Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 25, 2014

Posts in "War"

July 24, 2014

Did Pakistan Let Haqqani Network Slip Away on Purpose? (Official Says “No”)

187654961 2 445x298 Did Pakistan Let Haqqani Network Slip Away on Purpose? (Official Says No)

Pakistani schoolchildren stand at the spot where Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the feared militant Haqqani network, was assassinated at an Afghan bakery in the Bhara Kahu area on the outskirts of Islamabad on Nov. 11. AAMIR QURESHI (Aamir Quereshi AFP/Getty Images)

Leaders in Pakistan have declared it of late, both publicly and privately: The country is going after all militants, even the Haqqani network, an organization that U.S. military officials have deemed a de facto arm of the Pakistan intelligence agency ISI.

Some have raised doubts about whether that’s actually happening, though, pointing to evidence that Haqqani network militants have merely shifted elsewhere, with the complicity of Pakistan. A senior Pakistani official insisted Thursday that Pakistan wants the Haqqani network destroyed, but that to a certain degree it’s in the hands of Afghanistan, NATO and the United States. Full story

Key Senator Warns He Might Block Iraq Arms Sales Again

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Menendez arrives in the Capitol for a vote on April 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., feuded with the administration over a $6 billion sale of Apache helicopters to Iraq earlier this year, when he played a key role in blocking the deal for a while. On Thursday, he threatened that he might hold up potential future deals — but for a slightly different reason this time. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:07 a.m.
Foreign Policy, War

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 23, 2014

State Department Official: ISIS Now ‘a Full-Blown Army’

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KHAZAIR, IRAQ — Iraqi families who fled recent fighting vs. ISIS near the city of Mosul prepare to sleep on the ground as they try to enter a temporary displacement camp but are blocked by Kurdish soldiers on July 3. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A State official offered a dire assessment Wednesday about the growing power of the group in Iraq that calls itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL): “It’s no longer a terrorist group,” said the department’s deputy assistant secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. “It’s a full-blown army.”

Given that, asked the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, why didn’t the United States conduct drone strikes earlier? Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:16 a.m.
Drones, Foreign Policy, War

July 21, 2014

New Lawsuit, Legislation to Aid Iraqis, Afghans Who Helped U.S. in Wars

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Shaheen arrives for the Senate Democrats’ policy lunch on Tuesday, Feb. 25. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There were two developments Monday meant to ensure visas for Afghans and Iraqis who helped the United States in wars in those countries: 1., the announcement of a lawsuit filed by an Iraqi who served as a translator but has been waiting more than two years on his visa; and 2. the introduction of a bipartisan bill to boost the number of Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) available to Afghan civilians who served in a similar role. Full story

Taxpayer Group Knocks Senate Defense Spending Bill

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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 17, 2014

Gen. Dunford on What’s Different From Iraq to Afghanistan Withdrawal

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Dunford, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing in March on the situation in Afghanistan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A nomination hearing Thursday for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. to take command of the Marine Corps spent most of its time focusing on his current job as commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan. He backed the Afghanistan withdrawal plan as different from what happened in Iraq, where the Obama administration is encountering a lot of second guessing based on the chaos there — but he also gave some fuel to critics of the president’s plan in Afghanistan. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:13 a.m.
Marines, War

War Is Hell: Skin Cancer, Epilepsy, Sleep Disorders on Rise for U.S. Troops

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Brad Schwarz, with his service dog Panzer, attends a Cubs game with a group of veterans at Wrigley Field in 2012. Schwarz uses Panzer to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder issues related to his 2008 tour in Iraq. In addition to suffering from PTSD, Schwarz has memory loss related to traumatic brain injury and he must walk with a cane because of vertebrae and nerve damage in his back and legs. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Each war brings with it unique injuries and health afflictions for those who fight. For Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices have led to extensive traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs.

But those wounds aren’t the beginning and end of the kind of health problems this generation of the military is facing. Among those singled out by a Senate report: skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:08 a.m.
Budget, Personnel, Veterans, War

July 16, 2014

War Funding Request Amid War Endings: Slush Fund, or Prudent Bridge?

Across the political spectrum — among anti-war liberals, among conservative budget hawks — there are those who argue that the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations account is simply a “slush fund” that needs to go away already, or at least be chopped down further, with the Iraq War officially over and the Afghanistan War on course to do the same.

One expert hailing from the conservative side of the spectrum is making the case that President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 request for the account is just right. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 2:49 p.m.
Budget, War

July 14, 2014

Can (or Should) the U.S. Train More Countries to Handle Their Own Threats?

450656810 445x263 Can (or Should) the U.S. Train More Countries to Handle Their Own Threats?

Army soldiers stand guard at a square in Bogota during the runoff presidential election on June 15. Colombians went to the polls in an election that had become a referendum on peace talks with leftist guerrillas, and reelected president Juan Manuel Santos. (Diana Sanchez/AFP/Getty Images)

War is expensive, and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has a default disinclination against both foreign military intervention and government spending. So, on Monday, Cato hosted a panel that asked whether a better option in a time of declining defense budgets would be training more countries to deal with their own insurgencies.

The answer? It depends. Full story

Killer Robots, Outer Space and Defense Spending Bill in Week Ahead

There are three hearings this week on the president’s war-related spending account budget request and two committee votes on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. But, yes, killer robots and outer space are also on the agenda. Full story

July 10, 2014

#ThrowbackThursday: the War of Jenkins’ Ear

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No, not that ear, which belongs to singer Katherine Jenkins, pictured here as she attends a reception for the Best of Britain’s Creative Industries at The Foreign Office on June 30 in London. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

If you’ve ever wondered why there’s a town called Goochland in Virginia, it’s because it’s named after Sir William Gooch, a former Virginia governor who served with distinction in the War of Jenkins’ Ear. It’s Throwback Thursday… Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 3:01 p.m.
War

Videos of Israel’s Iron Dome Intercepting Palestinian Rockets

Israel is claiming a high success rate — 90 percent — for its Iron Dome air defense system in the current fighting with Gaza. Others have doubts about its effectiveness, and there may already be a new Hamas missile threatening that success rate. Either way, the videos make for compelling viewing. Full story

July 9, 2014

A Senator’s Argument for Arming Syrian Rebels, After the ISIS Surge

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Casey talks with Caroline Wadhams of the Center for American Progress during a March discussion titled “Afghan Elections and the U.S. Role Beyond 2014.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Back in 2011, Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey was the first senator to say that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go. Much has changed since then. A rebellion against Assad has given rise to the group that now calls itself the Islamic State, and concerns have deepened about whether U.S. aid aimed at “good” Syrian rebels could end up in the wrong hands. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the United States has arrived at a common cause with Assad.

But Casey said now it is more important than ever to deliver arms and assistance to the Syrian rebels the United States can trust — and he’s also confident we can determine who exactly they are. Full story

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