Archive for October, 2016

Response to the Presidential Debate – Nation’s Security at Risk or Not?

The second debate helped clarify how each candidate sees the world at this moment, which ironically added to the confusion of truth that has overtaken this election cycle. Mr. Trump described a country and a world that seems to be falling apart. Secretary Clinton offered a differing view, one where improvement could be realized with some modifications and collaboration. Much like the first presidential debate, one candidate defined a system that is in serious need of change – the other considered existing policies and government strategy as something in which to build on, requiring slight adjustments to maximize outcome. In other words, Mr. Trump believes the country is headed in the wrong direction – Secretary Clinton disagrees.

If national security is any indication of truth, Mr. Trump’s perspective appears to be closer to reality.

The email controversy once again met a generally unrepentant Secretary Clinton. She flatly denied even those facts to which the FBI Director testified. Her willingness to challenge those truths on such a big stage should be seen as a symptom of a larger problem: how political elites refuse to believe their actions take for granted the security of the United States. That theme continued with immigration when Secretary Clinton suggested her administration could and would effectively vet thousands of additional Syrian refugees. That surge is not sympathy – that’s untenable and dangerous. Our government has proven, from healthcare to the economy, that it simply does not have the capacity to manage such a consequential operation. Secretary Clinton closed the loop on this theme by naming the Iran Deal and work with Russia on nuclear material as successes that prove her ability to address Syria. Those conclusions were either knowingly untruthful or frighteningly naïve. In fact, the situation in Syria may be unrecoverable because of her decisions while with the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, a plan to defeat global jihadism remained elusive.  Both simply chose to focus on other matters. And the moderators’ recent obsession over Aleppo strikes me as curious. The questions which echoed the vice presidential debate imply that America must now get involved. A frustrating development since few in the media demanded action from the Obama administration when it could have potentially prevented the ongoing tragedy. The issue reminds of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he extolled the House of Commons for dithering in the face of Nazi military build-up. “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.”

But we did finally see some separation in strategy over the Middle East, wherein Secretary Clinton called for increased focus on Syria, particularly human rights investigations into Russian aggression, and Mr. Trump said the United States must focus on the Islamic State. Both ideas seemed reasonable and easily digestible for voters.

The highlight of the night, however, came when Mr. Trump essentially said America must know its enemy first and foremost in regards to terrorism. This point is a critical one we at the NCPA have called for in partnership with Lt. General Michael Flynn (ret.) in our Foxnews article. Secretary Clinton’s muddled and stale response about accepting people – “not all Muslims are bad” routine — proved his point and her own inability to be honest about the threat. She should be reminded that naming the enemy actually clarifies things, it doesn’t confuse them.

The lack of comments on the state of our military, despite the litany of foreign policy solutions each wanted to implement, remained the most glaring omission. It will be difficult to achieve any of their objectives with the readiness crisis facing U.S. armed forces.

In the end, both proved to have completely different views of the world as it stands. Americans must decide with which reality they agree.

Experts Respond to Vice Presidential Debate

Allen West said:

“What I heard from this Vice Presidential debate in the area of foreign policy and national security is one side that was delusional. Furthermore, there was not enough conversation on the critical issue of our security and the restoration of our military.

There is no Iranian nuclear agreement; every aspect has been violated. Also, Hillary Clinton has stated she will not deploy any American troops into Iraq or Syria. President Obama has deployed 6,000 already, after dismissing military leadership recommendations to keep a residual force. The most savage and barbaric Islamic terrorist organization was reconstituted. That threat has not decreased; even the Director of National Intelligence has stated so, and the Director of the FBI has evidenced concern about domestic jihadism. There has been an immense increase of Islamic terrorism under the presidency of Barack Obama. Also, Hillary Clinton supported the destabilization of Libya, now a terrorist sanctuary and base of operations.”

David Grantham writes:

“The vice presidential debate proved to be one of measurable national security ideas. Both men took advantage of opportunities to elaborate on their running mates’ respective foreign policy strategy. Overall, we heard a promise of more government from Senator Kaine and a plea for less of it from Governor Pence. Both urged a strong U.S. global presence, although they defined strength differently. Both aimed for an improved military through different means. The major problem for Senator Kaine is explaining how that can be achieved with his simultaneous increase in domestic spending.

