Archive for March, 2016

Who Do We Value in America?

The following originally appeared in my townhall column: “In this election cycle, the liberal progressive socialist left is going to the ideological bank to tout the important issue of income inequality. We will hear the incessant calls for a $15 minimum wage, which one has to ask, why not $25? What is so magic about the $15 number? This reflects just another easy issue talking point that can be repeated by the masses but never articulated or defended well in a debate forum.

However, it does beg the question: In these times of the current conflagration against the global Islamic jihad and other defined nation-state adversaries, who is it that we value?

I believe that there are two very important groups of people necessary for the existence of a society. The first are those who teach, and notice I said teach, not indoctrinate. There is a very distinct difference. The second group are the ones who defend — the guardians who stand upon freedom’s rampart. And, when one considers the level of compensation for these two groups, well, it appears they are not exactly the ones who are valued.

I should know, having been both.

What concerns me greatly is the fact that here in America, we have our best — those guardians — having to sustain their quality of life on government food subsistence programs. Now, perhaps there are those of you who truly do not care about this issue — hence the titled question of this missive. How is it that we have devolved to a point in our beloved America, where the SEIU purple-shirted protesting union members, supported by leftist organizations and funding, get more attention than the camouflage-wearing defenders of the republic?

Perhaps it is because the defenders are too busy doing just that. Well, I would like to take the time and lend my voice to their plight.

A report from May 2015 stated that, “In 2014 more than $84 million worth of food stamps were spent at military commissaries.” And, understand that there is a movement on Capitol Hill to end the existence of the military family provision institution known as the Commissary. Why is that service important? It provides a place where young military spouses can have quick access to ensure they can feed their families. That is key when their loved ones are spending so much time on deployments or training, since we are so heavily degrading and decimating our military capability. As well, the article states, “The USDA estimates that in 2012, more than 1.5 million veterans used food stamps, about 7 percent of all veterans.” That just should not be the case.

The qualifications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, state that “a single person has to be grossing less than $15,180 per year and a family of four income threshold is $31,008.” Just so you can make the comparison, a young, junior member of the U.S. Armed Forces coming on active duty has a base pay right at or less than $19,000. Now, with BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) and food allowances, that pay can go up to the high $30K mark. BAH is calculated based upon the zip code where a service member is stationed.

But consider the young troop with a larger-than-normal family. With a non-working spouse, it could be difficult. I remember when, during the Clinton administration, now-deceased Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General Carl Mundy, suggested a policy of “no first term Marines with families” due to the high stress of deployments and low compensation. Gen. Mundy, whom I knew well, was publicly reprimanded and humiliated by then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin. Considering the stress on a Marine Corps (that is now the smallest since World War I), perhaps General Mundy was onto something.

In July 2015, Amy Bushatz of’s “Spouse Buzz” wrote, “If he [service member] lives in a privatized on-base housing, all of their BAH disappears with no extra pocket padding left over. But the food stamp program known as SNAP, includes the fluctuating and disappearing BAH pay in the calculation whether or not the service member qualifies. That means even though the troop has the same trouble affording staples at Ft. Polk, Louisiana that they do in Washington D.C., they can only receive SNAP at Ft. Polk, where their BAH pay and cost of living is lower.”

One of the policy changes recommended to rectify this horrible situation for our young men and women serving is to change the law to eliminate BAH from the food stamp calculation. This is a policy proposal we here at the NCPA will look for in the final FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This is a serious issue that may not be great in numbers, but it is great in reflecting our value system. Feeding America recently reported that 25 percent of military households receive food aid every month.

Another policy solution presented in a February 2015 article in the Military Times is “to scrap the DoD’s Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance (FSSA) program which is designed to keep lower-income military families off the government SNAP.” The article provides an example of the ineffectiveness of FSSA from a report submitted by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. “Take an E4 (enlisted service member) with two years of service, a spouse and four children living at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Under FSSA, that service member would receive an increase of $77.65/month. Under SNAP, the same E4 would get $178.58/month on their EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card — the account that is established for SNAP benefits recipients”.

