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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

Posted by | June 09, 2014
Transparency.  Accountability.  Responsibility.  These are characteristics that government agencies and departments are obligated to possess in order to effectively serve the American people. Despite their size and power, the Federal Reserve and the Department of Defense (DOD) are not exempt from this responsibility.

To ensure taxpayer dollars are used in the most efficient, effective means possible, action needs to be taken. We need to audit the Fed, and audit the DOD.

It’s just common sense. With our nation’s staggering deficit looming over the heads of our children, auditing the Federal Reserve is imperative, not optional. Likewise, a full audit of the Department of Defense would create an even stronger national defense, allowing us to better ensure that the agency is meeting its core goal of protecting our national security.

It’s long past due. The time is now.

Ensuring that government and federal agencies remain transparent in their use of tax dollars is a job I take very seriously. Recently, I’ve worked on the “Freedom of Information Act,” (H.R. 1211) which increases the ability of citizens to access records and documents from government agencies. Additionally, I’ve supported the “Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act,” (H.R. 1423), which requires federal agencies to annually provide the public with information on the programs they administer. Learn more about my work, here.
Posted by Randy | May 08, 2014

Following passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the Armed Services Committee yesterday I wanted to share some key provisions of the bill with you.  


Provisions I worked to include:

  • Providing Planning and Advance Procurement Funding for the Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) of the USS George Washington (CVN-73). The bill provides for the continued service life of the CVN-73, meeting the legal requirement for the U.S. Navy to maintain an 11 carrier Fleet and rejecting an Administration plan to move toward a 10 carrier Fleet.
  • Ensuring Continued Funding for the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). The bill continues full funding for the next generation aircraft carrier, supporting U.S. power projection capabilities for decades to come.
  • Continuing Critical Investments in Virginia-class Attack Submarines and Arleigh Burke-class Destroyers. The bill continues two-a-year procurement of Virginia-class submarines, maintaining U.S. dominance in the undersea domain, and two-a-year procurement of destroyers in FY15 at a time of growing demand for U.S. surface capabilities around the world.
  • Preventing the Premature Retirement of 11 Navy Cruisers. The bill prevents the early retirement of Ticonderoga -class cruisers and Whidbey Island-class amphibious ships. This provision will require the Navy to begin HM&E and Combat Systems modernization on two cruisers in FY15.
  • Providing an Additional Amphibious Ship in FY15. At the behest of Chairmen Forbes and Wittman, the bill provides an additional San Antonio-class amphibious vessel to meet the Navy and Marine Corps’ amphibious requirements.
  • Continuing the Littoral Combat Ship Program. The bill authorizes the procurement of two LCS in support of the Navy’s continuing requirement for a small surface combatant.
  • Authorizing an Additional 96 Tomahawk Missiles. The bill fills the Navy’s growing shortfall in munitions by procuring additional Tomahawk land-attack missiles.
  • Setting direction for the UCLASS Program. The bill precludes the use of funds for the Navy’s future unmanned carrier platform pending a review by the Secretary of Defense of the requirements associated with the Navy’s unmanned aviation program.
  • Standardizing Ship Counting Procedures to Avoid “Paper Ships”. The bill prevents the use of an expanded counting mechanisms used in the Thirty Year Shipbuilding Plan that misleadingly bolsters the size of the Navy’s Fleet.
  • Supporting New Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare Weapon. The bill fully supports the development of the next generation offensive anti-surface warfare (OASUW) weapon.

Key Provisions of the NDAA Include:

  • Military Compensation Commission and the President’s Proposed Benefit Cuts. The NDAA rejects the Administration’s proposed cuts to Tricare, Housing Allowances, and Commissary benefits. These cuts would have represented thousands of dollars in additional out-of-pocket expenses for our military personnel and their families.
  • Increasing Troop Pay. The bill supports a 1.8% annual pay increase for our troops, as required by current law.
  • Commissaries. The bill rejects $100 million in commissary cuts that would have disadvantaged our most junior personnel and their families.
  • Military Suicide. The NDAA provides $45.3 million towards behavioral and psychological health programs to prevent military suicides and help our warriors make the transition from the war zone.
  • Combatting Sexual Assault in the Military. The NDAA eliminates the “good soldier defense”, a consideration of general military character toward the probably of innocence in sexual assault prosecutions. It also calls for a review of the terms of discharge for those who are victims of sexual assault to ensure they have not been persecuted for reporting crimes.  
Providing for the common defense is among our most important Constitutional duties. The bill passed by the Armed Services Committee provides for the future health of our Navy and Marine Corps, invests in future technologies, and ensures that the promises made to our men and women in uniform are kept. The national security challenges of the coming decade require the type of serious, bipartisan leadership found in this legislation.

