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July 2014

Jul 24 2014

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) calls for Strengthening Military Readiness in CSIS Speech

House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman delivers major address on national defense at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

You can view the full video of Chairman Wittman's remarks on the CSIS website HERE.


Key quotes from Chairman Wittman's remarks:

"People have to understand what is the impact of sequestration. That's going to be significant. What's the impact of reduction of end strength? How do we reset our force? One thing we've done with a one hundred percent certainty in the past is we've gotten "reset" wrong. I want to make sure we get 'reset' at least closer to some semblance of right." 

"We have to think about not only what we're doing today.  We've been engaged in a ground war for 12 years. How do we structure the force into the future to make sure that it can meet challenges?"

"The whole picture needs to be how do we have ground forces that have the capability on a broad set of missions. You look at where we are today and you see that we have artillery officers that haven't been firing artillery pieces as part of brigade level exercises...

"If we look at it in a myopic way and we believe that somehow we can just have a force that does ISR through unmanned platforms and deploy special operators to little places around the world, I think that grossly underestimates the challenges out there."

"Non state actors like ISIS are going to continue to enforce their will in areas where they see and perceive weakness. The question is how do we deal with that"        

"Unfortunately our defense budgets have been disproportionately affected by sequester, and by budget cuts going all the way back to Secretary Gates, and then the BCA in 2010 and 2011, We know that those additive effects are now having a significant impact.  We want members to understand that so that when they are faced with tough decisions in the future, they understand what we must do and the obligations to our military…. You can’t balance the budget on the backs of our men and women in the military. We need to look at the autopilot spending programs” 


Jul 16 2014

Rep. Randy Forbes on UCLASS and The Future of Naval Power Projection

HASC Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman pens essay for the National Interest ahead of HASC UCLASS hearing TODAY

UCLASS and The Future of Naval Power Projection
By Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA)
The National Interest
July 15, 2014
Full text below

"While the carrier provides the Nation with a sovereign, mobile airfield that can be positioned at the time and place of the Commander-in-Chief’s choosing, the true combat power of this naval asset resides in the composition of its Air Wing. A carrier like the USS Enterprise can have a service life that stretches from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the War on Terror, but it’s enduring utility is enabled not just by its hull-life, but by the continued modernization of aviation assets found on its flight deck. Given the scope of China’s counter-intervention modernization effort and Iran’s own anti-access/area-denial investments, I believe the future air wing must comprise a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft that provide extended-range operations, persistence, stealth, payload, and electronic warfare. Central to this mix is the Navy’s unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) system.


"The fundamental question we face going forward is not about the utility of unmanned aviation to the future Air Wing, but the type of unmanned platform that the UCLASS program will deliver and the specific capabilities this vital asset will provide the Combatant Commander. Given the likely operational environment of the 2020s and beyond - including in both the Western Pacific Ocean and Persian Gulf - I believe strongly that the Nation needs to procure a Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) platform that can operate as a long-range surveillance and strike asset in the contested and denied A2/AD environments of the future. To achieve this, such a system should have broadband, all-aspect stealth, be capable of automated aerial refueling, and have integrated surveillance and strike functionality. Unfortunately, the current direction this program is taking will leave our Naval forces with a platform that I fear will not address the emerging anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) challenges to U.S. power projection that originally motivated creation of the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System (N-UCAS) program during the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), and which were reaffirmed in both the 2010 QDR and 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance.


"Getting this program correct today and not returning later to address the critical operational challenges facing the carrier in the coming decade is one of the most fundamental decisions the United States can do to secure its enduring advantage in power-projection. Given this important oversight question, on Wednesday afternoon the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, which I Chair, will conduct a hearing with both Navy and independent witnesses to explore this topic in-depth.


"Specifically, the disproportionate emphasis in the requirements on unrefueled endurance to enable continuous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) would result in an aircraft design that would have serious deficiencies in both survivability and internal weapons payload capacity and flexibility. Furthermore, the cost limits for the aircraft are more consistent with a much less capable aircraft and will not enable the Navy to build a relevant vehicle that leverages readily available and mature technology. In short, developing a new carrier-based unmanned aircraft that is primarily another unmanned ISR sensor that cannot operate in medium to high-level threat environments would be a missed opportunity and inconsistent with the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance which called for the United States to “maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged.”


"The House Armed Services Committee (HASC), in its recent markup of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act, agreed with this assessment and concluded that it believes the Navy and indeed the Nation require a long-range, survivable unmanned ISR-strike aircraft as an integral part of the carrier air wings. In contrast, the HASC also determined that developing a new carrier-based unmanned aircraft that is primarily another flying sensor would be a missed opportunity with profound consequences for the practical utility of the carrier and thus for the nation.


