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US Troops Disarmed For Panetta Afghan Visit

From an unfazed New York Times:

Long-Planned Visit Lands Panetta in Tense Afghanistan

March 14, 2012

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta landed here Wednesday morning for an unannounced and tense visit, the first by a senior member of the Obama administration since an American soldier reportedly killed 16 Afghan civilians, mostly children and women.

The two-day visit was planned months ago, but it has taken on a new urgency since an American staff sergeant slipped out of a military base in the southern province of Kandahar on Sunday and, according to villagers and senior defense officials, went door to door in nearby villages, shooting civilians.

“We will be challenged by our enemies, we will be challenged by ourselves, we will be challenged by the hell of war itself,” Mr. Panetta told some 200 Marines, Afghan security officers and troops from other coalition nations at this vast military base in the desert of Helmand Province, abutting Kandahar. Early in the day, a roadside bomb struck a minivan in Helmand at about 1 a.m., destroying the vehicle and killing eight civilians.

In a sign of the nervousness surrounding Mr. Panetta’s trip, the Marines and other troops who were waiting in a tent for the defense secretary to speak were abruptly asked by their commander to get up, place 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 reporters he was acting on orders from superiors.

“All I know is, I was told to get the weapons out,” he said. Asked why, he replied, “Somebody got itchy, that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy; we just adjust.”

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

Later, American officials said that the top commander in Helmand, Maj. Gen. Mark Gurganus, had decided on Tuesday that no one would be armed while Mr. Panetta spoke to them, but the word did not reach those in charge in the tent until shortly before Mr. Panetta was due to arrive.

General Gurganus told reporters later that he wanted a consistent policy for everyone in the tent. “You’ve got one of the most important people in the world in the room,” he said. He insisted that his decision had nothing to do with the shooting on Sunday. “This is not a big deal,” he said

We would say that this is not only a big deal, but it is a slap in the face of every soldier in our service. And probably dangerous to boot.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “US Troops Disarmed For Panetta Afghan Visit”

  1. tranquil.night says:

    “You’ve got one of the most important people in the world in the room,’ he said”

    And it’d be quite embarrassing if the sight of a rifle were to make him crap his pants right as he’s delivering his courageous ‘War is Hell’ speech to the people voluntarily living it for the past decade.

    • River0 says:

      Modern ‘Liberal’, ‘progressive’ crypto-Marxists hate the military, except as an instrument of power to enforce federal law. Add to this Obummer’s recent decision to charge our soldiers for health benefits, while exempting all other government employees from those charges.

  2. Astravogel says:

    When Slick Willy visited the troops, they got
    to keep their M16 with them; sans bolt. Didn’t
    happen with the Bush’s. I would imagine that
    the US troops in Afghanistan would rather
    have their weapons than the Sec. Defense.

    • JohnMG says:

      They also gave Clinton a plastic helmet, a toy sheriff’s badge and a “Matty Matel” M-16 with an orange plastic muzzle cap and rubber bayonet. I heard he even got some MRE’s (ham ‘n’ MF-ers) to eat. Later thay made him an honorary platoon leader and let him walk point to the USO where he got to hoot and whistle at the girls in the show.

      With all this experience he got to provide security for Hillary when she landed under sniper fire in Kosovo. That’s where he got his MOH and three purple hearts. John Kerry presented him with the awards. Kerry captured the medals in a daring night-time raid by climbing over the White House fence and retrieving those awards thrown there by the VVAW crowd. He’s kept them in a lock-box all these years in anticipation of just such a need.

      These people make me want to puke! In a sane world we’d use Panetta as bait for an ambush. Instead, he gets portrayed as the person most highly at risk. What a pathetic waste of oxygen-consuming skin.

  3. JohnMG says:

    Not a big deal?! In a country where EVERYONE is a potential assassin it IS a big deal. Instead of making a stupid and obviously bogus statement, Gen. Gurganus should have done as the Sgt.Major did and said he was only following orders. Being subservient to civilian authorities doesn’t mean you have to be an apologist for them or concur in their directives…..only that you do as ordered. Why try and make excuses for the inexcusable?

    You can bet that a Lt.Col. West would have made it known, if only by what he DIDN’T say, that he was doing as ordered against his better judgment.

  4. canary says:

    OM! Ya know darn well if our U.S. soldiers would know they were going to be armless in a tent with such an important man “a high target” they’d have maybe got bullet proof protective gear from a blast !
    And he further terrorizes our U.S. troops by having his hands in his pockets!

    No just ” Hunch-Hump-Back-Butt Panetta” got to where protective gear under his clothes and pants. his entire butt is covered. My gosh Hump-Back-Butt Panetta’s entire butt is covered.!!

    Are those work-out Sketchers or Nikes footwear he’s promoting?

  5. Pikecreeker says:

    While MGen Mark Gurganis was preoccupied with disarming his own men he was attacked by the enemy. Mission not accomplished.

  6. canary says:

    UPDATE! Dangerous insane Afghanistan civilian’s insanity at Panetta’s air landing strip before Panetta endangered U.S. Soldiers from weapons and protective gear during his visit.

    Story more insane than headlines tell as usual.

    Reuters: Crashed vehicle causes scare for Panetta at Afghan base

    By Phil Stewart

    BASTION AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Reuters) – An Afghan man driving a stolen pickup truck sped onto a runway ramp at an air base in southern Afghanistan and then emerged from the vehicle ablaze at around the time U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was arriving aboard a military plane, U.S. officials said.

    The Afghan man, a civilian who was not believed to be carrying explosives, was being treated at the base for severe burn injuries, U.S. officials said. No explanation was given for how the man caught on fire.

    The pickup trunk apparently approached the runway ramp – where aircraft park – at high speed before ending up in a ditch, officials said. U.S. officials did not rule out the possibility that the incident in southern Helmand province was an attempted attack on Panetta,…

    “For reasons that are totally unknown to us at this time, our personnel discovered that he was ablaze,” Little said….

    One NATO service member was injured in the apparent car-jacking, U.S. officials said. This service member’s nationality was not disclosed.

    “A coalition member was injured in the theft of the vehicle,” Kirby said. “… My understanding was (that the service member was) pulled out and potentially hit by the vehicle, too.”

    Shortly before he arrived to speak, U.S. troops and other allies were told to put their weapons outside the tent – a highly unusual move that officials downplayed later.

    The commander in Helmand, U.S. Major General Mark Gurganus, said he wanted foreign troops to be unarmed since Afghan troops would be.

    (Additional reporting by David Alexander and Missy Ryan in Washington; Editing By Warren Strobel and Will Dunham)
    (entire article)

    I have no idea why the 3 Stooges popped in my head.

  7. BillK says:

    I can see an Afghan assassin taking out all the US Troops in the room, then thanking Mr. Panetta for having disarmed them before fleeing.

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