Recent Blog Posts
House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) appeared on CNN today to discuss the threat posed by ISIS and the U.S. response.
"It reveals what sort of people they (ISIS) are. Secondly, its an attempt to intimidate us into not playing a role in pushing back against ISIS and to trying to keep us out of Iraq and from joining a coalition to contain and stop them. It doesn't change anything. It just reveals what they're about and what they're trying to do."
Aug 20 2014
Scowcroft, Hadley, Miller make the case for U.S. Nuclear Deterrence in Washington Post Opinion Piece
NATO-Based Nuclear Weapons are an Advantage in a Dangerous World
"When NATO’s leaders gather in Wales in early September, they will address several issues critical to the alliance, including Russian adventurism in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, members’ contribution to collective defense, the adequacy of individual national defense budgets and plans for supporting the people of Afghanistan. In the course of their deliberations on these issues, however, they also should reaffirm the value to the alliance of the continued presence of the modest number of U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe. We believe this is necessary because we are again hearing calls for the United States to unilaterally withdraw its small arsenal of forward- deployed nuclear bombs. Those arguments are shopworn, familiar — and wrong.
"The newer members joined NATO in large part to get under this nuclear umbrella, and they have been vocal in expressing their concern that withdrawing the weapons would symbolize a diminution in the U.S. commitment to defend them. Their concerns are heightened as they watch a recidivist Russia conduct exercises simulating nuclear strikes on Poland and the Baltic states, threatening nuclear strikes on nascent NATO missile-defense sites and continuing to deploy a bloated arsenal of several thousand short-range nuclear weapons.
"A second argument is that because nuclear weapons have no place in international relations in the 21st century, they certainly shouldn’t be forward deployed in NATO Europe. In his much-heralded 2009 Prague speech, President Obama called on the nuclear states to reduce the role such weapons played in their respective security strategies, and he took steps to implement his vision in the United States. Apart from Britain, no other nuclear weapons state took heed; indeed, the others expanded their nuclear modernization programs and gave nuclear weapons a more central role. Of particular concern to NATO, Russia has embarked on an across-the-board modernization of its nuclear forces, a modernization judged so important by Moscow that it has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the process. As our NATO allies point out, nuclear weapons clearly matter to Russian leadership, and, as a result, our allies insist that the U.S. nuclear commitment to NATO cannot be called into question.
"A third argument is that NATO, in the aggregate, enjoys overwhelming conventional military superiority. This argument, however, is built on two fundamental fallacies. First, such aggregate comparisons mask the reality that on NATO’s eastern borders, on a regular basis, Russian forces are numerically superior to those of the alliance. As events in Crimea and Ukraine showed, Russia’s armed forces have improved significantly since their poor performance in Georgia in 2008; demonstrating impressive operational capabilities, they have made clear they are no longer the rag-tag army of the past decade. Second, focusing on conventional war-fighting capabilities overlooks the fact that NATO’s principal goal is deterring aggression rather than having to defeat it. And it is here that NATO’s nuclear capabilities provide their greatest value.
"With Russia continuing to support forces that are seeking to destabilize Ukraine and taking unsettling actions in both the Baltics and the Balkans, this is no time to destabilize the NATO alliance and traumatize our NATO allies by withdrawing our nuclear weapons from Europe."
Russia Always Cheats on Arms Treaties
"On July 29, the Obama administration announced that Russia has violated its obligation under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty "not to possess, produce or flight test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 to 5,500 kilometers; or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles." The administration's sudden candor is welcome. Yet its new compliance report alleging that the Russians tested a missile prohibited under the INF treaty—doesn't address other apparent treaty violations.
The INF violation fits into a long pattern of Soviet-Russian misbehavior that can only be described as "compliance if convenient." Moscow appears to observe arms-control commitments when convenient but violates them when not. This contrasts sharply with America's scrupulous adherence to the letter and often the supposed "spirit" of treaty commitments, long after Moscow has ceased to do so.
"These Russian violations are not trivial matters. The House of Representatives recently declared on a bipartisan basis that the INF violation "poses a threat to the United States, its deployed forces, and its allies." According to senior Obama administration officials, Russia probably has a 10:1 numerical superiority over the U.S. in battlefield nuclear weapons. This Russian tactical nuclear arsenal, according to Russian press reports, includes weapons that are inconsistent with Soviet and Russian commitments made as part of the 1991-1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives to eliminate nuclear artillery and short-range nuclear-missile warheads. That 10:1 superiority may increase if Russia's INF treaty violations stand.
"Washington's long periods of silence about cheating are sometimes justified as "quiet diplomacy" designed to bring about Moscow's compliance. Perhaps. But quiet diplomacy did not persuade Moscow in 1991 to stop building the enormous radar prohibited by the ABM Treaty. Rather, it was the George H.W. Bush administration's public threat to call out Russia's behavior as a "material breach."
"Russian leaders such as Vladimir Putin appear to read U.S. silence as weakness and timidity, a perception which undoubtedly feeds their arms-control lawlessness. Pretending that Russia is a reliable arms-control partner helps to ensure that it is not. Calling Russia out for misbehavior may hold some hope of moving it into compliance."
