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Posted by Randy | January 16, 2015

The United States faces numerous challenges in 2015, from the ongoing threat of Islamist terror to a resurgent, rising China, and a nuclear-obsessed Iran. The U.S. Navy will be at the forefront of all these challenges, requiring new strategies, strong leadership, and increased resources to ensure our national security. Below, I recently shared my thoughts with USNI News on the way forward for our Navy in the coming year.

          

Interview: HASC’s Forbes on China, Strategy and the Navy’s Year Ahead
By: Sam LaGrone
January 13, 2015
 
As the chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) has been both a booster and critic of the Navy’s quest to build more ships and its modernization efforts across its aviation, surface and submarine portfolios.
 
Last year, Forbes was highly critical of the Navy’s plan to layup 11 cruisers, the direction of the service’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program, been vocal about the lack of strategic direction of the service and publically wary of the rise in Chinese and Russian capabilities in the face of declining U.S. defense budgets.
 
Forbes sat down with USNI News last week to outline the goals for his subcommittee and the direction he’d like to see the Navy move into the future, how he sees China and the service’s strategic direction. 
                     
USNI News: What’s going to be the focus of your year ahead?
 
Forbes: I think you could lay some dots down from where I’ve been to kind of project where I’m going to go.

One of the real interesting things to watch is going to be whether we have renewed debate among Congress itself about what do with sequestration.

We started down this path when the administration started these [defense] cuts, even before sequestration. Now many of the same people in the administration are screaming and yelling, ‘oh look at all these pitfalls.'

You have those cuts then you have sequestration on top of that and that was before the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).

One of the real big things that we’re going to be looking at is, “are we able to get sequestration done away with as it pertains to defense?"

I think the answer to that is going to be yes but I think that’s just one component.

The next part of that is can we begin to turn those [budget] curve lines where they actually need to go.

I say those two big things, because everything else lines up based on those two questions.



Assuming those discussions go reasonably well, then we’re going back and asking what is our strategy across the globe and then what’s it going to take to fulfill that strategy.

                   
USNI NewsHow so?

Forbes: As I look at policy makers, I try to ask then is not, “how much money do you want to spend on defense and what can you get for that money but what do you want to give up?"

If you have nine choke points around the world, which one of those choke points are you willing to give up?

Are you willing to give up the Asia-Pacific area because we’re going to have two-thirds of all of the trade for the next decade are going to go through there? Are you willing to give up the Strait of Hormuz, which would be 30 to 35 percent of the oil in the world? We’re told by the CIA that if we lose it for two weeks gas will go up to $7.50 a gallon.

Then you ask do we want to give up our under water cables which do 95 percent of all international financial transactions which take place in this country every day or do we want to give up any of our sea lanes, which is 85 percent of all of the goods that we’re selling in our stores, if you say, “no, we don’t want to [ give up] any of those” and we want to have this presence around the world.

Do the math and the math simply doesn’t add up to needing only 274 ships.

Eleven of that 274 would have been [Ticonderoga-class] cruisers that they would have beached with the electronics out of and radar of out of taking at least a year and a half, two years to get them back in the water.

Laying all that out… I think we really realize that we need to do these offset strategies.

We believe very strongly in the innovation and the technological component of what we need to be looking at but among that we think it’s vitally important that we keep our carrier fleet, keep them going strong, that we keep our surface combatants. I have yet to hear anyone from the Navy sit [in my office] and tell me that we don’t need those cruisers

We’re going to argue for those. We’ve heard rumblings that the administration might try and take out six destroyers next year. We will certainly fight against that, if that were to take place.

I think we have a great debate that’s going to go on UCLASS. And then we’re looking at our submarine fleet and whether or not two a year is going to be enough to get us where we need to be going.

We’re focused on just China now, but China and Russia because as you know Russia is increasing their capacity and capability every single day. We’ve got to look at how much we want to spend but look at these capacities and capabilities we’re going to be dealing with our near-term competitors and make sure we have the strategies necessary but then the capacity and capability to deal with that.

                   
USNI News:
 What do you think of the Navy’s current strategic posture?

Forbes: We don’t feel like we’ve had the kind of strategic planning and strategic thinking that we have needed out of the Pentagon for the last several years.

I think it’s nationwide. We’ve gotten to where we just react to the next six months or just the next few months.

Now more than ever we got to have a defense strategy that makes sense but also gives us the ability to do our acquisitions… you can’t do it with a 12 page defense guidance and the people in the Pentagon would echo that same [sentiment].

                   
USNI News: What would you like to see from the Navy or the Pentagon as far as a strategy product? Would it be a single document?

