Recent Blog Posts
Mar 07 2014
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey tells HASC Snowden Leaks Endangered the Military, Will Cost Billions to Overcome
Defense Intelligence Agency Director Flynn describes compromised defense capabilities in "intelligence, operations, technology, weapons systems"
See the full question and answer between HASC Vice Chairman Thornberry and General Dempsey HERE
Snowden Leaks Could Cost Military Billions: Pentagon
Read full article HERE
"The Pentagon might need to spend billions to overcome the damage done to military security by Edward Snowden's release of classified intelligence documents, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress on Thursday.
"And it might take two years to determine the extent of that damage, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey told a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget.
"The vast majority of the documents that Snowden – Mr. Snowden – exfiltrated from our highest levels of security, the vast majority had nothing to do with exposing government oversight of domestic activities," Dempsey said in response to a question from Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. "The vast majority of those were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques and procedures."
"The mitigation task force will need to function for about two years, that's the magnitude of this challenge," Dempsey said. "And I suspect it could cost billions of dollars to overcome the loss of security that has been imposed on us."
Lt. General Michael Flynn, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
Interview with National Public Radio
March 7, 2014.
Read or listen to DIA Director Flynn's full NPR interview HERE
Feb 28 2014
HASC Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee Chairman speaks out on the Commander-In-Chief's dangerous, budget-driven defense policy
HASC Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) on Bloomberg TV with Betty Liu.
"I think this is another example of the President’s uncertain policies with respect to United States and our relationships to Europe. Here is a country that was on its way to joining Europe and what would be our largest trading partner. With the disruption of democracy, the President has not stood for, let’s ensure that this country has a stable democracy and looks to the West. Obviously Putin has been playing to try to pull the country in the other direction. This is a great concern and I think certainly the West needs to step up."
Feb 26 2014
HASC Chairman Updates the American People on Successes of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
"This is just inexcusable. When we went into Afghanistan there were a million children able to go to school. Now there are 8 million. Three million of those are girls. The troops have accomplished great things...It's incredible that the president has only talked about this war a handful of times. And people don't know what's going on, don't know what we've accomplished, don't know the successes that our troops have had. And I just think that that is reprehensible."
Washington - House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon spoke at the National Press Club today on the war in Afghanistan. A noteworthy excerpt from Chairman McKeon's speech is below, which compares (Image) the wealth of information found on WhiteHouse.Gov/Iraq praising the end of the war in Iraq, versus the void on Afghanistan found at WhiteHouse.Gov/Afghanistan.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon released the following fact sheet on the progress being made in Afghanistan. America’s warfighters have made tremendous sacrifices to protect vital U.S. national security interests. These sacrifices demand national leadership to see their mission through and finish the fight. A PDF version of the Fact Sheet can be found below:
Afghanistan Mission Remains Vital to U.S. National Security.
Afghanistan is the epicenter of where al Qaeda planned and launched the 9/11 attacks against innocent Americans and continues to be an operational location for al Qaeda and its affiliated groups.
The U.S. led effort in Afghanistan and the sacrifices of American troops have led to an improving environment where Afghans are now providing their own security and making progress towards a more secure nation.
Afghanistan is the birth place of al-Qaeda and is unique in its vulnerability to once again becoming a safe-haven for terrorists if a strong government is not supported. Finalizing a Bilateral Security Agreement and retaining a credible residual presence, with input from our commanders on the ground, are essential to sustaining our security gains in Afghanistan. America’s warfighters have made tremendous sacrifices to protect vital U.S. national security interests. These sacrifices demand national leadership to see their mission through and finish the fight.
House Republicans will remain vigilant and demand accountability from the President regarding the post-2014 missions, force levels, and resources necessary to minimize the risk that Afghanistan could be used again as a platform for terrorist attacks against the United States.
House Republicans will not talk about exits and end dates. We will continue to honor the accomplishments of our troops, and fight to ensure our forces in harm’s way receive the support and resources necessary to do the job our nation asks of them.
Afghans Providing Their Own Security
The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have seen their capabilities expand rapidly since 2009, while insurgent territorial influence and kinetic capabilities have remained static. Afghan security forces are now successfully providing security for their own people, fighting their own battles, and holding the gains made by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the last decade. The insurgency can mount attacks but generally cannot capture or destroy well-defended targets, and are unable to hold significant territory in the face of numerically superior Afghan forces. ANSF progress means that the biggest uncertainties facing Afghanistan are no longer primarily military.
The ANSF – a force in its infancy five years ago – can now maintain the gains made by a coalition of 50 nations with the best trained and equipped forces in the world. The ANSF now conducts 95% of conventional operations and 98% of special operations in Afghanistan.
