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  1. #1

    Trump's new Presidency

    US Senate Confirms Mattis for Defense Secretary

    By: Joe Gould, January 20, 2017 (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON —The US Senate overwhelmingly approved two of President Donald Trump's national defense nominees, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly — both retired Marine generals.

    On the heels of Trump’s inauguration, Mattis’ nomination sailed through the upper chamber with a tally of 98-1. Earlier this month, Mattis testified for three hours before the Senate Armed Services committee and received waiver from Congress for a mandatory seven-year cooling off period for military officers.

    Only once before has Congress granted such a waiver, to Gen. George Marshall in 1950, as the cooling-off period is rooted in America’s principle of civilian control of the military.

    The Senate's lone "no" vote came from New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel. Gillibrand said in a statement she respects Mattis but cast her vote on the civilian control principle.

    House Democrats last week rallied for a failed push against the waiver for similar reasons, after the Trump transition team backed Mattis out of a commitment to testify before the House Armed Services Committee.

    One of Trump’s first acts was signing the waiver bill into law, along with formal nominations and a proclamation for a national day of patriotism.

    SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Friday went to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support the nomination.

    "I want to assure my colleagues, I haven't seen a finer leader, a more outstanding leader, a more respected leader and a more beloved leader, than the man we are going to be voting on to be the secretary of defense, James Mattis," McCain said.

    "My friends, I am very confident that when we finish this vote, the morale all over the United States military will go up because they will know that they have a leader, and a leader that they can not only respect but they admire, and in many cases, have great affection for."

    While both sides of the aisle have expressed support for Trump’s national security nominees, key Democrats are putting up a fight on the others.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Friday accused Republicans of attempting to jam through “a swamp cabinet, full of billionaires and bankers that have conflicts of interest and ethical lapses as far as the eye can see.”

    Mattis, 66, retired in 2013 after a 44-year military career and serving as commander of US Central Command. He inherits a military amid tensions around the globe, and under a president who has has called for repeal of budget caps and less global military engagement.

    Democrats, and some Republicans, are hopeful Mattis will serve as a check on Trump, and some of lawmakers who opposed his waiver praised his merits said they were doing to preserve civilian control.

    Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the ranking member on the SASC,*said his approval for the waiver was a one-time vote. He told Mattis at last week’s confirmation hearing that "many have supported the waiver legislation in your confirmation because they believe you will be, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, 'the saucer that cools the coffee.' "

    There is reportedly strife within Trump’s national security team over who will get top jobs in the Defense Department — and who gets to make those decisions. Mattis was rejecting large numbers of candidates offered by the transition team for several top posts, according to The Washington Post.

    This after Trump nominated Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader, and West Point graduate, to be the secretary of the Army. Team Trump has not named any service secretary nominees since.

    The spotlight is on a potential rivalry between Mattis and incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn, a retired three-star forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency who became an early Trump loyalist. Flynn declined to comment Friday, while Mattis, in his confirmation hearing, said the Trump Cabinet will include a “healthy” mix of rivals.

    “It’s not tidy,” he said. “It’ll be respectful, of that I’m certain. And I don’t expect anything but the best ideas will win.”

    The Senate on Friday confirmed Kelly as*Homeland Security secretary, 88-11, with only Democrats voting "no." Kelly,*66, is the former chief of US Southern Command and the military jail at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    During his Jan. 10 confirmation hearing, Kelly broke with Trump on several of his most divisive campaign promises, including on a border wall, Muslims coming into the US and torture techniques.

    Kelly agreed with McCain that a wall along the southern border would not be enough, and said separately that waterboarding is illegal and the US should follow the Geneva Conventions.

    Republicans hoped to bring Trump's nominee for CIA director,*Rep. Mike Pompeo, to a vote on Friday as well, but could not reach a deal with Democrats, who want to scrutinize him further. That vote is expected for Monday.

