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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.

While the editorial boards of the nation's leading newspapers are wondering how much more action Russia must take to prompt the U.S. to develop a coherent strategy towards Ukraine, House Armed Services Committee leaders are taking action with specific legislative proposals to help the Ukrainian military and to deter further Russian aggression.

HASC Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-OH) and Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Rogers (R-AL) have introduced H.R. 4433, the Forging Peace through Strength in Ukraine and Transatlantic Alliance Act. You can read about the legislation HERE

Escalation in Ukraine
The Washington Post
Editorial Board
April 13, 2014
Excerpts Below

"A WEEK ago militants seized government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities in what Secretary of State John F. Kerry charged was “an illegal and illegitimate effort” by Russia to “create a contrived crisis with paid operatives.” Mr. Kerry threatened that the United States would respond with sanctions against Russia’s mining, energy and banking sectors. But in the following days the Obama administration failed to act, other than against a few minor figures in occupied Crimea. Group of Seven finance ministers meeting in Washington on Thursday also could not agree on any measures.

...........  

"How much more action must Russia take to provoke a response? For weeks President Obama has been saying that a military intervention in eastern Ukraine would prompt U.S. sanctions far more consequential than the measures taken against a handful of Vladi­mir Putin’s cronies and one bank on March 20. By the U.S. account, that military intervention is now underway. Officials say it closely resembles the quasi-covert Russian military operation that led to the annexation of Crimea.

..........

"The Obama administration elected not to adopt significant measures last week in part because it was awaiting what it described as a diplomatic opening — a four-way meeting this week of foreign ministers from the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. Yet there is almost no chance this gathering, if it takes place at all, can lead to an acceptable solution for Ukraine. Moscow is demanding that the country be chopped up into pieces and that areas under its influence be given a veto over Ukraine’s foreign policy. Given the weak response to its aggression, Moscow has no incentive to drop that scheme.

"It may be too late to prevent war in eastern Ukraine. But the United States must quickly take the measures promised by Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry, or lose what little credibility it retains on Ukraine. If Sunday’s combat continues, it should also reconsider Kiev’s request for non-lethal supplies and small arms for its forces. If Ukrainians are forced to fight for their country, they should be helped."

 

Russia's Second Invasion
The Wall Street Journal
Editorial Board
April 13, 2014
Excerpts Below

"President Obama is dispatching Vice President Joe Biden to Kiev next week in a show of Western support against Russian intimidation, but the Veep may want to speed up his deployment. By then Vladimir Putin may already have annexed another chunk of Ukraine.

....

"The difference this time is that Ukraine is responding with at least some force of its own. The Kiev government is mobilizing its military for what it called a "large-scale antiterrorist operation" in the east. "We won't allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of the country," said acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.

"Gun battles in Slovyansk and elsewhere have already produced casualties, and the violence may be exactly what Mr. Putin wants as a pretext to send in larger forces in the name of protecting Russian-speaking minorities. This too was part of the Crimea playbook. So much for the diplomatic "off-ramp" that Mr. Obama keeps beseeching Mr. Putin to take. The only off-ramp the Russian wants is inside Ukraine and points west.

.....

"Instead Mr. Putin has seen the flimsy Western response to Crimea, following Mr. Obama's climbdown on Syria, and he has calculated he can move without fear of serious economic sanctions or a military buildup inside front-line NATO countries.

"Mr. Putin may also calculate that raising the military pressure on Ukraine will help achieve what he wants without a full-scale invasion. This week envoys from the EU, U.S., Ukraine and Russia are set to meet to discuss a diplomatic solution. Mr. Putin's solution is to impose conditions on Kiev that include Russian as a second national language, a pledge not to join NATO or the EU, and a "federalist" reform that would make eastern parts of Ukraine essentially self-governing. Eventually the autonomous regions might choose to join Russia.