Forbes: Strategies are not often a single document, normally they are a group of documents coming together but I would like to see an overall comprehensive strategy that’s greater than 12 pages that says this is how we’re going to deal with these capabilities coming out of China coming out of Russia and what we are predicting for the next decade or more.

The decisions that we’re making with the Navy are decade decisions they’re not a month down the road or 12 months down the road.

                   
USNI News:
 At the Atlantic Council Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition, made a full-throated call for Congress to roll back some legislation that places bureaucratic restrictions on the military. He mentioned specifically the BCA. What’s your take?

Forbes: It makes no sense to have 40 different approval processes for every platform we’re trying to put out there. You have good intentions with the Goldwater–Nichols [Act] but there are ramifications that come from that.

I don’t think any of us here would object to relooking and saying how do we streamline that process and make it more effective. It’s not just a cost increaser but it’s also a time delay. We can literally 22 and a half years from idea and conception from when we actually deploy something. That’s not acceptable in a world where Iran and China can do it seven to nine years.

We don’t win that math.

If we’re talking about how do we streamline that acquisition process and make that more effective we’d welcome that discussion. It wouldn’t even be a debate, it would be a discussion on how we can help bring that about.

But is Congress going to take a hands-off approach and let the Pentagon do whatever they want? We have no intentions of doing that.

That’s different from saying we’re going to continue to layer it down with needless bureaucracy on how we get something built.

One of the keys for us is how we are able to get more innovation in there… It’s not just the big companies. It’s how do we [bring in] the small companies because sometimes the small companies have the creative capabilities to come in and help do those design concepts.

We have to make sure we have room at the table for them.

                   
USNI News: The modified LCS concept is out now. The Office of the Secretary of Defense appears to be satisfied with how that’s moving forward. Sen. McCain said he had more questions about the platform. Do you have a take on the navy’s decision?

Forbes: We haven’t had them come back and make that presentation to us and we need to make sure we allow them to do that.

                   
USNI News:
 You mentioned China and Russia and with few exceptions the Navy doesn’t talk much about the capabilities of China and Russia in detail. Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert said in June that due to U.S. trade relationships with China it’s not helpful to talk in the open about China’s capabilities. Where are you in that discussion?

Forbes: His quote was a little more staggering than that. But I disagree that we shouldn’t even be discussing it.

That’s one of the things we have been advocating we ought to be looking at. If you look at the best thinkers at the Pentagon now they fully believe that we can’t just look at Chinese or Russian intentions but he have to look at their capabilities because intentions can change so quickly.

If you listen to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he’s starting to take the tone that’s much more in line with what I’ve been saying for several years now, in terms of China and Russia.

                   
USNI News: What are you looking for in the next budget submission? What are you hoping the Navy has heard from your fellow members, from your committee and the concerns that you have?

Forbes: [Stackley] was pretty pleased with what we were doing in the Navy and some of the steps that we have done. I’m hoping to see them continue forward with that movement. We can’t continue to let the Navy decline. We have to start rebuilding this Navy and we’re hoping we’re going to see that as part of what’s in that budget. If not we will relook and make sure that’s a part of that budget as we did when they tried to take the cruisers out and the carrier out and the Tomahawk missile production out and the amphibious ship. I hope they have gotten the message that Congress isn’t willing to go in that direction.

                   
USNI News:
 Both of the Fiscal Year 2015 defense bills put in money for a 12th San Antonio-class (LPD-17). Do you think that the line should go beyond 12?

Forbes: Our concern is to make sure the Navy [goes in] the direction [of 12 LPDs]. We still have a deficit in funding of that [ship] and [the Navy] is concerned with that funding.

I think our first step is making sure we get that ship built.

                   
USNI News:
 At the Atlantic Council Stackley mentioned capability gaps, like electronic warfare and the lack of a modern anti-ship missile, is there anything else you’re seeing from your position?

Forbes: There’s some he didn’t mention, that’s because they’re of a classified nature.

But I think the anti-ship missile capability is something we’ve been looking at. That’s why we worked on getting something in the budget last year, too. That’s a big concern for us. I think that would be a big concern for probably [U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Samuel] Locklear.

Despite the fact we’ve been doing relatively well with our submarines but anytime you do the math and say in eight years they’re going to have over 80 submarines and we’re going to have in the low 30s, that’s math equation isn’t real happy.

I think when you look in the gaps we have in carrier presence, we can’t afford to slide back in what we’re doing there. We think we have some huge concerns with what we might want to be doing with UCLASS, because we see where they might be going. The electronic warfare, cyber, what we do in space in terms of protecting our satellites — all of that is incredibly important because if you lose those capabilities it impacts us overall in terms of our capacity and capabilities.

In the last five years no one was mentioning those deficits no they’re beginning to talk about them and that’s a big turn that I’m excited to see.