    Email: jgould@defensenews.com

    Twitter: @reporterjoe

  2. #2

    Trump takes over as commander in chief, promising to restore military strength

    By: Leo Shane III, January 20, 2017

    Business mogul Donald Trump was sworn as the nation’s 45th commander in chief on Friday, promising to return government to the people and return American might to the international stage.

    “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he told a crowd of Washington, D.C. dignataries and tens of thousands of supporters under dreary skies on the steps of the Capitol. “We are one nation and [our fellow Americans’] pain is our pain.

    “Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. *We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.”

    Trump’s speech echoed the populist themes of his unconventional presidential campaign, one that saw him rise from reality television star to Republican presidential nominee to the Oval Office.

    His inauguration speech also repeated one of his most frequent national security promises of the campaign trail: a full re-evaluation of American foreign military aid.

    “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military,” he said. “We've defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own, and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

    “We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon. … But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.”

    He did not reference NATO by name, but has repeatedly questioned whether America should continue its leadership and stewardship role in the military alliance.

    The new president has frequently promised to boost defense spending and increase American military might, adding thousands more troops, ships and aircraft to the Pentagon’s arsenal.

    And he has promised a full rethinking of the country’s national security priorities.

    “We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power,” he said.

    “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

    He promised to reinforce alliances with friendly nations but also to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.”

    Much of the speech painted a pessimistic view of America under President Barack Obama’s leadership, lamenting problems of crime and unemployment and tying them a decline in the national prestige. *

    But he also pledged to work to unite the country after a vicious year-long campaign, and told the country that “there should be no fear” in looking to the future.

    “We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God,” he said. “We must think big and dream even bigger.”

    More than 13,000 military personnel took part in the inauguration, providing security and ceremonial service for several days of events. Trump praised them in his speech as an example for the rest of the country.

    “It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag,” he said.
    Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.

  3. #3
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    I think his full speech deserves to be here - it is after all a quick read.

    If he succeeds with his infrastructure program, there is no doubt in my humble opinion that he wins over the American hearts and minds. To my ears, his emphasize on America first, investment in infrastructure as well as order and structure by strengthening law enforcement and military rings too 1933 to me. Especially paired with the emphasize of raising patriotism bordering nationalism above other values.

    I have grave doubts whether he will be acknowledged as "the leader of the free world" in Europe when the governments of other countries currently cheering him the most tend to be autocratic in nature.

    TRUMP: Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.

    We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.

    Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

    Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.

    Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

    For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

    That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.

    It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

    What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

    January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

    The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

    Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

    At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.

    But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

    This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

    We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

    For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We've defended other nations' borders while refusing to defend our own.

    And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We've made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

    One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

    But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future.

    We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first.

    Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

    Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.

    America will start winning again, winning like never before.

    We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
    We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
    We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.

    We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.

    We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.

    At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
    The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

    There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.

    Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it.
    The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.

    Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

    We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.

    It's time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.

    We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.

    And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they will their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.
    So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again.

    Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

    Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again.

    Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

    Thank you.
    God bless America.

  4. #4

    Seoul Already Paying Enough for USFK

    (Source: The Korea Times; posted Jan 23, 2017)

    By Jun Ji-hye

    Korea is already paying enough for the upkeep of 28,000 U.S. troops stationed here while also being a major buyer of American weapons, officials said Monday.

    Policymakers plan to make the case that Seoul is not “free riding” on U.S. security commitments ― as President Donald Trump has insisted ― if Washington demands more payment.

    The officials said Korea spends a large percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense-cost sharing, noting that it already allocates the largest percentage compared with Japan and Germany, also hosts to U.S. bases.

    If the cost of Korean Augmentation Troops to the United States Army (KATUSA) and purchases of U.S. weapons are added, Seoul does more than enough to share the burden of the bilateral security alliance, officials added.

    President Trump said in his inaugural speech that Washington has so far “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military and defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.”

    The remark was construed as an indication that the newly inaugurated U.S. administration may demand more money during Seoul and Washington’s upcoming negotiations on defense cost-sharing.

    During the presidential campaigning, Trump also argued that it made no sense for the U.S. to pay to defend wealthy allies like Japan and South Korea, and should consider pulling out of these countries unless they pay more.

