From NBC's Jim Miklaszewski
In his official capacity as a sitting US senator, Obama has every right to stay in touch with America's men and women in uniform. According to Pentagon officials, the problem was that Obama's request to visit Landstuhl included two members of his campaign staff -- retired Major General Jonathan S. Gration and Jeff Kiernan. US military officials in Germany informed the campaign the two political operatives would not be permitted on base.
Pentagon officials say Gration was the campaign's point of contact at Landstuhl in arranging Obama's visit and "got torqued" when he was told he would not be permitted to join Obama. It was Gration who later suggested to reporters that the Pentagon short-circuited Obama's visit.
Are there some in the Pentagon or military resentful because Gration has climbed on board the Obama campaign? Did Gration overreact? As a former policy director for the US European Command, he would surely be disappointed -- if not offended -- by being excluded from the visit. It's also been my experience that even retired generals do not want to hear the word "no."
Whatever the reason, Obama and the troops he would have visited have both missed a unique and historic opportunity. According to one Army lieutenant colonel, "Everyone was excited about Obama's visit. It's a shame."