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Thread: Trump's new Presidency

  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.

    -ends-

  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

    Senate confirms Mike Pompeo as CIA director


    Former Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Ks) has been confirmed as director of the CIA by the U.S. Senate. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    By Greg Miller January 23 at 7:15 PM

    Mike Pompeo was confirmed as CIA director by the Senate on Monday, putting the conservative Kansas congressman in charge of an agency that is bracing for its most contentious relationship with the White House in decades.

    As CIA director, Pompeo will be responsible for managing a global spying network at a time of escalating security problems, including renewed aggression from Russia, the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and the splintering terror threat posed by the Islamic State.

    But, at least initially, Pompeo’s most vexing task may involve finding a way to establish a functional relationship between the CIA and President Trump.

    The new commander in chief traveled to CIA headquarters Saturday, in a trip that was an effort to create a fresh start with an agency he has frequently treated with contempt. Instead, what Trump delivered Saturday was largely a stream-of-consciousness airing of grievances, attacking Democrats and journalists.

    Trump skipped most of the daily intelligence briefings offered him after his surprise election victory. He has dismissed the agency’s conclusions on critical issues, particularly its determination that Russia interfered in last year’s election to help him win. Most recently, Trump accused intelligence officials of orchestrating a Nazi-like campaign to smear him.

    Trump has expressed confidence in Pompeo, a businessman who served as a tank commander in the Army and graduated at the top of his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

    “Intelligence agencies are vital and very, very important,” Trump said at his news conference this month. He singled out Pompeo, saying that his administration was “putting in some outstanding people.”

    His comments signaled that his hostility toward the agency might subside when his designated director is in charge. But CIA veterans say that Pompeo may face more fundamental challenges, including whether he will be listened to at the White House and able to insert hard information into debates presided over by a president who has suggested he sees information on WikiLeaks as more reliable than the contents of intelligence briefs.

    Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA and a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the campaign, said that he has “come to admire” Pompeo after the two engaged in a series of conversations since Pompeo was tapped for the job. Morell said he expects Pompeo to arrive at the CIA without any preconceived notions, putting off any decisions until he has had a chance to survey its work.

    “Pompeo has two key challenges: winning over a workforce a bit skeptical of him . . . and making the CIA’s voice heard at the Trump White House,” Morell said. “I know Pompeo, and he will succeed at the first challenge. The second will be the defining issue of his tenure as director.”

    During his confirmation hearing, Pompeo vowed that he would defy Trump if ordered to direct the agency to resume brutal interrogation measures on terrorism suspects. He described the consensus view of U.S. spy agencies that Russia hacked the election in part to help Trump as a “sound” judgment. He also said that he would “speak truth to power” once installed in the CIA director’s office on the agency’s 7th floor.

    Pompeo, 53, was a prominent member of the tea party in Congress, known for strident political views. He was a fierce critic of Clinton, a determined opponent of the Obama administration’s nuclear accord with Iran, and said at one point that he regarded the U.S. government’s conduct in the attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, a political scandal that was “worse in some ways” than Watergate.

    But Pompeo has spent the post-election period seeking to reassure CIA officials and members of Congress that he is prepared to put aside that partisan persona and be an honest broker as director of the CIA.

    “My job,” Pompeo said during his confirmation hearing, “if confirmed, will be to change roles.”

  8. #8

    A Key NATO Ally Looks Nervously at Putin—and Trump

    By Bradley Peniston

    4:15 PM ET


    Bradley Peniston / Defense One

    NATO’s northernmost ally reshapes its defense priorities, casting a nervous eye toward both Putin and Trump.

    BODØ AIR FORCE BASE, Norway — When the ready-room alarm went off—high-low, high-low—two Norwegian Air Force pilots pulled on cold-water survival gear, grabbed their flight bags, and sprinted through swirling snow to their hangars. Their decades-old F-16 fighter jets roared to life, and as the airport snowplow halted to let them pass, the jets taxied to the runway and lit the afterburners. The training run took less than ten minutes.

