations or AT LEAST inform readers why there are no further FACTS to report.

  38. When the general doesn't trust his troops, when the occupiers can't trust their trainees, when the occupied public doesn't have faith that justice will be done, when we have overburdened our troops and squandered trillions in unwinnable wars, it is clearly time to quit and cut our losses.

  39. That's what President Obama is doing.

  40. I assume that tent was bullet-proof.

  41. Leon's just not that comfortable around actual soldiers. What does that say about our civilian leadership?

  42. You''re thinking of Dick Cheney. Unlike Cheney, Panetta served in the military and was a first lieutenant in the US Army. I think he's probably okay around soldiers.

  43. We call that "Fraidy-Cat"...

    Another well-placed administrator.
    Obama got the right guy for the job again.

  44. Directing our troops to disarm was likely done for the comfort of the Afghans present and for the cameras (and not for Secretary Panetta's safety.) If Secretary Panetta's safety was an issue, he would have cancelled the event.

    A more dramatic statement could have been made if the troops filed out to disarm and didn't return. I would like to have heard my government try to explain that.

  45. They would have been disobeying orders and subject to discipline!

  46. ObamaCo worried about a sic semper tyrannis moment, eh?

  47. Wouldn't you be worried if you'd just heard one of your troops went insane and murdered 16 civilians?

  48. I wouldn't be worried unless my name was obama or panneta. Hillary doesn't seem to have these types of problems. Hmmm Someone voted for the wrong Ruler.

  49. SECDEF can't trust his troops now? How awkward, eh?

  50. That's was the first thought that came into my mind when I read about the American soldiers being told to disarm before meeting with the Secretary of Defense --- that the Secretary of Defense didn't trust his own military --- but upon further consideration I think probably the American soldiers were told to disarm because the Secretary of Defense was worried that one of the unarmed Afghan soldiers in the room might wrestle a weapon away from an American soldier and use it to reply to our government's backlog of apologies, promises of investigation, and promises to hold people accountable.

  51. I don't know if anyone else remembers how the Marine Corps paid a high price in the eighties by disarming in Beirut. I think it's pretty insulting that they had to be disarmed again. Just shows how out of touch the DOD is with the Marines on the ground.

  52. Yes, appreciate your reminder. Oct. 23, 1983.The CO of USMC forces ordered sentries NOT to keep loaded weapons while on duty, as I recall. Rounds for the weapons were kept separate from the M-14s. The suicide driver (who smiled and waved at the sentries before driving in to the barracks) detonated the bomb in the lobby before the sentries could lock and load and fire. 241 marines and army personnel killed. The French lost about 60 troopers at their HQ same hour from a suicide bomber there. Three and half months later, Feb. something, the Marines were pulled out of Beirut.

  53. Disarming your own troops before talking to them, what does that say? To me it says you have an administration and President that are not only distrusted but disliked.

  54. Or the commanding officer of the base was being prudent under tense conditions.

  55. I am not aware of military protocol, but having soldiers without their weapons seems odd. Is this usual practice?

  56. No, this is not a common practice in a war zone. It just goes to show you who the administration thinks might be the enemy!

  57. I don't think it is odd. Just prudent, considering Afghan soldiers were present.

  58. General Gurganus insisted that this had nothing to do with the shooting on Sunday.

  59. The Obama Administration’s contempt for our military never ceases!!

  60. And it's reciprocated! (Also known as insubordination, verging on treason.)

  61. If you had read the article attentively, you would have seen that the decision to disarm the troops was a gesture designed to avoid offense to the Afghans present, who were required to be unarmed.

    As for contempt for our military, how could any administration display more contempt for our military than the one that got us into this war and the one in Iraq, and then pursued both with utter incompetence?

  62. What never ceases is the incessant beat of drums of people who can't stand having a Black man in the White House. Imagine Santorum or Romney. Personally, I think military experience should be a requirement to run forthe presidency,. (I am a female veteran of the Korean War, so even I could run!)

  63. Let's play "What If Bush Did It?"

    When rogue military members brought shame upon our efforts in Abu Ghraib (1 dead), the media went berserk for months on end, saying that it was the direct fault of Rumsfeld and Bush.

    But when a US soldier goes awol and murders 16 women and children under the Obama administration, the media is completely mum on the connection to the Defense Secretary and the Commander-In-Chief.

  64. That's because Bush never had to be afraid of his troops. Can't say the same for the current administration.

  65. ...and disarms the troops for fear one might get an idea about who is on their side and who is not.

  66. One would hope that you can see a clear difference between systematic brutality by several guards and soldiers (Abu Ghraib) and a lone soldier losing his mind and going on a killing spree.

  67. With Afghan & other nation's troops present (who could very easily be infiltrated) it was only prudent to have everybody disarm so as to not disrespect our allies. I'm astonished that this was only done at the last minute. Also, Command Sergeant Majors are not 'commanders' they are the senior non-commissioned officer who advises the commander of a battalion, brigade, division, etc. but they can certainly order troops to disarm as was done appropriately in this case.

  68. Gregory - the PRIMARY goal of military leadership is to protect your troops. You should never put them in danger except in battle, and then support them for minimum casualty loss to achieve an objective.

  69. Mr. Kriegel- the PRIMARY goal of military leadership is to complete their mission and to do so in the safest possible way for our troops. Now as to this particular case; the Secretary Panetta would have had a personal security detail (that stayed armed) which made the meeting safe for all in attendance.

  70. "... the most important people in the word" -- My, I am so UNIMPRESSED!

    Get our troops the Heck out of that sorry place now, Mr. President and Secretary Panetta!

    Until any attack comes to the USA shores, then stay out of other countries with YOUR WARS!

    I am speaking as the widow of a 100% wartime disabled war victim!

    I am sorry for the loss of lives, but I have a feeling the killer went berserk! After a long or short term in a war theater akin to the present one, it is understandable to lose one's complete mind!

    Frankly, only politicians, especially career ones, should fight overseas wars -- let us see how many of their followers would help them fight -- safe bet is NONE!

  71. As a career officer and with children now serving over seas my condolences for your loss. I worry about my kids every day

  72. Bush started this war; at that time, wasn't Secretary Rumsfeld "one of the most important people in the world (at least he thought so). President Obma is getting us out of the war--the sooner the better.

  73. Stunning turn of events...only a liberal political administration would insult the US military like that. They hate the military and would stoop to the lowest level to embarrass the brave men and women in uniform....they have no shame.

  74. Give me a break! The great shame is destroying lives and wasting resources- regardless of liberal or conservative leadership.

  75. General Gurganus gave the order. He is a part of the military chain of command and not a member of the Obama administration.

    It was his idea. If you think that shames the "brave men and women in uniform," then send your e-mail to the general.

  76. As oppose to a republican political administration where they slaughter and maim their own soldiers in wars that never should have been fought. Should I call you a "patriot"?

  77. The secretary of defense is more afraid of our troops than the Taliban, the Taliban are not disarmed during his visit. Do they know which side Pannetta is on, do we?

  78. The Taliban wasn' t in the tent with Panetta.

  79. Disarming the troops is very disturbing. It suggests a fear that they can't be trusted near their civilian leadership. That a GI might try and harm the secdef.
    This undermines the idea that we're all on the same team, working toward a common goal.

  80. It was a common sense gesture. A member of the "same team" just murdered 16 civilians in a violent rage.

  81. You first need to determine what is the "common goal." With this administration one cannot be sure. Seems to me like it's to be "cut and run." I think, what with the proposed budget cuts to be levied on the military and the lack of administraion support for our troops, uness it can be a photo op for his campaign, that the administration does not support nor care one whit about the troops. Thier goal is to play kissy face with the peope identified as the enemy and all will be well world wide and all the while getitng troops killed to prove a point that our "leader" is a macho, determined man and will "lead out troops to victory" from his White House bunker. Community organizers have no regard for the troops and their mission(s). The administration wanted the troops disarmed before someone got an idea seeing as how he is so well liked!

  82. How embarrassing to have your soldiers disarm. Apparently it shows the regard our men have for this administration. Shameful.

