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Posted by Randy | April 11, 2013
North Korea has been among the most troublesome and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War.  The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with North Korea, and negotiations over its nuclear weapons program have been at the forefront of the national security agendas of the past three administrations.   

U.S. interests in North Korea involve critical security, political, and human rights concerns. American troops occupying U.S. military bases in the Pacific are stationed within known striking distance of North Korean missiles. A conflict on the Korean peninsula or the collapse of the government would have severe implications for both the regional and global economy. Negotiations and diplomacy surrounding North Korea's nuclear weapons program necessarily dictate U.S. relations with all the major powers in the region. 

The United States and its allies in the east are now faced with an isolated, authoritarian regime, currently under pressure from transferring power following the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011. Multilateral Six-Party negotiations (made up of China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States) have previously reached some key agreements on aid to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization; however, problems with implementation have persisted and talks have been suspended since 2008. 

After launching a long-range rocket in December of 2012, North Korea conducted a nuclear test in February 2013, and increased its rhetoric against South Korea and the United States to include the threat of pre-emptive nuclear strikes.  

Leadership in North Korea under Kim Jong-un is unpredictable because so little is known about him.  The United States now faces the challenge of navigating a course toward a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue with a potentially rogue actor.

Question of the week:   What should be the response from the United States to the recent actions taken by North Korea?  

(  )       Push North Korea’s best ally and economic lifeline, China, to pressure North Korea to suspend its dangerous and reckless behavior
(  )       Re-engage North Korea diplomatically and encourage them to return to the Six-Party Talks
(  )       Work with South Korea and other regional allies to build a strong deterrent to contain North Korea
(  )       Strengthen our missile defenses to prevent North Korea from being able to threaten our homeland
(  )       Ignore North Korean provocations and assume that they are not a threat to the U.S. and its allies 
(  )       Actively encourage a regime change in North Korea, with the goal of reunifying the Peninsula under a Democratic government.     
(  )       Other (leave your comments below).
 
Take the poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here
Posted by Randy | March 15, 2013

Last month, a memo was leaked outlining the White House Administration’s policy of targeted killings of U.S. citizens overseas. Since that time, questions have been raised about the constitutionality of the policy and whether it could also be used against a U.S. citizen here in America. 

According to the memo, where the target is a U.S. citizen who is a “senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force” and is located in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities, lethal force would be lawful if:

  • An informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;
  • Capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and
  • The operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.

The guarantee of due process is affirmed twice in the United States Constitution: The Fifth Amendment states that “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and the Fourteenth Amendment further states that “Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Attorney General Eric Holder stated that due process “does not require judicial approval before the President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war – even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.”  Others, like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) warned against not only the targeting of American citizens without first providing due process, but doing so on American soil.  Senior Members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the Committee be granted the opportunity to review all documents pertaining to the legal justification of drone strikes on Americans abroad.   The administration released these memos to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees; however, it refused to provide them to the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with oversight of the Justice Department and the U.S. Constitution.

Question of the week: Should the United States government have the ability to use a drone to take the life of a U.S. citizen located in a foreign country who is a “senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force” without due process of law?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other (leave your comments below).


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here
Posted by Randy | October 23, 2012
America’s Navy now stands at 285 ships, the smallest Navy since 1917 when measuring fleet size in terms of number of ships.   Over the past decade the Navy has called for and planned towards a variety of different shipbuilding plans, all of which are larger than the roughly 300-ship Navy the President now says we need. For instance, in 2002 the Navy put forward a goal for a fleet size of 375 ships and since 2006 it has been pursuing a goal of 313 ships. Furthermore, a bi-partisan panel of defense experts concluded in 2010 that a fleet of approximately 350- ships was necessary to meet America's security demands.

Today's ships are most certainly more technologically-capable than they were in the early 20th century, but numbers still matter. A ship can still only be in one place at one time and demand for Navy assets continues to grow. Between 2007 and 2012, for instance, the demand for ships has increased from 20,068 operational days to 32,915 days.

Perhaps most importantly, the small size of the fleet has serious implications for our sailors and their families. Despite a requirement for Navy ships to be deployed for six months, deployments of seven months or more have become regular occurrences. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, has publicly stated that "we can’t run at that rate,” but admitted that seven to seven-and-a-half month deployments will become the new norm because of the increased demands on our fleet. These longer deployments also threaten to wear out the fleet before the end of its intended service life, driving up maintenance costs or forcing ships back to sea with low readiness levels.