It’s not just [Stackley], you hear the Chairman [Dempsey] talking about the same thing in his speeches as well.

                   
USNI News: Talking about UCLASS, apparently the Navy and OSD have reached some type of accord on what that concept is going to be and they’re going to release it as part of the budget submission as to what it’s going to look like. Do you have an inkling what that is or what that looks like?

Forbes: Yes, I have an inkling but no inklings that I can talk about.

I want to be fair in that I think the [DoD] and the Navy in bringing us into that but there’s not much I can talk about.

But I have lines I can’t cross on that, but I’m pleased with the direction they’re now going in.

                   
USNI News:
 Were you satisfied with the Navy’s response with what you asked in your letter to CNO Greenert on strategy?

Forbes: I was pleased and satisfied with the response that they gave with their willingness to really look at these issues and the movement that they are willing to start making.

But in all of these things, the proof is in the pudding but right now I think they have been very responsive.

We’re looking at what they’re doing with strategy and the officers they’re bringing in with that. I don’t know if it would be realistic for me to say they’ve done much more.



It’s been interesting to see the development of Chinese strategy and how that’s evolving — much different from what the Pentagon thought it was four or five years ago but it’s more in line with what we thought four or five years ago.

It’s absolutely accurate, they realize how big this concern is now and it can’t be swept under the rug right now.

                   
USNI News: What do you want to see from the Navy this year?

Forbes: I think a continued partnership with Congress in terms of making sure we’re jointly rebuilding the United States Navy so that we can meet the strategic goals it must meet. Not just in the foreseeable future but in the next one to two to three decades.

I am pleased with movement we’ve seen but I think but we’re going to look to continue that kind of partnership as we go through this year.

If we do, there’s a lot we’ll be able to accomplish.



Read the article here: http://news.usni.org/2015/01/13/interview-hascs-forbes-china-strategy-navys-year-ahead
Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 27, 2014

Asia Emerges As Center of Gravity in the International System. As Henry Kissinger and others have observed, Asia is emerging as the center of gravity in the international system. The rapid economic growth that began with Japan during the 1960s spread to South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore in the 1970s; China in the 1980s; and India in the 1990s. As has become indisputable, throughout history, prosperity brings power in its train. Today, Asian nations account for an increasing share of global military resources and overall economic output. Even though defense budgets and force levels have declined in Europe and North America, Asia’s have expanded. The region is home to five nuclear-armed militaries (China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Russia), and their number could increase. Meanwhile, on the conventional side of the weapons ledger, Asian nations have been investing in advanced combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, submarines, and surface vessels and progressively expanding arsenals of both long-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Compared to Europe, Asia has weak international organizations and means of resolving disputes. Moreover, it contains different types of states — from liberal democracies to authoritarian regimes of various stripes and repressive totalitarian dictatorships — with myriad outstanding differences over borders and maritime claims. Asia is also a region in which the domestic politics of many significant players are characterized by strident forms of nationalism. For these reasons, Asia is one region of the world where conflicts among major powers remain plausible and may even be probable. It is also a region where the United States has substantial economic interests, strong alliance commitments, quasi-alliance relationships, and a continuing interest in preserving freedom of navigation across the Western Pacific. http://american.com/archive/2014/october/eye-on-asia

China’s Submarines Add Nuclear-Strike Capability, Altering Strategic Balance. One Sunday morning last December, China’s defense ministry summoned military attachés from several embassies to its monolithic Beijing headquarters. To the foreigners’ surprise, the Chinese said that one of their nuclear-powered submarines would soon pass through the Strait of Malacca, a passage between Malaysia and Indonesia that carries much of world trade, say people briefed on the meeting. Two days later, a Chinese attack sub—a so-called hunter-killer, designed to seek out and destroy enemy vessels—slipped through the strait above water and disappeared. It resurfaced near Sri Lanka and then in the Persian Gulf, say people familiar with its movements, before returning through the strait in February—the first known voyage of a Chinese sub to the Indian Ocean. The message was clear: China had fulfilled its four-decade quest to join the elite club of countries with nuclear subs that can ply the high seas. The defense ministry summoned attachés again to disclose another Chinese deployment to the Indian Ocean in September—this time a diesel-powered sub, which stopped off in Sri Lanka. China’s increasingly potent and active sub force represents the rising power’s most significant military challenge yet for the region. Its expanding undersea fleet not only bolsters China’s nuclear arsenal but also enhances the country’s capacity to enforce its territorial claims and thwart U.S. intervention. http://online.wsj.com/articles/chinas-submarine-fleet-adds-nuclear-strike-capability-altering-strategic-balance-undersea-1414164738

