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Posted by Randy | April 01, 2016
From Eastern Europe to the Middle East to the waters off the United States, Russia has become a growing challenge to U.S. national interests and security -- and this Administration's weak foreign policy hasn't helped matters. Now is the time to use one of our greatest strengths, the U.S. Navy, to stop Russia from growing increasingly aggressive. I recently wrote an op-ed in National Review Online about why it is critical that the U.S. returns to an approach of "peace through strength." Read here or below. 

Bring American Seapower to Bear in Europe 
To counter Russian aggression, seaborne forces must be deployed to European waters. 
National Review Online
By J. Randy Forbes — April 1, 2016  

As a result of the brazen Russian aggression recently witnessed in the Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria, there is widespread recognition that U.S. military presence and activity in Europe must be increased. Even the Obama administration is reversing course on its plans to shutter European bases and withdraw forces and equipment from the continent. To date, however, public discussion and government proposals have been too narrowly focused on the deployment of additional American ground and air forces to deter and counter further Russian aggression. It is true that these forces are needed to signal American commitment. But, while necessary, increased presence on the ground will not be sufficient, and ought to be complemented by the presence of additional American naval forces in European waters. 

Deterring Russian aggression in Europe is not a new mission for our naval forces. Indeed, throughout the Cold War, it was a top priority. During this period the Navy typically maintained one or two carrier strike groups on station in the Mediterranean, ready to respond to any conflict or crisis along with one to two dozen surface combatants, amphibious ships carrying Marines, and an unspecified number of submarines. In the North Atlantic, American submarines, surface ships, and aircraft were constantly tracking Soviet subs threatening the United States and our sea lanes to Europe. Perhaps most important, ballistic-missile submarines were kept constantly on station, undetectable beneath the waves, ensuring that our nation and the NATO alliance had the ability to respond to even the most devastating nuclear attack. 

Today, however, U.S. naval presence in Europe is a fraction of its former self. Our combat forces in the Mediterranean have been scaled back from dozens of ships to only four destroyers, just one of which is continuously at sea and in position to intercept missiles coming from Iran. Carriers are now present in the region only as they transit to the Middle East, and amphibious ships have become so scarce in the theater that the Marine Corps is considering deploying aboard foreign ships. While our NATO allies keep most of their naval forces in European waters, the size of these forces has declined significantly. 

As a result of these trends, the United States and our partners are finding it hard to deal with increasingly threatening Russian naval activity, and to project power into strategically critical areas that are coming under threat. It has been widely reported that Russian submarines are operating at levels of activity not seen since the Cold War, and threatening the undersea cables that are critical for telecommunications and financial transactions. Russian surface forces and subs have also been more active on Europe’s watery flanks in the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean, and have even launched cruise missiles into Syria. Moreover, as our top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, recently told Congress, Russia has also been deploying land-based anti-ship and anti-air missiles along the coasts of the Baltic, the Black Sea, and Syria to create “bubbles” of well-defended water and airspace into which even our most capable forces will be challenged to go. Together, these developments have given Russia strategic leverage over America’s allies in Europe and called into question our ability to defend them. 

To mitigate these threats and restore stability in Europe, America must bring more seapower to bear on the continent. Starting at the top, America must sustain and modernize its nuclear deterrent so that Russia, which has once again taken to brandishing its 1,790 active nuclear warheads, will never question our ability to respond to a nuclear attack. The Navy’s next-generation Ohio replacement submarines, which will safeguard 70 percent of our total nuclear arsenal, will play the most important role in that. To deter and respond to conventional attacks, more U.S. naval and amphibious forces should be deployed to European waters, including the Mediterranean, where they will also be able to respond to terrorist threats and pop-up crises in the Middle East and northern Africa. Larger numbers will be required to counter Russia’s growing fleet, and new capabilities and concepts of operation must be developed to counter the “anti-access/area-denial” challenges that General Breedlove is worried about. 

These burdens of deterring Russia will fall upon a Navy and Marine Corps that are stressed to meet the other demands already thrust upon them. With only 272 ships — less than half of Reagan’s fleet, and less than one third of what we had under President Kennedy — our Navy will be hard-pressed to provide the presence and surge capacity needed to simultaneously deter conflict in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. But we cannot afford to continue “pivoting” into one theater at the expense of another. What we must do instead is increase investment in our Navy and rebuild the fleet that we need for national defense, not the one that recent administrations have been willing to pay for. 

