When Joe Biden was vice chairman, he requested his aides to incorporate a significant piece of data for him on daily basis in his briefing e-book: He needed to know the precise variety of service members who died.
Each day — with casualties rising in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere —the quantity was positioned on a small card that he would carry in his swimsuit pocket.
“ ‘These are souls who aren’t with us anymore,’ ” Biden would inform his aides. “ ‘I don’t want a rounded number. I want the exact number every single day.’ ”
When Biden makes his first journey as commander in chief to the Pentagon on Wednesday, will probably be an immensely private one for him, longtime aides and advisers say.
They say he will likely be in search of to revive belief amongst nationwide safety personnel following what they describe as years of tumult beneath former President TrumpDonald TrumpSchoen says Trump staff will likely be ‘very nicely ready’ after criticism Iowa Republicans search to chop funding for faculties with 1619 Project in curriculum Capitol rioter seen smoking in Rotunda arrested MORE.
And they level out that Biden involves the job as a military father. The president is aware of what it’s prefer to have a son deployed, and likewise is aware of the ache of dropping a partner and a toddler.
“He’ll be listening to the generals and not otherwise and he will not use the military as a prop,” stated a longtime adviser in search of to attract a distinction with Trump.
Biden final week went to the State Department. Now, the adviser stated, he’s going to the Pentagon to ship the message that diplomacy is again, and so is “respect for our military and service members.”
“He’s got to encapsulate both,” the adviser stated.
The visit comes because the Senate considers Trump’s impeachment and as Biden seeks a ways from that trial. The White House has sought to painting a president targeted on the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden is anticipated to fulfill with senior civilian and uniformed leaders on the Pentagon, together with Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Pentagon pushes to root out extremism in ranks | Top admiral condemns extremism after noose, hate speech found Top admiral condemns extremism after noose, hate speech found Pentagon asks troops for assist battling extremism in ranks MORE, the primary African American to guide the Pentagon, and his newly confirmed deputy, Kathleen Hicks, the primary lady to carry such a task. He’ll additionally converse on to the workforce.
Biden has already made a handful of protection coverage strikes, together with undoing Trump’s ban on most transgender folks serving within the military and ending U.S. assist for offensive operations in Yemen. Austin has additionally ordered a pause of operations to deal with extremism inside the military ranks.
While Biden is a identified amount amongst service members resulting from his prior time in authorities, the visit will signify a chance for personnel to get a really feel for the brand new commander in chief.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of questions like, ‘Is he going to be like Obama?’ ” stated Evelyn Farkas, who served as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia beneath former President Obama. “There’s probably a sense among the service members that Obama was cautious, and there may be some questions about what his approach will be.”
Farkas additionally argued that service members will search for Biden to convey an finish to the “uncertainty and the unpredictability” of the Trump administration’s dealing with of protection coverage choices.
Military officers had been caught off guard by Trump’s resolution final yr to considerably lower the variety of U.S. troops in Germany, which was met with resistance in Congress. Biden halted plans for the withdrawal final week in his remarks on the State Department.
Still, there was loads of assist for Trump within the armed forces.
“I think there were ups and down in the relationship with the military and President Trump,” stated Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army lieutenant common and director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, noting that service members responded nicely to Trump’s resolution early on to provide commanders extra autonomy in addition to his effort to talk frankly and with out concern for political correctness.
Spoehr described the present second as a “honeymoon period” the place service members will attempt to determine Biden out, noting that the president’s discuss his deceased son Beau Biden, who was a significant within the Delaware Army National Guard and deployed to Iraq, performs nicely with the military.
During the presidential race, Biden’s marketing campaign seized on ballot numbers, together with one survey by The Military Times, that confirmed U.S. troops favored Biden. The ballot, issued a month earlier than the election, confirmed that 43 p.c of active-duty members of the military stated they might vote for Biden whereas 37 p.c stated they had been voting for Trump.
“By the end, Biden was getting a plurality of military and it was even stronger with officers,” a senior adviser to Biden recalled on Tuesday. The adviser attributed Biden’s success to “the fact that they knew him as an experienced guy who was a moderate and not a radical.”
Veteran voters usually lean conservative, and New York Times exit polls present that Trump gained 54 p.c of the military vote in contrast with Biden’s 44 p.c, a margin slimmer than Trump’s victory amongst this group in 2016.
Daniel Cox, a analysis fellow in polling and public opinion on the American Enterprise Institute, stated Biden might reach profitable over military voters by specializing in points they care about, akin to strengthening assist providers for veterans and fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“One of the things that we’ve learned, and I think that’s not surprising, is this is a group that often feels overlooked,” Cox stated. “I think this group understandably wants their government to be looking out for their interests.”
Biden faces choices on Afghanistan and Iran and on confronting China and Russia. He additionally should steadiness these points with addressing the coronavirus pandemic and local weather change.
“All of those converging crises need to be handled simultaneously and deftly by President BidenJoe BidenPostal Service posts profits after surge in holiday deliveries Overnight Defense: Pentagon pushes to root out extremism in ranks | Top admiral condemns extremism after noose, hate speech discovered GOP senators send clear signal: Trump’s getting acquitted MORE,” Farkas stated. “This is almost like a wartime president because these are also acute and urgent.”