Posted by Randy | April 01, 2015
The aircraft carrier remains the most visible and effective instrument of U.S. military power. Building a mixed and technologically-advanced Carrier Air Wing, including unmanned aircraft, is essential to preserving the carrier’s dominance in the decades ahead. I recently authored an Op-Ed in Defense News laying out my vision for unmanned carrier aviation.
Commentary: Where Is Unmanned Carrier Aviation Heading?
Posted by | March 31, 2015
The Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard recently released a new Maritime Strategy. I’ve shared my thoughts on what any successful Maritime Strategy should contain here and recently discussed the subject with USNI News, noting the significant progress made since the last Strategy was released in 2007.
Rep. Forbes: New U.S. Maritime Strategy Revision 'Light Years Ahead' of 2007 Original
By Sam LaGrone
March 30, 2015
The recent revision to the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard’s maritime strategy is ‘light years ahead’ of the 2007 original draft, the chairman of the House Armed Service Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces told USNI News last week.
Two weeks after the rollout of the tri-service plan. Rep Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said he mostly pleased with the content of A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS21).
“I thought the last one wasn’t very strong at all it didn’t have much meat to it. This one is light years ahead of where that strategy was and because of that I think this could be something that could have a lot more shelf life to it,” Forbes said.
“It is certainly something we are looking at and paying attention to with our subcommittee."
In particular, Forbes was pleased the Navy included a component about China.
“They were pretty straightforward talking about the challenge China would pose,” he said.
“That’s something if you leave out of our maritime strategy, it almost becomes worthless.”
However, Forbes would have liked to see more attention on the industrial base and a force structure assessment specifically for the Navy.
“I think one of the things that more and more people are becoming a little bit concerned about is our over all industrial base — what it’s going to look like five years down the road and ten years down the road?” he said.
“I would have liked to have seen them do a laydown about that industrial base is and then some planning on how the maritime strategy will help support that industrial base so we will have it there to provide the ships and repairs we’ll need down the road.”
Forbes has been vocal about a perceived lack of overall U.S. military strategic direction.
“I find the degree to which we as a nation are devoting any real intellectual energy to the subject [of strategy] to be minimal, just as I find that our capacity to devote such energy to be waning,” read a July 28 from Forbes to Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
“I write to you because of my sense that an effort to restore strategic thinking in the U.S. government must be started and championed by a strong advocate. I believe the Navy can be that champion and the Chief of Naval Operations can be its chief advocate."
Over the 18-months CS-21 revision process, the Navy shared drafts and asked legislators for their input into the final revision, including Forbes.
“The Navy actually met with us early on in this process, talked to us and said ‘we included some of your suggestions in this maritime strategy’ and in face they have — throughout,” he said.
“Overall they did a very good job with this maritime strategy and it should guide us in many of the decisions we should make over the upcoming months.”
Read the article here.
Posted by Randy | March 27, 2015
Wanted to highlight a bill for you that I recently cosponsored – The Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act (H.R. 401) – to push back on what I strongly believe is the Administration’s ill-advised approach towards the remaining detainees at GITMO.
What this bill does: This legislation accomplishes several important priorities: 1) suspends international transfers of high and medium risk detainees; 2) prohibits transfers of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen; 3) extends the current prohibition on transfers to the U.S.; and 4) increases transparency regarding risk assessments of the remaining GITMO detainees.
Bottom line: I believe for the Administration to put politics above national security, and personal priorities above the interests of the American people is beyond shortsighted – it is dangerous.
Recently, I joined Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel to discuss the President’s recent comment that he should have closed GITMO on his first day in office. Click here to watch if you missed it.
Posted by Randy | March 25, 2015
Defense isn’t just another line in the budget – it is a constitutional duty. The consequences of getting our national defense wrong are far-reaching and, despite what the Administration will say, far more devastating than getting funding for the EPA wrong, or the IRS. The bottom line is if we get national defense wrong, nothing else matters.
Posted by Randy | March 21, 2015
In case you weren’t able to tune in on Thursday, I wanted to pass along the clip of my discussion with Neil Cavuto on Fox News about the President’s comment that he should have closed GITMO on his first day in office. You can watch the exchange here, or by clicking the image below.