    Korea and the United States hold negotiations on cost-sharing for the presence of American troops here every five years under the Special Measures Agreement (SMA).

    In accordance with the current agreement, Seoul paid about half the cost ― 944.1 billion won ($782 million) and 932 billion won in 2016 and 2015, respectively. The last SMA was made in 2014, and the negotiations for 2019 through 2023 are expected to officially begin early next year.

    Officials here are preparing for the possibility that the new U.S. government may begin by unofficially delivering a request for Seoul to raise its ratio of contributions from this year, once its foreign affairs and security teams are formed.

    “We will actively respond to such a demand,” a government official said on condition of anonymity. “Our position is that we are already doing more than enough.”

    He noted that the government is even considering disclosing how much it spends on national defense to Washington to make clear Seoul is doing its share.

    According to the National Assembly Budget Office report released in 2013, the percentage of Japan’s GDP spent on defense cost sharing with the U.S. in 2012 stood at 0.064 percent, while the figure for South Korea reached 0.068 percent. Germany’s defense cost sharing burden stood at a much smaller 0.016 percent of its total economy. The report noted that the percentage of Tokyo and Berlin’s GDP spent on defense cost-sharing was smaller than that of Seoul’s, although the two nations have larger economies.

    Regarding the total military spending, the 2016 Defense White Paper, released by the Ministry of National Defense earlier this month, stated that Seoul allocated 2.4 percent of its GDP to national security in 2015, which is larger than the 1 percent for Japan and 1.09 percent for Germany.

    Officials also said the government has annually spent about 10 billion won in operating KATUSA, a unique military program initiated during the Korean War, under which Seoul provides the U.S. military with soldiers who speak both English and Korean, allowing for greater functionality and maneuverability of American forces throughout the Korean Peninsula.

    They will also use the fact that Seoul has spent enormous money in purchasing U.S. weapons to further highlight it is doing its part for the alliance.

    According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration Defense, the nation has spent about 3.6 trillion won from 2006 through October of last year to buy U.S.-made equipment, including Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, far outpacing what it buys from other countries.

    Officials added that Korea has been indirectly supporting the presence of American soldiers as well, citing that it has offered land and personnel for free as well as the remission of various fees.


  5. #5

    Trump picks academy grad and former Rep. Heather Wilson to be Air Force secretary

    By: Stephen Losey, January 23, 2017 (Photo Credit: Todd Berenger/Air Force)

    President Trump intends to nominate Heather Wilson, a former New Mexico representative and a graduate of the Air Force Academy, to be the next Air Force secretary.

    Wilson is now president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota, a position she has held since 2013.

    "Heather Wilson is going to make an outstanding secretary of the Air Force," Trump said in a statement Monday announcing his planned nomination. "Her distinguished military service, high level of knowledge, and success in so many different fields gives me great confidence that she will lead our nation's Air Force with the greatest competence and integrity."

    In the statement, Wilson, a Keene, New Hampshire, native, pledged to help make a stronger Air Force.

    "America and our vital national interests continue to be threatened," Wilson said. "I will do my best, working with our men and women in the military, to strengthen American air and space power to keep the country safe."

    If confirmed, Wilson would be the first Air Force Academy graduate to ever serve as secretary. She graduated in 1982, as part of the third class to admit women in academy history. She also was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England, where she studied international relations and earned masters and doctoral degrees.

    She would replace former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who left office on Friday with the Obama administration.

    The Trump administration statement said Wilson, who comes from a family of aviators, served as an officer in Europe, and is an instrument rated private pilot.

    According to her House biography, Wilson left the Air Force in 1989 to join the National Security Council as its director for European defense policy and arms control. She represented New Mexico in the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2009, and chaired the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence. She also served on the House Armed Services Committee and was a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    She tried to run for former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici's seat in 2008, but lost the Republican primary and retired from the House when the 110th Congress concluded.

    But controversy has also followed Wilson in her career. In 2007, she was connected to the scandal involving the firing of U.S. attorneys when it emerged that she had contacted one of those prosecutors, New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, during a corruption probe of Democratic officials in that state.

