February 26, 2008:
(WaTi) — Members of Washington’s military and defense establishment are expressing trepidation about Sen. Barack Obama, as the Illinois senator comes closer to winning the Democratic presidential nomination and leads in national polls to become commander in chief.
But his backers, including a former Air Force chief of staff, say the rookie senator believes in a strong military, and with it, a larger Army and Marine Corps.
“Any military person who concludes he’s a left-wing, hair-on-fire, Kumbaya child of the ‘60s has sadly misunderestimated him, to use George Bush’s term,” said retired Gen. Merrill McPeak.
Still, the mostly conservative retired officers, industry executives and current defense officials interviewed by The Washington Times cite Mr. Obama’s lack of experience in national security. They also point to his determination to pull American combat units from Iraq at a time when a troop surge has reduced violence, damaged al Qaeda and allowed the Iraqi government to progress toward Sunni-Shia-Kurd reconciliation.
“We’re very concerned about his apparent lack of understanding on the threat of radical Islam to the United States,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, who is pro-Iraq war and a Fox News analyst. “A lot of retired senior officers feel the same way.”