Seventy years ago, Winston Churchill said of the Russians that “there is nothing they admire so much as strength and there is nothing for which they have less respect than weakness, especially military weakness.” We have seen what Russia makes of weakness. It is past time we rebuilt our fleet and restored deterrence in Europe. 
Posted by Randy | December 23, 2014
On November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced cyber attacks by a hacker group under the moniker, "Guardians of Peace." The attacks were in conjunction with the scheduled release of the film, "The Interview," which portrays the assassination of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. On December 17th, the FBI announced that it had, "enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions." Sony Pictures ultimately decided to cancel the release of "The Interview," with the stated reason being that individual theaters had refused to show the film.

In an interview this past Sunday, President Obama stated that he does not view North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures "an act of war" but rather an act of “cyber-vandalism.” Additionally, the President said that the U.S. will review whether to put North Korea back on a list of states that sponsor terrorism, and stuck by his criticism of Sony's decision to cancel its plans to release the movie, "The Interview."

Question of the week:  Do you agree with Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of the movie "The Interview" after cyber threats?

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

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy Forbes | December 18, 2014
For over half a century, the United States has maintained a strict ban on the majority of trade with Cuba. The ban originated during the 1959 Cuban Revolution, as a U.S. response to the Cuban government’s takeover of privately owned American businesses.  Since that time, the United States has upheld the ban as long as the Cuban government continued to resist the establishment of a democracy and neglect human rights.

The United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1961; however, that changed yesterday when President Obama announced the release of American citizen, Alan Gross, who was arrested for trying to increase Internet access in small communities across Cuba and was imprisoned there for 5 years; as well as the release of three Cubans who were part of the “Cuban Five” and imprisoned in Florida for 15 years on spying charges.

The President’s announcement is part of his plan to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States, and will also include reviewing the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, easing financial restrictions, easing travel restrictions, and beginning the effort to lift the 54-year-old ban on trade between the two countries. Additionally, the United States will begin looking to establish an embassy in Havana in the coming months.  In return, Cuba also agreed to allow greater Internet access for its citizens and easier telecommunications with the United States.

Question of the week:  Do you support the President’s announcement to reestablish diplomatic, economic, and travel ties with Cuba?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other. Share your thoughts on my blog here.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | November 14, 2014
Last week, a Russian member of the Taliban pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, including an attack against the United States in Afghanistan.  According to the indictment, Irek Hamidullan was charged with providing material support to terrorists, attempting to destroy a U.S. aircraft, and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Hamidullan is the first military detainee from Afghanistan brought to the United States to be tried in a criminal court.

The National Security Council said the decision to transfer the detainee was the result of an agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that the U.S. will not operate or maintain prisons in Afghanistan by 2015.

Question of the week:  Do you support trying Irek Hamidullan in U.S. criminal court?

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

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
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 | 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, the House Select Committee on Benghazi held its first hearing to examine implementation of the recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board.

The Accountability Review Board issued a report in December of 2012, which found that “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” at the State Department resulted in security that was “grossly inadequate” to address the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that took the lives of four Americans.

The Review Board made over twenty recommendations, including designing courses that integrate high threat training to better prepare diplomatic security personnel assigned to high-risk posts, and revising regulations to include disciplinary action when poor performance by senior officials is related to a security incident.

In September of 2013, the State Department's Office of the Inspector General issued a report noting that while the Department has taken action to implement the recommendations, it may not be doing so in a manner that reflects the intent of the Review Board.

Question of the weekIn moving forward towards correcting and improving security at our American embassies, how important do you think it is that Congress continue examining the attack on Benghazi that took the lives of the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans?

( ) Very important
( ) Important
( ) Somewhat important
( ) Not important
( ) Undecided
( ) Other

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.


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 Randy | September 12, 2014
This week, President Obama addressed the nation to present a strategy to the American people regarding the role the United States will play to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Since last month, the United States has conducted more than 150 airstrikes and has provided humanitarian assistance to those targeted and persecuted by the terrorist organization.

The President announced that the United States will lead an international coalition in continuing the airstrikes and humanitarian aid, and send an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq to support and train Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Question of the week
: Do you support the President’s strategy for combatting ISIL?

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

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
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