"The question of UCLASS is not just one of design and capability; it is also about the role and responsibility the Congress has in cultivating, supporting, and protecting military innovation. Like with the shift from cavalry to mechanized forces, sailing ships to steam-powered vessels, the prioritization of the carrier over battleships, or adopting unmanned aerial vehicles in the late 1990s, ideas that initiate difficult changes and disrupt current practices are often first opposed by organizations and bureaucracies that are inclined to preserve the status quo. I believe the Congress has a unique role to help push the Department and the Services in directions that, while challenging, will ultimately benefit our national security and defense policy. I therefore intend to use the subcommittee hearing to explore not just the UCLASS program, but the broader utility a UCAV can have on the Navy’s ability to continue to project power from the aircraft carrier and the implications for the power projection mission in the future if we proceed down the current course."  

Jul 09 2014

HASC Continues to Focus on Improving Defense Acquisition Outcomes

Defense Department Officials to Testify on Acquisition Reform this Thursday, July 10th

On Thursday July 10, 2014, the full House Armed Services Committee will hear testimony on Defense Reform: Empowering Acquisition Success. The Honorable Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management Stephanie Barna are scheduled to testify.

Their testimony comes after a panel of distinguished experts on defense acquisition reform testified before the Committee last month and shared their views on case studies in acquisition reform

Below are some key quotes from the previous panel's testimony that will help inform this week's hearing. 

"The acquisition process is dynamic and complex.  And an effective and workable solution must consider a wide number of factors in a diverse group of stakeholders.  Building a comprehensive acquisition model relies on valuable input from the Pentagon, the individual services industries and certainly the members of Congress." The Honorable Elizabeth McGrath, former Deputy Chief Management Officer, Department of Defense

"And so, as we go ahead with defense acquisition reform or improvement we should pay attention to whether we are trying to attack the symptoms or whether we are, in fact, trying to focus on the underlying causes because a lot of the time it seems to me we are going after the symptoms and not the underlying causes." - Ron O'Rourke, National Defense Specialist, Congressional Research Service

"There is not, as I have said before, a silver bullet for the real and perceived shortcomings of the Defense Acquisition System.  In my opinion, the single greatest asset over time comes back to the people.?" 
The Honorable Brett Lambert, Senior Fellow, National Defense Industrial Association  

"How can we hold anyone responsible when many organizations can put their foot on the brake, stop or delay action, but no one, not even the secretary [of Defense], consistently can generate desired outcomes?  Secretary Gates went on to suggest we are all responsible for the system we have and its performance.  It took a committee effort to build a system that can frustrate the clear choices about relative risk and it will take a team effort to change it." Dr. Christopher Lamb, Deputy Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies 

Last year, HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) tapped HASC Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) to lead the Committee's ongoing effort to achieve meaningful reform to the Defense Department's acquisition processes.  

June 2014

Jun 23 2014

Leading National Security Voices Calling for Defense Acquisition Reform

House Armed Services Committee to hold hearing Tuesday, June 24

On Tuesday June 24, 2014, the full House Armed Services Committee will hear testimony on Case Studies in DoD Acquisition: Finding What Works 

The hearing comes as leading national security voices are speaking out about the need for Defense Acquisition Reform. Last year, HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) tapped HASC Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) to lead the Committee's ongoing effort to achieve meaningful reform to the Defense Department's acquisition processes.  

"Get More Defense Out of the Money We Spend"- HASC Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

"Of course, it is not just about the total dollars spent; it is also about how that money is spent.  And we have a lot of work to do to see that we use our defense dollars wisely – that we get more defense out of the money we spend.  We have a bipartisan, bicameral effort underway to work with the Pentagon and with industry to reduce overhead and improve acquisition." 

"Focus on outcomes for major programs and services" - Jon Etherton, Senior Fellow at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) 

"With the budget cutbacks, I think there is continuing to be a focus on outcomes, both on major programs and services and IT...But folks are now starting to ask the question if we can actually afford the process itself that we currently have." 

Look at "proposed changes to DoD organization, bureaucracy" - Former Department of Defense Comptroller Dov Zakheim

"Ever since Robert McNamara attempted to reform a system that at the time was yielding cost overruns and schedule delays, successive secretaries and deputy secretaries of defense, legislators and congressionally-mandated commissions have proposed changes in the nature of DoD’s management, its organization, its bureaucracy, its processes and its contracting methodology. And still programs overrun, and still schedules slip, and still there are cancellations.” 

