Beneath the positive press the military receives for preparing to mold women into the nation’s first female ground warriors this year, there is another story far more basic to war fighting.
Some lawmakers are warning that budget cuts, a troop drawdown and a decade and a half of wars have created spotty combat readiness, overburdened forces, more fatal accidents and beat-up weapons.
Weeks of congressional testimony from the top brass on next year’s $524 billion defense budget shows that many Army brigades and Air Force squadrons are less ready. The Marine Corps lacks sufficient aircraft to fully train pilots. The Army and Marine Corps can wage small wars but doubt they can meet the demands of a major conflict against, say, China or Russia, in a time frame called for in official military strategy.
In late 1995, escalating Chinese threats against Taiwan prompted President Bill Clinton to stage a show of American support for the beleaguered island that Beijing’s leaders couldn’t ignore. Clinton sent two aircraft carrier battle groups steaming into the conflict zone, their heavily armed fighter jets poised on deck for takeoff. One battle group, led by the carrier USS Nimitz, sailed down the middle of the Taiwan Strait, less than 50 miles from the Chinese mainland, while the second stood in reserve off Taiwan’s eastern coast. Chinese officials decried what they called “foreign intervention” in their long-standing claim to Taiwan. But lacking the weapons to deter the American warships, they had little choice but to heed Clinton’s show of force and back away. Continue reading
The U.S. Navy is spending millions of dollars to repair new high-speed transport ships built by Austal Ltd. because their weak bows can’t stand buffeting from high seas, according to the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester.
“The entire ship class requires reinforcing structure” to bridge the twin hulls of the all-aluminum catamarans because of a design change that the Navy adopted at Austal’s recommendation for the $2.1 billion fleet of Expeditionary Fast Transports, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, said in a report to Congress. Continue reading
Washington (CNN) Despite 10 American sailors being in Iranian custody, President Barack Obama stuck to his State of the Union script Tuesday night and made no mention of the incident, instead touting his nuclear deal with Tehran.
“We built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. And as we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war,” Obama said, in his only mention of Iran in his final State of the Union speech.
The American navy’s newest ship, launched with great fanfare less than a month ago, has broken down at sea and had to be towed to land.
The USS Milwaukee, a vast, futuristic-looking beast, suffered an engineering problem while en route from Halifax, Canada, to Mayport in Florida. From Florida it was due to travel on to its home port of San Diego.
President’s overly cautious, centralized style irking Pentagon
Key lawmakers from both parties say frustration with the White House among the top military officers is at its highest level in decades, the product of President Obama’s cautious approach to the wars in Syria and Iraq and an indecisive inner circle of White House advisers who, critics say, have iced the Pentagon out of the policymaking process.
“There’s a level of dissatisfaction among the uniformed military that I’ve never seen in my time here,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain in an interview. “For some of us who are a little older, let’s go back and read the Pentagon Papers — what the administration is doing is the kind of incrementalism that defined much of the Vietnam conflict.” Continue reading
Washington (CNN) One of America’s top former generals compared the situation in Syria Tuesday to a historic nuclear disaster, implicitly criticizing the U.S. for allowing it to worsen, and accused Russia’s President of trying to re-establish an empire.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus, testifying before the Senate Armed Service Committee, also recommended that the U.S. establish safe zones for Sunnis inside Syria and potentially put American boots on the grounds in Iraq to stop the spread of ISIS.
The former commanding general of U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan equated the situation in Syria today with one of the most deadly nuclear accidents in history. Continue reading
The CCP is being given what it wants: Recognition of its claim to sovereignty of the South China Sea.
Failure to assert passage rights in South China Sea bolsters Beijing’s illegal maritime claims
The Obama administration has restricted the U.S. Pacific Command from sending ships and aircraft within 12 miles of disputed Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea, bolstering Beijing’s illegal claims over the vital seaway, Pentagon leaders revealed to Congress on Thursday.
“The administration has continued to restrict our Navy ships from operating within 12 nautical miles of China’s reclaimed islands,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said in opening remarks criticizing the failure to guarantee safe passage for international commercial ships in Asia.