    Iglesias alleged Wilson pressured him to speed up the investigation, but she denied his accusations. In a statement to the Washington Post, Wilson called her conversation with Iglesias “brief and professional” and said she did not ask him about the timing of indictments, tell him what he should do, or pressure him.

    After leaving Congress, Wilson formed a firm called Heather Wilson and Company, which entered into contracts with four Energy Department contractor-operated sites for “advice and consultation”: the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Nevada National Security Site.

    But according to a 2013 Energy Department inspector general report, although Wilson’s company was paid roughly $450,000, the facilities did not receive evidence that the work agreed upon had been completed. The IG said the government fully reimbursed the contractors for those payments.

    The White House did not respond to an emailed request for comment by press time.

    Wilson has three grown children with her husband, Jay Hone, who is a retired Air Force colonel.

    Trump has not yet announced his pick for Navy secretary. His choice to head the Army, Vincent Viola, has not yet been confirmed.

  6. #6

    Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not

    By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

    on January 23, 2017 at 4:02 PM

    WASHINGTON: “Trump is going to explode the debt,” GOP pundit Mackenzie Eaglen said. “What you’re going to see is a debt bomb.”

    Mackenzie Eaglen, defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

    While the new president wants to grow the military, rebuild infrastructure, and cut taxes, Eaglen said, his plan to fund all that that through steep domestic spending cuts “is complete fantasy” that will never pass the Senate. The only other way to pay is borrowing money — and “he’s mentioned many times on the campaign trail that’s he’s very comfortable leveraging debt.”

    The result, said Eaglen, who’s close to most Republicans and defense hawks on the Hill, “will be a total bulldozing over the Tea Party,” which has seen the much-derided Budget Control Act (aka sequester) as a necessary limit on federal spending. The bulldozees-to-be in this scenario include Trump’s own pick for budget director, Rep. Rick Mulvaney, whose confirmation hearing before the Senate is tomorrow.

    “I would not be surprised if they took the same approach that Reagan did,” said Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic & International studies, speaking to me after the CSIS-hosted panel on which he and Eaglen both appeared. Ronald Reagan took office proposing defense increases and tax cuts, to be offset by economic growth and cuts to domestic spending, all very much like Trump. When Democrats blocked the domestic cuts, and the economic projections proved too optimistic — the so-called “Rosy Scenario” — the difference was made up by borrowing money, also known as creating*big deficits.

    Trump could very well follow a similar path. There’s already discussion of “dynamic scoring” that would bend traditional rules on how to estimate the cost of federal programs, said CSIS’s Andrew Hunter, and with Trump, “you could see dynamic spending on steroids: We’re going to spend more but it’s going to cost less.” Again, once the bills come due, the only way to make up a shortfall is by borrowing.

    Todd Harrison, the panel’s host and a leading budget expert, was less sanguine about the prospects for big boosts, funded by debt or not.”It is equally, if not more, likely that the Trump administration goes in the opposite direction and they come out with a budget that actually dramatically*cuts the size of the federal government,” Harrison told me.

    Rather than get bulldozed, Mulvaney and the deficit hawks may prevail in the battle for Trump’s ear. If that happens, Harrison said, expect the administration to propose steep reductions in the size of the federal government — as it does in a leaked outline for a staggering $10.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years. In such a climate, defense spending would be stable at best.

    “We’ll know within a few weeks,” Harrison said. “They’ll come out with their skinny budget (i.e. overall figures without detail justification) mid-to -late February. That’ll be our first indication of (whether)*they go to one of these extremes or not.”

    Either extreme is equally plausible, Harrison told me: debt-fueled spending increases or Spartan cuts. And whichever extreme hits the Hill, he added, Congress will force the final outcome back to the center.

    Donald Trump & Mike Pence.

    No Christmas In July

    Whatever happens, none of the experts expected a dramatic increase in defense spending in the near term. It takes took much time to thrash out a spending plan — and too much of Trump’s time and political capital will be consumed by higher-profile fights over repealing Obamacare, reforming the tax system and getting a Supreme Court justice confirmed.

