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September 30, 2014

Posts in "Army"

September 22, 2014

Congress Vs. ISIS, National Security and the Elections in the Week Ahead

kaine 230 072214 445x280 Congress Vs. ISIS, National Security and the Elections in the Week Ahead

Kaine speaks with a reporter by the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol in July. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A United Nations climate change summit that President Obama is scheduled to visit this week gives the White House a chance to push its fight against the Islamic State group before other countries. And a U.S. visit next week by new Indian prime minister Narenda Modi is giving think tanks and organizations a lot of reasons to hold India-related events in advance.

Then there are the subjects in the headline. Full story

September 17, 2014

Obama Reaffirms No Boots On The Ground But Chatter Continues

A day after the U.S. military’s top officer raised the possibility of boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama clarified the administration’s plans during an address to troops at U.S. Central Command.

“As your Commander-in-Chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq,” Obama said on Wednesday, the day after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there could be circumstances under which he’d recommend the president use combat troops to fight the Islamic State.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates seemed inclined to agree with Dempsey, telling CBS This Morning: “The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own.”

“So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy,” he added, noting that to say otherwise “traps” the president.

See below for more commentary and analysis on the issue:

Film Review: What War Feels Like For Soldiers

 Film Review: What War Feels Like For Soldiers

Movie poster for “Korengal: This Is What War Feels Like”

After finishing a deployment at a notoriously dangerous outpost in northeastern Afghanistan, Capt. Dan Kearney recalled what it was like to be stationed there.

“Bad guys come to you so you can kill them,” Kearney says in the film, “Korengal: This is What War Feels Like,” a documentary released in May from the Academy Award-nominated director of “Restrepo.”

Five by Five attended a screening of the film along with a panel discussion, sponsored by New America and featuring the film’s director, Sebastian Junger, Navy veteran Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., Command Sgt. Maj. La Monta Caldwell  and Blayne Smith of the veterans group, Team Red, White & Blue.

In the film, soldiers described themselves as “bait” for members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban when they were on patrol. “I pretty much never thought I’d make it out of the valley alive,” says Spec. Misha Pemble-Belkin.

Over the course of five years, 42 American soldiers lost their lives while deployed to the outpost, which the U.S. shuttered in 2010 after unsuccessful attempts to gain the trust of the locals and to drive off the Taliban and Al Qaida.

“What I want is for viewers to understand the experience of combat by soldiers,” Junger told Five by Five. “Soldiers really don’t debate the merits of the war, the morality of the way, the strategy of the war, they really are focused on the mission that they are given.”

Indeed, your blogger found “Korengal” to be a more personal look into the lives of soldiers than 2010′s “Restrepo.” The film included intricate details like soldiers describing the sound of bullets flying as well as how tedious the terrain was to traverse.

August 18, 2014

Defense Philanthropy, Ukraine Vs. Russia in the Week Ahead

This is the slowest week event-wise of the August congressional recess so far, at least as it pertains to defense and national security. There are, however, a few items of note. Full story

July 28, 2014

Africa, Korea, Gaza in the Week Ahead

With the United States-Africa Leaders Summit starting Aug. 4, there is a preponderance of events about the continent this week in advance. President Barack Obama himself will kick off some of the pre-Summit activities. Africa has been a growing national security concern, given events in Nigeria, Libya and elsewhere.

It’s also the last week Congress is in town for a while. The schedule is a bit ambiguous, but before everyone leaves, there could be action at various levels on a new secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs; legislation addressing the VA’s health care backlog; a bill overhauling the National Security Agency’s bulk record collection programs; and declassification of a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation and detention practices under President George W. Bush. Full story

July 24, 2014

Gen. Odierno: Russia Stealing From Iran’s Playbook?