Ending the FSSA program would eliminate approximately $1 million a year from the Department of Defense budget, the commission reported. Now, that may not sound like much, but a million here and a million there would significantly help streamline the DoD budget.

The bottom line is this, do we value the fast food worker more than the one who answers the call to serve our nation? We, at the National Center for Policy Analysis, have developed the “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!” petition and we advocate for better compensation for our men and women in uniform, especially those junior members. If you stand with us, please sign it.

You know, it took me 22 years to qualify for my military retirement at 55 percent of my base pay. It only takes a Member of Congress five years to qualify for a retirement at a percentage of base pay far exceeding that.

Whose service do we value in America?”

Serious Changes Coming to Military Acquisition

“The way the military buys weapon systems needs serious reform, and it appears that the House Armed Services Committee agrees. Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) recently introduced H.R. 4741, the Acquisition Agility Act.

This legislation is a good start toward fixing a system that not only saddles taxpayers with the unnecessary costs of a broken procurement system, but remains unresponsive to the needs of the warfighter. First-Hand Experience. Having served as officers in the U.S. military, both authors witnessed the disconnect between needs on the ground and the technology provided. For example, when the Army moved from the five-ton truck to the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), it failed to account for the fact that this vehicle would be the prime hauler of heavy M198 howitzers. The tow pintle for the FMTVs were greatly recessed, causing the trails of the gun to ride up against the lower portion of the vehicle at every turn. As a result, every FMTV that pulled a howitzer had its lower bumper bent upward almost 45 degrees.

Also, cargo bows and tarps for troops transport vehicles were constantly breaking and ripping because the bows were not strong enough to support the tarps during inclement weather. The Army spent enormous time, money and manpower repeatedly fixing failed materials instead of having new ones designed that could withstand the elements…”

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Brussels Attacks are, Unfortunately, Not Surprising

Last week Saturday, a young Marine SSgt from Temecula California lost his life due to an ISIS Katyusha rocket attack against their firebase, several other Marines were injured. That same firebase was attacked by ISIS again on Monday. Now, you may ask, what are US Marines doing in a firebase in northern Iraq, very near ISIS held territory? According to the US military spokesperson in Baghdad, Col. Steve Warren, they were there to provide force protection so that Iraqi forces could be trained.

In reading reports, it appears that the ISIS elements were able to close within small arms range of the firebase – meaning our Marines were not granted permission to engage. As we have stated before, an ROE that says you cannot fire until fired upon grants the initiative to the enemy. The results are not advantageous to our deployed troops, who are in combat, not some politically driven definition of the battlespace.

And so it goes for the Islamic jihadist attack in Brussels, where the sense of political correctness has afforded the enemy opportunity to create enclaves within the country. Knowing that the perpetrator of the Paris terrorist attack reentered Europe within the mass migration of individuals – namely single military aged Muslim males – is unconscionable. Our domestic rules of engagement are built around a self-imposed constraint based upon a reticence of being referred to as a racist, xenophobe, islamophobe, or being accused of profiling. Let us drop these monikers of defeatism and realize that we must institute measures of trend analysis that deny the enemy sanctuary within our borders. We can ill afford, unless we accept more jihadist assaults, the mentality of blaming ourselves for the savage barbarism that seems to occur every two to three months in western civilization. We need no more lectures about tolerance and false narratives about history. We need to accept history and how it relates to the present.

Just as it appears we have deployed Marines into a combat zone in a purely defensive posture, we cannot protect our liberties and freedoms in a purely defensive, reactionary, posture. Having served in the military for twenty-two years, and studied military history, I cannot recall any victory that was achieved on defense. Success comes in the counterattack, as the eventual sequel to a good defense, a mentality that seeks to stay on defense means it surrenders the initiative to the adversary. Such as it was at the Battle of Gettysburg, when General Meade decided to not pursue and defeat a retreating Army of Northern Virginia – the Civil War raged on for another two years.