Chen Ziming, jailed leader of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, dies at 62. Chen Ziming, an activist branded as one of the “black hands” behind the 1989 pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square, which was crushed by the Chinese government, died Oct. 21 at his home in Beijing. He was 62. The cause was pancreatic cancer, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Mr. Chen, who was convicted of sedition in 1991, spent about 13 years behind bars or confined to his apartment. In response to economic pressure from the United States, Chinese authorities released him in 1994 but imprisoned him again in 1995 after he staged a 24-hour hunger strike commemorating Tiananmen. Suffering from testicular cancer and other illnesses, he was allowed to go home, under house arrest, in 1996. Even after his sentence ended, the scholarly but impassioned Mr. Chen was under constant surveillance, he told interviewers. He published political commentaries under 30 pseudonyms. With permission from various government agencies, he started a Web site called “Reform and Construction,” but it was shut down, he said, for no apparent reason. “They just pull the plug on you because they can,” he told Radio Free Asia in 2006. In the years before the Tiananmen Square massacre, Mr. Chen, a biochemist by training, was one of China’s most prominent social scientists. With his longtime colleague Wang Juntao, he founded an influential think tank, ran a dissident magazine called Beijing Spring, published the reform-minded Economics Weekly and started China’s first independent political surveys. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/chen-ziming-jailed-leader-of-chinas-1989-tiananmen-square-uprising-dies-at-62/2014/10/26/d2caeb82-5c5c-11e4-b812-38518ae74c67_story.html

World Bank president, Obama at odds over China global lending project. The Obama administration-appointed president of the World Bank says he feels in no way threatened by — and instead fully supports — China’s creation of a massive infrastructure investment bank, despite the administration’s tireless behind-the-scenes attempts to smear the project. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American who has headed the World Bank since President Obama tapped him for the post in 2012, said he and others at the international lending institution have “been working quite closely” with Chinese officials on the $50 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. He made the comments Friday, hours after Beijing officially launched the bank, which Chinese officials tout as a fresh well of cash for badly needed loans that developing nations around the globe can spend on telecommunications, transportation, energy and other projects. The catch is that the Obama administration privately stands in firm opposition to China’s project on grounds that it is a calculated attempt by Beijing to undermine American dominance over multilateral international lending since shortly after World War II, when the World Bank was created. With headquarters in Washington, it has always been run by a U.S. citizen. Several major news outlets, including the Financial Times and The New York Times, have carried reports in recent days highlighting the administration’s attempt to convince other world powers to stay away from the Chinese bank for a host of reasons. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/26/world-bank-president-backs-chinese-counterpart/

China to streamline counter-terrorism intelligence gathering. China will set up a national anti-terrorism intelligence system, state media said on Monday, as part of changes to a security law expected to be passed this week after an upsurge in violence in the far western region of Xinjiang. Hundreds of people have been killed over the past two years in Xinjiang in unrest the government has blamed on Islamists who want to establish a separate state called East Turkestan. Rights groups and exiles blame the government's repressive policies for stoking resentment among the Muslim Uighur people who call Xinjiang home. The Xinhua state news agency said changes to the draft security law going through parliament were aimed at improving intelligence gathering and the sharing of information across government departments, while also enhancing international cooperation. "Our country is facing a serious and complex struggle against terrorism," Xinhua said. "China will set up an anti-terrorism intelligence gathering center to coordinate and streamline intelligence gathering in the field, according to a draft law submitted for reading on Monday," it said. The agency did not elaborate on the proposed intelligence center but said other changes to the law would focus on the "management" of the Internet, the transport of dangerous materials and border controls. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/27/us-china-violence-intelligence-idUSKBN0IG07M20141027

As China Deploys Nuclear Submarines, U.S. P-8 Poseidon Jets Snoop on Them. Swooping down to 500 feet over the western Pacific, Cmdr. Bill Pennington pilots his U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft toward an unidentified vessel off southern Japan. In the back of the plane, a heavily modified Boeing 737, the crew homes in on the vessel using a barrage of surveillance equipment, including radar, GPS and infrared cameras. Further down the fuselage stand rows of tube-shaped sonar buoys that the crew can catapult into the sea and that float for up to eight hours as they track objects underwater. This is a dummy run: Today’s target is a Singaporean container ship, and the P-8 roars by without dropping the buoys. But the aircraft is designed to hunt a far more elusive, and potentially dangerous, quarry: Chinese submarines. http://online.wsj.com/articles/as-china-deploys-nuclear-submarines-u-s-p-8-poseidon-jets-snoop-on-them-1414166686