"Need for a ‘professional, concerted attempt to… improve acquisition’" - Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall  

"What Congressman Thornberry and I have talked about is simplifying the rules so that they're more comprehensible, so they're easier to understand, they're easier to implement, they're more straightforward....And we should be able to simplify that and not sacrifice the intent behind those rules. You know, they've been built on in layers ever since Goldwater-Nichols. There have been layers of acquisition reform or acquisition improvement that in one form or another add up. Many of them have been very good. They're all well motivated. But that total body of law now is very large and complex."

Jun 20 2014

McKeon, Forbes Statement on Ottawa Convention

Forbes Amendment Passed by Voice Vote and Was Included in the Defense Appropriations Bill Passed Today with Strong Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON- Rep. Howard P. “Buck “ McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, made the following statement on the Ottawa Convention of 1997, which prohibits the use of anti-personnel land mines:
“It has come to our attention through informal sources that President Obama intends to commit America to the Ottawa Convention, renouncing the use of land mines by our Armed Forces. While the NSC has attempted to obfuscate the issue, they are noticeably silent in any denial that the President is committed to this course of action.  No one can deny the painful human cost of the irresponsible use of these weapons, but committing our country to this treaty won’t do anything to repair that damage.  Signing the Ottawa treaty goes against the best advice our Nation’s military commanders have offered, substantially increases our risk in dangerous parts of the world, and imposes a needless financial burden on an already strapped military.  It is the wrong decision for our country and it is especially problematic for key U.S. allies who do not need another reason to doubt U.S. commitment to their security. 
“Many countries use landmines irresponsibly, but the United States is not one of them.  In fact, the over 400,000 mines in our inventory all either self-destruct or self-deactivate.  America does more than any other country to mitigate the land mine damage done by others- spending over $2 billion on the problem since 1993.  The cost to replace our mines in areas where they are essential to our defense and that of our allies, like the Korean Peninsula, will run into the hundreds of millions.  The cost of an alternative defensive platform could be billions more. 
“We cannot improve upon the assessment of General Dempsey, who in a hearing before the Armed Services Committee this year said, ‘I have rendered my military advice that I consider land mines, especially the ones that we have….to be an important tool in the arsenal of the Armed Forces of the United States.'  If the White House truly wants to lay Americans concerns on this important matter to rest, they should clearly confirm that they are following the best military advice of our uniformed leadership and opposing this treaty.”

More on Opposing The Ottawa Convention:

- Yesterday Congressman Forbes offered an amendment on the Defense Appropriations bill aimed at protecting the military from the impacts of the Ottawa Convention.  The Forbes Amendment would deny funding to implement the Ottawa Convention – including hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses for the United States military. The Amendment passed by voice vote and was included in the Appropriations bill’s bi-partisan House passage today.

- Forbes spoke in support of his amendment on the House Floor last night. "When President Clinton looked at this, he rejected that treaty because he realized those landmines were what kept North Korea from invading South Korea for decades. When George W. Bush looked at it, he rejected it because he realized how militarily impractical it would be" Forbes said. "It's time we start listening to our military experts at the Pentagon and we start taking their advice for what we need for national security."

- Chairman McKeon praised Chairman Forbes' work in trying to prevent the Obama administration from making this dangerous mistake in a television interview yesterday. 

- The Wall Street Journal editorial board also criticized the Obama administration over the Ottawa Convention yesterday. You can read their full editorial HERE - Excerpts Below:

"So has peace recently broken out in Korea? "My military judgment is actually [that] the tensions on the peninsula have increased," Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey told Congress in March. He called land mines "an important tool in the arsenal of the armed forces of the United States." The current U.S. commander in Korea, General Curtis Scaparrotti, in April called them "a critical element in the defense of the Republic of Korea and our interest there." A 30-page military briefing on the dangers of the land-mine ban remains classified.


"Mr. Obama knows that the Senate won't vote to ratify this treaty, but he also knows that once he signs, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties requires that Washington not act contrary to the accord's "object and purpose." So against consistent military advice, the U.S. may have to start abandoning anti-personnel mines—forcing ally South Korea to do the same—on the President's signature alone.


"Republican Congressman Randy Forbes tells us that he will introduce a measure to block any spending on treaty compliance unless the Senate backs ratification. Unfortunately it's a big ask for Democratic Senators to go against Mr. Obama on such an emotive issue. Celebrity activists and a preening President are likely to win the day."

Jun 16 2014

National Security Leadership Needed From White House

"[The President] likes to look at all the options and then act on none of them."