We are in a struggle for civilization against Islamic jihadism. It is historic and can be traced back to 732 AD and the Battle of Tours (France), where the victor was Charles “The Hammer” Martel. This aged old confrontation has now returned, not just to Europe, but all across the globe. And success requires leaders, and the necessary national security vision and policies to secure our way of life, not just for western civilization, but for all.

We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”

Free Enterprise Is National Security

This originally appeared in my Townhall Column:

“I am fond of saying the president seems to work harder for our adversaries than the country that elected him. But his myopic focus on appeasing the Cuban government has reached a level that defies logic. He appears more eager than ever to give the Castro regime that which it asks for, while expecting little in return. This mystifying level of generosity comes at great expense to U.S. national security. But President Obama’s latest plans to visit Cuba with private business leaders shows how the president, to borrow from William Gladstone, completely “misunderstands the office he occupies.”

We know he remains insistent on closing Guantanamo Bay. A recruiting tool for terrorists, he still claims. However, terrorist organizations continue to plot, maim and kill with little or no interest in Gitmo’s continued existence.

He then submitted a plan for closing the facility to the same Congress that already essentially outlawed that very action. This, presumably to win favor with the Castro regime since the plan literally had no practical impact, other than spending taxpayer money to draft it.

But even that failed to change things. Report after report shows how human rights violations have only worsened since the United States resumed relations with Cuba. Secretary of State Kerry even cancelled his visit over the issue. If that was not enough, the Cuban government issued a sternly worded editorial in a local paper that essentially told the president that the communist government had “no intention of changing its policies in exchange for normal relations with the United States.”

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, the president thunders.

His determination to accommodate the Cuban government without any legitimate sense of why, how or for what, convinced a wary Congress to confirm with Loretta Lynch, yet again, that closing Guantanamo Bay would be a violation of the law. She emphatically agreed.

The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee felt so unsettled with this pattern of behavior that he actually drafted letters to the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State concerned that the president may be holding “secret negotiations” with Cuba.

Let that sink in. Arguably the most important national security official in Congress believes the Commander-in-Chief might be planning to subvert the law and circumvent Congress in order to achieve something that can only be detrimental to U.S. national security.

Now CEOs from Xerox and Marriott, among others, will accompany the president on his trip to the communist nation in a few days. He is essentially facilitating private business engagement in Cuba. An Alabama-based tractor company already won approval to build a factory near the capital. The Cuban government is the only group that can afford those tractors, though. Amnesty International should probably keep an eye out for large swaths of freshly disturbed earth, since harsher treatment of dissents suggests that they will begin disappearing.

This economic outreach might not be so bad if the president was not doing the opposite stateside.

While encouraging free enterprise in closed countries, the ‘administration of regulation’ cripples economic opportunity at home. The government refuses to lift its boot off the neck of a private sector struggling to breathe.

Dodd-Frank has decimated the small banking industry; only three new banks have opened since 2010. Small town America depends on these community banks for economic growth. Less of them equates to fewer jobs. Obamacare threatens the livelihood of small-to-medium size companies. Those businesses also face insurmountable compliance costs from an ever-expanding government bureaucracy. Aside from your expertly intrusive EPA and Labor Department, job creators contend with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and an Employee Benefits Security Administration, just to name a few.

These developments should concern everyone since this sector of the economy is responsible for two-thirds of the country’s job growth.

It’s like watching the president’s own Iditarod race, where he has worked four of his last six dogs to death by replacing his sled with a London double-decker bus. “Mush! Mush!” he commands of his two remaining pups.

This is not a simple case of national security problems meets domestic economic problems. Free enterprise is our national security. Undermining one, undermines them both. Cuba is the illustration.