"Mr. Putin would like nothing better than to get the EU and U.S. to tell Kiev that it has little choice but to accept these terms or risk a full-fledged invasion. If Kiev still resists, the West would have given Mr. Putin another pretext to invade his neighbor to defend his fellow Russian-speakers. With this second military action in weeks, the U.S. ought to drop its illusion that Mr. Putin is interested in diplomacy. His real goal is to redraw the postwar map of Europe to Russia's advantage, with faux diplomacy if he can, by force if necessary."

Apr 10 2014

WSJ: Putin Invades, Obama Dismantles

The U.S. rushes to cut our nuclear forces while Russia cheats.


Putin Invades, Obama Dismantles (full text)
The U.S. rushes to obey a nuclear arms treaty while Russia cheats.
Wall Street Journal

John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that "Russian provocateurs" had infiltrated eastern Ukraine in order to foment "an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis." Also on Tuesday, the Pentagon announced steep cuts to U.S. nuclear forces, four years ahead of schedule, in accordance with the 2010 New Start treaty with Russia.

At this point in Barack Obama's Presidency we should be used to the mental whiplash. But we still feel concussed.

So let's slow down and follow the thread. Russia has seized Crimea and has 50,000 troops as a potential invasion force on the border with eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin is also abrogating the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Kiev agreed to give up its nuclear arsenal—at the time the third largest in the world—in exchange for guarantees of its territorial integrity from Russia, the U.S. and U.K. That memorandum has now proved to be as much of a scrap of paper to the Kremlin as Belgium's neutrality was to Berlin in the summer of 1914.

The Kremlin is also violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which bans the testing, production and possession of nuclear missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles. Russia has tested at least three missiles—the R-500 cruise missile, the RS-26 ballistic missile and the Iskander-M semi-ballistic missile—that run afoul of the proscribed range limits.

The Obama Administration has suspected for years that Vladimir Putin was violating the INF Treaty, which supporters hail as the triumph of arms control. The Russians were boasting of their new missile capabilities in open-source literature as far back as 2007. Yet as defense analysts Keith Payne and Mark Schneider noted in these pages in February, "since 2009, the current administration's unclassified arms-control compliance reports to Congress have been mum on the Russian INF Treaty noncompliance."

At a minimum, Congress should call on Rose Gottemoeller, confirmed last month as under secretary of state for arms control over strenuous objections from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, to explain what the Administration knew, and what it disclosed, about Moscow's INF violations when she negotiated New Start.



Which brings us to the Administration's announcement on cutting U.S. nuclear forces to levels specified by New Start four years before the treaty's 2018 compliance deadline. …

Mr. Obama has dismissed Russia as a regional power, but he is maneuvering the U.S. closer to a position of absolute nuclear inferiority to Russia. The imbalance becomes even worse when one counts tactical nuclear weapons, where Russia has a four-to-one numerical advantage over the U.S.

To the surprise of defense analysts, the Pentagon will make the sharpest cuts in the submarine and bomber legs of the nuclear triad, while mostly preserving the silo-based Minuteman ICBMs. This means that the U.S. will maintain a stationary, and vulnerable, nuclear force on the ground while largely dismantling what remains of our second-strike capability at sea and in the air. A crucial part of deterrence is convincing an adversary that you can survive a first strike. It does not help U.S. security to dismantle the most survivable part of the U.S. arsenal.

It's fashionable in the West to dismiss this as "Cold War thinking," but it appears that Vladimir Putin hasn't given up on such thinking or he wouldn't be investing in new nuclear delivery systems.

Cold War or no, recent events are providing daily reminders that the great-power rivalries of previous centuries are far from over. They have also offered the grim lesson that nations that forsake their nuclear deterrent, as Ukraine did, do so at considerable peril. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 the Senate refused to ratify Jimmy Carter's SALT II Treaty. Any serious response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine should include a formal and public U.S. demarche about Russian cheating on the INF treaty, while promising to withdraw from New Start if the cheating continues.

Nuclear arsenals aside, the timing of Mr. Obama's nuclear dismantling couldn't be worse as Mr. Putin contemplates his next moves in Ukraine and sizes up a possible Western response. Someone said recently that Mr. Putin plays chess while Mr. Obama plays checkers, but that's unfair to the noble game of checkers.

