Archive for April, 2016

SHOCK: Congress is finally doing something RIGHT, except…

This post originally appeared at

One of the responsibilities I take very seriously as a result of having this platform is to keep y’all informed, especially my brother and sister veterans.

Right now the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are developing the defense authorization documents for our military. If there’s one thing I enjoyed about my time on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) it was the job of agency oversight and authorization. The Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sets the mission and program priorities for our defense appropriations. At the National Center for Policy Analysis, where I’m Executive Director, we’ve developed a five-point petition with a policy focus for lawmakers regarding the NDAA. It’s called “Provide for the Common Defense Now!” and you can view it at

We’ve reported here before regarding the use of food stamps in military commissaries. Say what you wish, but I find it abhorrent and unconscionable that we have young enlisted service members on food subsistence programs, while folks are demanding a $15 minimum wage.

So, in keeping with my responsibility to keep y’all up to speed, here’s an issue you need to be aware of — and maybe you can contact your Representative or Senator, and certainly those who sit on the HASC or SASC.

As reported by, “Many Tricare users would face annual enrollment fees in a newly named plan under a draft proposal released Monday by the House Armed Services Committee. Under the plan, current users of Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra would fall into the newly minted Tricare Preferred plan. Users would continue to be permitted to self-refer to providers, but doing so would come with an annual enrollment fee of $100 for individuals and $200 for families starting in 2020.

New Tricare users would pay even greater fees. Active-duty family members would pay $300 for an individual or $600 for families to enroll each year, while future retirees who joined the service after 2020 would pay $425 for an individual or $850 for families. New beneficiaries who want to use Prime can do so, but also at a cost. Active-duty families would pay $180 for an individual or $360 for a family, while retirees would pay $325 for an individual or $650 for a family. Current users would not pay to use Prime.

Under the new Preferred option, users would have no annual deductible, but would pay set fees out of pocket. For example, emergency room visits would cost $40 in network for active-duty families, and $60 for retirees. The catastrophic yearly cap would be at $1,000 for active-duty families and $3,000 for retirees.” Military Times notes: This story was corrected on April 26 to reflect that only currently serving beneficiaries and retirees who opt to use the Preferred plan after 2020 would face annual enrollment fees.”

Recently here at NCPA, we published a piece about Tricare and some issues facing our service men and women. I recall when I served on the HASC Subcommittee on Military Personnel that the cost of healthcare for our uniformed members and retirees was a concern. And it appears the HASC Subcommittee is attempting to try and rectify the situation. One of the issues with the current Tricare system is the low rate of reimbursement to medical professionals, in some cases lower than Medicaid. And, for those retirees and some men and women in uniform who aren’t on duty near a military installation, it may be difficult to find medical professionals who are listed as Tricare providers. The new Tricare Preferred Plan looks to open up more choices for those who “opt” in — but be aware of the increased cost.

What I want y’all to do is follow the NDAA progress which began this week in the HASC with what’s called the “mark-up” process. This means the proposed legislation has gone through the subcommittees and been “marked-up,” meaning reviewed, voted upon, corrected (amended), and submitted to the full HASC.

Now, the HASC Chairman, Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry, has conducted his “mark” of all the subcommittee submissions and the full HASC will undergo their “mark-up.” Once this NDAA package has gone through the mark-up in chambers, it will go to the full House of Representatives floor for debate, potential amendments and final votes. The same procedures are occurring over on the Senate side.

Now is the time for everyone to get plugged in and be aware of the policy decisions being made. As you can see, they also affect our military healthcare system. I hope y’all will indeed learn more about the newly created Tricare Preferred Plan and learn how it can impact you and your family.

And in closing, I am officially a Life Member of the 1st and 4th Infantry Division Associations. I will be attending and speaking at the Big Red One annual meeting in June in my hometown of Atlanta. These are my two combat divisions and I am honored and proud to be part of the legacy of two historic Army combat divisions both commanded by two former colleagues, MG Wayne W. Grigsby Jr. and MG Ryan F. Gonsalves, with whom I was a fellow Battalion Commander in the 4ID.