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno is suggesting the use of surrogates — like the kind Russia is leaning on in Ukraine — could be the future of warfare. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:20 a.m.
Army, Foreign Policy, War

July 21, 2014

Taxpayer Group Knocks Senate Defense Spending Bill

490421347 445x296 Taxpayer Group Knocks Senate Defense Spending Bill

Pilots in a EA-18G Growler complete a nighttime, touch-and-go landing during Field Carrier Landing Practice for the Carrier Air Wing 5 of U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan on May 14. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Taxpayers for Common Sense found fault with the House’s fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill, and the group now has its share of gripes with the Senate’s $549.7 billion version, too, for spending money on programs the Defense Department doesn’t want and adding money beyond what the Obama administration requested. Full story

Medal of Honor Recipient Ryan Pitts, 9/11 Commission, VA Secretary in the Week Ahead

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts will be at the White House on Monday to receive a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. His story is both heroic and a tale of missteps by superiors, as he fought to fend off a wave of insurgents in Afghanistan in a patrol base in the bloody Battle of Wanat, all while badly wounded by shrapnel himself. Obama is awarding more Medals of Honor to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than his predecessor, but the process has become slower.

The week’s offerings also include a confirmation hearing for a new leader at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a review of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 Commission report and discussions on the cyber threat, the shape of U.S. Combatant Commands, Iraq and the Navy budget. Full story

July 18, 2014

Russian RD-180 Not the Only Rocket Worry on Capitol Hill

Concerns over the Defense Department’s reliance on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine are just one aspect of the Senate’s worries about foreign-supplied rocket propulsion methods and instances where the Pentagon is counting on one vendor. In a report on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill the Appropriations Committee approved Thursday, the panel expresses dismay about the overall state of the United States’ ability to produce rocket motors and the department’s tendency to award sole-source contracts. Full story

July 7, 2014

Defense Globalization, Acquisition, Nominations in the Week Ahead

Congress is back in town after the July Fourth holiday, and not entirely coincidentally there’s a great deal of Afghanistan on the schedule this week, from nominations to hearings to events off the Hill. Full story

July 1, 2014

Future Military Helicopters Program to Slim Down One Way, Not Another, Leader Says

451550778 445x295 Future Military Helicopters Program to Slim Down One Way, Not Another, Leader Says

U.S. Army soldiers stand next to a Black Hawk helicopter during a military exercise near the town of Gjakova, Kosovo on July 1. (Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images)

In about a month, the number of designs moving forward for the technology demonstration program that’s associated with a long-term plan for replacing the current fleet of military helicopters will be pared down, a top program official said Tuesday. And he’s not worried about the rug being pulled out from underneath the program because of budget pressures. Full story

June 30, 2014

Russia, Helicopters and Iraq in the Week Ahead

It’s a short week thanks to the July Fourth holiday. Yet even with Congress on recess, there are still events out there for the national security-minded. Full story

June 16, 2014

Pentagon Waste on Table in Advance of House Spending Bill Consideration

The House is about to take up its annual bill for Defense spending. It’s a $491 billion measure, $570 billion if you count the war-related spending account, so there’s a lot of money to be scrutinized.

Some of the bill’s provisions take aim at withholding funds; some of the bill’s provisions increase funds for programs the Pentagon doesn’t want; and some provisions will be targeted for new cuts or increases when the bill comes to the floor. Full story

June 11, 2014

Paul Ryan: Rebuild Military, Stay in Afghanistan Longer, Develop Lasers

ryan 054 050714 445x296 Paul Ryan: Rebuild Military, Stay in Afghanistan Longer, Develop Lasers

Ryan walks by reporters outside of the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on May 7. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Prospective GOP presidential candidate Rep. Paul D. Ryan offered up his vision Wednesday for the military and diplomacy, contrasting himself with President Barack Obama and perhaps some potential primary challengers. And in offering up that vision, he proposed some specific ideas for what the Defense Department ought to be doing. Full story

June 9, 2014

CENTCOM Doesn’t Know How to Shrink or Shift, Report Finds

U.S. Central Command, with a geographic region that encompasses hotspots like the Middle East, North Africa and Central and South Asia, has seen its number of regular personnel increase by nearly 70 percent since around the time of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with the war in Iraq over, the war in Afghanistan winding down and pressure from Pentagon leadership to reduce its headquarters spending, that figure and other CENTCOM-related funding is expected to shrink and move to another part of the budget. Only the Department of Defense isn’t ready for it, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday. Full story

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