Read more about Congressman Forbes’ position on this topic, especially as it relates to US presence in the Asia-Pacific realm, in his piece in the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings, “Rebalancing the Rhetoric,” here.

Question of the Week: 
What do you believe are the most serious negative impacts of having a Navy that is at its smallest size since 1917? (Multi-Answer)

( ) Greater stresses on our sailors and their families.
( ) The Navy can be fewer places and do fewer things, even though demand for Navy ships is increasing.
( ) Longer deployments and more maintenance costs for the fleet and the taxpayer.
( ) None. Our Navy is more capable than it was a century ago.
( ) Other – (Share your thoughts below).

Take the poll here.

Find out the results of last week’s instapoll here.
Posted by Randy | September 20, 2012

Tragically, on September 11th in Benghazi, Libya, the United States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were murdered. This was the first U.S. Ambassador who had been murdered since 1979.  

These deaths occurred amidst angry and sometimes violent anti-American protests near U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East in the countries like Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia.  In some cases, protesters were burning American flags and effigies of President Obama.

( ) Tether foreign aid to pro-democracy, religious freedoms and human rights benchmarks

( ) Reduce or eliminate foreign aid

( ) Sever diplomatic ties and/or remove embassy staffs

( ) Bolster embassy security with elite Marine units

( ) Continue engagement with these foreign governments to combat terrorism and promote democracy.   

( ) I don't know.

( ) Other. (Please share your comments and ideas on my blog below).

Take the poll here.

Find out the results of last week’s instapoll here.

Posted by Randy | July 19, 2012
In recent months, considerable angst has arisen in regards to leaks of classified national security information.  Three particularly high-level and dangerous leaks have given rise to allegations that, at worst, the White House purposely released the information in order to reap political gains or, at best, has been negligent in protecting against leaks and aggressively punishing guilty of releasing classified information.  These incidents, which pose potentially severe and dangerous implications for U.S troops and intelligence officers, include the release of:

1)      Classified information about cyberwarfare, including the fact the Stuxnet malware attack on the Iranian Nuclear program was an American operation.

2)      Classified information about the Osama Bin Laden raid, including specific participating units and information from the compound.

3)      Highly sensitive details about the process by which the President in White House counterterrorism meetings designates people for “Kill Lists” targeted by special operations forces and drone strikes.

As a result of the gravity and frequency of the leaks, and because of concern that the Administration could not effectively investigate themselves, several in Congress are calling for an independent counsel to be appointed to investigate the string of national security leaks.

Question of the Week: Do you believe an independent investigator should be appointed to investigate the recent flurry of leaks of classified national security information?

(  ) Yes.

(  ) No.

(  ) I am not sure.

(  ) Other, please share your thoughts below.

Take the poll here.

Find the results of our last instaPoll here.

Posted by Randy | October 05, 2011


Over the past several weeks, I have shared with you my thoughts on looming defense cuts and the damaging effect they will have on our national security, as well as the economic well-being of our troops and our country.

Now, I want to share with you what our military leaders are saying about the impact of defense cuts.

MORE DEFENSE CUTS? VIEWS FROM OUR MILITARY LEADERS

“This mechanism would force defense cuts that, in my view, would do catastrophic damage to our military and its ability to protect this country. It is kind of a blind formula that makes cuts all across the board, and guarantees that we will hollow out the force.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Question before Senate Armed Services Committee referencing an additional $600 billion in defense cuts:
"If we pull that trigger, will we be shooting ourselves in the foot?" Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s answer:  "We'd be shooting ourselves in the head."

"I also share your deep trepidation over sequestration and the potential for cuts so devastating and so dramatic that we place at risk the very security we’re charged to provide, that we negate the very reason we exist."
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

“It has a good chance of breaking us and putting us in a position to not keep faith with this all volunteer force that's fought two wars and that needs to be reset in everything else that we look at for the future….And I think it would be incredibly dangerous for our country's national security to go there. And to your point, we are not going to solve that debt problem on the back of the Pentagon. You can't do it if you zeroed the budget.”
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

“The roughly $1 trillion in cuts … would seriously weaken our military, and it would really make us unable to protect this nation from a range of security threats that we face...[It] will not only impact our military strength, I think it will impact our economic strength as well. Cancellation of weapon systems, construction projects, research activity would seriously cripple our industrial base."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

“There will be tough decisions and tough trade-offs. This will force us to take on greater risk.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on $400 billion cuts already enacted

"We are not going to solve the national debt challenge on the back of the military. There are whole host of other issues that have to be addressed in order to significantly reduce that debt."
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