  83. No, it's just prudent (and I am a former Marine).

  84. For a soldier not be be armed in a war zone is like telling the secret service not to be armed when around the president.

  85. EXCELLENT IDEA !!!!!!!

  86. Do you really think that all soldiers in war zones are armed all the time? And do you really think that, as a result of the order to disarm at the Panetta speech, anyone was really left vulnerable to a Taliban attack? Get serious.

  87. SEE Ron from Ga. comment above. He states they had to take their weapons apart, dismantle, when Big Bush came a callin' to Saudi in 1990.

  88. First of all, unless one has been in a combat situation, especially as a member of the US Armed Forces, a person cannot know what the situation is for anyone of our men and women in Afghanistan.

    Second of all WWII studies indicate that after 120 days of combat conditions, almost all forces have exhausted their emotional and intellectual resources (source John Keegan, the face of Battle 1976).

    Our forces are human beings, not robots. There will be more incidents, murders, misjudgments, etc., the longer they are kept under stress.

    If the American people can forgive Ricardo Sanchez (Lt Gen Rtd) for allowing torture and prisoner abuse within his command, they can forgive a private or Sargent who is pushed beyond his/her capacity.

    War is bad. To hold people accountable to perfection or near perfection is not reasonable. War is irrational. To hold people accountable for irrational behavior is unconscionable.

    As for the troops being disarmed when Panetta the politician came to give them a pep talk. Well that is only prudent. If only 1% of the 200 Marines was borderline, those two could do a lot of damage to someone they consider to personify the abuse and lack of resources that they have to fight under.

    In 1968, a Senior NCO told me, "Frustrated, unhappy. Well you were issued with a M-16, use it"

    And Panetta is the epitome of the smart guy who bears none of the consequences of his mistakes.

  89. Folks, believe me, a soldier is a fighting soldier only a few minutes at a time.

    Psych believers can make anyone combat crazy with an explanation that fits their mold.

    Trouble is, It just ain't so.

    Our Troops are not in harms way 24/7.

    But, when disagnosed and the reward for good acting is a check every month for life. Well, you figure it out.

    Gen Patton was right, you know.

  90. No, probably a fear that there was a militant among the Afghans who might seize an American weapon and wreak havoc. Or a desire to show equivalency between US troops and Afghan troops (who were unarmed) there.

  91. Did not Obama say the other day that he was "Proud generally" of U S troops? Sounds like a C or B- at best, grade from the professor of Constitutional Law. Can't fault Panetta for wanting the mediocrities disarmed.

  92. Well, Obama did have to make an exception for the troops who slaughtered Afghan civilians for sport and the one who killed 16 Afghans, including 9 children, the other night. After that, it's kind of hard to give our troops an unqualified endorsement.

  93. If I were giving our fearless leader a grade, it would be an F. And If I were panetta, I would want them disarmed because of the criminally negligent way both he ( defense supremo panetta) and Barack Obama have handled everything from soup to beans. The only mediocrity around here is seen in the ineptitude of our commander and chief and his minions and those who still, after 3 years of utter failure, are willing to vote for them.

  94. You right -- Fear is Fear.

    But what if one of those mediocrities didn't disarm completely? Hmmm

  95. I would have ordered my Troops OUT of the tent rather than disarm them. it would probably ended my military career but IT IS AN insult to the Troops and a good Leader never places his troops in danger by disarming them in a battle zone. How many Troops have been murdered by our so called allies / Shot in the back. This was the left wing political making of a potential massacre - just like when the troops were disarmed and shot at Fort Hood Texas. Troops should always be armed today even on base in the USA We are at war folks not at some left wing feel good political photo op

    David Kriegel LCDR USN (retired)

  96. Well said David. Spoken like a true warrior.

  97. Sir, your point is well made about the security aspect but how is this " left wing" ? This type of labeling just because you don't like Democrats or President Obama or "liberals" doesn't really help and only adds to the atmosphere of animosity.

  98. Your insubordination is inexcusable---The military personnel were issued a lawful order to leave their weapons outside by their superiors. In case you've forgetten your commissioning oath, please let me refresh your memory: ""I, David Kriegel, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

  99. So what? There are plenty waiting to take his place. Many of whom do not have as much blood on their hands as he does.

  100. That a U.S. general would refer to Leon Panetta as "one of the most important people in the world" is laughable.
    I have no doubt that Panetta's own security detail was armed at all times.

  101. This is what they should do: The soldier did this outside the scope of his duties; on his own time; of his own volition; on Afghan territory. He should be subject to Afghan laws. The US military should court martial him to sever his connection with our military and hand him over to Afghan authorities, while keeping an eye on things to ensure that the soldier gets competent counsel and due process, as it exists, in the jurisdiction where he committed the alleged crime.

  102. Really?!?! He did this on his own time? You act like he was on vacation or something. The poor soldier with a mental problem (caused by too many tours of duty) was not in Afghanistan on his "his own time". He was forced to do another tour (4th I believe) by the U.S. military. For reference, Vietnam they were only asked to do roughly 2 tours.

    And you expect Afghan authorities to "keep and eye on things to ensure competent counsel and DUE PROCESS"? The only DUE PROCESS they'll give this guy is an extra sharpening of the sword they'll behead him with. I'm guessing you're against capital punishment but you want to give this guy to a country that uses capital punishment on women for showing a piece of flesh.

  103. question: if there are so many taliban and other insurgents all over the country, how come that no insurgent war there to spot and stop this lonely guy while he was going on a rampage for a relatively long itime? it took a while to go from house to house and kill people.

  104. I agree with this rationale.

  105. "Stunning turn of events...only a liberal political administration would insult the US military like that. They hate the military and would stoop to the lowest level to embarrass the brave men and women in uniform....they have no shame."

    Sorry to disappoint you but this practice has been going on since 1990. When Pres. Bush visited the Marines in Saudi Arabia, we had to remove the bolts from our M-16s, put the bolt in the cargo pocket on our left leg, and sling our weapons upside down.

  106. Not that any of the anit-Obama robots posting hear want to hear that, or care.

  107. When Bush visited Saudi Arabia, that country was not a combat zone. Panetta visited combat-zone Afghanistan during the height of combat. It was risky to disarm the Marines.

  108. Ron:

    Who better than a Marine to expose the false claims of Obama haters!

    And thank you for setting the record strait, not that the wing nuts will
    accept your evidence, and thank you for your service to our country!

  109. I can understand the disarming of our own troops before a member of this administration speaks to them.

    I would like to see the Administration officials explain to these troops why they are being asked to risk their lives, if the administration is going to abandon the operation, regardless of the any On the Ground circumstances....

    Another clear example of the Obama Administrations complete and disgusting disregard for our troops lives.

    Thus, the disarming of the troops.

  110. The Obama administration is trying to wind this thing down. For a "complete and disgusting disregard for our troops' lives," you should look back to the Bush administration that got us into this senseless, purposeless war and the equally senseless, purposeless one in Iraq, and then pursued both with spectacular incompetence.

  111. Please don't make such a broad brushstroke of President Obama regarding a profoundly tragic choice of the Bush Administration's doing that the current administration is left to clean up.
    If you want to place blame then lay it squarely where it belongs: with Dick Cheney and his lapdog George W.
    Black and white thinking like that is exactly the kind of thinking that helped create this sickeningly epic morass.
    Things are a little more complicated than how much you and I wish they weren't.
    This administration isn't the one who asked these troops to risk their lives, it was the previous one.
    You don't just simply abandon something this complicated like you're closing up a corner shop by turning off the lights and locking the door on your way out.
    Anxieties and angers are high--for everyone involved.
    It will work itself out accordingly as a result.
    Try to be relieved that the end game is accelerating now whether the military industrial complex wants it to or not.
    It will end.
    Just please remember who started it.

  112. Wow, you sure are safety minded.

    Wouldn't want panetta to get hit by an accidental discharge from a highly trained soldier's weapon.

    Better disarm them all before Chow-Time, and all Smoke-Breaks.