I will continue to push back on the Administration’s actions that put politics above national security, and personal priorities above the interests of the American people.
Posted by Randy | March 20, 2015
Recently, I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the President, calling upon him to direct Secretary of Defense Carter to develop a plan to field a robust, multi-layered homeland ballistic missile defense system capable of defending the U.S. from the full range of ballistic missile threats.This plan is due to be delivered to Congressional Defense Committees by March 31st.
Posted by Randy | March 19, 2015
Real quick – wanted to be sure you had seen this good news. Recently, there was controversy at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia when a complaint was made over Airmen saying "have a blessed day” as part of their greeting to visitors at the security gate entrance. The phrase was not part of official protocol, but rather a traditional southern phrase offered voluntarily by the greeters.
After review, the Air Force reinforced that the phrase is perfectly acceptable under the new AFI 1-1 policy protecting religious freedom. You can read the Robins Air Force Base’s statement on their facebook page, here.
I will keep working to protect the ability of our men and women in uniform to exercise the very freedoms they are fighting for. To stay up to date on these issues, click here to like my Facebook page.
Posted by Randy | March 13, 2015
As the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard prepare to release a new Maritime Strategy, I believe we have a unique chance to set a strong course for our sea services in the years ahead. Read my Op-Ed, with former Navy Secretary John Lehman, on what direction the new Strategy should take.
What Navy’s New Maritime Strategy Should Say
Foreign adversaries seemed ascendant, including a radical theocracy in Iran and an expansionist Russia. Many American political leaders seemed resigned to a significantly reduced global role, and the Navy showed signs of abandoning its historic inclination toward an aggressive, offensive-minded spirit.
We refer not to the present day but rather to the late 1970s and early 1980s. Then, as now, the U.S. Navy faced a deteriorating international security environment, an aging and shrinking fleet, and an administration woefully inadequate to the tasks before it. Ronald Reagan’s ascension to the presidency and determination to reverse the country’s military decline required a new strategy for the Navy.
The 1982 Maritime Strategy offered a unique opportunity to translate Reagan’s vision for resurgent American power and restored national defense into an actionable plan for the Navy and Marines. It refocused the Navy on its offensive mission — to take the fight directly to the Soviet Union rather than to consign itself to simply transporting troops to the fight, as many even in the Navy’s leadership seemed resigned to do.
The document not only helped remind the service of its fighting spirit, but also sent a powerful signal to friend and foe alike that the service remained a force to be reckoned with. The 1982 Strategy would remain the essential blueprint for our Navy through the collapse of Communism and victory in the Cold War.
Signaling. A key element of the 1982 Strategy was signaling America’s renewed commitment to robust naval power to both our adversaries and allies. The new Maritime Strategy must follow a similar path, clearly conveying to states like Russia, Iran and China our determination to maintain sufficient capacity to ensure access to the global sea-lanes, freedom of navigation, and a stable balance in key regions of the globe. As important, the document should offer allies and potential partners and unambiguous statement of U.S. support in the face of revisionist powers seeking to upend the peaceful, U.S.-backed order of the previous 70 years.
It must also include an expectation that the United States will continue to rely heavily on our allies and partners to provide significant naval contributions, both to regional challenges like Iran and China but also to global efforts like anti-piracy and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Budget Coherence. The new strategy must provide high-level thinking to inform the Sea Service’s annual budget proposals, which too often appear to be accounting exercises as much as realistic statements of military requirements. The new Maritime Strategy can lend coherence to the coming years’ budget proposals by clearly stating the nation’s expectations of the Navy-Marine Corps Team. For example, a candid statement of the challenge posed by Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) systems can offer important legitimacy for existing and emerging countermeasures and strengthen the hand of those programs’ advocates inside the bureaucracy. A forward-looking approach toward something like unmanned carrier-launched strike assets would similarly assist the services, and Congress, in budget debates that could use a dose of strategic foresight and long-term thinking.
Implementation. The 1982 Strategy was unique in that it was not simply words. Rather, it offered specific guidance that could be easily operationalized and implemented far down the chain of command. Of course, the earlier strategy had important differences from today — for one, the 1982 version was classified, with an unclassified annex intended for public consumption, while today’s will be entirely public.