The president recently admitted to have, at times, “not been attentive enough to feelings and emotions and politics in communicating what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.” In other words, I’m sorry for not considering the fact that you cannot comprehend the depths of my remarkable strategy. His logic is a closed loop of spectacularly failed ideas. He is an island unto himself. Perhaps that’s his attraction to Cuba.

Now mush!”

*IMPORTANT* Congress Responds to Iranian missile test

BREAKING: Sen. Kelly Ayote’s has just “introduced legislation to impose tough primary and secondary sanctions on every sector of the Iranian economy that directly or indirectly supports Iran’s ballistic missile program.”

The bill, I fear, may be coming a little too late.  I have explained here and here why the nuclear deal may have already let the “cat out of the bag.”

NCPA Petition Making an Impact

Thanks to your help, changes are coming to Washington that align with our Provide for the Common Defense Now!  petition.

As you know, we one of our five points involves reforming the “military acquisition and research and development process to eliminate significant cost overruns and guarantee warfighters receive modern weapon systems on time and under budget.”

And two days ago, Chairman Thornberry of the House Armed Services Committee introduced the The Acquisition Agility Act aimed to “reform” the defense acquisition system.

You can read highlights from the bill here.  We will be following up this announcement with our own analysis of the bill and look forward to your comments.

Change is coming thanks to your participation.

Why is Russia pulling out of Syria?

Vladimir Putin is redeploying some forces out of Syria because they achieved their military objectives, strengthened Iran’s position in the region, and kept Assad in power.  Expect the leader of Russia to now turn his attention to Eastern Europe.  Putin has once again completely outmaneuvered President Obama.

I discussed this at length on Fox Business this morning.

We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”

America faces terrifying new threat

This post previously appeared on

“As reported by Fox News, “Iran is preparing to launch a new long-range rocket into outer space as soon as this weekend, U.S. officials told Fox News…Officials told Fox they have not seen this specific type of rocket launched in the past. Iran has conducted four previous space launches. Any test of a new ballistic missile would be an apparent violation of a UN resolution forbidding Iran from working on its rocket program.

I don’t want to get into another discussion about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iranian nuclear deal; no such document exists.  The “agreement” has been violated continuously by Iran, along with other UN Resolutions so let’s agree to that understanding.

What I really want to discuss with you is my assessment of what Iran may be after in the long run.

A story from a year ago last March in the Washington Examiner lays out my concern: “Suspected for years of plotting to dismantle the U.S. electric grid, American officials have confirmed that Iranian military brass have endorsed a nuclear electromagnetic pulse explosion that would attack the country’s power system. 

American defense experts made the discovery while translating a secret Iranian military handbook, raising new concerns about Tehran’s recent nuclear talks with the administration. Iranian military documents describe such a scenario — including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States…A knowledgeable source said that the textbook discusses an EMP attack on America in 20 different places.

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who is leading an effort to protect the U.S. electric grid from an EMP attack, has recently made similar claims based on the document translated by military authorities. Once sneered at by critics, recent moves by Iran and North Korea have given credibility to the potential EMP threat from an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the U.S.”

During my last visit to Washington D.C. and Capitol Hill I met with Rep. Franks (R-Ariz) and we discussed the EMP threat. In my capacity at the National Center for Policy Analysis, I’ve written on the potential for an EMP attack in America. I am especially concerned that the State of Texas has its own independent electric grid and it needs to be hardened. Consider what would happen if the twelfth largest economy in the world, the Texas economy, was shut down due to an EMP attack.

What if these missile launches into space by Iran were a predecessor for a potential high altitude nuclear detonation that would have as its objective to “fry” the American electric grid? This isn’t some “Star Trek” scenario, as the Iranians addressed this means of attack some twenty times in translated documents.

