President Obama and General George Custer

January/27/2012 16:30PM
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President Obama was typically eloquent in his State of the Union Address this week. He opened and closed the address with the military. Stressing the points that the military follows orders without question. That they give everything for their country. No one can argue with the president on his points.  He closed with Seal Team Six as an example of getting each other’s backs. And, trust. I wasn’t sure who he was addressing in this portion of his speech. Me, the Congress, or all Americans.

But, one thing struck me about this analogy. Several Democrats who were there for the Obama’s first speech were not there this time. They were voted out in the 2010 election. I noticed old Ben Nelson who gave up his job for ObamaCare didn’t look too happy.

It made me think that all military operations don’t work out as well as the capture of bin Laden. The wisdom of the leader, the strategy, and mission itself all have a lot to do with the success or failure of the mission. When the leader takes the troops into too many ill-conceived missions and the losses mount, morale drops. Obama’s greatest success as a military is walking away from fights, not winning fights. Iraq is left to fend for itself and Afghanistan will be soon. Libya is whatever it is due to Europe, not America. The Arab spring is Iran fizzled mainly due to Obama ignoring it’s existence. I can’t come up with any reason to celebrate Obama’s connection to the military. But, I can come up with a military leader who led much like Obama is leading this country.

e Battle of the Little Bighorn, 1876

In late 1875, Sioux and Cheyenne Indians defiantly left their reservations, outraged over the continued intrusions of whites into their sacred lands in the Black Hills. They gathered in Montana with the great warrior Sitting Bull to fight for their lands. The following spring, two victories over the US Cavalry emboldened them to fight on in the summer of 1876.

George Armstrong Custer

To force the large Indian army back to the reservations, the Army dispatched three columns to attack in coordinated fashion, one of which contained Lt. Colonel George Custer and the Seventh Cavalry. Spotting the Sioux village about fifteen miles away along the Rosebud River on June 25, Custer also found a nearby group of about forty warriors. Ignoring orders to wait, he decided to attack before they could alert the main party. He did not realize that the number of warriors in the village numbered three times his strength. Dividing his forces in three, Custer sent troops under Captain Frederick Benteen to prevent their escape through the upper valley of the Little Bighorn River. Major Marcus Reno was to pursue the group, cross the river, and charge the Indian village in a coordinated effort with the remaining troops under his command. He hoped to strike the Indian encampment at the northern and southern ends simultaneously, but made this decision without knowing what kind of terrain he would have to cross before making his assault. He belatedly discovered that he would have to negotiate a maze of bluffs and ravines to attack.

Reno’s squadron of 175 soldiers attacked the southern end. Quickly finding themselves in a desperate battle with little hope of any relief, Reno halted his charging men before they could be trapped, fought for ten minutes in dismounted formation, and then withdrew into the timber and brush along the river. When that position proved indefensible, they retreated uphill to the bluffs east of the river, pursued hotly by a mix of Cheyenne and Sioux.

Just as they finished driving the soldiers out, the Indians found roughly 210 of Custer’s men coming towards the other end of the village, taking the pressure off of Reno’s men. Cheyenne and Hunkpapa Sioux together crossed the river and slammed into the advancing soldiers, forcing them back to a long high ridge to the north. Meanwhile, another force, largely Oglala Sioux under Crazy Horse’s command, swiftly moved downstream and then doubled back in a sweeping arc, enveloping Custer and his men in a pincer move. They began pouring in gunfire and arrows.


As the Indians closed in, Custer ordered his men to shoot their horses and stack the carcasses to form a wall, but they provided little protection against bullets. In less than an hour, Custer and his men were killed in the worst American military disaster ever. After another day’s fighting, Reno and Benteen’s now united forces escaped when the Indians broke off the fight. They had learned that the other two columns of soldiers were coming towards them, so they fled.

After the battle, the Indians came through and stripped the bodies and mutilated all the uniformed soldiers, believing that the soul of a mutilated body would be forced to walk the earth for all eternity and could not ascend to heaven. Inexplicably, they stripped Custer’s body and cleaned it, but did not scalp or mutilate it. He had been wearing buckskins instead of a blue uniform, and some believe that the Indians thought he was not a soldier and so, thinking he was an innocent, left him alone. Because his hair was cut short for battle, others think that he did not have enough hair to allow for a very good scalping. Immediately after the battle, the myth emerged that they left him alone out of respect for his fighting ability, but few participating Indians knew who he was to have been so respectful. To this day, no one knows the real reason.

Obama is leading the country into the same kind of mess Custer led his men into and he wants Congress, me, and the American people to walk shoulder to shoulder with him into that mess.

No thank you, Mr. President, I don’t take orders from you. I’m not in the military, nor is my Congressman, nor is my family. Your entire tenure as president has been one Battle of the Big Horn. You are dragging the country into a box canyon and Greece is just around the corner. And, you are no leader. You are a speaker and a campaigner, not a leader.  If you can’t get Congress and the public to follow you, you can’t conscript us into the military. Mr. Obama, you need to find a different line of work.

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