    “The most valuable resource on earth is floor time in the United States Senate, (and) it’s being used right now on Obamacare,” said Hunter. “The big moment of opportunity is going to be…the defense supplemental” to increase Pentagon spending for 2017.

    But first, Hunter said, the Congress has to pass the 2017 budget so it can be supplemented. The current Continuing Resolution, which sets most (but not all) spending on autopilot at 2016 levels, expires April 28th. It’s unlikely Congress will pass a proper budget, let alone a supplemental, before that deadline — which is after Trump’s first 100 days.

    When it finally does arrive, the 2017 supplemental will just be a down payment on Trump’s buildup plans. Even the 2018 budget, already drafted by the outgoing administration, will bear some Trump stamps but largely serve as a “bridge” to the 2019 proposal, the first crafted entirely under the new administration.

    So no one in the Pentagon or defense industry should be shopping for a new light fighter*yet. To the contrary: When the Trump plan finally comes, in addition to any increases, it will almost certainly make sharp cuts to perceived “waste” and “inefficiency” that may not be possible to execute.

    “Their belief is, viscerally, in their gut, emotionally, there’s so much waste in defense,” said Eaglen. The Trump teams*wants to “blow up” the intelligence and defense bureaucracies, she said.

    “Trump indicated he thought there was a lot of waste in defense and therefore some of this increase could be funded by offsets within defense,” agreed Cancian. There certainly is inefficiency — but past attempts to wring it out have usually*failed. “The obvious one is base closure,” said Cancian, but Congress has repeatedly shot that source of savings down.

    Other potential savings are far more vague, like what Cancian called the “infamous” Defense Business Board report that prescribed $125 million in savings (over five years) by applying to the Pentagon percentage targets derived from private sector efficiency drives, without “any details” of how to apply these models to the Defense Department.

    You can assume all the management efficiencies you want, said Eaglen, but when your budget counts on future savings before they’ve actually been realized, “it’s simply a topline cut.” (Reagan’s budgeteers called marked such assumed savings with what they called “the magic asterix.”) Overall, she said, that means the optimism about big defense boosts is overstated: “It’s not good news for defense. It’s not Christmas in July.”

  7. #7
    Supreme Overlord ARH v.4.0's Avatar
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    The darkest hour of Humanity is upon us. The world
    shall meet it's end and we shall be submerged into a
    new dark age. Repent your sins, for the apocalypse,
    and the end, is extremely f@#king nigh!

  8. #8

    Trump Defense Plan Seen As Chance To Signal U.S. Strength

    Jan 24, 2017

    James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

    B-2 Spirit: Northrop Grumman

    The Trump administration’s first long-range defense spending plan covering fiscal years 2018-22 is a “critical opportunity” to signal U.S. strength and resolve as well as reassure wary allies, members of three leading Washington think tanks told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on Jan. 24.

    President Donald Trump was elected on a platform that included rebuilding the U.S. military and repealing arbitrary spending limits enforced by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and many defense analysts in Washington and members of Congress are anticipating a ramp-up in military spending as part of Trump’s forthcoming fiscal 2018 budget request for more troops and equipment.

    Trump’s national security pledges include 1,200 total combat-ready fighter aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and 350 surface ships for the U.S. Navy, plus a “state-of-the-art” missile system to thwart attacks by Iran and North Korea. He also wants to raise the U.S. Army’s active end strength to 540,000 personnel and grow the U.S. Marine Corps to 36 battalions.

    Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation, says the next budget should “put our potential adversaries on notice” that the U.S. will operate from a position of strength while also standing by its allies.

    But he cautioned against potential imbalances that could occur by shooting for specific numbers, such as enlisting too many people supported by too few jets, ships and armored vehicles, or vice versa.

    “Rebuilding a force, especially one that has been depleted over so many years, must be done in a balanced way,” Wood says.

