President to Meet With Defense Secretary, Joint Chiefs at Pentagon

WASHINGTON– Iraq and Afghanistan likely will be among the discussion…

WASHINGTON– Iraq and Afghanistan likely will be among the discussion topics when President Barack Obama makes his first visit to the Pentagon this afternoon to meet with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a senior Defense Department official said here today.

“This meeting is part of the ongoing process of the new commander in chief getting briefed and having the opportunity to get some perspective from his senior military advisors,” spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters.

Gates “likes to create the opportunities for the commander in chief to hear from a wide variety of his senior uniformed personnel,” Whitman said.

Today’s meeting, Whitman said, will be held inside the Pentagon’s secure conference room, known as the “tank.” Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, also will attend, he added.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff consists of the senior military representatives from each of the armed services. They are responsible for recruiting, training and equipping U.S. military forces for the combatant commanders. The Joint Chiefs possess a “unique perspective, and they all are seasoned warfighters,” Whitman said.

The Joint Chiefs are led by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the organization’s chairman. Mullen, who reports to Gates, is the uniformed military’s principal advisor to the commander in chief. Mullen is assisted by Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The service chiefs are Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway.

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