But here is a greater concern: why in God’s name would the Obama administration go into agreement with a nation that has an objective to attack and destroy your electric grid? Why would the Obama administration at this point in time, not vehemently reject all aspects of the JCPOA and do everything in its power to deter the military goals of the militant Islamic theocracy which is the number one state sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world? And should the Obama administration be concerned about the raining and pouring of nuclear activity and missile testing by Iran and North Korea — who recently launched a ballistic missile and deployed a satellite that overflew the Super Bowl?

As usual, the progressive socialist acolytes of Obama will say this is much ado about nothing. I think they should ask themselves, do they really believe that, or just saying so not to admit the failure of their chosen one and the so-called “Obama Doctrine?” Regardless, leadership is about understanding the goals and objectives of your adversaries, and seeing their moves even before they do — that is the visionary aspect of principled leadership.

There is a storm a brewing and saying so isn’t fear mongering; it is leadership and leads to preparedness ensuring the safety and security of the American people. We will continue to educate and inform people about electro-magnetic pulse attacks and from whence they could emanate — forewarned is forearmed!

We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”

Where is Our Strategy?

New reports surface weekly that remind readers of the Obama administration’s mind-numbing, even nonsensical approach to U.S. national security.  The president remains determined to close Gitmo and move those prisoners to U.S. soil.  He already submitted a plan to congress in late February detailing the parameters of his plan. Unfortunately for him, the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which received veto-proof majorities from both houses, contained stipulations preventing the president from using any funds for moving prisoners or closing the facility. And now the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee feels compelled to write letters to the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State concerned that the president may be holding “secret negotiations” with Cuba over Gitmo.  Let that sink in.  The leading member of the committee on military issues believes the Commander-in-Chief might be planning to subvert the law and circumvent congress to achieve something that can only be detrimental to U.S. national security.

Let’s be reminded as well that the supposed payoffs from closing Gitmo have yet to materialize.  Reuters is reporting that the “number of former Guantanamo Bay prison inmates who are suspected of having returned to fighting for militants doubled to 12 in the six months through January.”  This is a trend going back to the Bush administration.  Figures from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “showed that 111 of 532 prisoners released by the Republican administration of President George W. Bush are confirmed to have returned to the battlefield, with 74 others suspected of doing so.”  It’s also worth mentioning here the Obama administration’s infamous Bergdahl swap that resulted in the release of five high-value Taliban fighters.  Susan Rice claimed that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction,” but now he is charged with desertion.  Why not just release Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance who is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for issuing orders that resulted in the deaths of two Afghans?  The logic is bewildering.

Making matters worse, rapprochement with Cuba has done nothing for U.S. national security or Cubans’ human rights.  Secretary of State Kerry recently canceled his visit to the island nation over disputes with the Castro administration concerning which dissents President Obama could meet during his March visit.  Indeed, report after report continue to show how human rights violations have only worsened since the United States resumed relations with Cuba.  But the Castro regime will undoubtedly crumble under the weight of American benevolence, right?  Nope.  The Cuban government issued a sternly worded op-ed March 9 saying the president is welcome to visit, but demanded he stop meddling in their affairs.  “The Communist government had no intention of changing its policies in exchange for normal relations with the United States,” one report surmised.

Meanwhile, terrorists organizations continue to plot, maim and kill with little or no interest in Gitmo’s continued existence.

So if you are scoring at home, that’s 17 high-value militants back in the fight, an American deserter, a Chairman worried that the president is holding secret meetings with Russia’s ally in Syria, and a Cuban government that has stepped up its oppressive tactics since U.S. rapprochement.  Hard not to feel safer.

We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”

Our Military Is Ready to Write – Not Ready to Fight

This column previously appeared in CNS News: “Let’s get right to the point: Congress should tailor the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to ensure that any further force reductions target the civilian ranks and headquarters staff positions across the Department of Defense.  This should be done prior to considering any more cuts to active duty numbers.

Years of significant drawdowns in manning have created a crisis in readiness.  The U.S. Armed Forces simply do not have enough trained warfighters to respond to the twenty-first century battlefield.  Why?  Because, ironically enough, the move towards fielding a lighter and more agile force has been inefficient and clumsy.