Apr 09 2014

"Democracy Dividends from the Afghanistan Investment"

By DAVID H. PETRAEUS and MICHAEL E. O'HANLON


Democracy Dividends from the Afghanistan Investment
American sacrifices of 13 years paid off in a successful election. By late summer we may know how well.
By DAVID H. PETRAEUS and MICHAEL E. O'HANLON
Wall Street Journal

With an enthusiastic election turnout on Saturday, the Afghan people took a major step toward electing a new president—a crucial step for a young democracy seeking to demonstrate that it can peacefully pass power from one leader to another. This will be a first for Afghanistan, a country where most transitions have been violent. But we need to be patient and realistic as we watch and support this process as it plays out over the spring and summer.



Afghan forces, now 350,000 strong, provided security, and violent incidents declined to 150—still too many, but a big improvement. More than seven million Afghans appear to have voted, after a vigorous campaign that included debates and large rallies across the country, and extensive media coverage.

But as well as the election went, this was just the start. …

Inauguration day is likely to be in late summer. That would give the new president time to sign the Bilateral Security Accord with the U.S., as all candidates have said they would, and then to sign similar documents with other foreign governments. These agreements will allow a crucial international military presence of advisers and so-called enablers to continue past Dec. 31, albeit at much lower numbers of troops than at present.

All of this can work, and there is good reason to be hopeful. Ashraf Ghani is a brilliant economist well poised to lead a campaign against corruption, and Abdullah Abdullah has been promoting political reform including direct election of governors (now appointed by the president) and a stronger parliament. But none of the remaining process will be easy or unblemished, and it definitely won't be fast.

That's all right. We can wait. Coalition forces have demonstrated patience and resoluteness for 13 years. This has been a tough, frustrating war for the U.S., but our men and women in uniform and their coalition and Afghan partners have served valiantly and with impressive staying power. We may not be headed for a classic victory, but with continued commitment the prospects for an acceptable outcome in Afghanistan look fairly good.

Gen. Petraeus, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, is a professor at CUNY's Macaulay Honors College and the University of Southern California. Mr. O'Hanlon, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, is the author of "Healing the Wounded Giant: Maintaining Military Preeminence While Cutting the Defense Budget" (Brookings Institution Press, 2013).

Apr 09 2014

Ryan: A Clear Choice on Defense

"The President is budgeting for second best. The House Republican plan seeks to renew America’s strength at home and abroad."

A Clear Choice on Defense
By Rep. Paul Ryan
Real Clear Defense

The world is less safe when America doesn’t lead. But for President Obama, this lesson has yet to sink in. In February, he offered a budget that would cut crucial funding for our national security. So tomorrow, House Republicans will pass a budget that would give our troops the funding they need.

First, let’s put things in perspective: For decades, defense spending made up roughly 50 percent of the federal budget. Today, it’s just 18 percent. And if we stay on the current path, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that defense will fall below 10 percent by 2024.

The reason? Entitlement programs and interest payments are growing out of control. Government spending on health care is set to skyrocket. Interest payments are projected to quadruple over the next decade.

But the Obama administration sees no need for alarm. Year after year, his administration has cut defense spending, all while the world has grown more dangerous. And rather than confront the entitlement challenge, he’s creating new open-ended spending programs and attacking our good-faith reform efforts.

Over the last five years, the Obama administration has asked for progressively fewer resources to support our national security. In 2011, then-secretary Bob Gates proposed a $178 billion “efficiency initiative.” In 2011, the President announced a further $400 billion reduction that grew to $487 billion in his 2012 budget request. In 2013, Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed yet another $120 billion reduction from the Budget Control Act’s “pre-sequester” caps. And this year, the President’s request is now about $184 billion lower than those caps.

These cuts have real-world consequences. If we adopted the President’s budget, the Army would shrink to its smallest size since World War II, the Navy to its smallest size since World War I, and the Air Force to its smallest size ever. Half of our cruiser fleet would be in dry dock. We would have to retire both the A-10 and U-2. And we would have just ten carrier strike groups.

