uscapitolhouseCAPITOL HILL: The House Armed Services Committee has scheduled its first hearing on what is arguably the Pentagon’s most important shift since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the strategic shift of US forces and focus to the Pacific.

So far the witness list for the Wednesday morning hearing doesn’t boast a list of administration heavyweights. It’s got well known think tank experts, one each from the American Enterprise Institute (conservative, mostly GOP) and the Center for a New American Security (liberal, with very close ties to administration) with other witnesses to come. HASC Chairman Buck McKeon told me in February that he didn’t plan any specific hearings about the shift to the Pacific since the standard hearings would feature the combatant commanders, including the head of Pacific Command, and that was all that necessary. This seems to be a shift from that position…

To a close observer of the House, this spasm of attention would seem to be of a piece with the GOP’s wandering eye on defense issues over the last year. After initially screaming that sequestration would be catastrophic and begging the Pentagon to say more about its effects, the GOP now seems to have accepted that sequestration will continue and has made little effort to overturn it or ameliorate it.

For example, when last week Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent his eight-page letter about sequestration’s impact to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the collective Republican reaction could best be described as a whisper. Hagel’s letter described next year’s sequestration cuts — about $52 billion — as “severe and unacceptable.” In years past such language would have ignited GOP members, who would have pointed fingers at Democrats and accused somebody of undermining America’s security.

Instead, the loudest reaction came from Sen. James Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he basically echoed Hagel’s comments. “As I predicted, sequestration is leading to the hollowing out of our military and if the Department of Defense’s sequestration is not averted for future years, we will move beyond furloughs and programmatic reductions to firing personnel and canceling our critical weapons programs,” Inhofe said in a statement. As far as any outsider knows, no one in either the House or Senate went to their leadership and demanded legislative action in the face of this. Indeed, the quiet reaction from everyone on the Hill basically gave much more credence to those who have concluded that sequestyration is here to stay until something big happens like an Iran or North Korea attack or a sequestration story catches fire (hasn’t happened yet).

So, we have a fairly quiescent GOP, a virtually silent Democratic Party and an administration that oversold the problems and now faces skepticism from American public and elections in November next year. That’s not a recipe for change, especially with a GOP that appears to have split between Tea Party folks, who really don’t seem to care about defense one way or another (after all, it’s just another part of that evil thing known as Big Government), and the mainline party, who appear largely cowed by the Tea Party on defense issues.

 

 

Comments

  • Don Bacon

    Well, let’s see what this “Pacific Pivot” includes for the naval services. Home porting will change, according to Admiral Greenert: “We are shifting our home porting toward the west. We’ll have 60 percent of our ships home ported in the Guam, Hawaii, West Coast region by the end of this decade. Right now, we’ve got about 57 percent.” That will include four mighty-mouse LCS’s as a part of the five (5) percent increase in seven years in the Asia-Pacific.

    The Marines will be moving approximately 9,000 Marines from Okinawa and spreading them out to several other locations in the region including Guam, Hawaii and Australia. We’ve already looked at the latter on another thread, Darwin being 3,000 miles from the Asian mainland. It isn’t much, and it might shrink. The plan is to shift roughly 4,800 Marines to Guam which is 1400 miles further away from the Asian mainland than Okinawa, and also 2,700 Marines to Hawaii which is — omigod — 4600 miles further away.

    Some Pacific Pivot. I betcha that China is some part of worried. (By the way, China’s US Treasury Holdings just hit a record $1.3 trillion.)

    • Curtis Conway

      China has been complaining for some time. I’m sure it will step up a bit. A new home port for a Carrier Strike Group in the Pacific has not transpired yet. That was to be Perth, Australia. Pearl Harbor maybe? Hope the ships get dispersed well. We are already bunch up at San Diego and Puget Sound. If it were me, an Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) would be moved to the Philippines, or somewhere similar. China is picking fights with everyone from Viet Nam to Japan. Got to have a cop on the Beat.

      • Don Bacon

        Got to have a cop on the Beat

        Nope, ain’t gotta. The US won’t go to war with China over the Spratlys. Speaking of, here’s the latest China claim on a map of the South China Sea — the green dashed line.
        file:///C:/DOCUME~1/MASTER~1/LOCALS~1/Temp/ImageProxy.mvc

        • Curtis Conway

          It’s not a matter of “going to war with China”. This is about showing good sense in the neighborhood. A Cop maintains order and folks act right when he’s around. That is what the 6th Fleet in the Med used to do. Now its gone, and what has happened. The Carrier Strike Group may not have prevented everything, but people sure think twice before doing things when a Carrier Strike Group is around. it’s amazing what a supersonic over flight will do to some folks when they are up to no good.

          For those of us who have done this for a living, we very much understand the difference between ‘being prepared for war”, and actually going to war. In this case (in the Pacific) there is a vacuum and we are letting the aggressor take advantage of it by design evidently, and our allies are suffering for it,
          because the super power in that region is not playing nice.

