"The United States must show the world – as opposed to just saying it in a speech – that the U.S. is not in retreat. Making it abundantly clear that our military capabilities are second to none is the surest way to discourage further aggression"
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has released a new report detailing how military spending in countries like Russia has increased markedly over the past few years while military spending by the United States has decreased. National security leaders such as HASC Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) continue to raise these concerns, particularly in the context of Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea.
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Russia?
By Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
Real Clear Defense
April 14, 2014
Full Text Below
If there was ever any question that the security situation in the world is constantly changing, these past five years provide undeniable evidence.
It must be clear even to Barack Obama that the world he hoped and wanted to find is not the world as it is. In the real world there is evil, aggression and opportunism willing to exploit any perceived weakness. Whether it is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, al-Qaeda, North Korea, Iran,China, or others, there are adversaries ready to pounce on any opening offered by U.S. retreat. And they, as well as our allies and the rest of the world, are watching very carefully to see how the United States proceeds in light of Russian annexation of Crimea.
First, there is widespread consensus that Russia must be made to pay a price for its aggression. While no one advocates military force to reverse the Crimea seizure, we cannot allow it to stand without Russia suffering some consequence. Diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions, even those that hurt some U.S. industries, need to be imposed. We need to push the Europeans as far as we can toward joining us, but we also cannot allow our sanctions to be limited by the weakest link in the sanctions chain.
Many analysts point to the mid- to long-term weakness in the Russian economy. Smart Russians know that as well. The sanctions imposed now will not cause Putin to withdraw from Crimea but could increase the anxiety about where he is taking the country, weakening his hold.
Second, we must strengthen our support for those nations that are threatened. Appropriate military and financial support to Ukraine should be pursued. Reassuring steps for the Baltics’ defense should be taken. Swiftly cutting through the roadblocks to allow exports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and support the development of natural gas production in Poland and other Eastern European nations must be a priority.
Third, the president and those in his administration should be very careful about what they say, and make absolutely certain that no declarations are made nor any “red lines” drawn that the United States will not back up. One of the most damaging developments to U.S. national interests has been the loss of credibility. From our premature withdrawal from Iraq to lines drawn in the sand in Syria, we have failed to match our rhetoric and our promises with action. As a result, much of the world does not take statements by our president seriously.
This problem will not be solved within the time left to this administration. U.S. credibility has been damaged seriously, and it will take time and proof to repair it. But a starting place is to not damage it any further. At no time in recent history has it been more important to “speak softly and carry a big stick.” That will be a challenge for a president who has a high opinion of his rhetorical abilities and at a time when so many words are carelessly bandied about. But it is absolutely necessary to align our words with our actions. And that begins by restraining our words.
Fourth, and most importantly, we need to increase defense spending. While restraining our rhetoric is part of the equation for restoring our credibility, our decreasing defense budgets and the resulting decline in capabilities are even more significant factors. Nothing will make it clearer to Vladimir Putin that we will not lay down before him than to have President Obama propose a new, higher defense budget. The amount of the increase is not as important as the direction as long as it is a significant change.
We should not relax our effort to get more defense out of every dollar we spend. That means continuing to push defense reforms, such as reducing overhead costs and making improvements in our broken acquisition system. In a host of areas, we need to update old laws and programs to meet the wide array of challenges we face today.
While we are pursuing those reforms, however, the clearest message and the most effective results come from an increasing defense budget. The United States must show the world – as opposed to just saying it in a speech – that the U.S. is not in retreat. Making it abundantly clear that our military capabilities are second to none is the surest way to discourage further aggression. It also ensures that we are as prepared as possible for the security challenges to come. This kind of approach acknowledges the realities of the world and will help shape a safer place in the days to come.
While the editorial boards of the nation's leading newspapers are wondering how much more action Russia must take to prompt the U.S. to develop a coherent strategy towards Ukraine, House Armed Services Committee leaders are taking action with specific legislative proposals to help the Ukrainian military and to deter further Russian aggression.
HASC Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-OH) and Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Rogers (R-AL) have introduced H.R. 4433, the Forging Peace through Strength in Ukraine and Transatlantic Alliance Act. You can read about the legislation HERE
Escalation in Ukraine
The Washington Post
April 13, 2014
"A WEEK ago militants seized government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities in what Secretary of State John F. Kerry charged was “an illegal and illegitimate effort” by Russia to “create a contrived crisis with paid operatives.” Mr. Kerry threatened that the United States would respond with sanctions against Russia’s mining, energy and banking sectors. But in the following days the Obama administration failed to act, other than against a few minor figures in occupied Crimea. Group of Seven finance ministers meeting in Washington on Thursday also could not agree on any measures.
