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Air Force One Surprise Visit to Baghdad

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Air Force One Surprise Visit to Baghdad

Old 28th Nov 2003, 01:23
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Air Force One Surprise Visit to Baghdad

Air Force One seems to be a hot topic here on PPRuNe, here's news of a surprising covert trip:

Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq

Thursday November 27, 2003 5:31 PM


AP White House Correspondent

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - President Bush made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Baghdad Thursday, flying secretly to violence-scarred Iraq on a trip tense with concerns about his safety.

It was the first trip ever by an American president to Iraq.

Air Force One landed in darkness at Baghdad International Airport. Security fears were heightened by an attack last Saturday in which a missile struck a DHL cargo plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing at the airport with its wing aflame.

Bush was to spend only two hours on the ground, limiting his visit to a dinner at the airport with U.S. forces. The troops had been told that the VIP guests would be L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

Bush's trip - on the large plane he most frequently uses - was a well-guarded secret - announced only after he landed in Baghdad.

In a ruse staged in the name of security, the White House had put out word that Bush would be spending Thanksgiving at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with his wife, Laura, his parents and other family members. Even the dinner menu was announced.

Instead, Bush slipped away from his home without notice Wednesday evening and flew to Washington to pick up aides and a handful of reporters sworn to secrecy. Plans called for the trip to be abandoned if word had leaked out in advance.

Within the White House only a handful of senior aides knew about the trip, officials said...



Bush Makes Secret Thanksgiving Visit to Iraq

Thursday, November 27, 2003 12:54 p.m. ET

By Steve Holland

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - President Bush secretly traveled to Baghdad and paid a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to U.S. troops on Thursday in a bold mission to boost the morale of forces in Iraq amid mounting casualties.

In an elaborate plan to ensure his security, Bush slipped away from his Texas ranch on Wednesday night, arrived in Iraq on Thursday and spent 2-1/2 hours with the troops.

"I bring a message on behalf of America: We thank you for your service, we are proud of you and America stands solidly behind you," Bush told about 600 soldiers, who were stunned to see the president emerge from a side door inside a military mess hall at Baghdad International Airport.

Bush dropped plans to eat the traditional turkey dinner with his wife and family in order to visit U.S. troops in the Iraqi capital, making him the first U.S. president ever to visit Iraq.

The troops, mostly from the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne, had no idea Bush would be there.

Without hinting of the enormous surprise to come, Iraq's U.S. civil administrator Paul Bremer told the soldiers he was supposed to read the president's Thanksgiving proclamation to them but would instead defer to the most senior person on the premises.

At that point, Bush emerged wearing a military jacket and loud cheering began.

"I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere," Bush said. "Thanks for inviting me to dinner ... I can't think of a finer group of folks to have Thanksgiving dinner with than you all."

...Bush stayed at the heavily guarded Baghdad airport for a total of two hours and 30 minutes before flying back to Washington and then on to Texas.

From start to finish, Bush's trip took about 30 hours, 27 of them spent in the air. Accompanying him were a handful of top aides, a contingent of U.S. Secret Service agents and a small group of reporters, all sworn to secrecy.

The mission was a closely held secret at the White House known only by a handful of senior aides. Aides said Bush made the decision to go five or six weeks ago while on a trip to Asia.

He informed Vice President Dick Cheney , White House chief of staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice in a video conference call on Wednesday.

It was so secret that Bush's parents, former President George Bush and Barbara Bush were not told.

Bush only told his wife where he was going hours before leaving and informed his daughters, Barbara and Jenna, just before departing.

Bush was smuggled off his Crawford, Texas, ranch in an unmarked vehicle without his usual motorcade for a 45-minute drive to Texas State Technical College airport in nearby Waco.

White House communications director Dan Bartlett would not say how Bush was whisked off the ranch.

"If you were outside the ranch waiting for the president, you would not have known that the president just left," he said.

At the Texas airport, Bush departed aboard his presidential 747 aircraft, Air Force One . The cover story was the plane was being taken to Washington for maintenance. He entered the rear of the plane. The aircraft's lights were dark as it flew.

Upon landing at Washington's Andrews Air Force Base, this plane was rolled into a giant, heavily guarded hangar where an identical plane awaited. Bush switched to the second jet for the Baghdad flight.

As he boarded, he turned to reporters accompanying him, held one hand to his ear as if he were holding a cellular phone, made a cutting motion across his neck with the other and mouthed the words, "No calls."

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Old 28th Nov 2003, 01:50
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Ballsy move. I am impressed.

I guess it also means that Cheney is pretty loyal. I small leak and he could have "LBJ'd" Bush and then been sworn in as President Cheney...

Can't wait to see the luvie's try and spin this the otherway though....

All in all a VERY nice gesture for the troops on this day of Thanksgiving.