May 2014

May 29 2014

Nation’s Three Leading Newspaper Editorial Boards Blast Obama’s West Point Speech

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post Hit President on Foreign Policy

Wall Street Journal: "We know that no foreign policy speech can cover the entire world. But listening to Mr. Obama trying to assemble a coherent foreign policy agenda from the record of the past five years was like watching Tom Hanks trying to survive in "Cast Away": Whatever's left from the wreckage will have to do." 
The New York Times: "President Obama misses a chance on foreign affairs....provided little new insight into how he plans to lead in the next two years, and many still doubt that he fully appreciates the leverage the United States has even in a changing world." 
The Washington Post: "At West Point, President Obama binds America’s hands on foreign affairs..  has retrenched U.S. global engagement in a way that has shaken the confidence of many U.S. allies and encouraged some adversaries. That conclusion can be heard not just from Republican hawks but also from senior officials from Singapore to France and, more quietly, from some leading congressional Democrats. As he has so often in his political career, Mr. Obama has elected to respond to the critical consensus not by adjusting policy but rather by delivering a big speech.... Those U.S. allies who worry about Mr. Obama’s foreign policy retreat — and those who have exploited it — will be impressed by a change in U.S. behavior, not the president’s rhetoric."

Once again this year, the House Armed Services Committee will maintain a dynamic online Floor Tracker for amendments to H.R. 4435 the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act. 

Tracking the Floor Debate
The HASC Tracker will display a limited list of upcoming amendments in segments to be considered, as well as a list of considered amendments and their outcomes (similar to last year’s tracker). 

This list is for convenience purposes only and is subject to change. 

HR 4435 Floor Amendments and Tracker - 

Please visit the Rules Committee for the complete list of submitted amendments and their descriptions. 

You can view an updated summary of H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 HERE. 

May 02 2014

"Obama’s inaction invites challenges to the U.S."

By Chairman Buck McKeon

Obama’s inaction invites challenges to the U.S.
By Chairman Buck McKeon 
The Washington Post
May 2, 2014
Full text below

In the Philippines this week, President Obama took a cheap shot at critics of his foreign policy.

“Why is it,” the president pondered at a news conference, “that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?”

But who is banging the shield, demanding war? Critics of the president’s foreign policy have ranged from human rights activists on the political left to congressional Republicans on the right.

No one is eager for a new war. Indeed, the worry in many circles is that the president’s foreign policy has been so provocatively feeble that we risk war through our own indecision.

Rather than acknowledge this legitimate anxiety, the president has created a dynamic in which he bravely confronts political opponents who don’t exist.

On the world stage, inertia has consequences. And we have felt the consequences across the globe. Storms clouds are forming in some regions, lightning is striking in others. I worry that those storms might eventually reach our shores.

One of those regions is Syria. The Syrian civil war started in Obama’s first term. He had a variety of tools at his disposal, such as arming moderate rebel factions and restoring the U.S. military posture in the Mediterranean, that could have prevented Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons or even shortened the conflict.

The president didn’t use these tools, but he did declare that the use of chemical weapons against civilians there would be a “red line.” When Assad ignored this warning, Obama seesawed between punitive military action and more rhetoric. He came to Congress with a request that it authorize military force, backing down when it became clear he didn’t have the votes.

So much for the idea that “everybody is so eager to use military force.” After his policy failures backed him into a corner, it was the president who went looking for a fight — not his critics. The criticism isn’t that the president failed to send the Marines into Syria but rather that he allowed the situation to degrade to the point where military force was needed.

Asia, meanwhile, is the Balkan powder keg of the 21st century. The region is undergoing a multinational arms race spawned by Chinese territorial distension. Beijing has staked claim to territory that isn’t China’s and is building up the military capacity to take and hold it.

The president’s decision to pivot to Asia was correct, but — like our allies — I fear the pivot itself is on paper only. The Navy is losing ships faster than we can build them. The Air Force is set to lose 500 combat aircraft in the next few years. We are cutting tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines from our forces. We still refuse to ship Taiwan modernized military equipment and failed in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations to send Japan top-line military equipment such as the F-22 Raptor.

Again, the criticism here isn’t that the president has failed to start a war in Asia but that he is allowing the situation to disintegrate to the point where war may become reality.

In Ukraine, Obama promised assistance to the embattled government. A blue moon later, the administration got around to sending some military rations and sleeping bags.

Yet the president is ignoring bipartisan sentiment from both the House and Senate — and the advice of former NATO commander Wesley Clark — to send more lifesaving equipment to the Ukrainians. These radios, body armor, night-vision goggles and such could well alter Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s calculus.

