WASHINGTON: French forces have made great strides driving al-Qaeda-linked insurgents out of Mali’s major cities, said the Pentagon’s top counterterrorism official, Michael Sheehan. But any long-term solution requires local forces in the lead — not Westerners. And those recent successes in Yemen and Somalia provide a model for Mali — and for Afghanistan after 2014.
Sheehan, the assistant Secretary of Defense for special perations and low-intensity conflict (ASD SOLIC) spoke to scholars, industry officials, and military officers from two dozen countries this afternoon at the National Defense Industrial Association‘s annual SOLIC conference. Across the Maghreb and down to Nigeria, “an inverted L,” he said, “that area in North Africa is becoming awash with different al-Qaeda groups and affiliates.” Keep reading →
As 2013 hurtles towards us, Breaking Defense has asked the experts on our Board of Contributors to forecast the key defense issues of the coming year (click here for the full 2013 forecast series). We kick off the series with this essay from Rachel Kleinfeld, founding president of the aggressively progressive Truman National Security Project.
In a world of tumult, which national security problems will really matter in 2013? Keep reading →
Despite international perceptions that the Turkey’s Islamic-oriented government has turned its back on its American ally, Ankara’s ambassador to the United States insists that “the relationship has never been so close.”
“That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any disagreements,” Ambassador Namik Tan told reporters this morning. “Turkey is, of course, an independent state.” But Tan affirmed the closeness between the two countries. He particularly emphasized defense procurement, saying that Turkey is still committed to buying the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter despite cost and schedule problems that have caused other potential partners, such as Canada, to reconsider. Keep reading →
Rising Republican star Sen. Kelly Ayotte said her “libertarian” and “isolationist” Senate colleagues who would cut defense spending to help solve the budget deficit have abandoned the principles of conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
Speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute late Wednesday afternoon, the junior Senator from New Hampshire said that “with the issues that we face, the challenges that we face, I think that none of us in this room would say that this would be a time… that we should be taking significant defense cuts.” Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: After a decade of war in which they played a key role and were rewarded with a doubling of their forces and budget, Special Operations leaders want still more — more people, more money and more authority to decide where their troops go and what they do.
Those goals are likely to clash with the conventional military’s traditional lines of authority and the certainty that their force structure and funding will drop as Washington struggles with a soaring national debt. Keep reading →
[After meeting this morning with Amb. Susan Rice, Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, spoke to reporters today at a 12noon roundtable at the Foreign Policy Institute's annual conference, where she promised there "absolutely" would be a hold if Amb. Rice is nominated for Secretary of State -- and potentially, a hold on any administration nominee for the position -- until the administration answers Congress's questions about the terrorist attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi. (Click here for Jon Huntsman's exhortation to his fellow Republicans to back off on Benghazi). What follows is our rush transcript of her remarks.]
My meeting with Amb. Rice — I actually came out of the meeting more troubled than I went in, for a couple of reasons…. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: In almost every war of the modern era, artillery has played a decisive role. But the lowly IED, cobbled together explosives ignited by cobbled together detonators, has now replaced artillery as the greatest killer on the modern battlefield, according to Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, head of the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)
The Army general in charge of the multi-billion-dollar effort said the IED was a “global and enduring threat” that the U.S. military would have to deal with long after it ends its combat involvement in Afghanistan, now slated for 2014. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: In lawless, inaccessible regions of the world, drone strikes are America’s least-worst option for pursuing terrorists, a panel of experts agreed today — and many of the civilians whose deaths are blamed on US drones were actually killed by local factions on the ground or never existed at all.
“They are actually our least horrible option,” said Prof. Christine Fair, a South Asia expert at Georgetown University who has made many trips to Pakistan, including to the badlands known formally as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “I am… within the strict case of FATA, a drone proponent,” she said, speaking Monday afternoon at the American Security Project in Washington, DC. And while most Pakistanis deplore the drones when polled about them, Fair added that FATA residents she spoke to who have first-hand knowledge of specific strikes and who really died in them are, “very positive…. They know who’s being killed.” Keep reading →