Duty First! Steadfast and Loyal!

Use the NDAA Against Iran

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual bill that sets the military budget, is in the markup phase. As Congress begins to review and edit the content of the bill, now is the time to make our voice heard. The urgency in repairing our defense readiness capabilities dovetails with the U.S. national security urgency in holding Iran accountable for acts of aggression.

First, the Senate could consider adding a version of H.R. 3662 Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), as an amendment to the NDAA.  I have written previously about the bill here, which passed the House but has not received a vote in the Senate.

Congress could also consider a version of H.R. 4342 Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act introduced by Rep. John Delaney (D. MD), as another amendment. Indeed, as one can see, the Iran issue has bipartisan support. Adding amendments of this nature could find backing across party lines.  And the American people would love to see such compromise, especially on an issue in which they stringently disagree with the president.

In any case, something must be done.

Iran has repeatedly violated the so-called “agreement,” which has turned out to be more like a Pinky-Swear Agreement (PSA) rather than a real contract. And for some unknown reason, the Obama administration plans to comply with the PSA with or without Iran. Now the Department of Energy has gone through with its purchase of Iran’s heavy water — used in the process of creating nuclear material — per the PSA. The Islamic Republic will receive $8.6 million. As the agreement stands, that money could be used to fund terrorism. Speaker Paul Ryan rightly called this idea subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program. This is just the latest mind-numbing strategy from the administration, and does not include billions in unfrozen assets flowing into Tehran. American Soldiers on their knees in surrender, rocket tests, etc; the in-your-face dissent will continue because Iran simply has no incentive to abide.

Meanwhile, Russia has recently agreed to supply Iran with S-300 missiles ahead of schedule and remains in talks to send even more military equipment.  I continue to believe that Israel will likely be the first victim of the Ayatollah’s wrath. And the PSA sets the ground work for that.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey once said, in reference to how American dollars sent to buy Middle East oil help enrich hostile governments and terrorist organizations, “Except for the Civil War, [the War on Terror] is the only war that we have fought where we are paying for both sides.”

Sounds like the PSA.  Even worse, we provided money that will likely fund Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations for virtually nothing in return.  The NDAA could help turn that around.

We, at the National Center for Policy Analysis, have developed the “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!” petition to ensure that the FY 2017 NDAA helps provide for a strong, fiscally responsible national defense plan. If you stand with us, please sign it.

The Hidden Enemy

This post originally appeared in my townhall column: “There is a Chinese proverb that states, “May you live in interesting times,” which has become a defining character of these times in which we are living. This new 21st century battlefield has brought a seemingly innumerable level of conflict and conflagrations that expands across the globe. It is a battlefield that has no boundaries or borders, and finds attacks occurring against civilian populations near and far.

It is not just the threat from traditional nation-state actors, but also the proliferation of non-state, non-uniformed, unlawful enemy combatants that makes this a rather complex battlespace. The latter enemy blends in with civilian populations as a means of cover. There are nations that provide support and sanctuary for these unlawful actors, enabling their sustainment. What has been a new frontier in this battle has been the use of new information technology, which gives a new and broad platform for the enemy and adversaries to promulgate their violent ideology.

But, there is also another means by which technology is enabling our enemies to be successful on the battlefield.

Tuesday the 26th of April is recognized as World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. According to the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here are the major impacts of IP for America:

  • Incentivizes innovation and creativity,
  • Creates 40 million jobs, drives 2/3 of our GDP, and ¾ of all US annual exports, and
  • Protects consumer safety by allowing consumers to make informed decisions about the safety, reliability, and quality of the products they purchase.


But there is a very vital aspect of our IP that relates to the most critical function of our federal government — national security.