Security Leading To Prosperity
- 6 million (out of 15 million) Afghans fled for Pakistan and Iran during the 1980s and 1990s. Since the fall of the Taliban, more than 5 million have returned home.
- Kabul ranks as the fifth-fastest-growing city in the world.
- An estimated 500,000 people are employed in the private sector.
- Extraction of oil and precious metals could account for 45% of Afghanistan’s GDP within a decade.
- The rural population is gaining access to roads, electricity, and irrigation networks.
- Over eight million children are enrolled in schools—and 2.6 million are girls.
- There are now 40,000 young women attending public and private universities, or technical institutes, with more enrolling each year.
A Country Moving In The Right Direction
- City dwellers are letting go of tribal and sectarian links and embracing a more universal Afghan identity.
- Afghanistan is preparing for its third complete cycle of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015.
- The Taliban’s approval rating, measured by the BBC, NBC, and others over the years has consistently come in at under 10% nationally, with less than 30% even in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar.
- A poll of some 6,000 Afghans conducted by the Asia Foundation found that in 2012, 52% of Afghans thought their country was on the right track.
- Currently, women make up 27% of the Afghan parliament, which has 249 members. By comparison, women make up approximately 33% of the European Parliament.
Feb 18 2014
By Rep. J. Randy Forbes in The Diplomat
Stand With Our Ally in Tokyo
For seven decades the US-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of peace in Asia. Never has it been as vital as today.
By Rep. J. Randy Forbes
For nearly seven decades, the U.S. alliance with Japan has been the cornerstone of the American-led security order in East Asia. Together, our two countries have helped to usher in an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in a region formerly identified with persistent conflict and endemic poverty. Working together through the long years of the Cold War to resist the Soviet Union’s attempts to gain influence in the region, followed by more recent cooperation on everything from counterterrorism to disaster relief, the United States and Japan have established one of the most enduring alliances in modern times. Now, as Asia takes on a newfound importance in international relations, the alliance is poised to play a consequential role in shaping the security architecture of the region. More specifically, the strength of the alliance will help determine the course of the region’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China in the decade ahead.
China’s announcement last November that it would establish an “air defense identification zone” (ADIZ) in the East China Sea was another test of the U.S.-Japan alliance and, more broadly, America’s appetite for sustaining its commitments to the region. Since 2010, Beijing has consistently resorted to forms of coercion to patiently challenge the United States and its allies. I believe strongly that the United States should neither recognize nor accept China’s unilateral declaration of an ADIZ and we should continue to conduct our military exercises and operations in the region so as to maintain the status quo.
Of the many instances of growing Chinese assertiveness, recent incidents surrounding Japan’s southwestern islands are perhaps the most serious. Beijing has pursued its claims to Japan’s Senkaku Islands, with official newspapers even going so far as to assert that the entire Okinawa island chain is Chinese territory. More ominously, Chinese incursions into Japanese airspace and territorial waters have grown exponentially in recent years, raising the prospect of potential miscalculations. As the Senkakus are under Japan’s administrative control, unilateral attempts to change the status quo fall under the terms of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty.
I view the relationship between the United States and China as an emerging peacetime competition that demands a strong U.S.-Japan alliance to shape PRC decision-making in ways that are amenable to the region’s rules-based order. While many democracies around the world are tightening their defense budgets, I applaud Tokyo for seeking to counter this trend with their own real increase in spending. Additionally, as I see it, Japan is not just spending more on defense but spending on the right kinds of capabilities, including investments in sea control, mobility, and ISR assets that will allow it to secure its archipelagic interests. Coupled with recent moves to establish a National Security Council and a defense research agency similar to the Pentagon’s DARPA, Japan is positioning itself to be an anchor of stability in Northeast Asia. As Tokyo debates its future contributions to regional security, I welcome the development of a more “normal” Japan that can accept an equal share of alliance responsibilities in the years ahead.
Read the full editorial online
Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. He is currently co-leading a bipartisan Asia-Pacific Oversight Series for the House Armed Services Committee.
McKeon, Thornberry, Roby Speak Out on New HASC Report on the Commander-in-Chief's Response to Terrorist Attack
"What I gained out of the Benghazi Report is we expected the military to be there 7/24, no matter how we cut back on their resources and their abilities...We should learn a hard lesson from this that the commander-in-chief was basically AWOL in this situation"
"The main conclusion is we were not prepared for Benghazi despite a tremendous amount of intelligence that there were dangers around and that American personnel in specific were in danger. Our deployments of our military forces were not sufficient to come to their rescue."
