Rep. John Boehner and President Obama

Updated with Loren Thompson & Byron Callan comment WASHINGTON: Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s sudden exit from the House Speaker race raises the chance of a fiscal disaster — but it also raises the odds of a desperate budget deal. Both extremes just got more likely. Ironically, this deepening leadership void elevates the role of Rep. John… Keep reading →

Presdient Obama calls Vladimir Putin

WASHINGTON: One day after House and Senate conferees finally came to agreement on the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, President Obama appeared ready to make good on half a decade of threats to veto the annual defense policy bill. Hours after that bad news hit, Congress cleared a Continuing Resolution this evening, allowing everyone to breath for a… Keep reading →

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping

  As Washington gears up for the visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, right on the heels of the Pontiff, there is a growing urgency for the United States to make clear to Beijing that its behavior is leading to increased tension at both the bilateral and regional level. But, there appears little appetite for… Keep reading →

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000)

WASHINGTON: Under intense budget pressure, a Pentagon cost-cutting team is pushing the Navy to cancel its third and last Zumwalt-class destroyer, the Lyndon Johnson (DDG-1002). But two sources familiar with the program say this cost-cutting measure just doesn’t add up. The DDG-1000 Zumwalts are expensive; three ships will cost almost $13 billion. About $9 billion of that… Keep reading →

Rear Adm. David Johnson

WASHINGTON: When the Navy named its next top sub-builder, Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, back in July, I wondered where the submariner he was replacing would surface. Now we know: The Pentagon announced late yesterday that Rear Adm. David Johnson will pin  on his third star and become the top uniformed acquisition official in the Navy… Keep reading →

Ash Carter Defense Secretary

Updated with Pacific Air Forces comment AFA CONFERENCE: Just as the White House confirmed Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit at the end of this month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued a clear call for “an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants” in the South China Sea. China, of course, has done the vast majority of the… Keep reading →

Army soldiers fire a Javelin anti-tank missile.

WASHINGTON: Alice in Wonderland‘s White Queen could believe in “six impossible things before breakfast.” The Army may not be that nimble but its leaked budget plan for 2017-2021 (first reported by Inside Defense) does make a whole string of assumptions: Budget Control Act cuts won’t happen, despite the lack of encouraging signs of a sequestration deal.… Keep reading →


Congress comes back after Labor Day and its 535 lawmakers will face one of the most convoluted legislative tangles in recent memory. While there is no clear endgame yet, all parties know what must be done and — roughly — by what time. Up first is the resolution of disapproval for the administration’s Iranian nuclear deal,… Keep reading →

Robert Hale

WASHINGTON: The former top budgeteer at the Pentagon says he’s clinging to hope for a sequestration deal this fall — but he admitted the signs so far aren’t looking good. “I’ve got my fingers crossed for when Congress come backs next week,” Bob Hale told me this morning. Yesterday, the former Pentagon comptroller starred at… Keep reading →

Eric Fanning

WASHINGTON: On purpose or otherwise, the administration is building a truly interesting team at the top of the Army. Call them Mister Pentagon, Mister Hill, and General Trenches: Mr. Pentagon is Eric Fanning, not yet formally nominated for Army Secretary but the nigh-certain candidate. Fanning served as acting Air Force Secretary, Deputy Undersecretary of the… Keep reading →

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