These are times when we are decimating our current military force structure. We have an Army that is being cut down to pre-World War II levels. Our U.S. Marine Corps is at World War I levels. Our venerable U.S. Navy, “a global force for good,” is now the smallest Navy we have fielded when analyzing surface warships since 1917 — and it appears Russia enjoys “buzzing” our Destroyers. Our U.S. Air Force is the smallest and oldest fleet since we created the modern Air Force as a separate service branch. There are those who would say this is all good. Easy for them to say such, when they are not on those frontlines for freedom as guardians.

Our defense discretionary budget is approximately 18% of our overall budget. Nearly 64% of our federal budget is spent on the mandatory spending side encompassing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the net interest on our ever growing debt. As a percentage of our GDP, defense takes up about 3.2%. Sure, we can find savings in our defense budget. One of the most obvious is to reform our weapons systems acquisition and procurement process – where protection of our IP is paramount. Many believe that we can “afford” to cut back on our manpower requirements because we have a technological edge, advantage. But on this new battlefield, that may just no longer be the case.

If you have not paid requisite attention, there has been a marked increase of cyber-attacks against the United States. This has not just occurred against our military facilities and forces, but has rather been targeted towards our private sector industry, research and development, and institutions of higher learning. In a recent speech delivered to the National Center for Policy Analysis, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn stated that the Chinese have a Cyber Unit with a manning level of some 800,000. In contrast, our US CYBERCOM has between 10-15,000 manpower, and we all know that cyber is another area of this new battlefield.

What are the dangers?

If you have not noticed, China’s new fighter aircraft has a very marked resemblance to our F-35 fighter. And there is another very dangerous aspect of this new hidden enemy: parts counterfeiting. Several years ago, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) looked into this very problem. In a year-long investigation the SASC examined some 1,800 cases of counterfeit parts, involving a total of more than 1 million individual counterfeit parts found in the military supply chain — totally unconscionable.

Some of the critical weapon systems where these counterfeit parts were found include helicopter forward-looking infrared, F-16 hostile tracking radar, portable nuclear identification tools, and aircraft pilot displays. There appears to be a very targeted method for these counterfeit parts. In the report from the SASC, former Chairman Senator Carl Levin stated, “Our report outlines how this flood of counterfeit parts, overwhelmingly from China, threatens our national security, the safety of our troops, and American jobs. It underscores China’s failure to police the blatant market in counterfeit parts — a failure China should rectify.” Senator John McCain chimed in on the subject, stating, “Our committee’s report makes it abundantly clear that vulnerabilities throughout the defense supply chain allow counterfeit electronic parts to infiltrate critical US military systems, risking our security and the lives of the men and women who protect it.”

The National Center for Policy Analysis has developed the “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!” petition, which advocates for 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. If you stand with us, please sign it.

On this World IP Day we can certainly celebrate the incredible innovations and ingenuity resulting from the indomitable American entrepreneurial spirt. But what we must never forget is that exact same innovative capacity and capability is being targeted, and threatens our national security. If we continue decimating our force structure while the hidden enemy unlawfully usurps our technological advantage on the battlefield — then we are not ensuring that seminal responsibility to “provide for the common defense.”

The Military, Nation-Building and Counterterrorism in Africa

“History does not repeat itself, as the old adage goes, but it surely rhymes. What began in 2002 as an antiterrorism assistance program for a handful of impoverished African countries at risk from violent extremist groups has since expanded into the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.

This expensive, Department of State-led program, which is now integrated into the military’s U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), boasts lackluster oversight and a penchant for nation-building –‒ using multiple agencies to rebuild a given country’s political, economic and social infrastructure. In fact, its shape and language resembles failed, Cold War anticommunism programs in Latin America that ended up complicating rather than solving American security problems.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must take a more measured approach to the military’s financial commitment to the Trans-Sahara partnerships and its counterterrorism efforts in Africa, and rethink the rules of engagement within this broadly defined “capacity-building” program….” Read the full report here.

The Decline of American Regard

This post originally appeared in West’s Townhall column: “When I was a Congressional representative from South Florida, one of the major concerns was beach re-nourishment, the process of pumping sand back onto eroded beaches. The district I represented was all coastline, from Ft. Lauderdale up to Jupiter Inlet, and one of the major economic concerns was the erosion of the beaches. As we all can understand, if the beauty of the south Florida beaches declined, so did the attraction of visitors and economic growth.