Nevertheless, the new strategy must convey to our sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen a series of specific guidances that can relate to their operational-level challenges and even be incorporated broadly into advanced training programs like Top Gun. Reiterating the service’s commitment to core competencies like amphibious assaults, anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare, along with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities in those warfare areas, will provide the intellectual foundation our operator’s need to actually execute the missions of the future.
Holistic. Most importantly, the new Maritime Strategy must include all aspects of American naval power to be successful. The 1982 Strategy spoke not only to the role of the traditional sea services: It considered the role of the Air Force’s maritime aircraft and even attempted to account for the Army’s role in any future maritime conflict.
Success in future conflicts will be even more dependent on integrating the strengths of all our military services, from the Air Force’s long-range strike capabilities to the Army’s possible entrance into counter-A2/AD missions with a return to land-based anti-ship missions. The new strategy must reflect this reality and think holistically about the future face of warfare, where domains cannot be easily divided by military service and challenges like cyber-warfare and counter-space operations defy easy bureaucratic organization.
Our maritime services have a unique opportunity to accomplish something far too rare in today’s Washington: to create a lasting document that fully conveys American strategy and purpose to a world that has often been confused by recent U.S. strategic incoherence. The 1982 Maritime Strategy can serve as a useful example of a strategy document that made a significant contribution to the real-world success of U.S. national security policy. While much has changed in the three decades since that strategy was released, the need for a forcefully stated and clearly expressed U.S. maritime strategy is timeless.John F. Lehman served as Navy Secretary from 1981 to 1987. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) is Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
Read the article here.
Posted by Randy | March 13, 2015
The United States has a choice. We can continue on our current path and provide our military barely enough resources to fight the wars of the past, let alone prepare for future conflicts. Or we can begin the process of restoring the greatest military the world has ever known to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Below is my recent Op-Ed on this subject with former Senator Jim Talent.
America's Self-Inflicted National Security Crisis
Real Clear Defense
By J. Randy Forbes & Jim Talent
March 12, 2015
Over the past several years, knowledgeable witnesses appearing before Congress have testified to an impending crisis in national security. Whether it is the readiness of American personnel, the capability of our ships and aircraft, or the size of the force itself, the warnings have been both frequent and alarming. The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Ray Odierno, is uncertain whether the United States could prevail in a major regional war. General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force has warned that we can no longer be assured of dominating the air in a future conflict. The Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, has stated that losing just a few more ships will reduce our Navy from a global to a regional power. They all believe that we are not near a crisis point for the defense of the United States. We have already reached it.
Four years ago, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates offered a plan calling for modest yearly increases in his Department’s budgets over the next ten years. We had serious doubts whether that budget was sufficient to enable the armed forces to recover after ten years of hard fighting and after a history of underfunding -- especially for the modernization accounts -- dating back to the 1990s. But the Gates’ proposal would at least have allowed the Department to maintain its end strength, support a modest increase in shipbuilding, and begin to recapitalize its inventories.
However, within a short time Congress and the President agreed on the Budget Control Act and sequester, which together cut the Gates’ budgets by $1 trillion over ten years. Secretary Leon Panetta said at the time that those cuts were “like shooting ourselves in the head.” He was right; the cuts have forced reductions in personnel, the elimination of modernization programs, and a dangerous decline in day-to-day military readiness.
-Under sequestration, the Army will be cut to 420,000 soldiers, its smallest size since 1941. Training will be reduced for most units to only platoon and company-level exercises. Modernization will be reduced, forcing the service to rely on equipment purchased during the Reagan build-up;
-Today’s Air Force inventory of fighters, bombers, among others, is the oldest and smallest in the history of the service. Less than half of the service’s combat squadrons are fully ready today. Under the full impact of sequestration, readiness will plummet and the number of fighter, bomber and surveillance units will be reduced again by half. Also affected will be the Air Force’s ability to provide strike, close-air support and surveillance to protect a more vulnerable smaller army;
- The size of the fleet will shrink, per the Chief of Naval Operations, to a regional force of about 250 ships, possibly lower. By 2020, US naval forces assigned to the Western Pacific will total only one-third to one-fourth of the size of China’s growing modern fleet which will be between 325 to 350 ships. Moreover, the ability to reinforce that diminished fleet, as measured by the Navy’s contingency response force, will continue to decline as readiness continues to decline
- The Commandant of the Marine Corps, testified on February 26 that one half of his non-deployed units suffer from shortfalls in personnel, equipment and training under the current limited impact of sequestration. The full impact of sequestration, he explained, would force the Marine Corps “to divest ourselves of people …or to stop training.”