          Proactive measures almost always save lives, time and treasure. We are in the Reactive Mode in the Pacific, and we and our allies will pay the Piper.

          • Don Bacon

            It’s a myth that preparedness prevents war, since the US has been almost continually at war for as long as I remember. Part of it is that “those of us who have done this for a living” think that war is inevitable, the natural order of things. After all, it is a livliehood.

            The saying when I was in ‘Nam was: Sure it’s a lousy war, but it’s the only one we’ve got. GI humor, with a touch of truth.

            Regarding the East and South China Seas they’re called that, instead of American Seas for a reason. SecState Clinton was wrong when she said “the South China Sea is of critical US security interest.” Of course it isn’t. No American (unless profiting from military spending) would agree with Clinton.

      • Jack

        We don’t need a cop on the beat we need to take our big expansionist nose out of other peoples business.

  • CD

    Hmm, I thought the attacks happened on Sept 11th. What happened on the 9th?

    • Colin Clark

      Witness the dangers of copyediting oneself. Fixed. Thank you.

  • PolicyWonk

    Shame on the GOP for allying themselves with the detritus of US politics for short-term political gains. They’ve paralyzed themselves and have demonstrated an inability to govern, as was again illustrated by the failure to pass even the farm bill.
    No matter that the spreadsheets they were using to buttress their arguments for austerity were deeply flawed (to be generous), they’re still sticking to their guns, which contributes to the anemic economic recovery. Nor does it matter that the deficit has shrunk every year since the previous administration – they have too many obstinate members who are disinclined to give way no matter how much damage they do to the USA, its citizens, or for that matter – our national security.
    A sad situation indeed.

  • Michael

    The current and growing paralysis afflicting Congress and the governance of our society is a result of the incurable infection of America by leftist philosophy, perspectives and actions. As a sizable percentage of our “countrymen” embrace these destructive views, it will become increasingly unlikely that America will pull out of the death spiral we are now in. The Left is not interested in prosperity or security. It is unconcerned with ethics, honor or integrity. It is only interested in “fairness”, “social justice” and pacifism. Since they do not wish to identify, let alone engage, America’s enemies, all aspects of national security appear as questionable and optional. Therefore, any or all cuts in the defense structures are worthy of consideration. The supposed epiphanies of Pearl Harbor or September 11 are fanciful. We will need periodic catastrophes to shock us into temporary sanity. The Left’s faithful servants, the Democrats, will ensure that we will not be ready to bear The Next Big One, be it a suitcase nuke or an EMP; an attack on a Super Bowl or equivalent or an uninspected freighter filled with explosives and anthrax blowing up in the Norfolk Navy yards. Then they will wring their hands and cry lying tears, asking “how could such a thing happen?” But the American people like the handouts instead of the non-glamorous necessities or responsibility and preparation. Fine. That is, fine, so long as they understand that actions have consequences.

    • Don Bacon

      The U.S. has enemies nearly everywhere because of its military aggression in the world, so the current budget situation which inhibits further destructive military adventures is a good thing. The U.S. is not currently threatened by any military force. Canada and Mexico seem at least moderately friendly.

      Particularly harful has been the “Global War On Terror.” A 2008 RAND research effort investigated how terrorist groups have ended in the past. By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory.

      These findings suggest that the U.S. approach to countering al Qa’ida has focused far too much on the use of military force. Instead, policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts. . . .Key to this strategy is replacing the war-on-terrorism orientation with the kind of counterterrorism approach that is employed by most governments facing significant terrorist threats today.

      Calling the efforts a war on terrorism raises public expectations — both in the United States and elsewhere — that there is a battlefield solution. It also tends to legitimize the terrorists’ view that they are conducting a jihad (holy war) against the United States and elevates them to the status of holy warriors. Terrorists should be perceived as criminals, not holy warriors.

    • Jack

      What a teabagging pos. You forgot how those bad, bad democrats lead us successfully through two world wars and how republicans have never been able to successfully lead us through one of their corporate wars. Iran has not gone to war since before America was stolen from it’s rightful owners so who is the idiot fear monger here. You cowards like Inhofe need to go back in your closet before the boggy man finds you. Funny how your wing nut patriot at an NSA spying did not stop the Boston bombing even when you were told about the terrorists by another country. Only a jelly belly coward would say N. Korea is a threat to the U.S. or anyone else. The military industrial complex is going back down where it belongs. Their is more to America than the terrorism it has been allowed to create for corporate pigs.

    • Curtis Conway

      An Israeli General once said that if Israel did not have a war every eleven years (practically every generation) the country would cease to exist, because the lessons would be lost and the next generation would not understand.

  • brownie

    Total News Blackout on what will become a CATASTROPHE by September/October.

  • Don Bacon

    Hey, look on the bright side. The hemorrhaging of the US treasury has been stanched just a tiny bit. US government deficits that in FY12 were running about $3 bpd (billions per day) are now in FY13 running less than $2 1/2 bpd. Yeah!