    Thomas Mahnken, head of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, says both conventional and nuclear forces need to be rebuilt instead of favoring one over the other. The U.S. has historically relied more on strategic nuclear weapons during periods of lower defense spending and spent less on those systems during conventional buildups. But after 15 years of counterinsurgency warfare in the Middle East and recent drawdowns at a time of heightened conflict in Iraq and Syria, both forces need rebuilding, Mahnken says, particularly because Russia and China have gained ground militarily.

    “We are now in a period characterized by the reality of great‐power competition and the increasing possibility of great‐power conflict,” he says. “The ‘wars of the future’ may no longer lie that far in the future.”

    Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, expressed concern about spending more on the military without reform. “I don’t believe the DOD has a resource problem. I believe it has a management problem,” he told the committee.

    He says the $620 billion in defense spending authorized for fiscal 2017 is about right. Korb agrees with many of the Obama administration’s actions. They include the “pivot” to the Pacific to contain China’s growing assertiveness; the European Reassurance Initiative to counter Russia and reinforce NATO allies; and the 60-nation coalition assembled to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group.

    Korb supported many of the proposals contained in the Jan. 16 budget white paper of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the SASC chairman. They include revising Lockheed Martin F-35 procurement for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps; investing in smaller, conventionally powered, lower-cost aircraft carriers; capping the Littoral Combat Ship buy and transitioning to a more heavily armed, small surface combatant.

    “I commend Trump for looking at the F-35 contract,” Korb said. “I hope it’s more than just tweets and he really gets involved in dealing with it.”

    Korb backed McCain’s recommendations that the Navy should be allowed to buy fewer F-35Cs for its carrier air wings and instead extend production of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter and E-18G Growler electronic attack platform. McCain’s proposal for “Rebuilding American Power” recommends buying 20 additional short-takeoff-vertical-landing F-35Bs for the Marine Corps over the next five years to speed up recapitalization of the service’s legacy F/A-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers and AV-8B Harriers.

    At the projected rate of 48 aircraft per year, it will take the Air Force until 2040 to complete its planned purchase of 1,732 F-35As. McCain says the goal is unrealistic and requires re-evaluation, “likely a reduction.” Instead, the service should buy as many F-35As as possible “with an ultimate goal of moving beyond the program as quickly as possible.”

    Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson has been meeting with Trump about the F-35 since he threatened to cancel the program over cost. She expects to close agreement with the government “very soon” for low-rate production Lot 10, under which 90 aircraft will be purchased. Lockheed says the cost per F-35A will drop below $100 million in Lot 10, and the company is also beginning negotiations on Lot 11.

    Korb also told the committee to take a “hard look” at the Air Force’s development of next-generation nuclear cruise and ballistic missiles, which he opposes. He also says Congress must figure out how to pay for any increase in defense spending instead of just racking up more debt.

    McCain says Trump inherits a military that is “underfunded, undersized and unready to meet the diverse and complex array of threats confronting our nation. The combination of rising threats, declining budgets, aging equipment, shrinking forces and high operational tempo produced a military readiness crisis.”

  9. #9

    How Trump Should Handle Russian Nuclear Talks

    By Rebeccah Heinrichs

    on January 25, 2017 at 4:01 AM

    A B-2 launches simulated B-61 nuclear weapon

    If the Trump administration wants to negotiate an arms control treaty with Russia, it must meet several preconditions.

    The Times of London reports that then President-elect Donald Trump signaled he would consider a nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Russians. He was quoted as saying, “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”

    It’s not clear if the President is committed to a nuclear arms treaty, or if he was merely trying to lure the Russians to the negotiating table. It’s also unclear if he meant only Russian nuclear weapons should be “way down and reduced very substantially.”

    It is clear that President Trump, in addition to his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, think it is wise to look for ways to find agreement with the Russians to cool a relationship that has grown increasingly heated during the Obama years. It is also true that the Russians are always interested in U.S. nuclear reductions — if not Russian nuclear reductions — so it is plausible President Trump is merely demonstrating a willingness to talk.