And these deep cuts don’t help pay down the debt. Instead the President would use them to fuel more domestic spending. And despite $1.8 trillion in tax increases, the President’s budget never comes close to balance.

The House Republican budget would change course. Over the next ten years, it would commit more resources to our national security—in fact, $274 billion more than the President’s request. The House GOP plan would give our troops the equipment, training, and compensation they need, and unlike the President’s request, it would meet our first duty in full.

Under our plan, the army could maintain its current strength. We could have eleven carriers and a full cruiser fleet. Key modernization programs—like the Joint Strike Fighter—would stay on track. And again, we fully fund the veterans’ budget.

We’re able to meet these commitments because we grapple seriously with the need for reform. We stop wasteful Washington spending. We root out cronyism and corporate welfare. We make gradual, commonsense improvements to programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and Medicare.

To be clear, entitlement spending will continue to grow under our budget. We simply increase spending at more responsible rate. When our budget reaches balance in 2024, non-defense spending will still be more than five times the size of defense spending.

The budget debate this year offers a clear contrast in priorities. The President is budgeting for second best. The House Republican plan seeks to renew America’s strength at home and abroad.

The stakes couldn’t be greater, and the choice couldn’t be clearer.

Paul Ryan represents Wisconsin's First Congressional District and serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
March 2014

Mar 27 2014

SecDef Gates: Western Response to Putin has been "anemic"

New York Times reports: "Military Cuts Make NATO Less Formidable as Deterrent to Russia"

Putin's Challenge to the West
The Wall Street Journal
By Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates
March 26, 2014
Excerpts Below

“Mr. Putin aspires to restore Russia's global power and influence and to bring the now-independent states that were once part of the Soviet Union back into Moscow's orbit… There is no grand plan or strategy to do this, just opportunistic and ruthless aspiration. And patience. Mr. Putin… is playing a long game.

"The only way to counter Mr. Putin's aspirations on Russia's periphery is for the West also to play a strategic long game. That means to take actions that unambiguously demonstrate to Russians that his worldview and goals and his means of achieving them over time will dramatically weaken and isolate Russia.

"Europe's reliance on Russian oil and gas must be reduced, and truly meaningful economic sanctions must be imposed, knowing there may be costs to the West as well. NATO allies bordering Russia must be militarily strengthened and reinforced with alliance forces; and the economic and cyber vulnerabilities of the Baltic states to Russian actions must be reduced (especially given the number of Russians and Russian-speakers in Estonia and Latvia).

"Western investment in Russia should be curtailed; Russia should be expelled from the G-8 and other forums that offer respect and legitimacy; the U.S. defense budget should be restored to the level proposed in the Obama administration's 2014 budget a year ago, and the Pentagon directed to cut overhead drastically, with saved dollars going to enhanced capabilities, such as additional Navy ships; U.S. military withdrawals from Europe should be halted; and the EU should be urged to grant associate agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.

“Therefore, the burden of explaining the need to act forcefully falls, as always, on our leaders… The aggressive, arrogant actions of Vladimir Putin require from Western leaders strategic thinking, bold leadership and steely resolve—now.”



Military Cuts Render NATO Less Formidable as Deterrent to Russia
By Helene Cooper and Steve Erlanger
The New York Times
March 26, 2014
Excerpts Below

"The United States, by far the most powerful NATO member, has drastically cut back its European forces from a decade ago. European countries, which have always lagged far behind the United States in military might, have struggled and largely failed to come up with additional military spending at a time of economic anemia and budget cuts.

"During the height of the Cold War, United States troops in Europe numbered around 400,000, a combat-ready force designed to quickly deploy and defend Western Europe — particularly what was then West Germany — against a potential Soviet advance.

"Today there are about 67,000 American troops in Europe, including 40,000 in Germany, with the rest scattered mostly in Italy and Britain. The Air Force has some 130 fighter jets, 12 refueling planes and 30 cargo aircraft. At the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, it had 800 aircraft in Europe.

....

