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Some details about Senior Visits...

Aut_0721 I'm not usually one to jump into the fray (since the latest ones seem to involve nearly every B5'er extant) but I think some context needs to be set for reader information.

Go see all the posts, below, about the BO visit, because you're about to get an education into HOW these visits happen, who is involved, and why they can get crazy.  And, in a small way, a de-bunking of sorts on the Landestuhl visit from the perspective of someone who set those types of visits up.

Many of you may recall that in a previous deployment, I had responsibility for all visits in theater.  I was responsible for setting up ALL clearances for ANY visits to the area by ANYONE below cabinet level.  That meant if your visit didn't get my/my boss's approval, guess what- you didn't get to go. 

MANY people tried to set up some stupid visits for some project or another, only to find out they had no clue whatsoever of the risk involved, and were not set up to provide proper security, and/or would have been a severe detraction from our mission had they come into theater.  While a great majority of the visits involved GO's from deploying units doing leader recons, many more also fell into the 'entertainment' realm- Williams, Sinise, Miss America, et. al all came over on my watch.  So did a number of congressional delegations (CODEL's) which all were under the pretense of 'gotta visit the constituent troopers'.  90% of these came in, and did just that- visited some constituents, got a brief by a general or two, and went home.  Most were low-key.  Thankfully.  But some, brother, went over the top...

Just such a visit would be thrust upon us by Sen H. Clinton.  THE 'pop star' at the time of the congressional delegates to visit. 

Under the fold, what and how... and why its indicative of the other visits.


In 2003, Hillary was still a VERY junior senator from NY; well-known, powerful, respected (in places) and popular (in others).  BUT, following the rules of Congress, she was still a freshman senator, held no 'office' and led no committees.  Therefore, she could not lead her OWN delegation visit to the theater.  If she wanted to pay for it on her own, fine.  But to come as a 'Senator from NY' she would require 'sponsorship' from a committee chair. Sen Jack Reed, D-RI, was the person to escort her.  It would be 'his' visit, officially, but everyone knew who the star attraction was to be.

I received calls from Sen. Clinton's staff about a month out- asking about coordinating details.  Officially, DoS coordinates all CODEL visits, but they had few assets to coordinate and secure such a visit, so that fell to DoD Protocol in theater. 

One of the requests that came in during her visit was from the Sheikah al Sabah of the Kuwaiti ruling family.  She was quite insistent on meeting Sen Clinton if at all possible.  I forwarded the request to Sen Clinton's staff, who was able to arrange some time to meet during transit- seeing as how the airplane would be at the Kuwait airport, and the Kuwaiti Ruling Family had access to the official welcome area of the airport.  The Sheikah, the senior-most female member of the family and one of VERY few in politics in GCC countries, holds sway over women and family issues in Kuwait (or at least, did at that time). 

DoS, when they got wind of the coordinated visit, got EXTREMELY upset.  Ok, agitated might be a better word.  What business did the ARMY have in coordinating state visits??  How dare they!!  They threatened to alter the whole visit, until they found out it was an 'official' request from the Ruling Family, and not some 'jaunt' arranged by the Army.  Yeah- like I ran in THOSE circles.

So what the hell does all this have to do with BO's visit?  Simple- these visits come HIGHLY coordinated and completely thought out- if Landestuhl was on the itinerary, it wasn't a last-second add-on that was removed.  That was most likely scheduled waaaay in advance- every minute is accounted for; the 30 min that the Sheikah had with Sen Clinton was time pulled from somewhere else in the schedule.. in this case, a reception later in the evening.

In BO's case, it was HIGHLY, HIGHLY unlikely (to the point of absurdity) that someone 'discovered it wasn't good for it to appear campaign-like' at the last second.  He had something more important to do, and Landestuhl visit had to go.  Period.  No way in hell there was a one-hour 'hole' in his itinerary that someone tried to put a hospital visit into, and decided that wasn't a good idea (one hour being a minimum for travel to, greets, exit, and travel to next stop).  Unless he pulls it from his sleep/end-of-day schedule (read: sleeping), every minute is accounted for. 

The PAO, Protocol, DoS/Embassy reps, generals staff, CoS, all get into the coordinating details.  INTENTLY.  It would be reviewed by, at minimum, a 3-star general long before Obama left the US.  So if any 'problems' were evident, someone would have found them- either in DoS, who would handle ALL movement, or DoD, who would handle the sites visited.  Something smells, and it ain't the schinkenkraut.

BTW, there are a couple of details on the Sen Clinton visit that have NEVER appeared in print- namely, how she traveled from Baghdad to Kuwait aboard a C-130; carrying 2 remains of soldiers killed in Iraq.  She had to sit and wait until those were removed and rendered honors before even she or Sen Reed could deplane. 

That, and after a couple of Sen Clinton's young staff ladies appeared, everyone ignored the Senator.  All i got was ''hey, you got her (staff members) phone number?''  Yeah, they were THAT hot...

Speaking of Sen Reed, we mostly remained in the background, watching the 'show' as it transpired.  He's had a lot of practice at this, and he was extremely patient and understanding.  I can imagine he was mainly the baggage-boy on BO's visit as well.  BUT, 'officially', since BO has no committee chairman positions, Sen Reed held sway on the visit.  At least, until it hit Germany... does anyone know if Sen Reed visited Landestuhl?