    Norway has long kept two jets on round-the-clock alert at this Arctic base, allowing NATO to put eyes on the Russian warplanes that round the North Cape and head southwest. And while Moscow’s new assertiveness has Oslo preparing additional military units to react more quickly, defense officials here are also looking with concern toward Washington, where the incoming Trump administration has yet to articulate an unambiguous transatlantic security*policy.

    “Concerned” is a word we heard a lot last week, traveling with defense officials from Norway’s Ministry of Defense in Oslo to this coastal base 50 miles above the Arctic Circle, and beyond. Defense One was part of a group of Americans—analysts, former diplomats, and national-security officials—brought here on a trip organized by the Atlantic Council, a NATO-oriented think tank in Washington, and sponsored by the Norwegian*government.

    Norwegian defense officials spoke carefully about their changing situation. “The Baltic countries feel threatened; we don’t feel threatened, but we see the potential,” one said.

    But they are concerned. The Russian ships, submarines, and aircraft that sortie westward from Murmansk and nearby airbases have been coming more frequently. It’s been happening for a while; the first big jump came in 2007, when the number of Russian warplanes intercepted off Norway’s coast increased fivefold. The operations are also growing more sophisticated; in October, Russian bombers took off from Arctic runways, threaded their way through international airspace near Gibraltar, and struck targets in Syria.

    It was 2014’s Crimean invasion that really woke people up, and not just in Norway. Several officials said that NATO had essentially stopped planning for the defense of Europe in the late 1990s, at least at a nuts-and-bolts level. That’s being fixed, but now there is a new concern: a U.S. president who appears to care more about Russia than America’s allies.

    In December, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited Donald Trump, then the president-elect, who has alternately called the North Atlantic alliance “obsolete,” suggested that the U.S. might ignore its treaty obligations, and mused that perhaps NATO could change its central focus to counterterrorism. Solberg urged Trump to reconsider the alliance’s importance, or at least to set a European policy and stick to it.

    Defense officials in Norway explained why. European unity is fragile: while northern and eastern Europe see Russia as the biggest looming problem, southern Europeans are stressed by migration flows from Syria and elsewhere. The populist sentiments that drove Brexit exist elsewhere in NATO. Even in Norway, where a 2011 terrorist attack damaged the prime minister’s office in Oslo, there is little appetite for turning NATO into a primarily counterterror organization.

    Europe may roll with the punches, officials said, even if the United States decreases its support. But if the Trump administration cannot describe and commit to a stable position, they said, the extra uncertainty could make it impossible for European leaders to find consensus answers to key questions: What threats they should prioritize? And how much should each nation contribute to the common defense?

    View from the Underground Fortress

    Norwegians are encouraged by the selection of James Mattis as U.S. defense secretary. They fought beside him and under his command in Iraq and Afghanistan, developing such expertise in counterterrorism ops, one defense official said, that they knew the names of the principal opium traders in their areas of operations.

    Norway has long structured its military to contribute specialized groups of troops and gear to such missions. These deployments, along with operations and training exercises closer to home, are planned and monitored at National Joint Headquarters, an underground fortress sunk deep into a mountain near Bodø. Built in the 1950s and 1960s by extending Wehrmacht tunnels dug during the Nazi occupation, the facility was envisioned as a place where military commanders might survive the nuclear blows of a war with the Soviet Union. In the years after the Berlin Wall fell, its rough-hewn rock walls may have come to seem a bit anachronistic. They feel somewhat less sonow.

    In the two-story operations center, a column of digital clocks displayed the time in Kabul, Erbil, Juba, Moscow, and Washington, as well as the military-standard Zulu. A smaller screen detailed foreign deployments: on Jan. 19, this country of just over five million people had 360 troops participating in a dozen operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and elsewhere. The duty officers here direct troops at home and abroad, and even place a weekly Skype call to Russia’s Northern Fleet headquarters, an exception to the general radio silence between Western and Russian militaries since 2014.

    Up on the giant video wall, a map of Norway showed the locations of military forces in green and blue. (Red squares denoting Russian assets had been scrubbed for our visit.) Even when they are not deployed abroad, Norwegian forces are active across a vast swath of the Arctic, with responsibility for an ocean area nearly as large as the Mediterranean Sea. Much of their training takes place in the same locales they might be called upon to defend.