Last year, the National Defense Panel co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and former Centcom Commander John Abizaid, convened to review the Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review plans. In a report, the Panel bluntly, repeatedly, and unanimously condemned the cuts and warned of the nefarious effect they were having on America’s armed forces:
“[T]oday the Department is facing major readiness shortfalls that will, absent a decisive reversal of course, create the possibility of a hollow force that loses its best people, underfunds procurement, and shortchanges innovation. The fact that each service is experiencing degradations in so many areas at once is especially troubling at a time of growing security challenges.” The Panel recommended strongly that the cuts be reversed and the Gates’ 2011 budget be reinstated as the minimum funding necessary to protect American national security.Those recommendations were recently endorsed by a bipartisan group of 85 defense experts who condemned the “cuts [that] are undermining the readiness of our forces today and investment in the critical capabilities they will need tomorrow.
We live in a time of increasing global risk. Russia is invading Ukraine and threatening Eastern Europe, China is engaged in a massive military buildup to support its provocative actions in the Western Pacific, North Korea is increasing its nuclear stockpile, ISIS has established a caliphate, Iran is approaching nuclear capability, and Islamic terrorism is spreading to more and more countries. There is no conceivable world where what amounts to unilateral American disarmament would make sense; but in the world of today it is madness beyond measure.
As we write this, the leaders of Congress are preparing their budget resolution for the upcoming year. That budget should, as a minimum, incorporate the recommendations of the National Defense Panel by increasing defense spending to at least the Gates’ baseline as soon as possible within the ten-year window; it should also lift defense funding in FY 2016 substantially above the President’s recommendations so that the Department can restore the current readiness of its forces and begin a realistic plan to modernize its inventory of equipment.
America’s armed forces are the foundation of a national security architecture that is designed, in the first instance, to deter aggression against American and its vital national interests. Essentially, the United States uses its power to manage and defuse threats before they rise to the level of uncontrollable armed aggression or conflict. Our servicemen and women have done their part; they continue to show the highest degree of courage and commitment. The least they deserve from their political representatives is a budget that is honestly designed to give them the capabilities they need. That hasn’t happened for four years, and everyone knows it; it must happen now, before another year is wasted, and while there is still time to avert the storms that are gathering around the world.
Representative J. Randy Forbes is Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee in the House Armed Services Committee.
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) senior fellow Jim Talent is the director of the National Security Project 2020 at AEI’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. A former U.S. Senator from Missouri, he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower.
Read the article here.
Posted by Randy | March 13, 2015
A recent Op-Ed in the New York Times contended that our Navy, which is near its smallest size since World War I, is more than large enough for today's world. Needless to say, I strongly disagree. My rebuttal letter was published in today's Times.
Stop the 'Decline of Our Navy,' a Congressman Says
The New York Times
By Congressman Randy Forbes
March 12, 2015
To the Editor:
Re “Our Navy Is Big Enough” (Op-Ed, March 9):
Contrary to Gregg Easterbrook, the Navy has entered a genuine crisis caused by years of dangerous underinvestment and the folly of sequestration. After peaking at nearly 568 ships in 1987, the fleet now numbers 275 ships.
Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of the United States Pacific Command, testified that on its current course, the Navy risks becoming merely a regional rather than a global power.
Regarding the challenge posed by China’s rapid military expansion, the Chinese have spent the last two decades investing specifically in areas of perceived American weakness, developing options like antiship missiles, diesel submarines, and sophisticated antisatellite and cyberwarfare capabilities designed to limit American access to disputed waters.
Beijing does not need to match the United States ship for ship to deny our fleet critical access to the Asian Pacific.
Mr. Easterbrook seems willing to accept the loss of open access to global waters like the South China Sea, which China has claimed as its own. I refuse to accept a world where revisionist powers are able to alter the status quo with impunity because America’s Navy is too weak to resist.
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