It is no different when one considers the slow erosion of American strength that has been occurring over the past seven years. This has led to the decline of our regard on the global stage. Recent events tell the tale cracks in our foundation, as well as serious (and we pray not irreparable) damage to American strength.

Take the economic blackmail threat by the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister’s reference to legislation supporting the declassification of 28 pages from the 9/11 investigative report. There are many who believe that these pages contain information implicating Saudi officials in the financial and resource support of the 9/11 conspirators, many of whom were Saudi nationals. The fact that the Saudi Foreign Minister would threaten the sell-off of U.S. treasury securities is a blatantly disrespectful gesture. It is reprehensible when we consider that this is the Saudi response to what could be a revelation of their complicit actions in an act of war against the United States. However, when there is a decline in American regard, such obtuse and belligerent statements can be made with full arrogance.

China, whose President Xi Jinping received full honors and a State dinner at the White House recently, has defied every sense of international regard in constructing islands in the South China Sea. And, have emplaced military weaponry and airstrips on them, which now receive military aircraft. Those who know a little about history can recall in the 20th century when an Asian nation militarily fortified islands, constructed airstrips, and sought to build its maritime force. This action has sought to evidence a lack of regard for American influence with other nations in the Pacific Rim region such as Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. China has strategically built these new islands along a major sea lane of commerce with some 30-35 percent of trade transits. Certainly not a coincidence, considering the impending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excludes China.

And, let us not forget the massive “investment” China has made into its offensive cyber capability. Some say its dedicated unit is comprised of some 800K. The continued aggressive nature of Chinese cyber activity, along with their focused intellectual property threats, cannot be debated. Yet, we are dismissing it. This, along with their economic subterfuge, shows a clear decline in American regard that has even inspired China’s attack dog, Kim Jung Un and North Korea, to ramp up its belligerence.

With Iran, there can be no more greater evidence of a decline of American regard. First, let’s be very clear. There is no such thing as a nuclear agreement with Iran — they are not signatories of anything. Yet, the current presidential administration has released billions of dollars to the number one state sponsor of Islamic jihadism and terrorism. And no, there is no such thing as “snapback sanctions.” That horse has long since left the barn.

Who can forget the pictures and videos of our U.S. sailors on their knees at gun point by the terrorist designated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps – and, then we thanked the Iranians. Israel just uncovered new Hamas tunnels.  Needless to say, we all know who funds Hamas and their exploits. Iran has fired off more ballistic missiles and we have done nothing. Iran’s head of the terrorist designated Quds Force, General Qassem Suleimani, has violated U.N. resolutions and traveled on several occasions to Russia. His latest excursion was to seal the deal on Iran’s acquiring, not just new state of the art T-90 tanks and fighter jets, but the lethal S-300 surface to air missile system — which Iran has stated it will parade upon receipt. The acquisition of the latter, with their new found economic boon, is a game changer for any potential operations against a nuclear facility. They know it, and we know it as well, but we are doing nothing. Iran has become a regional hegemony in the Middle East over these past seven years, now controlling Sanaa Yemen, Beirut Lebanon, Damascus Syria, and Baghdad Iraq. President Obama clearly stated his foreign policy strategy was to pivot from the Middle East and engage in the Pacific, a flawed strategic policy that has resulted in the further decline of American regard.

Lastly, the continued provocations of Vladimir Putin and Russia are not by mistake. After all, President Obama did tell then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that after his reelection he would have more “flexibility.” That “flexibility” has resulted in our Naval warships, in international waters of the Baltic Sea, being buzzed at dangerously close distances by Russian Su-24 fighter jets. These actions against our maritime forces evidence Russian aggression at a time when the Baltic States have major security concerns. We continually hear the rhetoric of “avoidance of war” but those are sweet and aromatic words to despots and dictators — such as it was to the ears of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo in the last century. Even with a failing economy, Vladimir Putin shows strength, and on a grand international stage portrays American weakness.