    Among their current concerns is the state of anti-submarine warfare in NATO. Drawn down after the Soviet fleet withered, the alliance’s ASW capability is once again rising to meet a Russian buildup. Like the U.S. and UK, Norway is replacing some of its ancient P-3 sub-hunting planes with jet-powered P-8s. But officials here worry that the balance has shifted, and that the alliance might not be able to keep Russia’s quieter, cruise-missile-armed subs from severing the transatlantic resupply line — that is, sinking the ships that would carry U.S. reinforcements to Europe if war broke out. It’s a concern that has grown in importance since the U.S. pulled its large tank garrisons home. Norway wants its alliance partners, at least, to overhaul the ASW command structure and boost its importance.

    The Next Few Years

    Back at the Bodø air base, the wind off the Norwegian Sea picked up, grounding the day’s training flights. Hail rattled off dining-hall windows while a few candles burned on side tables, adding their light to a dim January day. Elsewhere on this island, a northern node of NATO’s cyber defense went about its work, its indoor practitioners impervious to the storm outside.

    In the next few years, the Norwegian armed forces will spend much of their time and effort preparing to assimilate the new P-8s, along with a handful of new submarines and the 52 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters that represent Norway’s biggest-ever non-energy investment. The military will continue to work on ways to contribute to operations around the world. But they will also, one defense official said, build up stocks of ammunition and spare parts, train to reduce reaction times, and prepare to move quickly if attacked.

    They are, he said, concerned

  9. #9

    Trump withdraws from Trans-Pacific Partnership amid flurry of orders

    President begins effort to dismantle Obama legacy by scrapping trade deal, and reinstates ban on providing federal funding to aid groups that perform abortions

    President signs executive order withdrawing US from Trans-Pacific Partnership


    David Smith in Washington

    Tuesday 24 January 2017 04.46 AEDT
    Last modified on Tuesday 24 January 2017 11.45 AEDT

    Donald Trump has begun his effort to dismantle Barack Obama’s legacy, formally scrapping a flagship trade deal with 11 countries in the Pacific rim.

    The new president also signed executive orders to ban funding for international groups that provide abortions, and placing a hiring freeze on non-military federal workers.

    Trump’s decision not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) came as little surprise. During his election campaign he railed against international trade deals, blaming them for job losses and focusing anger in the industrial heartland. Obama had argued that this deal would provide an effective counterweight to China in the region.

    “Everyone knows what that means, right?” Trump said at Monday’s signing ceremony in the White House. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s a great thing for the American worker.”

    The TPP was never ratified by the Republican-controlled Congress, but several Asian leaders had invested substantial political capital in it. Their countries represent roughly 13.5% of the global economy, according to the World Bank.

    Trump’s election opponent, the Democrat Hillary Clinton, had also spoken out against the TPP.

    The move also intensified speculation over the future of the 17-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). There were reports that Trump would sign an executive order on Monday to begin renegotiating terms with Canada and Mexico.


    Trump signing the executive orders, surrounded by men. Photograph: Ron Sachs/Pool/EPA

    He did move to reinstate a ban on providing federal money to international non-government organizations that perform abortions or provide information about them. The policy also prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.

    Republican administrations have tended to institute such a ban while Democrats have reversed it, most recently President Obama in 2009.

    Trump signed it one day after the anniversary of the supreme court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion in the US. Activists fear that the precedent is now under threat.

    The administration was criticized after footage appeared to show only one woman in the room as this executive order, along with the other two, were signed. Only four of Trump’s cabinet picks are women.

    Nancy Pelosi, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said: “Now, foreign non-governmental organisations will be forced to give women incomplete medical information, advice and care in order to participate in US-supported programs abroad. When last in place, the global gag rule had the effect of decreasing access to family planning services around the world. Study after study shows that when women have increased access to family planning services and supplies, such as contraceptives, the incidence of abortion decreases.