Underwater Drones Join Microphones to Listen for Chinese Nuclear Submarines. Last November, an unusual experiment took place in the congested waters of Singapore just a few weeks before a Chinese nuclear attack submarine passed through the adjacent Malacca Strait. U.S. and Singaporean researchers used an underwater drone named Starfish to explore ways to monitor subsea activity in an experiment sponsored by the U.S. military and Singapore’s defense ministry, say people involved. The goal of the operation, named Project Mission, was to link a Singaporean underwater surveillance system to an American one that is designed to track potentially hostile submarines. The trial was also part of a broader U.S. effort to use its own underwater drones, combined with data from friendly countries, to enhance a sub-snooping system that dates back to the early years of the Cold War. From the 1950s, the U.S. listened for Soviet subs entering the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by stringing underwater microphones across the seabed around its coast and in strategic chokepoints, such as between the U.K. and Iceland. http://online.wsj.com/articles/underwater-drones-join-microphones-to-listen-for-chinese-nuclear-submarines-1414166607

Japan Builds Response to Chinese Area-Denial Strategy. Japan’s response to Chinese anti-access/area-denial threats rest on three planks: increasingly large helicopter carriers, next-generation 3,300-ton Soryu-class submarines and new Aegis destroyers. This strategy is further enhanced by plans to deploy 20 Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft as replacements for the P-3C, and upgraded SH-60K sub-hunting helicopters. When integrated, this will create a much more capable fleet able to expand its role beyond being a simple “shield” to the US Navy’s “spear,” analysts said. Data from AMI International shows that the Izumo-class helicopter destroyers (22DDH) and the Soryu-class submarines are the leading programs for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), both in budget and importance to Japan’s maritime security, according to Bob Nugent, affiliate consultant at AMI. Japan unveiled the first of the two planned Izumo-class ships on Aug. 6, 2013 — the largest Japanese warship since World War II — which will be able to carry 15 helicopters. In 2009 and 2011, the Navy also commissioned two new third-generation Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers, each capable of deploying 11 helicopters. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141026/DEFREG03/310260020/Japan-Builds-Response-Chinese-Area-Denial-Strategy

Pacific Powers Build Capability, Warily Eye Neighbor Countries. Ninety percent of the world’s trade flows by sea and the majority of that through narrow, vulnerable straits such as Malacca, Singapore and Taiwan. This has forced the Asia-Pacific region to outspend all other nations, except the US, in procurement of ships and submarines. The dangers are real. Taiwan Adm. Chen Yeong-kang said regional territorial disputes could disrupt sea lines of communication (SLOC) in the region. The comments were made during the 2014 International Sea Lines of Communication Conference sponsored by the Taiwan Navy on Oct. 15. “Any abrupt armed incident or mass military conflict is possible to impact the SLOC and endanger transport safety.” Due to the tight thoroughfares of many of Asia’s straits and low depths of the South China Sea, many regional countries are procuring fast attack craft, corvettes and coast guard cutters, said Stanley Weeks, an adjunct professor at the US Naval War College. He expects navies and coast guards to procure more fixed-wing planes, including UAVs and refurbished P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. More P-3s will become available as the US begins retiring its fleet and procuring the new P-8 Poseidon. “The biggest spenders are China and India, the two most rapidly developing navies in the world,” said Guy Stitt, president of AMI International Naval Analysts & Advisors. “These two nations are not only expanding their navies, they are now building some of the most complex naval vessels in any navy’s inventory.” These include nuclear ballistic missile submarines and aircraft carriers. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141026/DEFREG03/310260019/Pacific-Powers-Build-Capability-Warily-Eye-Neighbor-Countries

China, Vietnam say want lasting solution to sea dispute. China and Vietnam agreed on Monday to use an existing border dispute mechanism to find a solution to a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, saying they did not want it to affect relations. The two countries have sought to patch up ties since their long-running row erupted in May, triggered by China's deployment a drilling rig in waters claimed by the communist neighbors, which lead to confrontation at sea between rival vessels and violent anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam. After a meeting between China's top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, China's foreign ministry said they had agreed to "appropriately handle the maritime problem". The two exchanged smiles and warm handshakes in contrast to Yang's last visit in June, which ended in acrimony with Yang accusing Vietnam of "hyping up" their dispute, which was the worst breakdowns in their relations since a brief border war in 1979. The rapprochement began in late August, a few weeks after Vietnam started courting other countries embroiled in maritime rows with China, including the Philippines and China's biggest investor, Japan, which will provide boats and radar equipment to Vietnam's coastguard. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/27/us-china-vietnam-idUSKBN0IG0Y220141027