  113. Our troops in the field or even at base on the home front should never be asked to disarm. NEVER

  114. Will they get their weapons back when Panetta leaves, or will this become Obama's new rule of engagement to win hearts and minds? Bring our troops home.

  115. This is nothing but pernicious cynicism, at its worst.

    However, I agree with the call to terminate our military operations there (and many of the other places).

  116. Disarming a soldier in a hostile fire zone? Does this administration live in Reality?

  117. It's the Afghan soldiers they don't trust--judging past history, do you blame them? I am an ex-Marine.

  118. Correction: Marine, not soldier.

  119. They don't have to be right. They live in the twilight zone.

    This administration thinks that they are the Rulers of us, and anyone else.
    Not reality of course, but they are paid well and don't have to fight WARs.

    Keep voting voters. We have really low expectations that you can find the right politician.

  120. Does it get anymore disrespectful?

    We entrust these soldiers with the NATIONS security, yet Panetta can't even trust them with his own safety...?

    Disgraceful.

  121. pretty sad, the administration must know in their heart of hearts that they're wrong.

  122. The families of the innocents know their wrong. But no apologies from our top officials. Just more of the same old Stone-Walling.

    Go ahead Democrats vote. But you will create a division that will not heal.

    If there were an election and nobody came. Think on that.

  123. As a veteran, I find the Secretary's use of "we" when addressing to troops to be insulting to the Marines he is addressing. He states that "we will be challenged by the hell of war." As someone who has experienced the hell of war outside the wire in Helmand, I do not think Secretary Panetta's job involves experiencing the hell of war. If more people in leadership positions in Washington did experience the hell of war, I would think they would be more cautious about this country's military adventures.

  124. It's called "insubordination."

  125. Thank you, Sir, from a fellow SM.

  126. You can't show me any historical correlation between a leader's exposure to combat and use of the military. In fact the leader who sent the most American soldiers to their deaths, Dwight Eisenhower, never saw combat, and Winston Churchill, who had seen lots of combat, didn't hesitate to expend soldiers. Do you think for a moment that those lives did not weigh upon them enormously?

    Frankly, I think it's insulting to assume the use of "we" means that Panetta and all defense secretaries and all presidents are not keenly aware of the human price of what you glibly call "military adventures".

  127. There was a suicide car bomb attempt as the Secretary landed and disembarked from the plane.

    So they decided to disarm the Afghans soldiers that were in attendance.

    And to maintain professional respect and to not slight the Afghans as we are trying to build a partnership, they decided to disarm the Marines as well. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

    I'm sure there was tons of security outside the hall. No big deal.

  128. You don't disarm troops in a combat zone period.

  129. You said "So they decided to disarm the Afghans soldiers that were in attendance."
    The article said "The Afghans in the tent were not armed to begin with, as is typical."
    Contradictions make poor food for thought.

  130. Did you read the article? They said no bomb was found and no evidence of an attack.

  131. It was just a Ploy by the CIA (al Qaeda) to WARN Leon that if he didn't cooperate with the Elite's agenda (as they did to Ronald Reagan), they could KILL him real easy and make it look like the "bad guys" did it.

  132. They sure could have, but didn't. Hmmm
    Maybe a staged affair???

  133. Its a sad day when the defense chief can't trust his own troops, which is the signal sent loud an clear to the entire world. But if anything it's a sign of the continuing breakdown in the chain of command that has left rogue officers and command officers in place guilty of ordering, commissioning, designing, implmenting, aiding and abetting torture of innocent civilians, in violation of all American law, a crime considered prima facie a jus regens norm.

    Until the chain of command is cleansed of that lawless criminality, it will continue to break down.

    But Mr. Panetta is one of the "see no evil" crowd around Obama, so instead he just has troops disarm around him.

    sad. but telling.

  134. This would be a good time to start pulling out of all the countries in which we have our noses and U.S. taxpayer money. Cut off the funds we give them, reinforce our defenses here at home, get busy drilling for oil and natural gas, produce more coal, and strive for more renewable energy(with no taxpayer subsidies)! To a man, all countries of the world hate us!! So I say, let
    them go on their own and let's take care of our own people. We are now being held hostage by the Islamists!! The following link can give you an idea of what can happen when other nations are left to their own devices!!

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1713275,00.html

  135. We are up to 177 countries.

  136. Complain all you want about President Obama and SecDef Panetta...at least they didn't put on a flight jacket aboard an aircraft carrier and cry "Victory!!!"

  137. Well, sitting in a room staring at a computer screen and being hailed as the one who killed UBL isn't exactly a heroic moment.

  138. We are involved in the process of extrating ourselves from war with a faceless enemy who uses self-immolation as his primary weapon of choice. For him "nothing is off the table" therefore we must be mindful at all times that eveything is always "on the line."

  139. As a veteran, I do NOT find Secretary Panetta's use of the word "we" to be inappropriate. "We" are all Americans. We are all in this war, whether we are there or not. Family members back at home definitely experience the hell of war. We all do.

    @ker: Don't look for new ways to be insulted. You'll keep finding them.

  140. I find panetta to be disgusting. He had better find the victims families and humble himself before them. That is his responsibility.

  141. I define the hell of war as going outside the wire and getting shot at. I'm thankfully no longer experiencing the hell of war right now as I go to work at a civilian job and sit at a desk. I would not insult those going outside the wire in Afghanistan by saying I am going through it with them and "we are all in this war." I cannot believe you are trying to equate those of us back here in the comfort and safety of our homes with those in the middle of the fight. The best I can do is sympathize because I know what it is like.

  142. It's long past high time for us to exit Afghanistan and leave that wretched country to the mullahs, Taliban, warlords and poppy growers, to which it will inevitably revert whether we exit tomorrow or in two, three, five, twenty years. Let Karzai and Company abscond with their loot, suffer the inevitable hissy fits of the military/security industry, quit paying off the double-dealing Pakistanis for their "assistance" and cut our losses. If any other delusional country yearns to "nation build" in Afghanistan, we should charitably advise them to "have at it and knock yourselves out."

  143. All of these comments criticizing President Obama for "disrespecting" the military are ridiculous. He's obviously the most competent CIC we've had since Eisenhower and just because the Afghan world seems upside-down (as it has been for a few hundred years now, just ask the Brits) doesn't mean he's no good at the job. We need to get out of Afghanistan as soon as we can, but nothing in that corner of the world is easy. In case you're wondering, I'm an Army combat veteran.

  144. Brain Drain -- I'm a combat veteran also.

    Obama is no good at the job.
    He rises to the level of Tying his shoes.
    For anything after that he needs a mentor.

  145. To Jonathan Roberts:

    Bless you, and thank you for what I'm sure was distinguished service
    for our country.

    It's important for veterans like you to speak the truth, especially in the
    face of uninformed, misinformed, and outright distorted remarks by
    other vets (and civilians) with political axes to grind.

    For your information, my father was a 17-year-old private in the first
    American hospital unit to reach France in the First World War, and
    four of my cousins served in the Second World War.

  146. There are many phrases I can think of to describe President Obama, but never in a million years would "most competent CIC we've had since Eisenhower" crossed my mind.

  147. "War is hell." Thanks, Gen. Grant, er, Mr. Panetta. I wonder with which experience Panetta speaks.

    I also wonder how many brownie points the general got by calling Panetta "one of the most important people in the world"?

    As for "someone got itchy"? How many people have any idea of what it is to have a traumatic brain injury and have been in combat and still be located in a combat zone?

    Panetta, Obama and the rest of Obama's administration certainly do not.

  148. Panetta was a weak choice for Secretary of Defense in the first instance. And "War is Hell was General Tecumseh Sherman's (not General Grant) phrase when he torched Atlanta.

  149. Was General Gargantuan afraid of a mutiny?

    And imperialism and warmongering continue...unfettered and undeterred.

  150. I doubt that this done out of fear for Mr. Panetta's life. I would expect this was done to quell the fears by the disarmed Afghan troops, given that one of our soldiers went on a rampage killing 16 Afghans only a few days before.