"Richard Dannatt, the former chief of staff of the British armed forces, made a public plea this week that the British government reverse its plans to reduce regular army troops to their lowest number since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 — some 82,000 — by 2018, and to withdraw all of its 20,000 troops from Germany. Mr. Dannatt said that Britain should keep 3,000 troops in Germany as a “statement of military capability to underpin diplomacy.”

“With a resurgent Russia,” he said, “this is a poor moment for the U.S.-led West to be weak in resolve and muscle.” Diplomacy and sanctions may be the right response for now, he said, but the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, “will look beyond those things to see where the real check on his actions might come from.”


NATO's Military Decline 
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
March 26, 2014
Excerpts Below

"Vladimir Putin and his American apologists like to blame NATO's post-Cold War expansion for his territorial conquests, which ignores that the alliance refused in 2008 to let Georgia and Ukraine even begin the process of joining. Those are the two countries the Russian has since carved up, and the question now is whether Russia's expansionism will slap Western leaders out of their self-defense slumbers.

......

"The U.S. reduced its overall spending by an estimated 2%. That might not sound like much, but American spending comprised 72% of all NATO defense expenditures in 2013. Under President Obama's latest budget proposal, U.S. defense spending will fall from 4.6% of GDP in 2011 to 3.5% in fiscal 2015 and 2.9% by 2017 when he is supposed to leave his successor a country stronger than he inherited. On present trend it will be weaker.

"The Obama theory of "collective security" is that as the U.S. retreats from its historic commitments in Europe and the Middle East, allies will step up to deter aggressors and protect Western interests. NATO budget cuts suggest otherwise.

"The cuts have created "gaps in meeting core NATO tasks" and resulted in "forces that are not ready, not trained, and not sufficiently equipped," according to a 2012 study by the U.S. National Defense University. In plain English, this means that if Vladimir Putin sets his sights on NATO's eastern periphery—by targeting the Baltic states, for example—the alliance may not have the capability to resist even if it has the political will.

......

“Russia takes military matters seriously. The Putin regime has increased defense spending 79% over the past decade, according to a Brookings study. Defense expenditures amounted to 4.5% of Russian GDP in 2012, the World Bank reports. After a period of post-Cold War neglect, Moscow has been closing its capability gaps...” 

Mar 25 2014

Chairman McKeon Op-Ed: U.S. can't project power with diplomacy alone

"America is losing the very strength that keeps the peace and reassures its allies when they stand up to bullies."

U.S. Can't Project Power with Diplomacy Alone
By Chairman Buck McKeon
March 21, 2014
The Washington Examiner
Full text below

A certain worldview in the White House overlooks reality: The nation doesn’t need a strong military because there are no significant threats to it, and the president can handle any crisis through diplomacy.

How has that been working? The president resets the United States' relationship with Russia, and Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine. White House proposals to resolve the crisis have been flatly rejected by Moscow. Instead, Moscow is amassing troops on the border of eastern Ukraine. The president scraps U.S. missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic and cuts U.S nuclear forces, while Moscow proceeds to violate a nuclear arms treaty.

America's European allies are worried, and its Asian allies are nervous. China recently declared an air defense zone over Japanese territory and may very well seek to expand its claims to other maritime territory. It harasses U.S. allies in the Philippines, Vietnam and others in the South China Sea. North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons and deploy long-range missiles, including a new ICBM aimed at American cities.

The president strikes a deal with Iran that doesn't require it to stop enriching uranium. This neither cuts Iran's ballistic missiles nor curbs its supply of arms to terrorists. Meanwhile, three years after the president's cut-and-run from Iraqal Qaeda has retaken Fallujah and Ramadi and has spread to new corners of the globe -- no less determined to kill Americans.

While the president's diplomatic strategy and rosy threat picture haven't panned out, his drastic cuts to the military have. Since President Obama took office, more than $1 trillion has been cut from defense. Defense is not a priority in this White House.

The president's budget cuts the U.S. Army to pre-World War II levels. The Marines are cut so low that it has to throw its entire force “all in” for one conflict, leaving other parts of the world vulnerable. The president's budget also cuts force structure. It cuts an aircraft carrier. It sends hundreds of perfectly good aircraft to the boneyard in Arizona. It cuts U.S. missile defense, submarine forces, amphibs, cruisers and ground combat vehicles.

