The families on Obama's front line

03/11/09

Barack Obama was elected on 4 November 2008 after a campaign that promised change. One year on, Newsbeat's travelled across the country to find out how people feel in Obama's America. In the second of five reports, Jonathan Blake travels to Fort Drum military base in New York State to find out what it's like to be living on the front line of Obama's foreign policy.

The Hyte family
Image caption Sgt Michael Hyte is reunited with his family after his deployment in Iraq

At a military homecoming you can see just how proud Americans are of their armed forces.

The hangar at Fort Drum military base is packed with people clutching banners and balloons, and for the families of the US Army's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, the wait is almost over.

"Today is really exciting," said Angelique Hyte from Las Vegas, Nevada.

She and her six-year-old son Stephen can hardly wait. "It will be fantastic, I just want to run up to him and jump on him."

Sgt Michael Hyte is one of 300 men and women returning from a one year deployment to Iraq.

Call for more troops

Where he goes next will depend on the decisions of President Barack Obama.

Hopefully the rest of the world accepts us a little bit better now. I'm not sure that they do though
Ian Finnegan from Watertown, New York

Angelique did not support Obama at the election but is happy with the job he is doing as commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces.

She said: "I didn't vote for him but I am trying to support him as best I can."

Some are more critical though, especially over the president's handling of the war in Afghanistan.

The top US commander there, General Stanley McChrystal has asked for 40,000 extra troops.

The president has so far made no decision on how many will be sent.

'Not right man'

"Troops should come home," said Rob White, waiting for his son Sgt Robert White to return.

"You don't want to leave the country over there faltering, but we have to let them stand on their own two feet."

He is not happy with Barack Obama's record so far: "He's not the right man for the job.

Rob and Irene White
Image caption Rob and Irene White welcomed their son back from Iraq

"It was time for a change, it was time for a black president, just not that black man," he added.

Whilst most Americans will support the troops, far fewer back the wars they are fighting.

Anna, 17, from Watertown New York has a brother in the military and is not sure Barack Obama can live up to the promises he made.

"I think he lost his look on being the new hope," she said.

"I think a lot of the public are thinking that he is not as perfect as he made himself out to be."

When Barack Obama was elected he said he wanted to "reach out" to the world and mend America's reputation.

Dangerous tactics?

The president has made moves towards engaging with Iran and North Korea, countries George W. Bush said were part of an "axis of evil".

But critics here say these tactics are dangerous and leave the US more prone to attack.

Barack Obama has also scrapped plans to build missile defence bases in Eastern Europe.

Whilst this move has led to a more friendly relationship with Russia, Obama's opponents say the US gave in to pressure and got nothing in return.

But many Americans are keen to move on from the George W. Bush era and hope the new president can improve America's reputation.

Over a cheeseburger and fries in the local diner, Ian Finnegan from Watertown, New York, says he is keen for other countries to see America in a different way.

"Hopefully the rest of the world accepts us a little bit better now. I'm not sure that they do though," he said.