“This is a dangerous mistake that grants de facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereignty claims,” he said. Continue reading
The veteran general nominated to lead the Marine Corps characterized the U.S. campaign against Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria as a “stalemate,” contradicting previous assertions from the Obama administration.
Fox News reported that, while undergoing questioning from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.), Lt. Gen. Robert Neller said of the U.S.-led air campaign against IS (also known as ISIL or ISIS) in the region, “I believe they are in a stalemate right now.”
Indeed, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last week that the administration’s bomb campaign to scale back IS launched last year yielded no perceivable degradation of the terrorist organization’s forces. An unnamed defense official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said that U.S. intelligence has “seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers.” Continue reading
It would be perfect timing for an Obama administration bent on Israel’s destruction to leave a two month window of opportunity open for Iran, wouldn’t it? If war breaks out, you know what happened.
The United States’ air strike capabilities against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) may take a serious hit this fall as the U.S. will be without an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf for the first time since 2007.
Adm. John Richardson, the Obama administration’s nominee for chief of naval operations, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there will be a two-month gap this fall when the U.S. does not have a carrier in the Gulf. The U.S. will have 11 aircraft carriers when the USS Gerald Ford enters service next year. Continue reading
It is only a matter of time before China establishes an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, according to Peter Jennings of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Speaking at a forum of the Washington-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday, Jennings said that the ADIZ will likely be announced shortly after Chinese president Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to the United States in September. Continue reading
Vilnius says other NATO members should follow Lithuania’s example
Lithuania’s ambassador to Ukraine says Vilnius is ready to start shipping defensive weapons to Ukraine to help the country stop Russia seizing more of its territory.
Marius Yanukonis told Ukraine’s Channel 5 that Lithuania wanted to be the first country to openly arm Ukraine and hoped it would set an example to other NATO countries which he said should follow suit. Continue reading
With only two years left in power and nothing to lose, the Obama administration needs all opposition cleared to permanently transform the country. By the time 2017 comes around, you won’t recognize it.
To the surprise of many, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel resigned his post Monday, apparently under heavy pressure. According to some accounts, this development has been brewing for weeks. In reality, it was presaged nearly two years ago in the former Army sergeant and Nebraska Senator’s farcical confirmation hearings before his one-time colleagues.
Before leaving for my present position last August, I spent six years at the Atlantic Council, where Hagel served ably as chairman until taking over the Defense Department. His predecessor, General Jim Jones, had been picked to join Obama’s “team of rivals” as National Security Advisor. Both men were highly accomplished public servants, widely respected by Republicans and Democrats alike for their competence, intellect, and integrity. Indeed, Jones may very well have been selected as National Security Advisor or another prominent role had John McCain prevailed in 2008. (Interestingly, Hagel was followed by Jon Huntsman, the erstwhile Republican governor or Utah and presidential candidate who’d alienated his base by serving as Obama’s ambassador to China.) Continue reading
Islamic militants’ growing influence in Iraq and Syria is a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in trying to crush them.
President Barack Obama last week approved limited airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham fighters, whose rapid rise in June plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the end of 2011, when U.S. troops withdrew from the country at the end of an unpopular eight-year war. Obama said the current military campaign would be a “long-term project” to protect civilians from the deadly and brutal insurgents.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the militants threaten not just Iraqis but also Americans. He said Obama’s airstrikes were insufficient to turn back the militants and were designed “to avoid a bad news story on his watch.”
“I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and in Iraq,” said Graham, a reliable advocate for U.S. use of military force overseas.
“They are coming here,” Graham later added about the militants. “This is just not about Baghdad. This is just not about Syria. It is about our homeland.” Continue reading
Speaking to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Albuquerque in 2001, George W. Bush declared that, as Mexico was a friend and neighbor, “It’s so important for us to tear down our barriers and walls that might separate Mexico from the United States.”
Bush succeeded. And during his tenure, millions from Mexico exploited his magnanimity to violate our laws, trample upon our sovereignty, walk into our country and remain here.
In 2007, supported by John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and Barack Obama, Bush backed amnesty for the 12 million people who had entered America illegally.
The latest mass border crossing by scores of thousands of tots, teenagers and toughs from Central America has killed amnesty in 2014, and probably for the duration of the Obama presidency. Continue reading