Tuesday, November 12, 2013

President Obama Hosts Dinner To Honor Combatant Commanders And Military Leadership - UPDATED

56 guests invited to the closed-to-press Blue Room dinner...
Washington, DC - On the heels of marking Veterans Day, President Barack Obama hosted an intimate dinner in the Blue Room on Tuesday evening, honoring Combatant Commanders and Military Leadership.  It followed a 5:30 PM Cabinet Room meeting, where the Commander in Chief discussed policy behind closed doors.  (Above, a White House photo of the meeting)

First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attended the 7:00 PM dinner, the White House said, as did 56 other guests, including the spouses of the Pentagon brass.  The White House released the guest list late on Tuesday evening, reprinted below.

It includes Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral William H. McRaven, USN, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; and Denis McDonough, the President's Chief of Staff.

Two wounded warriors and their spouses were also invited: Sergeant First Class Cedric King (US Army) and Captain Antoine Bates (USMC).  Eun Yang, a morning anchor on DC's NBC4 TV station, came as the guest of Eric Fanning, Acting Secretary of the Air Force.

The evening was the fourth time the Commander in Chief has welcomed Pentagon brass and their spouses for such a dinner at the White House.  All have been closed to press.

During President Obama's meeting in the Cabinet Room, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden were busy meeting with the spouses, holding "a Joining Forces briefing and roundtable discussion," the White House said.  The meeting was also closed to press.

The White House released no menu for the dinner.  In 2012, the President's closed-press dinner for Pentagon brass was on May 15, and the White House did not release a menu or guest list.  The White House also did not release a menu or guest list for the President's 2011 dinner held on March 15th, but the entree was steak

For the President's 2010 dinner, the White House offered more details: The menu was described by a White House official as "a chicken dish with winter vegetables; soup; and cherry cobbler."  No guest list was released. 

Earlier on Tuesday President Obama treated five active duty service members from each branch of the military to lunch at Molly Malone's, an Irish-themed pub on Capitol Hill.  The Vice President also joined the hour-long lunch. 

Not listed on the President's official daily schedule, the eat n' greet was "an opportunity to thank these women and men for their service, and to hear directly from enlisted troops and junior officers before the President and Vice President meet with the Combatant Commanders and military leadership later in the day," the White House said.

Both the President and Vice President enjoyed cheeseburgers, French fries, and side salads.  The President left his server a giant tip, offering $120 in cash on a $62 tab, according to  bartender Thomas Ewing-Brown, who waited on the Presidential party.  The President and Vice President also regaled Ewing-Brown, a Belfast native, with tales of their own Irish heritage. 

The White House Guest List...
White House
Mr. Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff and spouse Kari McDonough

Ambassador Susan Rice, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and spouse Ian Cameron

Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, Countering WMD, and Arms Control, NSS

Dr. Stephen Flanagan, Senior Director for Defense Policy and Strategy, NSS

Dr. Ron Clark, Director for Defense Policy and Strategy, NSS

Department of Defense
Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense and spouse Lilibet Hagel 

Dr. Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense and spouse Stephanie Carter

John McHugh, Secretary of the Army

Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy and spouse Lynne Mabus

Eric Fanning, Acting Secretary of the Air Force and guest Eun Yang

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and spouse Deanie Dempsey

Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and spouse Mary Winnefeld

General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps and spouse Bonnie Amos

General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army and spouse Linda Odierno

Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations and spouse Darleen Greenert
        
General Mark A. Welsh, III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force and spouse Betty Welsh

Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., Commandant of the Coast Guard and spouse Linda Papp

General Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau

General C. Robert Kehler, USAF, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command and spouse Marj Kehler

General Charles H. Jacoby Jr., Commander, U.S. Northern Command

Admiral William H. McRaven, USN, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command and spouse Georgeann McRaven

General William M. Fraser, USAF, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command and spouse Bev Fraser

Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, USN, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command and Pam Locklear

General John F. Kelly, USMC, Commander, U.S. Southern Command and spouse Karen Kelly

General Lloyd J. Austin, III, Commander, U.S. Central Command and spouse Charlene Austin

 General David M. Rodriguez, Commander, U.S. Africa Command and spouse Ginny Rodriguez

General Philip M. Breedlove, Commander, U.S. European Command and spouse Cindy Breedlove

 General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. Forces Korea and spouse Cindy Scaparrotti

General Keith B. Alexander, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and spouse Debbie Alexander

Wounded Warriors
Sergeant First Class (US Army) Cedric King and spouse Khieda King

Captain Antoine Bates (USMC) and spouse Erica Rosario

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*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House, taken in the Cabinet Room; second by pool/AP.