    “No US funds can be or have been used to perform or promote abortion services overseas since 1973. The fact is that President Trump’s shameful decision to reinstate the global gag rule will cause more unintended pregnancies, more maternal complications and injuries, less information about HIV/Aids prevention and treatment and more – not fewer – abortions.”

    Republican congressman Michael Burgess, who chairs the House’s health subcommittee, welcomed the move. “Life is a precious and sacred gift, and we must do all we can to protect it,” he said. “I applaud President Trump for taking this important action and look forward to continuing to work together in advancing pro-life policies and protecting taxpayer dollars.”

    Earlier, Trump met a group of top business leaders including Elon Musk, the head of SpaceX, and the executives from Dell, Johnson & Johnson and Lockheed Martin. He set out plans to cut regulations for businesses in the US and slash the company tax rate from 35% “down to anywhere from 15 to 20%”.

    “We want to bring manufacturing back to our country,” the president said. “It’s one of the reasons I’m sitting here instead of somebody else sitting here.”

    He added: “We want to start making our products again. We don’t want to bring them in; we want to make them here. That doesn’t mean we don’t trade because we do trade, but we want to make our products here.

    “If you look at some of the original great people that ran this country, you will see that they felt very strongly about that.”
    He said companies that moved factories out of the US and then tried to sell their products back to America would be punished with a “very major border tax”.

    Since winning last November’s election, Trump has singled out and threatened to impose tariffs on US companies that move production to Mexico. Trump has been accused of hypocrisy because many of his business’s own products are manufactured overseas.

    On Monday, he promised: “There will be advantages to companies that do indeed make their products here. It’s going to be a wave. You watch, it’s going to be a wave.”

    Andrew Liveris, the chief executive of Dow Chemical, told the Associated Press that Trump had given them 30 days to come up with a plan to help stimulate the US manufacturing sector.

    In his bleak inaugural address on Friday, Trump described “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation” and pledged to boost US industries over those abroad. Critics argue that some trends, such as the automation of factories, are irreversible.

    As his new administration continued its breakneck speed, Trump was schedule to speak with the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, on Monday.

    The new president has a meeting with union leaders and workers in the afternoon, followed by a reception with members of Congress and a meeting with the House speaker, Paul Ryan. His controversial press secretary, Sean Spicer, will also hold a media briefing.

    A Senate committee is set to vote on Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, the former head of ExxonMobil. Marco Rubio, a senator for Florida who had clashed with Tillerson at a committee hearing earlier this month, said on Monday: “Despite my reservations, I will support Mr Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate,” making it likely the nomination will pass.

    The White House is seeking to recover from a rocky opening weekend in which Trump was criticised for using a CIA appearance to boast about his inauguration crowds and attack the media, and Spicer presented false information at his first press briefing.

    Ryan issued a statement applauding Trump’s first executive actions. “President Trump is wasting no time acting on his promises,” he said. “Already, he has laid the groundwork to protect Americans struggling under Obamacare. He has renewed President Reagan’s policy to ensure American taxpayers are not forced to subsidize abortions anywhere in the world. He has followed through on his promise to insist on better trade agreements.

    “And by instituting a hiring freeze, he has taken a critical first step toward reining in Washington bureaucracy. We look forward to working with the president to build on these actions and deliver results for the people.”

    Ryan was a vocal advocate of the TPP, lending the trade pact support from the highest-ranking Republican in the nation under Obama. But he later accused the administration of negotiating an agreement that lacked sufficient support from members of Congress, while explaining his decision not to bring the TPP up for a vote in the lame-duck session prior to Obama’s departure from the White House.

    But some Republicans criticised Trump’s move to formally withdraw from the TPP. Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate armed services committee, described it as a “serious mistake” with long-term consequences. “This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets, and protect American invention and innovation,” he said.

    “It will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers. And it will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it.”

    Like Trump, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders had attacked TPP on the campaign trail, and on Monday he praised Trump’s decision, saying TPP is “dead and gone”.

    “Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multinational corporations,” Sanders said in a statement. “If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.

    “For the past 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals … which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers,” he said.

    Daniel Ikenson, director of the Herbert A Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, said the US was now becoming “more protectionist than at any point since the Hoover administration”.