Feb 12 2014
WASHINGTON – Since the Obama Administration has failed to effectively address Russia’s INF Treaty violations, “further nuclear accords will be meaningless, even dangerous, if the U.S. doesn't enforce compliance,” according to Keith Payne and Mark Schneider in a Wall Street Journal opinion editorial today. “Although Russia has been ignoring the INF Treaty for years—if Russian news reports are any guide—the Obama administration only recently felt compelled to openly take note of what's going on.” Further excerpts of the editorial “The Nuclear Treaty Russia Won't Stop Violating,” are below.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and other House leaders have sent multiple letters (below) to President Obama and the Administration asking for his immediate attention and action to confront Russian violations.
“According to recent press reporting, your Administration has been aware of Russia's illegal and destabilizing actions for years. However, the senior-most officials in our government have to date failed to directly confront their Russian counterparts… We believe it is imperative that Russian officials not be permitted to believe they stand to gain from a material breach of this or any other treaty. To fail to act would only invite further violations by Russia, which would inevitably undermine our national security and that of our NATO allies,” Chairman McKeon(CA), Chairman Royce (CA), and Chairman Rogers (MI) said in the latest letter.
The Nuclear Treaty Russia Won't Stop Violating
Why has Washington looked the other way as Moscow revived Cold War weaponry?
By KEITH B. PAYNE And MARK B. SCHNEIDER
Feb. 11, 2014
The Reagan administration's 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty is celebrated as the "cornerstone" of nuclear arms control. But Moscow has openly flouted the spirit and apparently the letter of the INF Treaty at least since 2008, signaling that it is determined to regain some of its Cold War nuclear-strike capacity.
Although Russia has been ignoring the INF Treaty for years—if Russian news reports are any guide—the Obama administration only recently felt compelled to openly take note of what's going on. The New York Times reported on Jan. 29 that, "The United States informed its NATO allies this month that Russia had tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, raising concerns about Moscow's compliance with" the INF Treaty. The report said the administration began raising questions with Russian officials last May but was rebuffed.
Why is this news? The U.S. has sophisticated technical means by which to monitor and verify arms agreements. But in this case the administration could have pursued Moscow's compliance issue years ago by simply reading the multiple Russian press accounts of a ground-launched cruise missile called the R-500. This stream of commentary, including reporting by the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti, indicates a clear INF Treaty violation: Russia has tested and produced a ground-launched cruise missile with a prohibited range potential of between 310 and 3,400 miles.
Violating or skirting arms treaties is not new for Moscow. In the years before the Obama administration, official U.S. treaty-compliance reports documented frequent Russian misbehavior, including violations of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, SALT I, SALT II and START I.
Since 2009, the current administration's unclassified arms-control compliance reports to Congress have been mum on Russian INF Treaty noncompliance. The most recent report in July 2013 stated that the U.S. had raised no INF compliance issues with Russia in the past year. The unclassified compliance reports in 2011 and 2012 said the same.
Soft-peddling Russian misbehavior avoids immediate friction, but further nuclear accords will be meaningless, even dangerous, if the U.S. doesn't enforce compliance.
Feb 05 2014
“…groups generally associated with al?Qa’ida remain the most lethal groups in the world.”
In a hearing yesterday on the State of Al Qaeda, its Affiliates, and Associated Groups, expert witnesses gave their testimony on today’s terrorist threat environment. Among the many findings discussed, witnesses William Braniff, Dr. Seth Jones and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross provided the Committee with a unvarnished look at the state of Al Qaeda and why the terrorist organization is still a relevant threat to the United States.
In a recent interview with New Yorker Magazine, President Obama compared Al Qaeda in its present form to a junior varsity version of the lethal terror group, saying “..if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Despite the declaration that Al Qaeda in its present form is less effective or deadly, yesterday’s hearing witnesses gave a starkly different assessment. Selected excerpts from their testimony are below:
William Braniff – “This makes 2012 the most active year of terrorism on record.”
“In 2012, … more than 6,800 terrorist attacks killed more than 11,000 people.Even if you compare these more conservative 2012 figures provided to the Department of State against the more inclusive Global Terrorism Database (GTD) statistics dating back to 1970, the previous record for number of attacks was set in 2011 with more than 5,000 incidents. This makes 2012 the most active year of terrorism on record. …
“…These preliminary data reinforce the hypothesis that groups generally associated with al?Qa’ida remain the most lethal groups in the world.
