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September 18, 2014

Posts in "War"

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.

September 16, 2014

Sens. Levin, McCain Offer Rejoinders for Code Pink at ISIS Hearing (Video)

The anti-war group Code Pink is a staple at national security hearings, good for a handful of disruptions per, but largely they are just part of the scenery now. At Tuesday’s Armed Services hearing on the Islamic State group (aka ISIS or ISIL), two senators went beyond the usual “escort them out of the room, please/we might close this hearing to the public if you don’t stop” approach.

Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 3:49 p.m.
Terrorism, War

September 11, 2014

Rhetoric Aside, Signs of Bipartisanship After Obama ISIS Speech

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Portman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If you were just judging by the tone of the GOP response to Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday night about the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State, you might get the impression that Republicans were on very opposite pages with the Democratic president.

Look a little closer and you’ll see some similarities. Full story

#ThrowbackThursday: the Red Baron

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Manfred von Richthofen, former President of the German Sport Federation and nephew of the Red Baron himself, attends the “Der Rote Baron” premiere in 2008 in Berlin. (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Wired just had an interesting piece on the Red Baron and how the aircraft most famously associated with him is a ripoff of a British plane. It’s well worth reading, and a reminder about the power of stolen military technology — in the analog age, it enabled one of history’s most famous warriors, and in the digital age we’re only beginning to grasp what the effects of cyber theft might be.

It’s also an excuse to talk about the Red Baron, real name Manfred von Richthofen, on Throwback Thursday. Here are some random facts! Full story

September 8, 2014

The Problem With Congressional Authorization of Military Force

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Nelson waits for the start of a May 6 Finance Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is wrestling with its role in authorizing military action in Iraq, Syria and overall. And it’s not that it doesn’t matter. It’s just that it might not make a difference — at least not soon. Full story

Police Militarization, Congressional Comeback in the Week Ahead

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Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is back in town for a little while, with a blend of housekeeping and rowdiness on the national security front. That means a continuing resolution to keep the government funded until December, including some national security programs; a House resolution criticizing President Obama over the “Taliban Five”/Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap; and maybe a new war authorization stemming from the uptick of military action in Iraq.

Congress’ return also means Washington, D.C. will be humming again, and Five By Five will be back to its regular publishing schedule… Full story

September 5, 2014

Obama Wants Congressional Help on VA Whistleblower Overload, Afghan Translator Visas

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FORT BELVOIR, VA – Obama participates in a signing ceremony for veterans legislation Aug. 7, joined by VA Secretary Robert McDonald and lawmakers. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Obama administration is out with its request Friday for some specific needs it wants Congress to address next week in a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through early December, since no annual spending bills have been enacted. And there are a couple of national security items on the list. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 1:04 p.m.
Budget, Veterans, War

September 3, 2014

Obama Official on Defeating ISIS: Get More International, Fix Syria

[UPDATED 3:02 p.m. Sept. 4]

A day after a video surfaced showing the beheading of a second American journalist held captive by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), the director of the National Counterterrorism Center suggested that a key to defeating the group was assembling an international coalition and looking toward a political transition in Syria as a long-term strategy.

Full story

September 2, 2014

Advice for the New NATO Chief

As President Barack Obama preps for a visit this week to a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Wales, and as Russia readies a revised military doctrine in response to NATO, a think tank is offering advice to incoming secretary general Jens Stoltenberg of Norway.

The Center for a New American Security policy brief, released Tuesday, includes steps for the new NATO chief in reckoning with Russia and the group widely known as ISIS. Full story

August 26, 2014

Should Congress Authorize Air Strikes in Syria?

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Kaine, at an April Senate Foreign Relations hearing. (Tom Williams, CQ Roll Call)

A pair of senior senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee want President Barack Obama to come to Congress for authorization of any air strikes in Syria targeting the group popularly known as ISIS, which has made big gains in Iraq. Others? Not so interested in Congress getting involved. Full story

August 21, 2014

How Obama Could Respond to James Foley’s Murder

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Royce, 2013 file photo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama sent a tough message after an American journalist was murdered by the extremist group, Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), but the actions that the administration will take in response to the murder, and the timeline for them, are still not fully known.

But what are his options? Many of them range from vague to unlikely.

Full story

August 13, 2014

Where National Security Is (and Mainly, Isn’t) in 2014 Elections

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Braley helps out on the grill in the Pork Tent at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Aug. 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When Iraq popped up this week as an issue in the Iowa Senate race between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst based on her comments about troop levels in recent years, it marked something rare: an occasion where a national security debate surfaced in the 2014 elections for purely national security reasons.

Despite a whole host of places around the globe where security is a rising topic in the news — Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Russia — defense and foreign policy has largely been on the sidelines in congressional races. Even when it has been debated, it has usually been  for other reasons, such as how it reflects on President Barack Obama’s performance. But because of that, and more, national security could still play a role in the 2014 elections.

Full story

August 11, 2014

World War I, National Security Agency and Iran in the Week Ahead

It’s a week that’s heavy in the middle with defense and national security-related events. Full story

August 6, 2014

The Stories Behind the Numbers on Afghan Translator Visas

Just before Congress left for recess last week, it did something rare: It worked across the aisle to quickly clear legislation that filled what the Obama administration had declared an urgent need: authorization of 1,000 additional special visas to bring over Afghan citizens who helped the United States during the war there.

But the number of so-called Special Immigrant Visas only tell part of the story. The way they are processed has also raised questions.

Three years after the United States went to war in Afghanistan, an 18-year-old Afghan man who goes by the nickname “Outback” decided to become an interpreter for the U.S. Armed Forces. He had some insight into that world since his brother, Humayoun, 31, had started working as a translator in 2003. But neither of them expected to leave Afghanistan because of their jobs.

After receiving death threats for working with the U.S. military, Humayoun applied for a Special Immigrant Visa in 2006. He had to leave Kabul for his safety and changed his cell phone number numerous times. Gunmen shot dead his friend’s father inside his home. Humayoun eventually received his visa. Now Outback is trying to come to the United States, too — unsuccessfully so far.

The tale of these two siblings signifies one of the lesser-discussed casualties of a decade of war: how vulnerable are Afghan citizens who helped the United States , and how hard it has been for many of them to get protective assistance from the U.S. government. Full story

By Aisha Chowdhry Posted at 11:38 a.m.
War

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