    But President Trump has also left other clues about the way he will interact with heads of state. He has consistently insisted that he wants “good deals” that will benefit the United States, as opposed to, one can infer, the kind of deals the Obama administration brokered that certainly helped our adversaries but did little or made things worse for the United States. He also wants to assert American leadership and negotiate from a position of strength.

    On U.S. nuclear weapons, he recently stated “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” Considering the U.S. nuclear deterrent is overdue for modernization, this was a wise position to stake out.

    So, what would the preconditions for a “good deal” for Americans look like? How would the United States, with a potential Secretary of State Tillerson at the helm, negotiate such a treaty from a position of strength and without degrading the credibility of our own aging nuclear deterrent force?

    First, timing is everything. Until the Russians are found to be in compliance with current treaty obligations, the United States should not*open a dialogue about future arms control deals. This is perfectly consistent with goals outlined in the testimony provided by Mr. Tillerson, who repeatedly pointed out that the Obama administration failed to enforce agreements, which had the unintended effect of welcoming further violations. As of now, the Russians are above New START Treaty limits. They must comply with the treaty by its deadline of February 2018 and, while it’s still technically possible, the trends of a Russian nuclear build-up do not build much confidence that they will be.

    Additionally, the New START Treaty has major accounting loopholes that the Russians have taken advantage of. Most egregious is the bomber-counting rules. The treaty counts an entire load of weapons on a nuclear-capable bomber as a single warhead regardless of how many warheads are actually on the bomber.

    Mark Schneider at the National Institute for Public Policy*lays out the problem.

    Indeed, in 2010, Hans Kristensen told The New York Times that the bomber weapon counting rule was “totally nuts” because it “frees up a large pool of warhead spaces under the treaty limit that enable each country to deploy many more warheads than would otherwise be the case…”RIA Novosti, a Russian government news agency, reported, “Under the Treaty, one nuclear warhead will be counted for each deployed heavy bomber which can carry 12-24 missiles or bombs, depending on its type.”

    The 2016 article by Kristensen and Norris cited above states that Russia now has about 2,600 real deployed strategic nuclear warheads. Assuming the Obama administration has not increased the number of nuclear weapons at our heavy bomber bases from the 2011 level, the U.S. probably has about 1,550 deployed missile and bomber strategic nuclear weapons today. This suggests a real Russian advantage of approximately 1,000 deployed warheads—hardly a passing blip.

    The Russians are also in violation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Until the Russians comply with those arms control treaties, and the loopholes are closed in New START, the United States should remain steadfast in its unwillingness to discuss another arms control treaty. If Moscow won’t follow the current rules, it would be a fool’s errand to assume it would follow more if we made them.

    Second, the United States must do exactly what Mr. Trump said it ought to do, and that is to expand and improve its nuclear arsenal. This does not mean the United States must expand its numbers beyond the treaty limits; rather, it should expand in number within the boundaries of the treaty, because although the Russians are above New START Treaty limits, the United States is below them.

    It should also expand in capability, just as the Russians are expanding the capabilities of their nuclear weapons. Obama Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz recently characterized the difference between how the United States updates its deterrent with the way U.S. adversaries update theirs:*“We refurbished our weapons to make them safer and more reliable. We didn’t ‘modernize.’” Modernization, he said, “is what Russia is doing and China is doing.” Indeed, while U.S. policymakers debate whether or not specific programs like the new B-61 bomber design provides the country with new and improved capabilities that might be “destabilizing,” the Russians are moving forward with increased capabilities without hesitation.

    Because of this, the United States should move forward with the Obama administration’s current nuclear “refurbishment” plans, without delay. The backbone of the land-based leg of the triad is the Ground-based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), the replacement program for the aging Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). GBSD is especially critical because the Minuteman is in such dire condition, and any further delay in funding the replacement program would mean cancellation by atrophy. It takes years to get a new system online, and it’s become a race with the clock. Defense Secretary James Mattis, although seemingly open to talking about the future of the land-based leg of the triad in the past, expressed firm commitment to all three legs of the triad, in particular GBSD, during his confirmation hearing.