It will be "extraordinarily difficult and very high risk" to cut $1 trillion from defense spending.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey

“These sorts of ill-conceived reductions in defense spending would inflict real damage to the well-being of our Airmen and their families, and ultimately undermine our ability to protect the Nation.”
Air Force Chief of Staff General Norty Schwartz

Trillion dollar defense cuts, “would be devastating for the military, forcing spending reductions that likely would necessitate shrinking the size of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps to the smallest numbers in decades and also lead to the smallest Navy in nearly 100 years.”
Pentagon Spokesperson George Little

“There is no doubt in my mind that the continued strength and global reach of the American military will remain the greatest deterrent against aggression and the most effective means of preserving peace in the 21st century, as it was in the 20th.”
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

"Everything's on the table, everything's being discussed. There are all sorts of scenarios. We're looking at every aviation program, every shipbuilding program. We're trying to wring out cost wherever and whenever we can find it."
Under Secretary of the Navy Bob Work

Cutting another $600 billion from national defense "is a red line that this government should not cross."
Pentagon Spokesperson George Little

“Currently, we are not able to meet all the forward presence requirements of the other combatant commanders… in the case of another major contingency operation, the United States Marine Corps would not, right now, be able to meet the timelines of the combatant commanders in response to another major contingency operation should it occur simultaneously with current operations in Afghanistan.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “We would start to have to make some fundamental changes in the capability of the Marine Corps.
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, U.S. Marine Corps

“I will tell you that some of our low-density, high-demand requirements, personnel recovery, ISR, and a few are right at the ragged edge. In reference to $1trillion cuts, “We would have to go into a fundamental restructure of what it is our nation expects from our Air Force.”
General Philip M. Breedlove, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

On current ability to meet needs of commanders in field, “No, we cannot meet all the other COCOM commander's validated demands. Those are prioritized through the global force management process. We work hard to meet them. We are not able to meet them all.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “You're reaching an area there that I think would definitely we'd have to look very, very hard at our strategy, what we can and cannot do.”
General Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

“To meet Combatant Commanders needs unconstrained, doing some analysis, I need about 400 ships. I have 285 ships.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “If we have a reduction of the kind that was passed around here - $400 billion or $886 billion - without a comprehensive strategic review, a fundamental look at what were asking our forces to do, we won't be able to meet the Global Force Management Plan today.  It will exacerbate our readiness trends. And if we have to go to a reduction of force structure, I am concerned about the industrial base.”
Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy

Read more here: www.forbes.house.gov/strongamerica
Posted by Randy | September 09, 2011
Our military faces a strained force and looming defense cuts that will impact its basic ability to provide for the common defense.

This video Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon highlights this serious issue and its potential impact on our national security. In the video, Chairman McKeon asks “what if we’re attacked in some other area, what is our military going to be able to do if we keep cutting it…”

Posted by Randy | August 08, 2011

This weekend we received the tragic news of the death of 30 Americans who were killed when a U.S. helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan. The attack marked the deadliest day for Americans in the war in Afghanistan.  Twenty-two of the troops were reportedly from a specialized Navy SEAL Unit based in Virginia Beach.

 

We grieve the loss of these valiant Americans and honor the sacrifice they made while on a mission to rescue fellow servicemen and women. Their courage in advancing the cause of freedom was exemplary and it will not be forgotten. Our prayers continue to be with the families of these service members who will feel the absence of their loved ones long after the news stories have ended. We pray they find peace.

Posted by Randy | August 02, 2011
Deep defense cuts would be “extraordinarily difficult and very high risk.” That is what General Martin Dempsey, Army Chief of Staff and President Obama's nominee to serve as the nation's chief military officer, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Administration has proposed bringing significant cutbacks to our nation’s military strength. But a defense budget in decline will undermine our ability to project power, strengthen our adversaries, and weaken our alliances.

I have developed “Defense Cuts: A Very High Risk,” a booklet to outline the current status of our national defense, the threats we face, and the proposed cuts to our military. It is my hope that this booklet will assist policy makers and interested individuals in understanding the severe impact defense cuts will have on our national security.
Posted by Randy | July 26, 2011

These charts highlight the shrinking state of readiness and the subsequent dire choices our nation's commanders are being forced to consider, issues that we are discussing in today’s House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee hearing with the service vice chiefs of staff.




Overlay these charts with the fact that President Obama has announced plans to cut a jaw-dropping $400 billion from the defense budget over a 12-year period, and the picture of our future readiness is grim. The United States is walking down a path where we eventually will not be ready as a nation to protect ourselves against future threats.