The president's budget breaks promises with America's men and women in uniform -- an all-volunteer force, many of whom are still in combat in Afghanistan -- who have made great sacrifices for this nation. It reduces their pay raise for a second year in a row and cuts their health care services and housing allowance.

This is not the military service men and women deserve, and this is not the military that U.S. citizens want.

So where does that leave the United States? The nation’s resolve is being tested, and it’s folding. America is losing the very strength that keeps the peace and reassures its allies when they stand up to bullies.

The military is like insurance. No one likes paying for it until they need it. But given the troubling turn in world events, national security is one of those areas where the U.S. doesn’t want any regrets. Many thought leaders in this country share the opinion of numerous national security experts: Ukraine is just a tremor. Republican and Democrat alike have said it until they’re blue in the face. The president must stop treating the military as if they’re just a bet on the table and get serious about threats that are springing up like mushrooms.

Mar 24 2014

Washington Post's Fred Hiatt: Will Obama Rethink his Global Strategy?

"As the United States retrenched, the world became more dangerous"

Will Obama Rethink His Global Strategy?
By Fred Hiatt
The Washington Post
March 23, 2014
Read full piece here
Excerpts below

"The president came into office believing that military assets were a 19th-century measure of power, of dwindling relevance in the 21st century. He believed that diplomacy could solve problems that George W. Bush had ignored, created or exacerbated; that the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons was perhaps the United States’ most important goal; that economic reconstruction at home had to take precedence over — and was a necessary prerequisite for — leadership abroad.

"His policies have reflected these understandings: Total pullout from Iraq. An Afghanistan withdrawal schedule untethered to conditions on the ground. A hasty departure from Libya after helping to depose its dictator. No meaningful assistance to the opposition in Syria.

"When democratic uprisings stirred hope from Tunisia to Egypt and beyond, some foreign-policy veterans, like former national security adviser Stephen Hadley, urged Obama to seize the unexpected opportunity and help support historic change. Obama stayed aloof, and the moment passed.

"Obama judged the world safe enough to sharply decrease military spending, and Europe and the Middle East safe enough to justify a “pivot” to Asia. The debate in town was what mission NATO could possibly have once it pulled out of Afghanistan.

......

"China continued a traditional — 19th-century, Secretary of State John F. Kerry might call it — military buildup, accompanied by aggressive territorial assertions in East and Southeast Asia. Tensions built among Japan, the Koreas and China as all wondered about America’s staying power. (The joke was that everyone in the world believed the pivot to Asia was real, except Asian allies, who saw little evidence of it.)

"North Korea’s nuclear buildup proceeded unchecked. Egypt’s government is more repressive than in Hosni Mubarak’s days — and less friendly to the United States. In 2013, freedom regressed in 54 countries, compared with 40 in which it advanced — the eighth straight year of net decline, according to Freedom House.

"In Syria, Obama was confident two years ago that Assad’s “days are numbered,” as he told Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview in the Atlantic. “It’s a matter not of if, but when.” He periodically promised, but never delivered, substantial arms and training for moderate forces opposed to Assad.

"Meanwhile, Assad’s position strengthened, even as he brought about what a U.N. official calls “the greatest humanitarian disaster since Rwanda.” Al-Qaeda forces established havens from which they can threaten the United States and Europe, and they are spreading into Lebanon and Iraq.

"Now Putin has engineered the baldest violation of state sovereignty since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 .

........

"The instinctive White House response will be to head into the political bunker: to deny that it ever displayed isolationist tendencies while painting critics as wild-eyed warmongers. This reflexive belligerence is understandable given that Obama’s political enemies will happily use overseas setbacks to score points.

"But the stakes are too high to leave the debate in those trenches. Tempting as it may be, the United States doesn’t get to choose between nation-building at home and leadership abroad; it has to do both. With almost three years left in his presidency, it’s not too late for Obama to change course."