Taiwan eyes homegrown submarines after 13-year wait on U.S. deal. Taiwan is moving ahead with plans to build its own submarines, with an initial design to be completed by the year-end, after lengthy delays in getting eight vessels under a 2001 U.S. defense deal and as China's navy expands rapidly. While major obstacles remain, such as overcoming significant technical challenges and what would almost certainly be strenuous objections from Beijing, a political consensus has emerged in Taiwan in recent months that it can wait no longer, officials and lawmakers said. China is Taiwan's largest trading partner and economic ties have warmed since China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008. But Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the proudly democratic island under its control. Taiwan has four aging submarines including two that date back to World War Two, although its military is otherwise considered generally modern. China, however, has 70 submarines alone, along with dozens of surface ships and a refurbished aircraft carrier, although that vessel is not yet fully operational. A recent Taiwanese government defense report said China would be capable of a successful invasion by 2020. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/27/us-taiwan-submarines-idUSKBN0IF0YD20141027

Posted by The Congressional China Caucus | October 14, 2014

China Military Buildup Shifts Balance of Power in Asia in Beijing’s Favor. Congressional report warns the danger of U.S.-China conflict is rising. China’s decades-long buildup of strategic and conventional military forces is shifting the balance of power in Asia in Beijing’s favor and increasing the risk of a conflict, according to a forthcoming report by a congressional China commission. China’s military has greatly expanded its air and naval forces and is sharply increasing its missile forces, even while adopting a more hostile posture against the United States and regional allies in Asia, states a late draft of the annual report of the bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. As a result, “the potential for security miscalculation in the region is rising,” the report said, using the euphemism for a conflict or shootout between Chinese forces and U.S. forces or those of its regional allies. The report paints an alarming picture of China’s growing aggressiveness and expanding power, including development of two new stealth jets, the first deployment of a naval expeditionary amphibious group to the Indian Ocean, and aerial bombing exercises held in Kazakhstan. China’s communist government also views the United States as its main adversary—despite strong trade and financial links between the two countries, the report says. The commission report—to be released in final form in November—concludes that the war-footing-like buildup by the People’s Liberation Army is increasing the risk that a conflict will break out between the United States and China. The report warns that China’s communist leaders are fueling nationalist tensions amid concerns about declining economic growth and increasing social unrest. “Promoting a sense of grievance among the Chinese people and creating diversionary tensions in the region would carry real risks of escalation and create the potential for the United States to be drawn into a regional conflict,” the report says. The high-technology weapons and other capabilities China is fielding also pose a growing threat to America’s ability to deter regional conflicts, defend allies and maintain open and secure air and sea-lanes. As China builds up its naval power, the U.S. Navy is declining, and the current American ability to defeat China in a conflict will be difficult to maintain, the report says. http://freebeacon.com/national-security/china-military-buildup-shifts-balance-of-power-in-asia-in-beijings-favor/

Army's Pacific Pathways: New Tactics, Lessons Learned. A US Army Stryker brigade with added engineering, logistics and aviation capabilities is currently in Japan on its third stop of the Army’s inaugural Pacific Pathways rotation. The brigade and its equipment boarded contractor-piloted ships in Washington State in August and have joined exercises with partner forces in Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan since then, including the massive RIMPAC exercise, marking the first time the US Army was involved. US Army helicopters performed “hundreds” of deck landings during the exercise, Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of US Army Pacific, said on Monday. As part of the strategic “rebalance” toward the Pacific region, and with the end of rotations of soldiers based there to Iraq and Afghanistan, Brooks said that the number of soldiers assigned to Asia has grown from 60,000 to 100,000 over the past two years. “We have begun to train our aviation units in over-water operations so we can interface very easily” with the Navy, he said during a press briefing. Overall, “we are increasing the amount of work we do with the joint team” in the region, he said. Performing more joint operations and partnering with allies is more important than ever given budget cuts and the shrinking size of the overall force, he said. “The smaller we are the more engagement we need in order to maintain our leadership in the region … because we will have to rely on our partners to carry the load.” The Stryker unit is merely the first of what the Army hopes to be more — and more frequent — Pacific Pathways deployments, which would ramp up to three separate brigades running three separate rotations in fiscal 2015 and each year after if the funding holds up. Over the past two months, “we have found that we can be more efficient in using assets [to] drive costs down to squeeze every dollar we can” out of the event, he said, but offered few other lessons learned. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141013/SHOWSCOUT04/310130028/Army-s-Pacific-Pathways-New-Tactics-Lessons-Learned