Posted by Randy | February 28, 2014
This week, our carrier fleet was added to the list of programs to be cut from the military’s budget, continuing a troubling trend of applying a lowest-common-denominator approach to national security.

For the past 70 years, aircraft carriers have provided our nation with a powerful tool to project military power and an unrivaled means to demonstrate diplomatic resolve around the world. Given our global requirements, the Navy has frequently said we are an 11-carrier Navy living in a world that demands 15 carriers.

As part of the Defense Department’s budget preview for Fiscal Year 2015, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the USS George Washington (CVN-73) could be cut next year if sequestration continues, thereby reducing our nation’s fleet from eleven carriers to ten.

Question of the week:  Do you believe that reducing the carrier fleet will leave the United States less capable of meeting national security needs?

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


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | September 19, 2013

On September 18, the uniformed leadership of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps appeared at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee to discuss the impact of sequestration on their services. When I asked our nation’s most senior military officers whether their services could execute our national defense strategy under another year of sequestration, each one of them responded with a resounding “no”. 

The leaders of our military have made it abundantly clear that our men and women in uniform are being put in the position of attempting to defend our nation’s interests with woefully inadequate resources. To all Americans, and particularly those in public office who have sworn to uphold our Constitution, this situation should be simply unacceptable. I will continue working to ensure that no American soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine is ever sent into harm’s way with less than the very best training, equipment, and support this country can provide.  Watch the video of the questioning here.
                   

In addition to my questioning of our service chiefs, I also spoke about the importance of a strong defense industrial base, both for our economy and national security, at an event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. As the Department of Defense struggles to adjust during a protracted period of reckless cuts, developing a thoughtful approach to rebalancing our defense portfolio and preserving the vitality of our defense industrial base is essential.  
Posted by Randy | September 05, 2013
Late last Friday afternoon, President Obama sent a letter to Congress stating that he was reducing the pay increase for our nation’s servicemembers to 1%, rather than the 1.8% approved by the House in this year’s annual defense bill. 

This letter to Congress came just one day before the Commander-in-Chief announced that he would seek congressional “authorization for the use of force” in Syria.

At a time when we have troops deployed in the Middle East, and the administration has cut billions of dollars from defense and subjected our military to the devastating impacts of sequestration, I believe it is the wrong course of action for the President to reduce pay for members of the military. I will continue working to ensure that our nation’s heroes receive the compensation they deserve and have rightly earned. 

Question of the week:   Do you believe our men and women in uniform should have their congressionally-required pay raise decreased?   

( ) 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 | August 29, 2013

Yesterday, I joined a bipartisan group of 115 Members in sending a letter to President Obama, demanding that he cease any planned use of military force in Syria without congressional authorization, as required by the Constitution of the United States of America.  

I strongly believe that the President is obligated to the American people and to Congress to define the United States’ national interests regarding an intervention in Syria, as well as to define strategic objectives, a plan for the implementation of that strategy, and standards with which to assess the accomplishment of our objectives. I cannot support any action that could potentially lock the United States into a foreign entanglement with no clear objective or readily accessible end goals. We cannot risk losing focus on Iranian threats in the region and we cannot put increased pressure on a military already stretched too thin by this Administration’s reckless defense cuts.
 
Below, I wanted to share with you a segment from Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” today, where I joined Bill Hemmer to further discuss why America must stay out of Syria. Click here to watch the video.    
 

 Yesterday, I sent out a poll on whether the United States should use military force to intervene in Syria’s civil war. 83.7% of those who have taken the poll so far answered "No". Vote in the poll, here, or share your opinion with me in the comment section, below.

Posted by Randy | July 09, 2013
On July 3rd, the world watched as Mohammed Morsi was ousted as President of Egypt.  The next day, Adly Mansour was sworn in as the Interim President. 

Following news of the civil unrest in Cairo, discussions here in the United States quickly turned to the role of American foreign aid.  The President and the State Department must now determine the appropriate response and involvement of the United States government, including continuation or suspension of foreign aid.

Question of the week:  In general, what role do you believe U.S. foreign aid should serve? (multiple answer)

( ) Providing humanitarian aid abroad
( ) Protecting U.S. national security interests
( ) Furthering economic development in needy countries
( ) Protecting the interest of our allies, such as Israel
( ) Supporting the development of new open markets for investment
( ) Promoting democratic governance
( ) None, I believe the U.S. should not be providing foreign aid
( ) I don’t know
( ) Other (leave your comments below)


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.