Sadly, this will continue for the remaining months until our nation can make a decision in November as to whether we want to be liked or respected. In the past two presidential election cycles we chose the former. It has led to this, a decline in American respect and regard. And this missive did not make mention of the expansive growth of the global Islamic Jihad.

As Alexander the Great once stated, “I would not fear an army of lions if led by sheep, but I would fear an army of sheep if led by lions.””

Is the U.S. Military Falling Apart?

The following video from Foxnews should should concern us all: “Fox Exposes Military Readiness Crisis” 

Planes are falling apart and those that maintain them have reached a point of exhaustion. But what does this mean? Spend more money? Keep making cuts?

We at the NCPA believe the government can field an effective and cost-efficient military, and have prepared a five-point plan to accomplish that goal

  1. We have shown how we could cut Pentagon bureaucracy rather than our troop levels, see that report here.
  2. We have advocated for a restructuring of the military acquisition system so our forces have the most up-to-date weapons systems available.
  3. We firmly believe active duty members should be compensated at a level that prevents them from having to use food stamps to feed their families; see that report here.
  4. We have even presented broad recommendations on how to balance the DoD budget in a manner that would save money AND keep America safe.

And we still more publications coming out soon!!

We have offered many different alternatives that improve our readiness levels while saving money. It can be done. But we need your help!

Sign our petition and tell Congress to use the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act to “Provide for the Common Defense Now!”

Budgeting Alternatives for the Department of Defense

The United States careens from one budget crisis to another while the national debt — now $20 trillion — continues to rise. This trend is a stark reminder that the federal budget process needs a complete overhaul. And, with one of the largest budgets in government, the Department of Defense (DOD) could be the first place to test a sensible process reform called zero-based budgeting.

Indeed, given the DOD’s $530 billion budget for fiscal year 2016, the savings could range from $31.8 billion to $53 billion, based on the experience of corporations and national governments that have adopted zero-based budgeting.

Under the current system, known as “baseline budgeting,” the government sets the previous year’s spending as the starting point for the future. Budget preparers assume all of the same programs and operating procedures, and only adjust the next year’s fiscal outlook upward to account for actual spending, inflation and population growth. Since inflation and population growth are almost always positive, the budget almost always rises.

The U.S. government prefers this method because it avoids having to reinvent the wheel each year. It also costs very little and, for the most part, prevents officials from rigging budget documents or reports.

One of the most powerful criticisms of baseline or incremental budgeting is the incentives it generates. Specifically, the system goes beyond favoring the status quo — it actually encourages spending growth. By starting the conversation at the previous year’s spending level, which in the DOD’s case does not account for new conflicts or unanticipated flare-ups, baseline budgeting tilts the scales in favor of more spending. Further, it allows politicians to have their cake and eat it too: They can appear to cut the budget when all they are doing is changing the rate of spending growth….Read the full report

The Cost of Military Education Benefits

Military spouse and volunteer contributor Nadeen Wincapaw suggests reforming U.S. military education programs could be one method towards Building a capable and fiscally responsible military — one of the five points of our Provide for the Common Defense petition, which you can sign here.  She writes the following:

“Money for college remains one of the most successful recruitment tools for the U.S. military. Higher education benefits have expanded into several programs costing nearly $16 billion a year (as of 2015). Active duty personnel are offered a G.I. Bill to be used once they leave the military, which is administered by the Veterans Administration. A parallel program offers tuition assistance for those currently serving as well. Tuition assistance is administered by the individual services of the Department of Defense, and provides up to $250 per credit hour for classes in addition to the G.I. Bill. As of 2012, tuition assistance alone has helped over 286,000 service members achieve a college degree without dipping into their G.I. Bill.