    Imagine if 16 Americans civilians were killed while in their beds sleeping on American soil by an Afghan solder only a few days before. As an American soldier, would you then be comfortable in a room in your own country, unarmed with dozens of ARMED Afghan soldiers? As ethnocentric as we American's tend to be, we have to learn to look at things from the perspective of people from the other countries. The tired “liberal administration” argument ignores the reality of the situation from the Afghan soldiers' perspective.

    The killing of the 16 Afghan civilians only cements my belief that we need to get out of Afghanistan now. We are fueling their hatred of American people and destroying the lives of own young men and women, physically and emotionally.

    It seems to me that we are only fueling the hatred that is the Taliban. Why? For what purpose? Osama is dead. Let's get out and use our intelligence resources to carefully monitor the Taliban's actions moving forward, only using drone attacks if necessary.

  151. As nice as it is to quell the concerns of Afghan soldiers, I don't think their concerns trump the feelings of our soldiers who may not appreciate being disarmed because they cannot be trusted (if that was, indeed, the case).

    Leaving them armed might have, instead, been considered a vote of confidence in them after the recent massacre. I would think our soldiers might need support now and their needs should come first.

  152. Maybe if everyone, everywhere, placed their weapons down and returned unarmed, a lot would be solved. A hell-of-a-lot fewer people would die - that is for sure.

  153. Dreams are nice, aren't they?

    My spell-check did not recognize P51s, F80s, F86's or MIGs.
    I hope that is a good trend, and not a changing of history.

  154. How did this guy know when Panetta was coming in?
    Is everything there in Afghanistan compromised?

    Death after death with no end in sight. Everyone in power seems to be grasping at straws...trying to do what is "right." And the death toll just grows higher.

    Our country used to do a great job building interstate highways, great expansion bridges...but nation building? We can't even figure that out here at home.

  155. How did he know? Probably he was told by someone in the Interior Ministry. Presumably the same someone who let in the guy who shot two American officers in the "highly restricted" command and control center.

    So yes, everything there in Afghanistan is compromised. It's way past time to leave.

  156. Governments only do one-something right... -- Killing innocents.
    Our Government is the best of them all.

    Watch a few old movies made before 2000. Compare them with now !!!

    Listen to a few old Radio Shows, Read a few old novels, Remember a few old Plays, and you get the idea. --
    ===
    I watched it all change as a child. When the Sunday Funnies changed overnight -- from the 1940's to early 1950s -- from "Terry and the Pirates" using sword and sabre, -- to "Terry and the Pirates" using F80's and F86's with the Tiger's Mouth painted on the nose, fighting Zeros and then MIGs,

    Thank God, they left Prince Valiant out of their ugly Propaganda.
    ===
    That said -- What do you folks think you've been being brainwashed with ?

  157. The slaves are starting to revolt. In the future it is going to be harder and harder to have an all-volunteer military, as fewer and fewer people believe the lies that our leaders tell us, to justify sending people to be killed and maimed.

    Heck, if the government would stop destroying the economy, many of these kids would have been able to escape poverty some other way, instead of signing up. And just where would that leave the global hegemonic American empire?

  158. There's always mercenaries. The British had Hessians and Gurkhas. The French their foreign legion. I'm sure Blackwater would jump at the chance

  159. To stopthe:

    You raise some very important issues, and I think we probably share
    some common ground.

    But if you are still following this discussion, I hope you will inform us
    exactly what you mean by "...if the government would stop destroying
    the economy..."

    For example, do you mean the Obama administration or do you
    include any past administrations, and do you think Congress bears
    any responsibililty?

  160. Attempted retaliation, no doubt, for the horrific murders carried out by that U.S. soldier. We need to get out of there.

  161. Acknowledge your RULER

    We the people all know that. Try to tell your congressman. Try to tell your President. Try to tell the politician you voted for, elected or not.

    Note the Stone-wall ????

    Note the Onion-Layers !!!

  162. "The Taliban wasn' t in the tent with Panetta."

    Well, they were on the runway when SecDeaf landed. Not sure if this is contempt or, even worse, incompetence.

  163. Incompetence was getting us into this war in the first place.

  164. Our leadership has no trust in the troops nor cares about us. The Federal government has no shame. My my year is up i am out. No more, this not what i signed up for. Homosexual in the force, cutting troops levels, trying to cut retirements of Soldiers that gave to the country, cut medical benefits to military families, and placing us in harms way for nothing to apease Arabs for oil or minerals. Enough, i am getting out and go work for my state in the guard. Then, i know i will be helping my people and not getting mistreated or not trusted.

  165. You about covered it buddy...

    Our Government is no longer an elected Aministration of Laws. It is a Ruler and does a terrible job of that.

  166. Our leadership? Blame the republicans in the Congress who hate our troops.

  167. Well said!
    It's a politically correct "war".
    In the past, that phrase would have been an oxymoron.
    Good luck to you and thanks for your service.

  168. President Bush was relentlessly condemned and blamed by this very newspaper and almost every other member of the MSM as being the responsible party ("on his watch") for the Abu Ghraib fraternity-style hazing incident, and it remained as the lead story on front pages and newscasts for weeks. So I can only assume that Commander-in-Chief Obama will get the same treatment for this much more horrific event. Yeah, right.

  169. Obama is doing his thoughtful, intelligent best. I never had that sense with "What, me worry?" Bush.

  170. Huge difference - the Abu Ghraib affair wasn't an isolated soldier going crazy. Abu Ghraib was organized by the highest levels of both the civilian and military power structure and the behavior ignored (if not encouraged) until photos got out.

    Don't even try to conflate the two events - they are not the same.

  171. Jacque,

    You said:

    Bush was condemned:
    "for the Abu Ghraib fraternity-style hazing incident,"

    A FRATERNITY--STYLE HAZING incident????? You musn't be serious. We're not talking about college, here. We are talking about war and our egregiously failed conduct in it .

    You are right about one thing, though. What happened this week is horrific. Obama does bear some responsibility for it as commander-in-chief; it's his war now, not Bush's even if Bush got us in there. Oh that the presidnt had listened to VP Biden and not undertaken a troop surge...

    But, having not heeded that advice, let's pull out now. According to the NYT yesterday, VP Biden is recommending an accelerated withdrawal schedule. Maybe this time we should listen.

    There is no excuse for shedding any more blood--of the combatants or the civilians-- for what was an ill-conceived notion to start out with and that is now nothing short of inexcusable bloodshed for all concerned.

  172. shocking the secretary dismisses the slaughter of Afghans as 'stuff happens'.
    I'm sure he sleeps very well with his riches he has gained from our government.

  173. Leon Penetta currently makes $199,700 a year, hardly "riches." Since he's spent his entire life in public service with is law degree, I doubt he's really in it for the pay.

  174. No, Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney should have THEIR consciences bother them. Instead of wasting our time in Iraq we should have been in Afghanistan and perhaps now our men would have been home. Panetta is making the best of a disasterous situation botched by the last administration.

  175. With regard to the Panjwai killings, all Panetta can say is, "War is hell, and events of this sort are going to happen, and we cannot let them interrupt our strategy." That's it? No remorse? No second thoughts? Panetta, and perhaps the president too, fail to realize what a grave moral responsibility it is, to send eager young men with frightful weapons into the midst of civilians.

    Moreover, the moral challenges facing the US military are especially high in Afghanistan, even as they were already in Iraq. After 9/11, many who were moved to join the military "to serve their country" nursed bitter resentment against Islam and Muslim people. Then, many others who did not feel that same prejudice but tried to remain objective and cooperative with local civilians have come to resent the fact that their earnest efforts so often meet with little gratitude or appreciation, and even outright hostility. The punishing of civilians at Panjwai surely reflects the temptations that not a few US military personnel must feel at times. The only difference between them and this shooter is that they do a better job of resisting such temptations and holding themselves in check.

    This episode is reminiscent of Abu Ghraib: those atrocities were not recognized as part of a systemic problem, but excused as the actions of "a few bad apples." So here, the excuse is one man's insanity, and that's it.

