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Posted by Randy | July 02, 2015
 
On Tuesday, June 30th, the U.S. State Department announced that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have been extended until July 7th. This Tuesday marked what had previously been the final deadline for reaching a long-term solution to Iran’s effort to obtain nuclear capability.

The goal of the negotiations between the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, Germany, and Russia (collectively known as the P5+1), and Iran is to restrict Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from currently imposed economic sanctions.  Iranian negotiators, however, have pushed back strongly over the level of access the international community would have into any facility in Iran suspected of non-commercial nuclear activity, and there remain difficulties resolving fundamental differences. Previously, a four-month extension to the first of two original agreement deadlines was declared on July 18, 2014, followed by another seven-month extension, which was enacted when the November 24, 2014 deadline was missed and the yearlong effort to reach a deal failed to come to fruition.

This new deadline is intended to allow for a final deal to be submitted to the U.S. Congress before July 9th, giving Congress 30 days to review the agreement and vote over whether or not it will lift Congressionally mandated sanctions on Iran. If, however, the deal is submitted after the July 9th deadline, Congress would have an additional 30 days to review the agreement.

Opponents of the negotiations continue to be concerned that the agreement is too lenient and that Iran, a U.S. designated state-sponsor of terrorism and the developer of a robust ballistic missile capability, cannot be trusted to uphold their end of the agreement. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has stated he is fearful of what might come out of continued talks because he believes that Iran has the “upper hand” in negotiations. The Administration, however, has declared the deal to be a national security priority.


Question of the Week: Are you concerned that the Administration’s continued nuclear negotiations with Iran put the U.S. in a position of weakness?


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


Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | June 19, 2015

The President has threatened to veto the annual defense policy bill, which provides critical resources for our men and women in uniform, unless Congress increases funding for domestic agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This threat comes even as 450 additional troops have been sent to Iraq to oppose ISIS. 

I think it is simply unconscionable to play politics with our national security in order to promote the Administration’s political agenda. See my recent questioning of Defense Secretary Ash Carter on this subject here or by clicking on the photo below.

Posted by Randy | June 18, 2015

Over this past weekend, the Obama Administration quietly released six more terrorists from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, sending them to the country of Oman. This is just the latest step in the President’s dangerous and short-sighted plan to close down GITMO – a plan that puts politics above national security and personal priorities above the interests of the American people.

Who were the six terrorists that were released this weekend? Well, let’s take a look:

  • Emad Abdullah Hassan, who is suspected of being one of many bodyguards to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and of being part of a group planning to attack NATO and American troops after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
  • Idris Ahmad 'Abd Al Qadir Idris and Jalal Salam Awad Awad, both alleged bodyguards to bin Laden.
  • Sharaf Ahmad Muhammad Mas'ud, whom the U.S. said fought American soldiers at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, before his capture in Pakistan.
  • Saa'd Nasser Moqbil Al Azani, a religious teacher whom the U.S. believes had ties to bin Laden's religious adviser; and
  • Muhammad Ali Salem Al Zarnuki, who allegedly arrived in Afghanistan as early as 1998 to fight and support the Taliban.

Given former GITMO detainees’ propensity for returning to the battlefield against Americans, I believe their release presents a grave national security concern. Yet, according to recent reports, the Administration intends to move forward with transferring up to 10 detainees from the Guantanamo detention center this month alone, which means an additional four prisoners could be turned loose within the next two weeks. This is what Administration officials are reported to be saying:

  • “We are working feverishly to transfer each of the 51 detainees [at Gitmo] currently approved for transfer,” said one official.
  • “We are taking all possible steps to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo and to close the detention facility,” said another.
 If only the President was this zeroed in on addressing the extended wait times and delays that our veterans face at the VA. If only the Administration was “working feverishly” and “taking all possible steps” to provide our heroes with the care they deserve and have earned.

Terrorists at GITMO? Put them on a wait list. The men and women who have sacrificed and served this nation? That is who our government should be “working feverishly” to care for and support.


Defending our defenders has long been one of my top priorities in Congress. Click here to read about some recent bills I supported that put our troops before politics, and ensure their best interests are looked after.
Posted by Randy | May 13, 2015
A quick heads up: There are currently two provisions in this year’s defense policy bill that deal with immigration. One of them urges the Secretary of Defense to review allowing DACA recipients (young illegal immigrants) to serve in the armed forces, while the other calls on the Pentagon to analyze how DACA recipients could expand the number of potential recruits.

Both of these provisions were offered as amendments by Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee.  I voted against both during the Committee markup; however, they narrowly passed and were included in the defense policy bill.

That’s why I am supporting new amendments that will strip these provisions from the final defense policy bill
. Protecting and providing for our servicemembers and the United States’ military readiness should not be derailed by partisan agendas – on either side of the aisle – over other policy issues.
Posted by Randy | April 23, 2015
Just a quick note – wanted to let you know I recently sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Carter, requesting that he publicly outline his plan to make the Department of Defense auditable by 2017, and submit audit results to Congress by 2019 (as required by the Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan).

Action needs to be taken. Not only because auditing the DOD will help ensure taxpayer dollars are used in the most efficient, effective means possible, but also because it will create an even stronger national defense, allowing us to better ensure the agency is meeting its core goal of protecting our national security.



Posted by Randy | April 22, 2015

Over the last few weeks, we have heard story after story about China’s provocative actions in the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas.  Many of these actions are being taken by China’s Coast Guard, which now outnumbers the coast guards of all of China’s neighbors combined.

