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Bill Kennedy: Ready, fire, aim

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: June 25, 2009 6:39 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

I still vividly remember my first experience with a military marksmanship instructor. As a cadet officer candidate, my assigned weapon was a handgun.

“Stand with your feet in line with the target,” the drill sergeant intoned.

“Extend your shooting hand parallel to the ground at shoulder height, close your eyes, and begin making ever smaller circular motions with your arm until it comes to rest in its most comfortable, fully extended position.”    

When the arms of all the trainees on the firing line where finally steady, he had us open our eyes to determine what was in our gun sights.

“That,” he said, “is your natural aim point. If it is not on target, make minor adjustments to your posture and foot placement to move your natural aim point to the center of the target.”

Next, he taught us to control our breathing and to squeeze the trigger gently so as not to disturb the proper “sight picture.”

“To avoid jerking the round off target,” he admonished, “do not try to force the shot — concentrate on maintaining the proper sight picture and let the discharge of the weapon surprise you.”

That initial marksmanship training stood me in good stead in my military career — because I learned that by consistently applying the basics, I could easily earn the rating of expert marksman at every annual qualification shoot.  

The training also became a useful tool in life, teaching me to be prepared to make adjustments to use my figurative “natural aim point” to my advantage, to delay action until I know I have the appropriate target identified and to avoid reacting with such haste that the “sight picture” is lost.

In applying these lessons to the first few months of the Obama administration, I have concluded that our president could benefit from marksmanship training.

First is his “natural aim point.”

Based on his words and actions during the transition period prior to his inauguration and in his first few months in office, he has a strong bent toward liberal socialism and seems intent on correcting what he perceives has been excessive suppression of such thought in our society.

That zeal is causing him to “force” shots that are missing the target.  

His nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for appointment to the Supreme Court is a case in point.  

By justifying her nomination on the basis of needing the viewpoint of an empathetic socialist on the court, the president has revealed that he is being guided by his natural aim point while missing the target — in this case, the need for a jurist who can faithfully adjudicate constitutional law.  

Consider also his actions to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp where our military houses enemy prisoners of war.

He appears to have trapped himself with the campaign promise of closing the facility within the first few days of his administration.

Now he is attempting to follow through, but questions remain over where those charged will be tried, where those freed can be safely sent and where the terrorist prisoners who will not be released will be incarcerated to keep them from the American public they vow to harm. In this instance, the president appears to have had a bad case of “Ready, Fire, Aim!”

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law in February by President Obama, is another case in point.

To date, only a small percentage of the money has been put to work in the economy, and the administration appears to be scrambling to find outlets for the monumental mountain of cash.

The notion that the money is available and therefore must be spent is another case of “jerking a round off-target.”

Earlier this month, President Obama delivered a speech in Cairo that was designed to reframe our relations with the Islamic world.

In his remarks, the president asserted that tension between us “has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

While he may have intended such a mea culpa as a conciliatory gesture to improve our international standing among Muslims, his misdirected fire will likely have a more harmful result — it will merely give comfort to a determined enemy who will take it as a sign of weakness to be exploited.

The president should have learned this fact by reviewing the actions of President Jimmy Carter during the 1979-1980 hostage crisis in Iran, an event that rendered lasting damage to the U.S., as described in the Aug. 22, 2008, edition of “Right Here, Right Now!”

One has to wonder whether the president expends so much ammunition at his political adversaries that he has none for our true enemies.

Overall, our president is firing a lot of bullets but few seem to be hitting the right targets. There is a great need for some marksmanship training ... right here, right now!

Bill Kennedy lives in Valencia and is a principal in Wingspan Business Consulting. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.



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