  176. You are so on point. We dismiss the horrible murder of innocent women and children to a mere "war is hell". Can you imagine the outrage if this was done to women and children in this country? Where is the respect for humanity?

  177. Mr. Caponigro, I agree with every word you wrote and couldn't have
    have hoped to have expressed myself as eloquently as you did.

    I couldn't be more disappointed in the banality of Secretary Panetta's
    remarks and can never again respect him as I once did.

  178. I see many comments in here that express dismay at the Obama administration for having the marines unarmed during the Panetta speech in the Afgani base. This is pretty normal to me because the crazy act of the US soldier only a few days ago goes to show that there could still be some crazy soldier that could take aim at the secretary of defense during his speech.

    We need to get out of Afganistan as soon as possible. The presence of our soldiers is more harmful that helpful at this point.

  179. Yup, Pilgrim, you so right.

  180. That soldier had done 3 tours in iraq, and now 1 in Afganistan...if that does not make you crazy what will?

  181. I suggest that the Sec Defense resign if he can not trust the troops he is meeting with since this is a definite show of disrespect from him. I was really shocked to hear this request from a man I admire!

    Maybe it is a good sign we should not be in that country - the same country president Bush's SecDef said in 2003 we had finished our job!

  182. My goodness, how many times does it need to be stated that the order to disarm was not given by the Sec Defense. And other vets have stated this is far from abnormal policy when high-ranking officials are involved - so do not be shocked, and do not think it reflects a lack of respect.

  183. CH, DC: The order to disarm may not have come from Panetta, but it is not farfetched to assume that he was told of this move right before, especially in light of the incident that had just occurred.

  184. Mow them down and get the hec out of there. Let's face it, we are only there to protect American corporate investment. There is nothing left to achieve. The main mission was accomplished long ago. In no way can you fault the military. They have done more than an admirable job, far more incredible than what anyone could have imagined, when this all started out. Fighting two wars at one time on a shoe string of soldiers does these people in for no good. So, we get what we got, and there is no stomach for the reality and truth. One day we have people killing people because some one through a book in a fire and the next day we have some one revenge the deaths that might have resulted from that, who knows. But this is no longer war. It is now time to go home and heal.

  185. In 1969, as a U.S. sailor, I was sent alone, on foot, from DaNang to the Demilitarized Zone, the area separating North from South Vietnam. I was given no orders, no cell phone, no walkie talkie, no itinerary, no transportation (thumb only), no medical supplies, no food. And my skipper, a Navy commander, and his underlings, Navy lieutenants, WOULD NOT ISSUE ME AN M-16 and AMMO. All they would give me was a . 45 and two 9-round clips of bullets. I felt they sent me out to get killed; but I survived. I have their names written down. I had earlier been told by another career Navy lieutenant that "we are not in a war zone." This was one year after the Tet offensive of 1968 and six years before the war formally ended. Disarming U.S. servicemen in a war zone is not new. Don't enlist.

  186. My God. That is truly a horrifying story. I am so glad that you survived.

  187. For about 40 years the military is the slave to government officials that jump to the tune from International Corporations. None of the politicians or Corporate execs go to war but our military people go fighting, obeying orders, taking on the duty and dying. It is time to stop it!

  188. This bureaucrat comes there to blow hot air at the troops and spout rhetoric, and as a consequence the troops are told to disarm. Marines left to sit there without even a "stick" in their hands.

    It's insulting on so many levels. And typical.

  189. I find it pretty offensive that this so-called leader wants his men/women unarmed in the meeting. IF he thinks he's in that much "danger" speaking to a crowd of US Marines, maybe he should have stayed at home; or changed the policies that might cause a crowd of highly disciplined Marines to want to hurt him. If you have the right policies, you don't need an unarmed crowd. Personally, I would much prefer to be in a fully armed crowd than one where I've just made it clear that I cannot trust my own troops.

  190. Again: you inserted your own interpretation instead of facts. The order to disarm was made by an officer, not Panetta. (your political views not withstanding!)

  191. Get paid by the post? Read Retired USAF post. This 'unarmed' has been done before and apparently the best way. Now about taking shoes off, oh wait, that was for bushie, baby.

  192. The massacre of civilians by one of our soldiers last week was horrible and he should face a court martial and get the sentence as well as the psychiatric care that he deserves.
    However, its very hypocritical of the Afghans to demand the public trial of that soldier as well as those responsible for burning Korans, while never calling for the public trial of all the Afghan soldiers and civilians that are supposedly our allies that have opened fire on ours.

  193. The Afghans are killed on the spot, no trials necessary.

  194. They don't need to call for a public trial of those Afghan soldiers because the Afghan soldiers don't live very long after they open fire on US soldiers.

  195. When are we going to get out of Afghanistan? Isn't it time to realize we are not going to win this war and create any kind of lasting peace for the people of Afghanistan?

  196. Before summer is over, the Taliban will make the Tet Offensive minuscule.
    Better think twice about Iran; otherwise, the Middle East may be lost.

  197. If you don't respect our troops and they don't respect you, it's time to resign.

    "“War is hell,” he said. “These kinds of events and incidents are going to take place, they’ve taken place in any war, they’re terrible events, and this is not the first of those events, and it probably will not be the last.” He added: “But we cannot allow these events to undermine our strategy.”"

    You're not fighting war. You're playing politics and getting people killed.

    This man is incompetent and dangerously inept. He's a politician, not a soldier. He needs to go back to playing spook games at the CIA.

  198. Well, he's also one of the most respected "incompetent and dangerously inept" people in DC, across party lines.

  199. I'm sorry, TeaRunner, but you are barking up the wrong tree.

    Rather than attacking Mr. Panetta on a patently false issue, why did
    you miss the chance to criticise him on a valid one?

    When he said “But we cannot allow these events to undermine our strategy," you might well have asked "What strategy, Mr. Panetta?"

    Mr. Panetta is on very shaky ground there, TeaRunner -- unless you
    believe that what we have not been able to achieve in more than 10
    years in Afghanistan we should keep failing to accomplish in 15 years,
    20 years, and on ad infinitim. And at what cost to Afghanistan and to
    us in blood, treasure, and our once shining reputation?

  200. We won't have to listen to Fox, it's right here. You forget, Bush started this melee. President Obama knows what he's doing. BTW, write to your repub/tparty people in Congress to pass the transporation bill cleanly so when the troops come home, they'll have jobs and not have to sleep under bridges. Now that's playing politics.

  201. The same occurence happened when I was stationed at Mogadishu, Somalia when President Bush Sr. came to visit. Same again prior to that when I was stationed at Rhein Main Germany when the hostages were returned.

  202. And no weapons when we met President Johnson in 1968 at Cam Ranh Bay airbase, Vietnam.

  203. Looks as if this administration doesn't trust their own troops. What a pity!

  204. Read the article with glasses: the order to disarm did not come from the administration. Careful, your bias is showing...

  205. Isn't there a relatively simple explanation in that if you have a bunch of Afghans together with (initially) armed American soldiers, there is a non-zero chance that one or more of those Afghans might decide to go for one of the American's guns and then use it. I don't think this is an issue of disrespect for American troops -- rather a prudent decision given the events of the past month to not take *any* chances needlessly endangering the Sec. of Defense.

  206. I think it is the other way round.As the latest news in ME is up to 20 soldiers involved in frenzy of killing.

  207. In other words, you don't really trust the Marines to protect their own weapons.

  208. If your theory is correct, then the logical conclusion is Panetta has so much contempt for our servicemen he considers them too incompetent to even manage to retain thier personal weapons. As a theory, it's more illustrative of Democrat attitudes towards our servicemen than reality.....I really doubt they searched the Afghans. One of them could have easily brought in a pistol, submachinegun or a bomb and taken Panetta out...exactly why they didn't announce the visit beforehand.