    Additional reporting by Sabrina Siddiqui and Dominic Rushe

  10. #10

    Australia open to China and Indonesia joining TPP after US pulls out

    Trade minister talks with Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile and Peru could salvage deal



    A container is loaded on to a cargo ship at the Tianjin port in China. The Australian government says it is open to China joining the TPP after the US pulled out. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

    Paul Karp

    Tuesday 24 January 2017 08.21 AEDT
    Last modified on Tuesday 24 January 2017 12.38 AEDT

    The Australian government will push ahead for a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal without the United States and is open to Indonesia, China and others seeking to join the agreement.

    The Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo made the call for countries to push ahead with a so-called TPP 12 minus one agreement now that the US president, Donald Trump, has signed an order that the US will not join the deal.

    On Monday evening, the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, reportedly confirmed Australia’s commitment to the TPP in a phone conversation with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

    At a media conference on Tuesday, Turnbull said there was no question that the US pulling out was a “big loss” for the TPP. Asked if TPP countries should push for China to join, Turnbull said there was “potential” for it do so.

    “It is possible that US policy could change over time on this, as it has done on other trade deals,” he said, noting that Congress and secretary of state Rex Tillerson were in favour of the TPP.

    “There is also the opportunity for the TPP to proceed without the United States.”

    On Tuesday Ciobo told ABC’s AM that a TPP with the US “can’t go ahead unless the US was to change its mind” but Japan, Australia and others wanted to hold on to the gains negotiated so far under the deal.

    He said Australia had had talks with Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile and Peru to salvage the deal without US involvement.

    Asked about China joining in the US’s stead, Ciobo said the original architecture enabled other countries to join.

    “Certainly I know Indonesia has expressed a possible interest and there would be scope for China, if we’re able to reformulate it, to be a TPP 12 minus one [country] ... [and] for countries like Indonesia or China, or indeed other countries, to consider joining.”

    Ciobo said there were a number of “competing factors” that would complicate a TPP 12 minus one agreement, including that Mexico and Canada may first have to deal with Trump attempting to renegotiate the North American free trade agreement.
    “It’s a moving space but it’s an important space – we must continue to pursue giving Aussie exporters the best chance, to get preferential access for Australian exports.”

    Ciobo confirmed the Australian government had not done modelling about the possible size of benefits under a TPP 12 minus one agreement, because it had been a “hypothetical” until Trump signed the order.

    He said the agreement was good for Australia because it improved access to markets including Canada and Mexico and lowered compliance costs.

    Asked whether the Turnbull government would push for parliament to ratify the TPP despite the US withdrawal, Ciobo said it would “keep that option alive”.

    “We’re not going to be like [opposition leader] Bill Shorten and the Labor party and walk away from this deal because it requires a little bit of elbow grease.”

    Labor supports the TPP in principle but has said it is pointless to consider it in parliament given the US’s withdrawal. It has come under pressure from its union backers to reject the deal outright.

    According to the final chapter of the TPP, the trade agreement can go ahead only if at least six of its 12 original members have ratified the agreement, and if those six countries represent 85% of the combined GDP of all 12 countries.

    It means the deal cannot come into force if the US or Japan fails to ratify the agreement because, between them, they represent 79% of the GDP of all 12 original signatories. Without the US or Japan involved there is no way for the remaining signatories to fulfil the 85% requirement.

    On Tuesday Labor’s trade spokesman, Jason Clare, said Trump’s executive order “put the final nail in the coffin of the TPP”, declaring the deal “officially dead”.

    In a statement Clare said the US decision “makes a mockery of all the nonsense we’ve heard from Malcolm Turnbull last week that he can change Donald Trump’s mind and that this legislation would help”.

    Clare did not appear to put much stock in the possibility of a TPP 12 minus one agreement, warning the TPP would “have no effect at all” without the US.

    “It’s over. Donald Trump has killed the TPP. It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to wake up and move on, and develop a real economic plan for Australia.”

    Ciobo said the Coalition would not walk away from “high-quality trade deals” and accused Labor of poor economic leadership.

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