By Army Times Staff WriterFebruary 6, 2009
President Barack Obama met with the Joint Chiefs in his first full week on the job. Just two days later, he got the ground-level view of military concerns when he hosted senior enlisted leaders of the military services in a meeting in the White House Situation Room.
The Jan. 30 meeting continued a concerted effort by Obama to reach out to the military that began with a National Security Council meeting on Iraq on his first full day in office and continued Wednesday when Obama came to the Pentagon for a nearly two-hour discussion with the Joint Chiefs.
"This is the president, the commander in chief, reaching out to senior, experienced military personnel," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "He recognizes the value that our senior enlisted advisers provide. Just as he was here earlier in the week getting the Chiefs' perspective on things, he feels it's important to talk to these individuals, too."
After the meeting, a White House official said Obama thanked the senior enlisted advisers for their service to their country and noted that this would be the first meeting of a regular process to hear the views of enlisted personnel.
During the meeting, the official said Obama and the senior enlisted advisers discussed "a wide range of issues critical to armed forces personnel and their families, such as overseas deployments, education and health care. They also discussed ways to strengthen the health of the force, including ways to increase enlistment and retention rates."
Attending the meeting with Obama were Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney McKinley and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent. The Coast Guard will be represented by Command Master Chief Kevin Isherwood, who sat in for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Charles Bowen.