  209. I think Mr. Law and Mr Bayer have the clearest-eyed view on the order to disarm. The anti-Obama whiners will always whine. However, a firefight - however brief or ineffective - caused by an Afghan seizing a weapon would cause mayhem on a profoundly new level. Of course, that leaves aside the increasingly apparent breakdown in trust between so-called allies in a war that is increasing difficult to define. From a risk management perspective, disarm was the appropriate decision.

  210. And so, how "safe" were the weapons as they were stacked outside the tent? If there was concern for some Afghan soldier managing to wrest a Marine's rifle away from him or her in a tent full of armed Marines (unlikely), how was the problem solved by placing all of the weapons together outside, where some other person, Afghan or not, would have access to them, with a tent full of unarmed Marines yards away? How is each Marine carrying and securing his/her weapon individually less safe than the weapons being kept in an unsecure location, attended by only a few individuals? The numbers alone make no sense.

    Risk management says that outside of an armory, one of the safest places for a weapon is in the hands of a well-trained Marine who is responsible for it.

  211. So leaving a pile of loose weapons on the ground outside the tent where the Sec. of Defense is speaking is somehow safer than having them attached to/held by America's bravest?

  212. "So leaving a pile of loose weapons on the ground . . . is somehow safer than having them attached to/held by America's bravest?"

    You evidently have never been in the military. Loose weapons are NEVER left piled on the ground. They're secured some way or other--usually in the custody of an armorer.

  213. Timothy, Marines do not leave their weapons loose, or in a pile, or on the ground. Like you, I wasn't there, but I can tell you from experience that those weapons were secure, arranged for rapid retrieval, sentries posted, and the perimeter area secured. The Marines in the tent would have retaken their weapons rapidly when ordered.

    America's situation in Afghanistan was not created by Marines. Take a better look at who you vote for and what they do while in office—not what they tell you, but what they do.

  214. Come on folks.

    Neither the President nor the SECDEF ordered the Marines disarmed.
    Their commanding General did. Ask the General why.

    The current Republic (sic) Party line is to bomb/invade Iran, bomb/invade Syria, bomb/invade _______ (fill in the blank.

    The President has gotten us out of Iraq and is looking to do the same in Afghanistan and refuses to follow the "go-to-war" bluster currently "popular".

    So, which party cares more about the troops?

  215. The U.S. was kicked out of Iraq while the president was trying to convince the Iraqi government we should stay. The president expanded the war into Pakistan, and the president sent planes to bomb Libya. The president has said that nothing, including military action, is off the table vis a vis Iran. This president sends teams to assassinate people, including Americans, whereever they are in the world. There is nothing about this president that is different from any other. He is not anti war. Far from it.

    The Democrats care no more for the the cannon fodder we call the "troops" than anyone else. Get out of your ideology and into reality.

  216. He got us out of Iraq after following Bush's exact timeline that was set in place. That after he continued all of Bush's policies. He has increased the # of troops substantially and more have died under Obama than the previous war-monger. Can you at least be more educated or honest in your posts please when you ask "which party cares more about the troops?"

  217. Since you've decided to make this a partisan, democrat-pep-rally issue --- are you SURE Obama and the democrats aren't just waiting until AFTER the election to "to bomb/invade Iran, bomb/invade Syria, bomb/invade _______ (fill in the blank" as you put it? I voted for Obama, and I'm not sure. By the way, I HAD to mention that I voted for Obama, because practically every time I dare to criticize him in one of my comments, some democrat replies to my comment by suggesting that it came from a republican. The democrats are no better, and certainly no more honest or sincere, than the republicans. Both parties share power, both parties got us into this war, but Obama was the one that decided to escalate it, and Obama's the President that's ignoring all of the people shouting "Get out NOW!" That that message back to the DNC for me.

  218. If Secretary Panetta cannot be safe with armed troops in his vicinity, how can we assure ordinary Afghan civilians of their security as our occupation continues, which is going to be forever with the GOP plan as stated by Senator Graham (R-SC)?

  219. I don't have military experience, so maybe I'm missing something obvious, but given that there were apparently Afghans in the building as well, having no weapons available seems to make sense. It would seem to eliminate the possibility of an Afghan getting a weapon from a US soldier and killing someone. Maybe this is too simplistic; perhaps it is some liberal plot by Obama to disrespect our military.

  220. common sense not military experience would tell you that all you had to do was to take the weapons that were stacked outside if anyone wanted to attack Panetta. It is a lack of respect for our military, bad for morale and it also sends the wrong message to the Afghan population and ultimately will serve as a propaganda tool for the Taliban. Leave Afghanistan now.

  221. You are right- You don't have any military experience, nor common sense if you prefer that US soldiers don't have any weapons ...and why do we have to build nations????? Our tax money should have a lot of use right here on our soil....

  222. Not a liberal plot but a deep distrust of the military

  223. Some hopeful advice from a Canadian neighbour: Exit all these lands of no return. Now. We did it and we're much the better for it. And if anyone comes calling re US troops in Syria ... don't answer. Good luck.

  224. This conclusion is so clear when one considers the fate of all who have tried to "occupy" Afghanistan from Alexander the Great to the present. I commend Stephen Tanner's "Afghanistan: A Military History" to any who doubt the wisdom of Robin's advice.

  225. Canadians are still in Afghanistan. Read before you comment

  226. Sound advice. Unfortunately, you will not be able to vote here in November whan we can wind up with a really insane Commander in Chief. The current one is only incapable of thinking clearly about that part of the world.

  227. You know it is time to leave, when the locals start to attack your highest level defense/government officials. This event is a stern warning to get out or something worse will happen. This is looking more and more like the fall of Saigon. Another failed war of ideas (war on "domino theory"; war on "terror"). Apparently, the United States never learned their lesson from Vietnam, and it is quite possible, they won't learn their lesson here, either.

  228. You think the purpose was to "attack" the Secretary of Defense? But there is no mention of the person having any weapons, merely that he was driving toward the plane. I think it's pretty clear, from the man being on fire, that the idea was to give the Secretary of Defense a good view of what death looks like in person, not when considered in the abstract in a comfortable Washington DC office from where senseless, misguided, stubborn war policies and hollow lip-service apologies for atrocities emanate.

  229. It was just your kind of talk that caused the fall of Saigon, sir.

  230. The article says that George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, "could not explain the Afghan’s motive" or "why the Afghan was on fire". I guess Mr. Little is too young to remember the vivid videos of buddhist monks immolating themselves in protest during the Vietnam War --- another war when our government stubbornly pursued its own flawed agenda while dismissing ongoing atrocities and crowds of people shouting "Out NOW!" Immolation appears all that's left to the Afghans. Nice to see that our government is pretending that it doesn't understand the message, and I'm guessing nobody's going to look into the possibility that this Afghan might have been one that recently lost a family member or an entire family in an atrocity for which our government is apologizing. Maybe that was just the man's way of accepting the apology.

  231. Or the fruit vendor in Tunisia a little over a year ago who set himself afire and started the "Arab Spring."

  232. Are these critics rational? The reason they disarmed the troops was because one of those troops just slaughtered 16 innocent people! The Obama Administration has used the military efficiently and effectively, and has worked harder to secure their rights and benefits than any Administration in the last 20 years.
    This is no isolated incident. You put soldiers in harm's way for 3, 4 and more tours and you're begging for trouble. They called it 'shell-shocked' when I served -- we know better now. Those poor guys with multiple tours are ticking time bombs. They can hurt themselves or others; bring them home.

  233. Jack ,This was not one man.Afghan officials have stated up to 20 US soldiers were involved in a drunken rampage.
    Now whether you believe this or not,it begs the question why Panetta flew out,and why they were told to disarm in his tent.Your media has not told you the truth.And I am not surprised why.

  234. Like skyrocketing the premiuims to troops and vets in TriCare?

  235. Perhaps if we let the troops fight and win the war, rather than succumbing to political correctness, we wouldn't see these instances of rogue troops going crazy on local civilians.

  236. If when I was in Afghanistan I had been presented with this scenario, I would have done the same thing as the Marines did, which is to follow orders. That said, I would have felt disrespected and mistrusted by my superiors, and I can guarantee you there are a lot of discussions among our troops going on right now all over the world as a result of this, and many of them are not happy with the way the situation was handled. "Inappropriate" doesn't scratch the surface of descriptions I would use.