“Yet in the wake of this political turmoil, extant violent groups persist, new violent groups have emerged, and global terrorism has reached its modern apex. While many violent groups coalesced around a local agenda without any impetus from the al?Qa’ida organization, al?Qa’ida’s long?running propagation of global jihadism and its vilification of the West has influenced these militant organizations to varying degrees.
“These have been the most lethal two years in the history of modern terrorism, and al?Qa’ida remains at the historical, organizational, and ideological center of the most dangerous terrorist threats of our time.”
“…there has been an increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist groups and followers over the past several years, particularly in North Africa and the Levant. Examples include groups operating in such countries as Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Libya, Egypt (including the Sinai), Lebanon, and Syria. There has also been an increase in the number of attacks perpetrated by al Qa’ida and its affiliates.”
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross – “Over the past year, al-Qaeda’s affiliates and other jihadist groups have made striking gains.
“Conventional wisdom holds that al-Qaeda’s senior leadership has been decimated by Osama bin Laden’s death and the drone campaign that the U.S. has been waging….However, I would question this conventional wisdom for two reasons. First, the available evidence suggests that leadership attrition does not degrade groups like al-Qaeda to the extent that is often believed. Second, there is specific evidence that AQSL (al-Qaeda’s senior leadership) retains capabilities despite this attrition.” …
“Prisoner releases helped regenerate jihadist networks in the Sinai that have been able to cause a great deal of bloodshed since the country’s July coup.”…
“Over the past year, al-Qaeda’s affiliates and other jihadist groups have made striking gains. Both the organization and the movement appear to be growing rather than withering. Syria is the central front for transnational jihadism. Extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have proven to be some of the country’s most effective rebel factions. Jihadists have gained full control over such cities and towns as Raqqa and Shadadi in the north.”…
“The deteriorating conditions [in Libya] have helped the jihadist cause… Those [southern Libya] camps have also been used to prepare militants for suicide missions; and Libya’s lawlessness has provided jihadist militants space to operate, as many fled there to evade pursuit after the French intervention in Mali.”
“Iraq has also been backsliding into chaos, driven by ISIS’s blossoming capabilities. By the end of 2013, more than 6,000 Iraqis had died in violence, the highest level of fatalities since 2007, the peak year of Iraq’s bloody civil war. … On January 1, ISIS was able to capture large portions of Fallujah and Ramadi, and as of the preparation of this testimony (January 27), it continues to retain significant ground in both, as well as elsewhere in Anbar. The fact that it was able to seize and hold large portions of both cities, and caught the Iraqi security forces unaware when it did so, is testament to ISIS’s regeneration.”
Feb 03 2014
HASC to hold outside experts hearing on al-Qaeda TOMORROW
On Tuesday February 4, 2014, the House Armed Services Committee will hear testimony on the State of Al Qaeda. A distinguished panel of terrorism experts will explain the continuing threat posed by al-Qaeda, its affiliates and associated groups and assess how the U.S. is responding to this evolving threat.
A New Definition for al-Qaeda
"What exactly is al-Qaeda? And who cares? Confusion about how to define the terrorist group is rife. Was al-Qaeda involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead? The Obama administration says no. Are the groups proliferating around Africa and the Middle East really part of the al-Qaeda that toppled the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon?
"... Here’s the problem: According to recently declassified testimony of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the House Armed Services Committee in October, the U.S. military regards itself as legally barred from going after the perpetrators of the Benghazi attacks (and, presumably, others who attack Americans) unless they are affiliated with al-Qaeda. The Obama administration’s parsing of words to deny al-Qaeda’s direct involvement effectively precludes a military response in these situations.
"But the United States can neither disrupt nor defend itself from an enemy it cannot define. Nor are we safer because of arbitrary definitions. The question demands an answer: What is al-Qaeda?
"Al-Qaeda’s leadership regulates the use of its name and resources; it has formally and publicly recognized affiliates in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and West Africa. In each of these cases, the regional leadership pledged loyalty to the al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who accepted their oaths… any sensible definition of group membership must surely recognize the explicit and public exchanges of oaths of loyalty and command between Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri, on the one hand, and the leaders of overt franchises on the other.
"Many experts disagree about the extent to which locally oriented militants are officially part of al-Qaeda. The White House has focused on terrorists currently targeting the United States, which form a small subset of the overall al-Qaeda movement.
“... An excessively narrow definition of al-Qaeda is just as dangerous as one that includes every Sunni Muslim extremist group. Clearly not all parts of the broader al-Qaeda network are equally dangerous. Nor does dealing with each automatically require the use of military force. Decisions to use force against al-Qaeda must be shaped by strategy and prioritization, like any other national security decision. But excluding large portions of the al-Qaeda network from consideration… guarantees strategic failure."