WASHINGTON: When Linda Robinson speaks, special operators listen.
The “silent professionals” are — for good reason — traditionally tight-lipped. The chief of Special Operations Command, Adm. William McRaven, proved that again today during a panel at the Wilson Center, giving eloquent non-answers to questions about what might transpire in Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. But McRaven made it clear that if you want to know what he’s really thinking about the future of SOCOM, you’d better pay attention to the panelist who sat two chairs down: former Central Command advisor and bestselling David Petraeus biographer Linda Robinson. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: America’s commandos have been darlings of the Congress, Pentagon, and the media since 9/11. Now, as Special Operations Forces reorient from Iraq and Afghanistan to lower-profile missions worldwide in places like Mali, they will need new sources of funding and new legal authorities — changes that may rub both Congress and the four armed services the wrong way.
That’s the conclusion of a recent report by Wilson Center scholar and sometime US Central Command advisor Linda Robinson, who interviewed more that 60 senior officers and civilian officials, released last week by the Council on Foreign Relations. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: On the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq one of the Army’s leading thinkers, warned Washington not to learn the wrong lessons.
[Click here from top Army generals on Iraq: Shock and Awe? Never again!] Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: Sequestration, Continuing Resolution, and snow be damned; the House Armed Services Committee met this morning to wrestle with long-term strategy. In a hearing not only overshadowed but outright interrupted by the House’s desperate effort to band-aid the budget crisis, top HASC leaders from both parties argued for expanding the military’s authorities to work with foreign forces — including those accused of violating human rights.
[Click here for more House and Senate testimony on Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and sequestration] Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Tomorrow morning, overshadowed by sequestration, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a rare full-committee hearing on a topic that would normally be high-profile, even explosive: whether to give the Defense Department, and especially its elite special operators, broader legal authority to work with foreign forces worldwide, from Colombia to Mali to the Philippines.
To implement the administration’s January 2012 strategy, with its emphasis on supporting foreign partners rather than committing large numbers of US troops, “we need to overhaul our authorities to provide assistance to other security forces,” HASC vice-chairman Mac Thornberry told Breaking Defense. And despite the bitter partisan divisions on most other issues, he said, “there is interest — equal interest — on both sides to examine existing authorities and see how they can be improved.” Keep reading →
[UPDATED with comments from Maj. Gen. Michael Repass, SOCEUR]WASHINGTON: Even the celebrated Special Operations Command is feeling the budgetary bite of Washington dysfunction, SOCOM chief Adm. William McRaven said today.
“I haven’t gone through the list yet,” McRaven told reporters accosting him after a speech, but SOCOM will make cuts “just like the services” (the Air Force, Army, and Navy and Marines have all outlined painful impacts) to accommodate both the continuing resolution, which sets spending at 2012 levels in the absence of a proper appropriations bill, and sequestration, the automatic across-the-board cuts set to take effect in March. Keep reading →
America still needs us. That’s the fundamental message of the first top-level Army document to address the post-Afghanistan era. It’s a shot that will be heard round the Beltway in the coming budget wars.
“From Yorktown to Sadr City, the men and women of the Army demonstrated the ability to force terms upon our enemies when all other options failed,” writes Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) chief Gen. Robert Cone in the first paragraph of the first page of the new Army Capstone Concept, officially released today. Keep reading →
ARMY AND NAVY CLUB, WASHINGTON: “The biggest concern of my great Afghan security force partners is abandonment,” said Maj. Gen. James Huggins. “We have invested a great deal [in Afghanistan] for a long time,” he said, “[but] the Afghans have done it three times longer than us.”
Speaking at an event this morning organized by the Institute for the Study of War (click here for video), Huggins recalled a conversation over chai with a veteran of the 1980s war against the Soviets, now a local governor. “Do you know why the Taliban come into power?” the old warrior asked him. “Because you left us too quickly after the Soviets withdrew.” Keep reading →
Are personal relationships a strategic asset? Last week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey gave a speech at the National Defense University arguing that they are. It’s a theme hammered recently by other military leaders, especially in Dempsey’s own service, the Army, which argues it is uniquely capable of building military-to-military relationships — through advisors, international exercises, and officer exchanges — that can at best prevent war and at worst give the US critical regional knowledge before war comes. But retired Army colonel and unstoppable iconoclast Douglas MacGregor, a frequent contributor to Breaking Defense, says Dempsey’s argument is built on sand: Keep reading →
We aren’t leaving Afghanistan — except, of course, to the extent we are. That’s the high-wire balancing act that the top commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, had to perform in his remarks today ahead of the upcoming NATO conference in Chicago. Keep reading →