    I understand that Secretary Panetta may not give a tinker's dam about how the Marines felt about being disarmed in the presence of their Defense Secretary, in a war zone. If that is the case I question his fitness to be the Secretary of Defense.

    The troops, you must understand, do not have the right to complain about the situation, so we must do it for them. To me, it was an unconscionable breach of respect, honor, and security, as well as a PR nightmare for our military leadership. Our Marines deserved better than that, because they are OUR Marines.

  237. To Citizen,

    I couldn't agree with you more. I hate to jump to conclusions but the initial reports about Panetta's actions are disturbing.

    When a crazed Muslim soldier massacred dozens of unarmed troops in a cowardly attack on our home soil, Obama told us not to jump to conclusions, to "be tolerant." He even invented some euphemisms to keep from calling it a terrorist attack, which it certainly was.

    When a mentally disturbed Marine massacred civilians in a foreign country, the reaction by many in the liberal community has been to engage in vast over-generalizations about the meaning of the attack. Now, Panetta makes a fool out of himself by an unconscionable breach of respect, honor, and security. Dump all over our Marines. Great work. Is this another example of Obama's "cool leadership." ??

  238. There were Afghan soldiers in the tent.

    What if there had been a Afghan solider in the tent who planned on stealing an American's gun to attack Panetta?

    An even larger political faux pas would have been to ask all Afghan soldiers to leave the room.

  239. Well said, Citizen! I have done my service and I admire you and all the men an women who serve now. However, in my day, our superiors knew we were there to protect them, not to do them harm. Of course, maybe these people
    are wary because of how they have treated our troops. One never knows.
    What I do know is that I don't want to see one more of our people killed just
    to get Obama reelected. If we're getting out, let's get out.

  240. Someone said the Secretary of Defense does not know the "hell of war". Why not? Panetta has served this country with distinction. There is no reason to characterize him as callous, uncaring, or indifferent. What has he done to receive that sentiment? Anyone in his capacity is making decisions that could mean life or death for people. Only a psychopath would not be able to ascertain the significance of the chain of command regarding the Sec Of Defense. Furthermore, I would hope military folks who weighed in here would realize after a security breach of one so senior in the chain of command precautions are going to trump respect for any troops in the combat zone. It's not disrespect, it's protocol and has nothing to do with Obama or liberal politicians. That's just stupid.

  241. I made the comment about the "hell of war." The "hell of war" takes place outside of the safety of a base. Anyone who has never picked up a rifle, left the base, and been shot at by the other side will never know the "hell of war." It is that simple.

  242. Webbsight, with all due respect, you don't have a clue. No US official would ask US troops to disarm in his/her presence. If a leader thinks the troops will harm their person then they are not a leader. Just a paranoid hack. This group that Barry has set up around him are sorry excuses and need to be replaced and will be in November. Wise up Webbsight!

  243. No, what's stupid is disarming our soldiers for any reason in a war zone. Panetta is simply an Obama appointee who carries out his policies. BTW, was Panetta in the military? Obama sure wasn't.

  244. Stunning.
    In a 3rd world war zone "our leadership" orders troops to disarm immediately following a rogue car containing a burning Afghan drives up to "meet" Mr Panetta?
    It's like I'm living in a cartoon...

  245. Think about why he ordered the disarmament - there were Afghan soldiers in the tent.

    What have Afghans been doing recently? Turning their guns on Americans.

    Since Afghans aren't allowed to carry guns when in a situation like this, if an Afghan wanted to get a gun to turn it on Panetta, where would he get one?

    Maybe he might get a gun from an American soldier, armed during the talk.

    Panetta could not reasonably ask all Afghans to leave the tent (going for solidarity here), so the next best step was to ask American soldiers to disarm to ensure Afghan soldiers would not have access to a guns.

  246. So Panetta ordered the Marines, who were there to protect him, to disarm, because he was worried that one of them may shoot him? Talk about paranoia! What if they suddenly came under attack by insurgents? What then?

  247. While we have long worn out our welcome in Afghanistan and our position
    there has become completely untenable, who said Mr. Panetta ordered
    the Marines to disarm?

    The order certainly didn't come from him.

  248. Where in the article did you read that Panetta gave that order?

  249. A: What makes you think it was Panetta who ordered the Marines to disarm? Right now the entire chain of command in the Army and Marines are surely on edge after the massacre of civilians by a rogue soldier.

    The problem is, of course, that too much has been asked of our service personnel, with multiple deployments, "stop-loss" policies that extend their service beyond agreed-upon terms, and poorly-defined missions. There's no excuse for what happened the other day, but there's also no excuse for tempting fate.

    B: If the base had been attacked, the Marines in the tent would hardly have been the first line of defense. They could have easily picked up their weapons on the way out the door.

  250. I don't think the usa is welcome in Afghanistan. It is long past the time it should have left. Now is the time to do so. Enough.

  251. This is another documented case of Afghan spontaneous self combustion.

  252. Yes, that seems to be a favorite pastime in that part of the world. Usually they want to take some people with them, not literally - the exploders go to the heaven while the infidels go elsewheer. But they start at the same point.

    So, we cannot even make our Defense Secretary completely safe. Great accomplishment, presidents Bush and Obama!

  253. After what this traitor told congress about not needing there approval to go to war that instead he would get it from the UN I would say he done the smart thing ordering the marines to disarm.

  254. Why doesn't the reporter or an editor do some followup and confirm whether the order to disarm is in fact standard procedure. I would assume that it probably is when there's a dignitary in the room.

  255. Nah, it's just for the SECDEF dude!

  256. There are numerous posted comments by readers indicating that it is a standard procedure to have soldiers in the room with dignitaries disarm. The procedure maybe not always followed but it doesn't appear to irregular. You might get more follow-up information from reading the readers' comments than the article. The news media is big on follow-up these days, as witnessed by the more-than-two-months since the beginning of the "investigation" into the marines that posed for a video of themselves urinating on dead bodies, and with no follow-up reporting since.

  257. "Normally, American forces in Afghanistan keep their weapons with them when the defense secretary visits and speaks to them. The Afghans in the tent were not armed to begin with, as is typical. "

  258. This was a put up job to get some PR points for Obama.

    This administation is the most incompetent since Hoover. Obama blew the health care stunt with the Georgetown Law student, so to divert from it he sends Panetta to the war zone so they could stage the attack threat and buy some attention. That is all this is about.

  259. have those afghanies no respect for invading armies?

  260. Pity this can't be recognized
    by Afghanis and their leaders
    -- and the media -- for what it is:
    the act of a deranged person who's
    been over exposed to combat.

    The US Army is fully responsible,
    but no one there will ever have the
    courage to go public and admit it.
    Strange how easily 'military courage'
    can become an oxymoron.

  261. Given the early incident and the security reality in the country, disarming the troops was the correct approach. I'm pretty sure there was enough armed personnel outside the tent to keep the area secure. Can you imagine what would had happened if there was a shoot-out in the tent?

  262. I wonder what sort of message was sent to American troops telling them to disarm before the secretary of defense met with them. Doesn't Panetta trust his own men? It is a horrible message to send.

    By contrast, when General Douglas MacArthur landed at Atsugi Airbase in Japan on August 30, 1945 - even before the formal Japanese surrender - he and his party went unarmed, as it was to show the Japanese who was in charge and that MacArthur did not need to proceed armed, what Winston Churchill referred to this way: "...of all the amazing deeds of the war, I regard General MacArthur's landing at Atsugi as the bravest of the lot." (From American Caesar, by William Manchester)

    I regard Panetta as a joke, a political hack and someone who is out of place in his position as secretary of defense. He's not worthy of being in the chain of command, never mind being near the top of the chain!

    But during war, I cannot recall a time when troops in the field ever were ordered to disarm when the secretary of defense, war, navy or commanding general visited. Clearly, that sends the dual messages: They are not trusted and not on the same "team" in the chain of command. A secretary of defense should feel secure his men are armed and comradeship with his troops.