"How much more action must Russia take to provoke a response? For weeks President Obama has been saying that a military intervention in eastern Ukraine would prompt U.S. sanctions far more consequential than the measures taken against a handful of Vladimir Putin’s cronies and one bank on March 20. By the U.S. account, that military intervention is now underway. Officials say it closely resembles the quasi-covert Russian military operation that led to the annexation of Crimea.
"The Obama administration elected not to adopt significant measures last week in part because it was awaiting what it described as a diplomatic opening — a four-way meeting this week of foreign ministers from the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. Yet there is almost no chance this gathering, if it takes place at all, can lead to an acceptable solution for Ukraine. Moscow is demanding that the country be chopped up into pieces and that areas under its influence be given a veto over Ukraine’s foreign policy. Given the weak response to its aggression, Moscow has no incentive to drop that scheme.
"It may be too late to prevent war in eastern Ukraine. But the United States must quickly take the measures promised by Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry, or lose what little credibility it retains on Ukraine. If Sunday’s combat continues, it should also reconsider Kiev’s request for non-lethal supplies and small arms for its forces. If Ukrainians are forced to fight for their country, they should be helped."
Russia's Second Invasion
The Wall Street Journal
April 13, 2014
"President Obama is dispatching Vice President Joe Biden to Kiev next week in a show of Western support against Russian intimidation, but the Veep may want to speed up his deployment. By then Vladimir Putin may already have annexed another chunk of Ukraine.
"The difference this time is that Ukraine is responding with at least some force of its own. The Kiev government is mobilizing its military for what it called a "large-scale antiterrorist operation" in the east. "We won't allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of the country," said acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.
"Gun battles in Slovyansk and elsewhere have already produced casualties, and the violence may be exactly what Mr. Putin wants as a pretext to send in larger forces in the name of protecting Russian-speaking minorities. This too was part of the Crimea playbook. So much for the diplomatic "off-ramp" that Mr. Obama keeps beseeching Mr. Putin to take. The only off-ramp the Russian wants is inside Ukraine and points west.
"Instead Mr. Putin has seen the flimsy Western response to Crimea, following Mr. Obama's climbdown on Syria, and he has calculated he can move without fear of serious economic sanctions or a military buildup inside front-line NATO countries.
"Mr. Putin may also calculate that raising the military pressure on Ukraine will help achieve what he wants without a full-scale invasion. This week envoys from the EU, U.S., Ukraine and Russia are set to meet to discuss a diplomatic solution. Mr. Putin's solution is to impose conditions on Kiev that include Russian as a second national language, a pledge not to join NATO or the EU, and a "federalist" reform that would make eastern parts of Ukraine essentially self-governing. Eventually the autonomous regions might choose to join Russia.
"Mr. Putin would like nothing better than to get the EU and U.S. to tell Kiev that it has little choice but to accept these terms or risk a full-fledged invasion. If Kiev still resists, the West would have given Mr. Putin another pretext to invade his neighbor to defend his fellow Russian-speakers. With this second military action in weeks, the U.S. ought to drop its illusion that Mr. Putin is interested in diplomacy. His real goal is to redraw the postwar map of Europe to Russia's advantage, with faux diplomacy if he can, by force if necessary."Read More
"I congratulate the Afghan people on their elections. It is a consequential moment for Afghanistan. This is a significant step in the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan's history. These elections embody yet another great leap away from the era of the Taliban and towards securing the future of Afghanistan.
"I join the President in paying tribute to the many Americans -- military and civilian -- who have served in Afghanistan to protect our national security and to help the Afghan people better their country for themselves and for future generations. In honor of that bravery and sacrifice, I once again call on the President to provide immediate certainty to our mission and to discuss its critical importance with the American people"
WASHINGTON - House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon released the following markup schedule below for the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The committee will meet to mark up legislation, the FY15 NDAA, which authorizes funding for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths, and for other purposes.
The full committee, as well as subcommittee markups will be streamed live online in their entirety and the archive video will be available to watch within 24 hours of completion of the markup, if not sooner.
The NDAA Home page on the Armed Services Committee website will be the online hub for all resources related to the FY15 NDAA including: Markup Schedule, Subcommittee and Full Committee Marks, committee amendments and roll call votes, floor debate information, final bill text. The page will be updated as soon as information is available.
FY15 NDAA Markup Schedule
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
10:30 AM—Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Markup (Room 2212)
12:00 PM—Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Markup (Room 2118)
1:30 PM—Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces Markup (Room 2212)
3:00 PM—Subcommittee on Military Personnel Markup (Room 2118)
Thursday, May 1, 2014
9:30 AM—Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Markup (Room 2118)
10:30 AM—Subcommittee on Readiness Markup (Room 2212)
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
10:00 AM—Full Committee Markup (Room 2118)
2340 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515