At a House Armed Services Committee hearing recently, I asked Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, what strategies, concepts, forces, and capabilities we need to counter aggression by China’s paramilitary forces.  While I am fully committed to maintaining U.S. superiority at the “high end” of the conflict spectrum, I believe it is critically important that we be able to counter and deter this sort of “gray zone” aggression as well.

You can watch my question and ADM Locklear’s response here, or by clicking the image below.

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?
Defense News
By Congressman Randy Forbes
March 31, 2015 
                    

"What's going on with the Pentagon's longest-running drama, the Navy's Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program?" Bill Sweetman recently asked in Aviation Week. In the absence of any updates from the Pentagon, it's a question that is on the minds of many interested parties.

Until last year, the Navy's efforts to add an unmanned aircraft to the carrier air wing appeared to be on track and close to delivering impressive results. And then, just when it seemed a brave new world of unmanned carrier aviation was dawning, Congress got involved.

Or so it might seem. Last December, Congress passed a National Defense Authorization Act that constrained the Navy's use of funding for the UCLASS program in fiscal year 2015. In its markup, my subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces mandated that the secretary of defense review the requirements guiding the UCLASS program and report back to Congress before awarding any contracts for the "air vehicle segment" of the program, effectively putting aircraft development on hold.

Some commentators have alleged that this constituted just one of several instances of "politics, mainly in the form of ill-conceived spending constraints … making it harder for the joint force to tap the full potential" of unmanned technology. In the case of UCLASS, however, I strongly believe that the constraints imposed by Congress will help the joint force truly exploit the full potential of unmanned carrier aircraft.

I am convinced that where carrier aviation is concerned, unmanned aviation's greatest promise lies in its potential to fill the carrier air wing's most glaring capability gap: its lack of a sufficiently long-range penetrating strike capability. Although the carrier and its air wing are among the most versatile and effective military tools available to US commanders today, their value in the decades ahead will be determined in large part by how the carrier air wing evolves to meet anti-access challenges arising in the Western Pacific and around the world.

In order for the carrier to meet its full potential as a power-projection instrument, its air wing must include aircraft that can launch and recover from beyond the reach of prospective adversaries' sea-denial capabilities and penetrate sophisticated air defenses with a load of sensors and weapons. To do so, these aircraft will need a greater combat radius than key threats they face and current manned carrier fighters can achieve; air refueling capability; all-aspect, broadband stealth; and a sizable internal payload.

Armed with such an aircraft, the carrier and its air wing would be capable of meeting the full spectrum of foreseeable operational challenges.

As noted above, the Navy appeared for a while to be on track to develop such an aircraft. Building on joint research and development efforts, the sea service developed an Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft, the X-47B, that made unmanned aviation history in May 2013 by conducting the first unmanned catapult launch and arrested recovery aboard a carrier at sea. In April, the UCAS-D is poised to achieve another aviation milestone by conducting the first autonomous midair refueling from a manned tanker.

Although only a prototype, UCAS-D seemed like a steppingstone to the long-range penetrating strike capability envisioned above. All seemed well until the Navy circulated a draft request for proposals for a follow-on UCLASS aircraft in 2013, indicating that the Navy had decided to go in a different direction. Instead of a combat-capable evolution of the UCAS-D, the Navy was now expressing interest in a semi-stealthy and only lightly armed aircraft that could stay aloft for roughly 14 hours and conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and light strike missions.

I recognize that a high-endurance ISR capability is needed by the carrier air wing, and that there is also a need for the air wing to refuel more efficiently. I also recognize that unmanned vehicles have the potential to effectively and efficiently carry out both of these missions.

But neither of these capability gaps in organic ISR and aerial refueling is as glaring as the air wing's lack of penetrating long-range strike capability. Manned carrier aircraft can (and currently do) mitigate these capability gaps in ISR and aerial refueling, as can "off-board" aircraft, including the many long-endurance maritime surveillance UAVs and tanker aircraft in the programmed Navy and Air Force fleets.

But more importantly, it will not matter whether on-board or off-board aircraft fulfill these important but ultimately supporting functions if the carrier does not have the long-range penetrating strike capability needed to carry the fight to future adversaries.

As is too often the case in this age of growing threats and scarce resources, the question that Congress faces with regard to UCLASS is one of prioritization. The ongoing debate over platform requirements is really about competing conceptual visions for unmanned carrier aviation, and making sure that the carrier air wing's "hierarchy of needs" is addressed in a strategic manner. That is why I fully support the Pentagon's decision to conduct a Strategic Portfolio Review that will inform the requirements for unmanned carrier aircraft.

Although there is no time to waste, it is imperative that the Navy "measure twice and cut once" on the first and only unmanned carrier aircraft in its program of record. Given prospective fiscal constraints, competition from other programs and the long timelines needed for aircraft development, the opportunity costs of proceeding with the wrong vision and the wrong requirements are simply too high for Congress to stand idly by. The aircraft we begin procuring today must be the aircraft we will need in 2025 and beyond. For all the reasons mentioned above, I believe that aircraft will be, and must be, a long-range, air-refuelable penetrating strike platform that can out-range the mounting threats to the carrier and play a major role in joint efforts to defeat anti-access networks.

Read the article here.

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
USNI News
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.

Below is the speech I delivered on the House floor yesterday during the budget debates. Click here, or the image below to watch, if you missed it.