    He was, however, much less committed to the new cruise missile, the Long-Range Standoff Missile (LRSO), and said he looked forward to going over the requirements and costs of the program. When the new defense secretary receives his briefings on LRSO he’ll discover it will be critical for stealthily clearing the way for a bomber with great precision and low nuclear yields, and it can be launched from a safe distance. As Gen. Stephen Wilson, then-commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, explained: “There may be air defenses that are just too hard… But with standoff, I can make holes and gaps to allow a penetrating bomber to get in, and then it becomes a matter of balance.” As for affordability, the GBSD and the LRSO combined account for just over 1 percent of the Air Force’s acquisition funding over the next five years (or the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP)).

    Third, the United States must recommit to the missile defense mission and expand its capabilities. Since the Cold War the Russians have tied missile defense to offensive nuclear armaments, and claimed that U.S. defenses negated Russian offensive missiles and, therefore, must be restricted within the context of nuclear arms reductions. Indeed, individuals who take an emotional anti-nuclear weapons stance often cite President Ronald Reagan as one who favored nuclear reduction as the primary means of preventing a nuclear war. What they fail to mention is that President Reagan wanted to take a multi-track approach to ensuring nuclear weapons are not employed, and although reducing nuclear numbers was one facet, expanding defensive capabilities was another. From the start, the United States must take the position that its plans to develop and deploy missile defenses, both in Europe, the Middle East, at home, as well as non-terrestrial components to missile defense, will remain unfettered by Russian objections. Period.

    Moreover, even as President Reagan proclaimed his support for an eventual draw down of nuclear weapons, he initiated a major nuclear modernization program for the United States that included adding thousands of nuclear warheads and various delivery systems to the deterrent force. President Trump’s call to expand and improve the capabilities of the U.S. arsenal would be perfectly Reaganesque.

    So, where does that leave the Russians and the United States on nuclear arms reductions? Due to the way both countries are responding to the New START Treaty, taken with non-strategic, tactical nuclear weapons not covered by the Treaty, the United States is currently at a nuclear disadvantage, and so we do not have a strong nuclear hand to play. That’s the hard truth. The Russians have refused to include tactical, that is, “battle-field” nuclear weapons, in negotiation talks because they are believed to have approximately 10 tactical nuclear weapons for every one of NATOs. The Russians refused to put tactical nuclear weapons on the table during the New START negotiations, and so, more committed to achieving a deal (any deal) than securing a “good deal” the Obama negotiators easily capitulated. The Trump administration must not. Any future nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Russians must include massive cuts in Russian tactical nuclear weapons.

    The new administration should move forward with setting the above preconditions for talks, which will take an enormous amount of diplomatic heavy-lifting and time. But until these conditions are met, the United States will not be negotiating from a position of strength, nor will it be getting a “good deal” for the United States. With this in mind, it would be prudent for the Trump administration to set aside the notion of further nuclear reductions and focus on other security initiatives where there may be common ground with the Russians.

    Rebeccah Heinrich is an expert on missile defense and nuclear weapons affiliated with the Hudson Institute.

  10. #10

    Trump Suggests an Import Tax Can Pay for Wall on Mexico Border

    By MICHAEL D. SHEARJAN. 26, 2017

    President Trump in his office aboard Air Force One on Thursday.
    Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times

    This'll fuck up more than one or two Car and Aerospace company that have factories there................

    PHILADELPHIA — The White House on Thursday endorsed a 20 percent tax on all imports to the United States, an idea congressional Republicans have proposed as part of a broader overhaul of corporate taxation. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that revenue from the tax would cover the cost of a wall on the United States-Mexico border.

    Some of those revenues, however, are likely to come from American pockets.

    President Trump had previously criticized the proposal as too complicated.

    The proposal, which Mr. Spicer said the president discussed privately with congressional Republicans before giving remarks at a party retreat here, would be a major new economic proposal that could have far-reaching implications for consumers, manufacturers and relations between governments.

    Mr. Trump would need new legislation to enact the proposal.

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