Mar 24 2014

Heritage Foundation Policy Analyst: U.S. should expand its missile defense to protect itself, allies from Russian missiles

HASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee to hold Missile Defense Hearing on TUESDAY

In light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimera, national security leaders are reemphasizing the need for a robust missile defense program as a vital part of the U.S. national security strategy. The Obama administration's proposed FY2015 defense budget contains the lowest missile defense funding since Bill Clinton was President

On Tuesday March , 2014, the House Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee will hear testimony on Missile Defense for FY 2015.? ?Top officials from the Defense Department, Strategic Command and the Missile Defense Agency will give testimony about the U.S. missile defense program and the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

HASC Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers and other national security leaders in Congress have repeatedly called on the Obama administration to hold Russia accountable for its material breach of international treaties. You can view their letters here.  


U.S. Missile Defense Policy After Russia's Actions in Ukraine
March 21, 2014
The Heritage Foundation
By Michaela Dodge 
Read full report here
Excerpts below


"Russia has invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in blatant disregard of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and international law. Russia’s crude steps carry important implications for U.S. missile defense policy.

"Currently, the Administration’s policy is not to affect the “strategic balance” with Russia in terms of ballistic missiles.[1] In reality, there is no strategic balance between the two countries. Given Russia’s demonstrated willingness to use force to alter nations’ boundaries and act against U.S. interests, it is clear that the U.S. should expand its ballistic missile defense to protect itself and its allies from Russia’s ballistic missiles.

....

"Russia is currently engaged in the largest nuclear weapons buildup since the end of the Cold War. It is planning to spend over $55 billion on its missile and air defense systems in the next six years, compared to about $8 billion a year that the U.S. spends on its missile defense programs.[2]

"Russia has over 1,400 nuclear warheads deployed on long-range ballistic missiles. These missiles can reach the U.S. within 33 minutes. It is also engaged in ballistic missile modernization and is reportedly developing intermediate-range ballistic missiles that are prohibited under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the U.S.[3]

These missiles are most threatening to allies in the European theater.

...

"To address U.S. vulnerability to an international ballistic missile threat, including that from Russia, the U.S. should:

  • "Develop a layered, comprehensive missile defense system capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, including salvo launches in quantities that Russia is capable of launching. Space-based interceptors provide the best opportunity to accomplish these tasks at the best cost-per-interceptor ratio.
  • "Deploy an X-band tracking radar to a European host nation that is a member of NATO. The Czech Republic was previously assessed to be the best to track incoming ballistic missiles from Iran. The radar would improve the capability of U.S. homeland missile defense systems.
  • "Make a public statement to Moscow that “strategic stability” is no longer a basis for U.S.–Russia relations due to Russia’s extensive nuclear weapons modernization programs and investments in ballistic missile defense technologies. Rather, the U.S. should emphasize the defensive nature of its force posture and consider ballistic missile defense an essential element of this posture.
  • "Increase investments in its missile defense programs, which have been underfunded and have lagged behind the ballistic missile threat for years. Any ballistic missile attack on the territory of the U.S. or its allies would carry enormous costs in lives and treasure, especially if the adversary’s missile is fitted with a nuclear or electromagnetic pulse warhead.
  • "Encourage NATO allies to enhance their ballistic missile and air defense capabilities, including making their ships (where applicable) compatible with the U.S. Aegis weapons system.

....

"Russian aggression affords the U.S. an opportunity to take a new look at its missile defense policy. It also demonstrates that Russia is willing to use force to change the status quo and act against U.S. interests. If the U.S. does not pay attention to this threat, it may pay a huge price later.

 

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

NBCNews.com

Read full article HERE

Excerpts below

"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

"I mean, it's intelligence capabilities, it's operational capabilities, it's technology, it's weapons system
s.....This is going to be one of these instances where we're going to be dealing with this for many, many years. You know, it's everything from changing some of the procedures or the techniques or the tactics that we use. We've already discussed how we defeat some of these improvised explosive devices, and we know that there's some evidence that he may have gotten some information about that. And so we have to protect, you know, how we defeat these kind of devices. So we may need to change some of the way we operate." - Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn 

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