While the government was trimming the active duty force by four percent from 2001 to 2014, it grew the civilian workforce by 15 percent.  Indeed, civilians were the only employee group in the Department of the Navy to grow from 2001 through 2010.  The Joint Staff grew by 230 percent in two short years, from 2010 to 2012.  The civilian staff for the Office of the Secretary of Defense grew to more than 2,000 people, or nearly 18 percent, from roughly 2008 to 2013.  These types of expenditures might partly explain why America’s defense spending, as Senator John McCain pointed out during a November 2015 senate hearing, “in constant dollars, is nearly the same as it was 30 years ago.”  Yet it consists of “35 percent fewer combat brigades, 53 percent fewer ships, and 63 percent fewer combat air squadrons.”

The Pentagon did commit to a 20 percent cut of its headquarters budget in 2014 NDAA.  But a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) the following year showed that officials had not only failed to provide congress a plan on making those cuts, but were also applying old regulations that exempted those people performing “headquarters-related functions.”

The Pentagon agreed again to cuts in its headquarters staff budget in the 2016 NDAA.  But the president’s 1.3 percent pay increase across government that went into effect January 1, 2016 might very well offset the estimated $453 million in savings.  In fact, the DoD might actually spend $600 million more on civilians than it did in 2015, according to reports by Federal News Radio.

The “staff” culture is the dirty little secret in military circles.  It gives the appearance of relevance and that illusion of relevance improves promotion possibilities.  I remember personally watching a colonel I worked for in Iraq repeatedly invent staff positions so he could surround himself with a gaggle of people.  Everyone feared being sucked into the vortex of his ego.  When he tried to forcibly acquire some of my fellow, highly-trained special agents for menial staff duties of which they were not slated, I fired off some kindhearted warning letters to our leadership.  He backed off, and soon after, my command stopped filling those “taskings” altogether.

Meanwhile, Pentagon leadership has said that unanticipated “global flare ups,” as well as the president’s decision to extend U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, did not factor into recent cuts to active duty forces.  This conclusion is thick with irony.  Such a statement makes the simultaneous growth in headquarters staff and civilians look all the more careless.  But more importantly, it ignores that readiness levels are forward-looking and anticipatory in nature.  Their standards correspond to the government’s desired level of operational capability and are preserved explicitly so defense forces can reasonably react to the known and unknown.

Leadership is not entirely at fault, though.  They often have to find ways to implement the ambiguous strategies of our elected officials.  Indeed, the Obama administration just recently touted as important tools against ISIS the same weapon systems it last year called “unneeded force structure.”  This slow acceptance of the necessary exemplifies how the president, for instance, wants military capabilities that he simultaneously refuses to fund.

The government can still achieve an agile and economically efficient force with the upcoming NDAA.  First, since workforce reductions requirements remain unenforced from 2014 and lack of feedback undermines future projections, congress could mandate that the Office of the Inspector General dedicate resources to audit the Pentagon on these overdue cuts.  Second, congress could add language that requires all future cuts begin with reductions to headquarters staff and civilians before proportional cuts can be made elsewhere.  Third, congress could borrow language from the Rebalance for an Effective Defense Uniform and Civilian Employees (REDUCE) Act, or H.R. 340, which has some worthwhile recommendations:

  • A 15 percent cut to the civilian workforce by 2022.
  • The Senior Executive Service be reduced to 1,000 appointees by 2022 and maintain that number through 2026.
  • The bill could save $82.5 billion over five years.
  • By comparison, the Army’s ongoing reduction of 40,000 troops (17,000 of which are civilian employees) saves approximately $7 billion over four years.

Civilians and staff personnel have played an important part in America’s warfighting capabilities, but their levels of growth are simply untenable.  The FY 2017 NDAA must ensure any future cuts are smart, proportional and transparent.”


We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”