My husband was one of those 286,000 who used tuition assistance to acquire his Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Add to that all the service-related schools and training that he has completed over his 20 year career, and you have one very educated man. But using the benefits available on active duty meant his G.I. Bill would have gone to waste had he not been given the option to transfer them to his family members. In 2011, he transferred his G.I. Bill to me (his wife) and I completed my MBA. The option to transfer a service member’s G.I. Bill to his/her family is a recent expansion of the program that was remarkably easy to accomplish (a rarity when dealing with the Department of Defense).

Having these benefits available definitely helped our family because our household budget could not absorb the costs of continuing our education. My husband completed his Master’s Degree while he was a Lieutenant and Captain. At that time, we had three young children and I did not work, so tuition assistance allowed him to finish a degree that he would need to progress in rank without taking up massive amounts of financial resources. I worked on my MBA from 2011 through 2014; and at that time, two of our children were also attending college, so finances were tight then as well. Had the G.I. Bill not paid for my degree, it would not have happened. As a spouse that has had to move every two years, my experience is not exactly a shining light on my resume for potential employers.

Our country, however, is in financial trouble and some tough choices need to be made. There are viable solutions other than the two extremes, i.e. slashing of the Defense budget or the refusal to touch a penny.  Smart cuts and reorganization can save money without hurting morale.  Duplicate programs are the best place to begin; and, as much as it pains me to say it, the G.I. Bill and the co-existing tuition assistance programs are a duplications of one another. In my opinion, one or the other should be phased out or provide for the nullification of one benefit if the other is used. The Department of Defense attempted to do away with tuition assistance in 2013; but they abruptly cut off funding without warning. Students and institutions were caught mid-term without time to plan, budget, or make other arrangements, so the Department of Defense restored the benefit and allowed the services to reorganize their guidelines to accommodate cuts in the budget. Such an ambitious cutback cannot be so poorly implemented in the future.

In the end, Congress could consider reforming the education benefits system in order to promote cost-effective service incentives, while maintaining an effective fighting force.”

We want to thank Nadeen for her contribution and her service to our country has a active duty spouse.  Always remember to thank spouses and military families for the sacrifices they make in defense of our country.

Plenty of generals and few soldiers

We learned today in a recent report at the Daily Beast that our U.S. armed forces, “is notably short on soldiers, but apparently not on generals.”

The report explains that “There are at least 12 U.S. generals in Iraq, a stunningly high number for a war that, if you believe the White House talking points, doesn’t involve American troops in combat. And that number is, if anything, a conservative estimate, not taking into account the flag officers running the U.S. air war, the admirals helping wage the war from the sea, or their superiors back at the Pentagon.  At U.S. headquarters inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, even majors and colonels frequently find themselves saluting superiors at a pace that outranks the Pentagon and certainly any normal military installation. With about 5,000 troops deployed to Iraq and Syria ISIS war, that means there’s a general for every 416 troops, give or take. To compare, there are some captains in the U.S. Army in charge of that many people.”

This is a natural consequences of a bloated DOD bureaucracy. I have already discussed here how to trim that.

I remember personally watching Colonels, who wanted to be get promoted to General, flying into the warzone…marching around on base for a couple days; maybe had to run to a bunker once and then return home for their “medal.”  They had checked the box for their combat experience.  And voilà…promoted.

Lt. Col (Ret.) Allen West adds that “There was once upon a time when the battlefield was populated with more troops than leaders. Also, those leaders led from the front and were engaged with their men. Our history is replete with such stories. Recall the number of battlefield commanders lost during the Civil War, or how on D-Day the Assistant Commander of the 4th(US) Infantry Division, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., landed on Utah Beach and infamously stated, “we start the war from here”. He was later killed. Today we have deployed countless amounts of senior leaders but less actual troops in combat. Perhaps there are those who would say that is a part of technology. Instead we have legions who are “gaining combat experience” in order to punch that ticket for promotion – and getting additional combat zone pay, but are they truly contributing to the effort of victory? And those of us who have been in these combat zones know exactly of that for which I speak.”

Marine General John Paxton recently told Congress that the Marine Corp “may not be ready for war.”  But this latest revelation suggests the military as a whole may not be ready.