Army Steps Up Pacific Sea-Based Exercises. The Army plans to conduct more maritime exercises with Navy ships in the Pacific as part of the services’ rebalance to the region, service leaders said Monday at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C. “We’ve begun to train our aviation units in Hawaii, Alaska, Japan and Korea to train them over water. We’ve done deck landing qualifications and participated in medical and logistical exercises. We are increasing the amount we are doing with the joint team,” said Gen. Vincent Brooks, Pacific Commander. Brooks added that the Army participated in the Rim of the Pacific training exercise this past summer, performing deck landings and medical evacuations. “We were flying out to ships with Army helicopters integrating air, land and sea. As we bring domains together we find the Army is an active player,” he said. Overall, the Army has increased its presence in the Pacific from 60,000 soldiers up to 100,000, Brooks said. “The rebalance takes the form of a 60-percent increase in forces assigned to the Pacific. This is an important step as part of the Army’s regional alignment,” Brooks added. As part of its rebalance to the Pacific, the Army plans to build upon a program it refers to as Pacific Pathways. This involves an effort to move a battalion-sized element of approximately 700 soldiers from a Stryker Task Force and about 500 enabling troops from support units. The effort links a series of exercises with foreign militaries by deploying Army forces for longer periods of time than a traditional exercise. http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/10/13/army-steps-up-pacific-sea-based-exercises/

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Reappears in Public, North’s Media Reports. The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whose prolonged absence from public view generated speculation about his health and grip on power, has visited a housing project and was seen walking with a cane, according to the North’s state-run media on Tuesday. The report was the first time the state-run news media had mentioned a public appearance by Mr. Kim since Sept. 3, when he was reported to have attended a concert. The report was likely to help dissipate the recent flurry of rumors over Mr. Kim’s whereabouts, many of which speculated on whether he had lost out in a power struggle inside the notoriously opaque government. According to the Korean Central News Agency, Mr. Kim recently visited a district where his government had just finished a cluster of homes for satellite engineers. North Korea is particularly proud of its scientists who succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit on board a long-range rocket in December 2012. Washington considered the rocket program a cover for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile. Mr. Kim “inspected various parts” of the housing district in Pyongyang, the news agency said, indicating that he had no trouble moving about. He expressed “great satisfaction” at the project and also posed for pictures with North Korean scientists who were to move into the new homes, the report added. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/world/asia/north-korean-leader-kim-jong-un-reported-to-have-appeared-in-public.html?_r=0

Hong Kong police clear barricades, open roads around protest site. Police used chain saws and sledgehammers to clear away barricades around protest sites and reopen several major roads in Hong Kong on Tuesday, appearing to gain the upper hand for the first time since pro-democracy protests began late last month. In two efficient operations, hundreds of police descended first on the Causeway Bay shopping area and then on Queensway, a wide road running through the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, on Tuesday morning. Forming lines around groups of protesters, other officers demolished barricades that had only been reinforced the night before, and cleaned the roads. Police left untouched the main protest area on Harcourt Road, just north of Queensway in Admiralty District, while some protesters continue to occupy one side of the road in Causeway Bay. But the police action should significantly ease traffic congestion and allow trams, buses and taxis to operate much more freely on Hong Kong island. By lunchtime, traffic was flowing freely down Queensway for the first time in more than two weeks, while police remained on the sidewalks, many carrying riot shields and helmets, to keep the protesters at bay. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hong-kong-police-clear-barricades-open-roads-around-protest-site/2014/10/14/36fe0463-a84b-471f-b39b-4fb2a2efac60_story.html

Posted by Randy | October 13, 2014
In June, I joined my colleagues in the House to support a 1.8% raise for our servicemembers; however, in August, the President announced that he believed their pay should be reduced.

This cut comes at a time when we have troops deployed around the world, and the Administration has cut billions of dollars from our national defense and subjected our military to sequestration.  I oppose the President’s decision to reduce the pay of our servicemembers – they are not the cause of our nation’s fiscal problems and should not be forced to carry the weight of solving it.

I will continue my steadfast support for our nation’s heroes, ensuring they receive the benefits and compensation they have earned and deserve.

Posted by Randy | October 09, 2014
I wanted to share this article with you. The Associated Press is reporting that the Homeland Security Department privately acknowledged roughly 70% of immigrant families who are caught illegally crossing the Mexican border and released into the United States with instructions to report back to immigration authorities have failed to report back to federal immigration agents.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is a direct consequence of the Administration’s failure to enforce our current immigration laws, and of prioritizing talks of amnesty over border security. My position remains clear: No amnesty. Period. You can learn more about my work opposing amnesty of any form, here.

Recently, the Department of Defense announced that illegal immigrants who have been granted deferral from deportation and also possess certain skills (like language expertise) will now be eligible to join the military. Do you support allowing select illegal immigrants to enlist in the military? Weigh in on our weekly poll, here.
Posted by Randy | September 22, 2014

After learning that the Obama Administration planned to lift a longstanding prohibition on Libyans coming to the U.S. to attend flight school, work in aviation maintenance or flight operations, or study or seek training in nuclear science, the House Judiciary Committee took action in an effort to prevent this dangerous move.