Next week, the House Armed Services Committee will draft its annual defense bill. In it, we will provide the range of options the president has overlooked. The steps are firm but reasonable. They recognize the utility of intelligence and cyber-cooperation with Ukraine, enhanced military readiness in Europe and a strategic framework for U.S. security cooperation with partners in both Eurasia and Europe.

None of us wants a war with Russia. But, as with the threats in Syria and China, I am deeply worried that Obama’s inaction is fertilizing the European soil for wider conflict.

Increasing violence in Iraq, provocations by North Korea and an ongoing Iranian nuclear program stem from similar paralysis in the Oval Office. I believe that these growing threats to peace spring from the same source: the perception that the White House is too timid when challenged.

Our adversaries have tested us repeatedly. They have concluded that this administration will avoid any sensible precaution, any defensive deployment, any hike in military preparedness, because it believes any show of strength is akin to starting a war or desiring a war.

That sentiment is precarious, and we have watched it subvert the international order for six years now. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a war for the Obama administration to wake from its slumber.

April 2014

"The United States must show the world – as opposed to just saying it in a speech – that the U.S. is not in retreat.  Making it abundantly clear that our military capabilities are second to none is the surest way to discourage further aggression"

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has released a new report detailing how military spending in countries like Russia has increased markedly over the past few years while military spending by the United States has decreased. National security leaders such as HASC Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) continue to raise these concerns, particularly in the context of Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Russia?
By Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
Real Clear Defense 
April 14, 2014
Full Text Below

If there was ever any question that the security situation in the world is constantly changing, these past five years provide undeniable evidence.

It must be clear even to Barack Obama that the world he hoped and wanted to find is not the world as it is.  In the real world there is evil, aggression and opportunism willing to exploit any perceived weakness.  Whether it is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, al-Qaeda, North KoreaIran,China, or others, there are adversaries ready to pounce on any opening offered by U.S. retreat.  And they, as well as our allies and the rest of the world, are watching very carefully to see how the United States proceeds in light of Russian annexation of Crimea.

What should we do?

First, there is widespread consensus that Russia must be made to pay a price for its aggression.  While no one advocates military force to reverse the Crimea seizure, we cannot allow it to stand without Russia suffering some consequence.  Diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions, even those that hurt some U.S. industries, need to be imposed.  We need to push the Europeans as far as we can toward joining us, but we also cannot allow our sanctions to be limited by the weakest link in the sanctions chain.

Many analysts point to the mid- to long-term weakness in the Russian economy.  Smart Russians know that as well.  The sanctions imposed now will not cause Putin to withdraw from Crimea but could increase the anxiety about where he is taking the country, weakening his hold.

Second, we must strengthen our support for those nations that are threatened.  Appropriate military and financial support to Ukraine should be pursued.  Reassuring steps for the Baltics’ defense should be taken.  Swiftly cutting through the roadblocks to allow exports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and support the development of natural gas production in Poland and other Eastern European nations must be a priority.

Third, the president and those in his administration should be very careful about what they say, and make absolutely certain that no declarations are made nor any “red lines” drawn that the United States will not back up.  One of the most damaging developments to U.S. national interests has been the loss of credibility.  From our premature withdrawal from Iraq to lines drawn in the sand in Syria, we have failed to match our rhetoric and our promises with action.  As a result, much of the world does not take statements by our president seriously.

This problem will not be solved within the time left to this administration.  U.S. credibility has been damaged seriously, and it will take time and proof to repair it.  But a starting place is to not damage it any further.  At no time in recent history has it been more important to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”  That will be a challenge for a president who has a high opinion of his rhetorical abilities and at a time when so many words are carelessly bandied about.  But it is absolutely necessary to align our words with our actions. And that begins by restraining our words.

Fourth, and most importantly, we need to increase defense spending.  While restraining our rhetoric is part of the equation for restoring our credibility, our decreasing defense budgets and the resulting decline in capabilities are even more significant factors.  Nothing will make it clearer to Vladimir Putin that we will not lay down before him than to have President Obama propose a new, higher defense budget.  The amount of the increase is not as important as the direction as long as it is a significant change.

We should not relax our effort to get more defense out of every dollar we spend.  That means continuing to push defense reforms, such as reducing overhead costs and making improvements in our broken acquisition system.  In a host of areas, we need to update old laws and programs to meet the wide array of challenges we face today. 

While we are pursuing those reforms, however, the clearest message and the most effective results come from an increasing defense budget.  The United States must show the world – as opposed to just saying it in a speech – that the U.S. is not in retreat.  Making it abundantly clear that our military capabilities are second to none is the surest way to discourage further aggression.  It also ensures that we are as prepared as possible for the security challenges to come.  This kind of approach acknowledges the realities of the world and will help shape a safer place in the days to come.

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