  263. Obama "vowed to bring the killer to justice".Solider is already drawn and quartered: why even have a trial? May come as surprise Mr Obama, but the United States is not some third world country, we claim to be civilized, and have laws here designed to reflect that belief, and the defendant is innocent until found guilty in a court of law, even if it is a military court of law. "It is now known that the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan had been deployed to Iraq three times on combat tours before arriving in Kandahar during December 2011. On one of those tours he suffered a traumatic head injury.
    Head trauma is well-known as a potential cause of changes in behavior and personality.
    Disorders of impulse control are extremely common following head injuries.
    While no one can know at this moment whether the soldier's head trauma played a role in his violence, it will, no doubt, be thoroughly investigated. After all, reports indicate the soldier seemed to be showing psychiatric symptoms before his alleged violence." ( quote article by Dr. keith Ablow)
    Put on trial those who's responsibility it was to protect this soldier from the effects of this injury, those responsibilities go to the top man who allowed this solider to continue to be on active combat duty even with the injury with signs of a problem.
    American's will not stand by while the government crucifies some poor G.I. to prop up our image to a third world country, it would be a disgrace

  264. Yep! Four tours in combat! Four tours in service to his country! The Sgt. is seriously injured on one of the tours but is cleared to return yet again! Come again? Additionally, from reports apparently the soldier has serious family problems! I am just asking, I don't know the story, but wasn't there someone within the chain of command who might have investigated as to why this soldier (obviously dedicated) wanted to return for his fourth tour? Now, that he is alleged to have murdered 16 Afghans, the president and politicians and the media are stumbling over one another in their rush to see that judgment is severe and quick...then they'll be a fair trial...maybe.

  265. Yes, the soldier in question will be scape goated and villified to protect many another who are undoubtedly culpable.

  266. Let's see. There's an breach as the SECDEF's plane lands. The Sergeant Major decides to take additional security in response by preventing access to weapons in the tent by Afghan troops that might have been infiltrated. And this somehow casts shame upon the Marines? Y'all are just looking for reasons to justify your mistrust of the administration.

    Personally, I'm fine with you mistrusting _any_ administration, but if your mistrust runs along party lines then you are being silly. Under Bush, we got a major erosion of our rights. Under Obama, it was confirmed and codified into law. We have plenty to mistrust from both parties.

    Our mission in Afghanistan was fatally compromised when we killed bin Laden instead of capturing him and bringing him to trial for crimes against humanity. It's legitimacy was already sketchy because of Abu Graihb, our use of torture, and extraordinary rendition. We no longer stand for the rule of law. We cannot even remotely claim that we do. But that was our only justification for going into Afghanistan in the first place. We now have no legitimate reason for being there.

    We can't prevent the Taliban from making a bid to return without extending an occupation that the Afghans increasingly resist. Our best bet is to get out and build up an intelligence network that will help us to defeat the Taliban if they again gain ascendancy. When Bush diverted troops to Iraq, we lost our strategic initiative in Afghanistan and now cannot get it back.

  267. We are clearly doing more harm good now. Time to get out. This occupation was a bad idea from the start. An Islamic country will never be like us - not even close. The concept of civil rights is impossible to their mindset.

  268. It's a crying shame that our domestic politics won't allow our leadership to admit that this whole Afganistan venture was a huge mistake. It's like we're in the middle of the charge of the light brigade and we just can't seem to stop the galloping horse on which we're riding. It's begining to look more and more like Afganistan is for Obama what Viet Nam was for LBJ.

  269. Who were they afraid the Marines would shoot? Panetta, the Afghans or each other? Since they no longer know who the enemy is, it could be any of the above.

  270. Did the driver of the truck incinerate himself in protest? I thought immediately of the Buddhist monks in Viet Nam.

  271. What is a former corporate head doing as Defense Secretary? The same type of people were running the flop in Viet Nam!

    Should this be the job of someone with other than corporate instincts and connections?

    I voted for Obama thinking he would get us out of this mess, but I can see now that I was wrong. I'll only vote for him again because the Right Wing alternative is even more of a nightmare, but I do not like him anymore.

    Blood is on our money!

  272. Over ten years in Afghanistan now, and this is all we have to show for it? Let's be honest: The whole thing is a failure. Bring the troops home.

  273. This is tragic on so many levels but when I read that this man had a traumatic brain injury and then was returned to the field it made me cringe. We are so desperate for soldiers that we return the 'walking wounded' with a weapon in their hand. What foolishness. Blame the soldier if you want, but the responsibility is ours.

  274. The Afghans may not be very nice to each other, but for centuries they have been especially unkind to those who wanted control of their lands. Invaders beware; this is not a good place to have a war. How much infrastructure, schools, teachers, etc., could we have money for here had we not continued in this farce? If you are saying Leon Panetta is one of the most important persons on the planet, then you would have to put Rumsfeld in that category as well. Yikes!

  275. I like Panetta. I think he is one fo the few heavy weights Obama has. I thought Bush, Cheney/Rumsfeld were ignorant to go in, in the first place, but the Taliban/alqueda and who knows who else were there. Bottom line, we should have left it to the Russians to waste their young men. When we leave the Taliban will flow back, the jackel we put in power maybe willhave the sense to leave with his illgotten gain, and the poor souls who sided with us will mneet their fate.

  276. As Mr. Panetta lands, a "stolen truck" rolls into the runway and burts into flames. The driver catches fire and runs away from the truck. But, the reaction was like it was just a coincidence not related to the revenge threats by the Taliban.

    Ok!!, we buy that for now. But how about the order to the troops to leave their weapons in their tents before going in to listen to Mr. Panetta's speech? Was the order given because "somebody got itchy". Wow, man!! I do not buy this one. It is so obvious that now american officials don't even trust their own troops!!

    Now, the question is:Does the President feel the same way?
    I,ll leave it here. It's too confusing to analyze what in the heavens is going on just by reading the news. An it's too scary to continue using our common sense for fear of discovering the truth.

    Later, we'll reflect on Mr. Panetta's words to the troops.

  277. The best way to honor our brave young men and women serving in that mistake of a conflict is to bring them home. NOW. My nephew, a Marine, died there two weeks ago. He died a hero, but he died for no good reason. At the end of one of the eulogies, given by another nephew, he recited the ending of the Marine anthem, something about when the army and navy die, they'll find that the streets of heaven are guarded by United States Marines.

    Yeah, that's my idea of heaven. A lovely idyll, dangerous enough to require Marine security.

    Bring them home.

  278. Whether you profess to like him or not (do you know him?), SECDEF Panetta is a veteran who served in the US Army: it would be normal for him to use the term "we" when talking with the troops. Moreover, Pres Obama (again, like him or not) has continued and/or enhanced most every war policy of Pres Bush and there have been some successes, like drilling UBL, which of course are due more to the professionals pulling triggers than Politicians who issue orders after being briefed by Generals, advisors, and thinktank SME's....No? So the troops are continuing to fight the war they've been ordered to fight., and like several examples in history (Vietnam and Algeria come to mind) are winning battles and losing the war. Is there blame in this?...or do we default to the more usual outcry these days of "who's to blame!" followed by finger-pointing. One would think that once our folks were in Afghanistan, being "American" would override the silly, media-enhanced game of conservatives vs liberals [are Americans really so happy to wear labels as simplistic as these? especially as it is succeeding only in turning us against one another?...so much for independent thought] I have a feeling that someone in the SECDEF's team simply got a little nervous around all the strong men w/guns (take comfort in the fact that your US Marines are a fearsome lot) and defused any possibility of an ugly event. THERE WAS NO DRAMA HERE, though I'm sure the media will spin 24-48hrs of diversion with it.

  279. Politicans like Panetta make me laugh when they claim to be in harm's way. They will always remain safe. That's because our soldiers sacrifice their own bodies to protect them.

  280. When the leaders disarm their own troops out of fear they may be a target, it is a clear sign the leadership is corrupt and should be arrested.