More precisely, the ideas presented defined each potential administration. Both seemed to agree on a version of protection in Syria – humanitarian areas and no-fly zones. Kaine wanted to extend the current administration’s largely failing ISIS strategy, while Pence suggested a more aggressive approach. Kaine even championed an ‘intelligence surge,’ defined as increased cooperation with allies and the hiring of more people – unfortunately that requires even more growth in government and more spending. Our work at the NCPA has shown that the government spends enough – it’s the wisdom behind the strategy that’s lacking. Perhaps the most egregious claims came with the ‘success’ of the Iran deal, the decrease in terrorism ‘in some ways’ and the reset with Russia, all touted as achievements by Kaine. Each one is demonstrably false, and to be counted as successes sounded naive and dishonest.”

Why Foreign Military Sales Benefit the United States

Joe Ruzicka is an NCPA contributor and expert on military affairs:

After more than two years in the making, the Obama Administration has approved sales of 4th generation fighters to several Middle East countries. Qatar and Kuwait have been patiently waiting for White House approval to move the sales packages forward, while Bahrain may need to show more effort in their human rights efforts before full approval is given.  The sales packages now head to Congressional leaders for final approval.

While some may disagree with the sale of U.S. weaponry to a foreign country, particularly those in the Middle East, the foreign military sale process makes sense from an economic and partnership standpoint.

First, production lines in key economic areas can stay open. U.S. Government orders for 4th Generation fighter aircraft are very limited due to the ongoing transition of Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft fleets to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (a 5th Generation jet).  Boeing was expected to completely shut down its production lines by the end of the decade if the F-15 and F/A-18 sales were not approved. With these latest foreign military sales, new life has been breathed into a production line that was on its last legs.

Boeing employs over 15,000 people at their St. Louis plant. The sale packages could easily extend those production lines’ lifespan into the next decade. This means those highly technical jobs remain and thrive in the St. Louis area.

Additional economic impacts include several strategic business benefits. Overall unit costs are lowered due to economies of scale, the U.S. balance of trade is improved and the foreign sales create a windfall for U.S. industry.  According to Loren Thompson, the F-15 sale to Qatar would be worth about $4 billion to Boeing’s defense business if all options are exercised. The F/A-18 package will consist of 28 Super Hornets with an option for 12 more and could be worth nearly $3 billion.

While the impact can certainly be felt in real dollars, the intangibles from a foreign military sale might be even more lucrative.

When the United States enters into a foreign military sale agreement with a country like Qatar, the government uses a “Total Package” approach. This means that not only are the aircraft procured, but also everything else that is required to utilize and operate the weaponry.

For example, the Middle East fighter jet sale will also contain provisions for training (of both maintenance and aircrews), logistics and spare parts, and maintenance applications. The Total Package approach is a 30-35 year bi-lateral agreement that has been entered into between the two countries. This long-standing relationship is key if the United States wants to maintain security cooperation with its allies in an increasingly dangerous world.

Furthermore, by selling U.S. products and weaponry, the United States ensures that interoperability is achieved between the two countries. It also prevents non-U.S. weapons systems from being purchased and proliferated. Fighting alongside a country that has similar weaponry helps build a military coalition through common tactics, techniques, and procedures.

A great example of this is the 2011 Air Campaign against Libya where U.S. and NATO aircraft worked in conjunction with each other to unseat dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. Belgium flies the U.S. made F-16 fighter. During the campaign, Belgian F-16s were qualified to conduct air-to-air refueling (AAR) operations from any boom-type NATO tanker. This resulted in Belgian fighter aircraft being refueled by tankers from the U.S. Air Force, the Royal Netherlands Air Force, or the French Air Force. The interoperability of the Belgians with other NATO aircraft simplified AAR planning and was one key factor in preventing Qaddafi from crushing the rebel movement.

Finally, for those naysayers who are worried that the receiving country would use our own technology against us, the U.S. is very careful in controlling what technology is sold abroad. Foreign military sales go through a rigorous vetting process. Key technology restrictions must be met prior to the weaponry being exported. This may be as simple as fighter aircraft being sold with a less powerful radar than the U.S. version or a full scale Anti-Tamper plan in place to prevent any technology leaks. Regardless of the sale or the country, rest assured the United States maintains a tactical advantage with its own weaponry.

And remember, that tactical advantage also translates into a great economic and security cooperation impact for the United States.