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Old 28th Nov 2003, 02:37
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hi, Does anyone know if it used any ATC in the Iraqi airspace or did it make its decent and approach on visual? What was this visit in aid of and how many people knew about it?

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Old 28th Nov 2003, 03:35
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Go Pres.
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 03:44
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And yesterday I met the Queen;

Nice picture from Bagdhad... or where ever it is

saint Thomas
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 03:45
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If GWB can go in and out of Baghdad without being noticed, so can Bin Laden.
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 03:48
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I'm not a fan of Gdubya - but on this occasion I think that he should be congratulated for this very personal show of support for the troops.

There will be those who will call this a pre-election stunt; however, to me it seemed to be an honest and genuine act. Well done indeed!!
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 03:53
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Today's history and yesterday's

Have a look on the thread about a plane hit by missile please.
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 03:57
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Well,finally some positive news about those horrible Americans. I get sick of watching all of the negative crap. However......

Bush will probably get an FAA violation.He'll have to pay the fine and the pilot of Air Force One may be looking for work<bg>.

I can see it now.

Dear Mr. Bush:
As a previous aiman, you must know that you clearly violated numerous FARs. You landed your airplane at night without lights. This simple issues ae even known by student pilots that one must display lights on the airplane when running at night. Now it is green on the left and red on the right (or is it red on the left and green on the right)? Whichever it is, to failed to follow FAR 91.

This was clearly a risk to those cameldrivers on the ground and could have endangered people and property.

Further, your approach was unstable and did not follow established standards.

We have learned that you failed to check the oil on leaving and you did not close your flight plan.

And 9 out of 10 accidents happen because people fail to file flight plans. I heard that on TV once.

So, lese contact this office immediately.

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Old 28th Nov 2003, 05:37
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John Howard (Our man of steel) was going to do the same thing, but couldn't get a slot!
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 05:57
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Air Force One spotted ?

This is from a reporter currently on Air Force One

The only threat to the thick veil of secrecy thrown over the mission was an alert British Airways pilot.
White House officials said at one stage on the flight to Baghdad, the British pilot radioed across: "Did I just see Air Force One?"
Colonel Mark Tilman, chief pilot on the presidential jet, remained silent for a long time. Then he replied "Gulf Stream Five", which is a smaller jet.
The BA pilot said "oh" as if he knew something secret was happening, the officials said.
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 06:33
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Do you have some inside info on the flight you would like to share?

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Old 28th Nov 2003, 07:18
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Well Done GWB

I must say that I have never been a fan of GWB, and had never imagined myself becoming a fan....However......thought he was great when he came to the UK...showed a nice wry sense of humour...and wasn't afraid to take the p..s out of himself, and now he makes a really gutsy, genuine and ballsy move by flying into Iraq. Given the DHL incident and some of the posts re flying or not into Baghdad.....should be a personal choice issue...in my opinion....fair play to GWB...not to mention his crew and if they knew they were off to Baghdad even those much mailgned journos!

Great for the troops too there was no disguising their genuine suprise and pleasure...in very tough and morale sapping times.

I can now begin to see why he was voted in...maybe not the brightest bush in the garden....but certainly one of the more honest and bold!
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 07:54
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Did he get a chance to do a street patrol with any of the troops?
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 08:29
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Thumbs up

Kerry, Dean and the rest can now put their heads between their legs and kiss their collective a$$es goodbye.
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 10:58
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I am interested to know how such an operation is managed with regards to ATC in Foreign Airspace. Does anyone know whose Airspace was flown through ? Were ATC aware it was AF1 ? I imagine that they had a combat escort - hard to keep quiet ?
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 11:12
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oh, come on, this film has been made somewhere in the desert of nevada

do you really believe he just fliew to saddam airport to wish his troops a nice thankgiving?
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 11:43
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I just fell out of my seat after reading your post. If he could have just flown in on an A400....
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 12:06
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I've got to hand it to the guy, this is a public relations masterstroke, and may well make quite a substantial contribution to his election campaign with its grassroots appeal. He may also have genuinely meant it (in part) as a heartfelt show of support for the troops. If he did, that's to his credit as a human being.
It also makes not one iota of difference to my objections to him as a president -- that he's an ignorant, muddle-headed, lying warmonger with no respect for international consensus (surely the ultimate expression of democracy). He preaches freedom and democracy for all, while taking away other countries' right to choose their own path, not to mention how he undermines those very freedoms in his own country. I won't even go into all the dodgy business dealings, let's just stick with the obvious.
He ran the gauntlet to have turkey with the troops in Baghdad -- a good move for a commander in chief. But he's still a lousy statesman, a worse diplomat and a terrible president.
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Old 28th Nov 2003, 12:17
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I take it you don't like the man much at all...
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