I’m pleased to tell you that the Administration announced it has reversed course and will keep the ban in place.

I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that we are putting forward policies that are in the best interest of the American people and the national security of this nation.

Posted by Randy | September 17, 2014

This week, I joined Lou Dobbs Tonight on Fox Business to share my thoughts on ISIL, arming the Syrian rebels, and the President’s speech.

Watch below if you missed it, or click here.


Where do you stand? Share your thoughts with me, here



Posted by | August 12, 2014
In June, as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began its takeover of major cities in Iraq, I asked if you believed the United States should get involved.   In response, 2,096 out of 3,469 or 60.4% of you said ‘no.’

On August 7th, the President authorized targeted airstrikes against ISIL if they move toward or threaten our personnel in the U.S. consulate in Erbil or the American embassy in Baghdad.  The President also called for humanitarian aid for the Iraqi civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar, and authorized military assistance to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces as they battle these terrorists.

To date, the U.S. military has conducted airdrops of food and water, delivering more than 85,000 meals and more than 20,000 gallons of drinking water, and is continuing airstrikes against ISIL to protect our American diplomats and military personnel in Erbil.


Question of the week:  Do you support the actions taken by the Administration in response to the situation in Iraq?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other.


 Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPollhere.
Posted by Randy | June 30, 2014

Below is a recent article in the Virginian-Pilot that discusses my concerns that U.S. leaders are not speaking openly about the challenge China poses to U.S. security interests. I recently expressed my concerns on this subject in an op-ed entitled “China. There, I Said It. (Part II)”.


                   

Navy should talk openly about China, Forbes says
The Virginian-Pilot
June 28, 2014

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert was wrong in urging military officers not to speak openly about Chinese military threats during a recent speech.

"If we resign ourselves to a policy of self-censorship about China's assertive actions and growing military power for fear it will antagonize them, we will be granting Beijing a veto over what we can and cannot say," the Chesapeake Republican wrote in a column published Thursday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Forbes, the senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, started the House's China Caucus and has repeatedly warned about the Asian nation's growing military presence.

He was reacting to Greenert's comments June 17 at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island.

When an unidentified officer noted that there was a reluctance to publicly talk about operations, tactics and air strategy in responding to the Chinese military, Greenert agreed.

"If you talk openly, you cross the line and you unnecessarily antagonize diplomatically," he said. "You probably have a sense of how much we trade with that country, right? It's astounding."

The admiral said there are closed-door discussions of how to meet the Chinese threat.

"There are groups up here that do this full time. And they're talking strategies and all that," he said. "People say we need to talk about it more openly... We can't do that... It will unnecessarily muddy waters."

But a lack of open discussion hurts the Navy's argument that it needs a larger 313-ship fleet and new military capabilities, Forbes wrote.

He has said that he believes many in Congress who want to shrink the military do not have a deep understanding of the threats the U.S. faces.

If China wants to be a superpower, Forbes wrote, it has to develop a "thick skin" so that its leaders can respond to criticism "without simply resorting to retaliation."

"I am not implying we need to be abrasive or obstinate in how we discuss this policy issue," he wrote. "Instead, our leaders should speak with clarity when China bullies its neighbors, seeks to unilaterally revise the status quo, challenges freedom of navigation, directs economic espionage, and as it continues to build military capabilities that undermine U.S. security guarantees in the region."

The debate arises as Chinese navy ships are participating for the first time in a joint exercise - called the Rim of the Pacific - off the coast of Hawaii with ships from the U.S. and 20 other nations. Greenert and his wife plan to visit

China next month at the invitation of his counterpart, Adm. Wu Shengli.

Nonetheless, Greenert said, the U.S. is continuing to build its presence in the Pacific and Asia.

Other nations and U.S. trading partners who want to keep maritime shipping lanes open have expressed growing concern with China as its navy moves more aggressively to broaden its influence.

"People ask me: 'What are you going to do about the South China Sea?' " Greenert said. "I say we're going to manage it."

The U.S. has to be clear with the Chinese about the freedom of the seas, he said. "They understand that. They don't like it, but they understand it."

Read the article here: http://hamptonroads.com/2014/06/navy-should-talk-openly-about-china-forbes-says
Posted by | June 11, 2014

Link below is my questioning of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel this morning at the House Armed Services hearing on the Bergdahl-Taliban trade.

I asked: would we put American lives at risk to go after the recently freed Taliban 5 if they return to the battlefield?

Hagel’s ultimate answer? “Yes.”

Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmBhQmeqb7g&feature=youtu.be