Aug 19 2014
HASC Republicans and Democrats join Sunday Show calls for a real strategy to counter ISIS
"What the President needs is a strategy and a plan." - Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Chairman of HASC Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, on NBC's Meet the Press
Click HERE to watch Chairman's Turner's Appearance on Meet The Press
"We’ve seen again as a result of the neglect that the President has had in his foreign policy in respect to Iraq—the instability that has occurred. But the President also has to come to the recognition that ISIS is a threat to the United States. British Prime Minister Cameron wrote in an oped that he sees ISIS as a threat to Britain and to the British. Certainly this President needs to make the case and I think his policies should reflect this: this is not just a threat to a stable Iraq, this is a threat to our national security."
Aug 11 2014
"The U.S. says Russia is cheating. So what will Obama do now?"
The House Armed Services Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL), has been working to hold Russia accountable for its material breach of the INF treaty for nearly two years. You can review all of HASC's activity on this issue in this July 30, 2014 fact sheet: JUST THE FACTS: Obama Administration's Long-Overdue Recognition of Russian Cheating on the INF Treaty.The Arms Control Illusion
The Wall Street Journal
August 10, 2014
The world has often disappointed President Obama, and perhaps no more so than over his dream of nuclear-free humanity. Witness the irony that the Obama Administration has finally admitted that Russia is violating the Reagan-era INF treaty, supposedly the very model of modern arms control.
The Norwegian Nobel committee probably won't rescind the 2009 peace prize it awarded Mr. Obama for his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons." But the dream is in tatters. In its annual compliance report on disarmament agreements last week, the State Department for the first time declared Russia in breach of the 1987 accord.
The proper reaction is, what took so long? The first reports of Russian testing of a banned mid-range missile came six years ago. U.S. officials have since said that the Russians have worked on three different types of cruise missiles able to fly 500 to 5,500 kilometers, which are prohibited by the INF.
The Administration didn't inform the Senate of these violations during the 2010 ratification debate for Mr. Obama's nuclear deal, New Start. Seventy-one Senators voted for the treaty without having the facts.
Only two years later did Administration officials brief the Foreign Relations Committee about the cheating in a closed-door hearing, according to a November report in the Daily Beast. John Kerry, who then chaired the Senate committee, declared that "we're not going to pass another treaty in the U.S. Senate if our colleagues are sitting up here knowing somebody is cheating," according to a classified transcript reported by the news site.
Yet it took another two years for the U.S. to issue last week's public demarche to Moscow about the INF. For much of the Obama era, the Administration pursued a diplomatic warming with Russia, seeking Vladimir Putin's help in Syria, Afghanistan and Iran and treaties to follow up New Start. Why let a few illegal Russian cruise missiles spoil the good vibes?
It's worth rehearsing the record with Russia as a tutorial on the illusion of arms control. The INF accord was signed toward the end of the Cold War and hailed as a diplomatic triumph. Ronald Reagan and NATO had deployed mid-range missiles in Europe against ferocious opposition in the early 1980s, and the Gipper resisted political demands for a lopsided arms treaty. Russia under Mikhail Gorbachev finally agreed to the modest accord on Reagan's terms that traded the U.S. missiles for Russia's. When the Soviet empire collapsed in the next few years, the supposed urgency of arms control faded with it.
Which is the crucial point: Arms control didn't make the Soviets more peaceable. The Soviet collapse made arms control beside the point. So it always is. Arms control only works when it isn't needed among U.S. friends, but it fails with adversaries who can't be trusted.
The Soviet empire is gone, but Mr. Putin wants to revive Russia as a dominant European power. He's happy to sign arms accords that he knows will bind the West even as he merrily cheats, and not only on INF. State's report noted the Russians are "engaged in dual-use, biological activities" that may be "inconsistent" with the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Moscow is also openly in breach of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which limits the number of troops stationed on the Continent. So much for trust but verify.
The question now is what the U.S. will do about it. The Russian Foreign Ministry calls the U.S. claims "baseless," while General Valery Geramisov denies any violations. This is another echo of the Cold War when the Soviets denied they had biological weapons for years after the anthrax disaster at Sverdlovsk had become an open secret.
Arms control becomes truly dangerous if one party is allowed to cheat without consequences. The danger is even worse if the U.S. government publicly calls out an adversary but then does nothing. The Russians will get the message that they can keep cheating with impunity, and countries like Iran will also take the lesson. As then-Senator Kerry said in 2012, "If we're going to have treaties with people, we've got to adhere to them."
One apt response would be to withdraw from New Start. Russia was already below the limits in this treaty on strategic nuclear weapons and launchers, obliging only the U.S. to reduce its stockpiles. The White House should also restore the ground-based missile-defense interceptors that it abandoned in 2009 in a misguided attempt to appease the Kremlin. The success of Israel's Iron Dome is proof of missile defense's potential, and Mr. Putin knows it undermines nuclear intimidation.
The broader lesson is that arms control with adversaries is a strategic illusion. It hasn't worked with Russia and it surely won't with Iran.
Jul 24 2014
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.
"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
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
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.
"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
"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.
Jun 23 2014
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
"Get More Defense Out of the Money We Spend"- HASC Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
Jun 20 2014
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:
- 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:
"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."