Archive for December, 2009


Jesus Is The Reason

In Bethlehem, God gave to us
The source of Christmas joy;
A star shown on a miracle:
The virgin birth of a boy. He was born both God and man,
A Savior for us all,
The way to get to our heavenly home,
If we just heed His call. So as we shop and spend and wrap
And enjoy the Christmas season,
Let’s keep in mind the sacred truth:
Jesus is the reason.

By Joanna Fuchs


The birth of Jesus Christ as found in Luke 2:1-20

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.

2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria.

3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child;

18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The First Enlightenment

National Review – Michael Novak

Those of us who are of Catholic mind do not believe that the Enlightenment began with Kant (“What is Enlightenment?”), or Locke or Newton, or even with Descartes. We cherish Plato, Aristotle, Cicero. But the first Enlightenment began with Christ Our Lord.

It was only with the Christ that EQUALITY meant every human being, barring none. From then on, no one was “barbarian.” Each bore in his own soul the mark of being called to be a dwelling of the Father and the Son — being called beyond all other calls a son of God. Neither mother nor father, neither civil society nor state, can answer to this call for you or me. None has any deeper bond or precedence than the relation of Creator and human creature. It is a bond of Spirit and Truth.

Thus was revealed each human’s LIBERTY primordial, and in that liberty, EQUALITY with all. No other but self can say to the the Father “No,” or “Yes.” That choice is for each single one of us inalienable. That choice brings each into the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of all who are equal in the sight of God.

And that is how universal FRATERNITY became a human principle and an object of our striving.

Moreover, a singular feature of the coming of the Christ is that all have access to him — rich pagan kings riding from the East, Roman centurions (those who would put him to death, even they), Jew and Greek, and those of every nation, station, and state of virtue or of sin. From Bethlehem went out the message of the First Globalization — the global call to become one human family. But only by the narrow path of the free choice of each.

This was the First Enlightenment. There has been no deeper nor more all-embracing since.

From the streaming light of the marks of Christ’s coming — LIBERTY, FRATERNITY, EQUALITY — the Second Enlightenment (of Newton, Locke, Kant, Voltaire, and all the others) is derivative. Except that the second one would like to have these ideals, this vision, without God. And, if possible, while destroying the Christian Church. “Strangling the last king with the intestines of the last pope.” A dream of bloodshed. Christophobia.

And now we enter a period in the United States in which it is no longer true that our courts and laws consider ours a civilization uplifted by Christianity. Hatred for Christianity is running deeper, swifter. The day is upon us in which priests, bishops, evangelicals of all kinds, lay and clerical and of all Christian communities will be sent to jail.

To vote one’s conscience, or even to speak one’s conscience, on the matter of homosexual “marriage” more and more brings torrents of abuse.

The day has come, in the minds of some in power, that it is an abuse of human rights to hold abortion wrong. One would have thought that cutting short a life violates the natural right of the independent human being in the womb, just as surely as enslavement used to do. Turning things the other way, today some hold that for a doctor to refuse to take part in the abortion of a living child is to violate a woman’s right to kill the living one she carries.

If Christians must suffer even for the truths of reason that they hold, how will that be different from the first century after Christ was born, and many more? The world became Christian once by the hearing of the word. That did not prevent every one of the first apostles from being thrown in jail. The tradition may be coming back.

Our Christmas Guardians

Some aren’t home for holiday

New York Post – Ralph Peters

Each year at Christmas, we remember our troops, far from home, standing be tween us and the latest Herods out to slaughter the innocents.

As a former soldier, my thoughts are with the “ground pounders” out there, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Fort Hood, Texas. The challenges they face are immeasurably greater than those we faced in the black-boot, Cold War Army.

But we all have our special memories. I recall Christmases in the 1st Battalion of the 46th Infantry, in Germany, three decades ago. Our Army was far poorer then, without the lavish support we provide today.

We made the best of things. For the battalion cooks, Christmas was a huge event, when the mess hall (no real soldier called it a “dining facility”) was decorated with scrounged odds and ends. The oft-derided “spoons” put in plenty of extra hours to provide a meal that at least hinted of home.

The NCOs and their families made the day, though. A married platoon sergeant or squad leader would have his soldiers over to his quarters, where they’d gladly devour a second Christmas dinner. Pay was low back then, but the sense of brotherhood was high.

Still, it could be a terribly lonely time for a young soldier. And somebody still had to pull guard duty out on the ranges or by the ammo bunkers. A lieutenant, I made the rounds in a vintage Jeep, hauling cocoa and cookies from the mess hall for soldiers pulling shifts in the snow. Master Sgt. Pomeroy, my NCOIC, usually got there before me.

The point wasn’t the lukewarm cocoa poured into a cardboard cup but the sense that, whatever stock resentments crossed the ranks, we were all American soldiers and in it together. 1-46 was a tough outfit, but we all softened on Christmas.

Today, our troops serve under far more dangerous and demanding conditions than we did during those Cold War years of scrounging spare parts and training ammo. Their enemies are immediate and deadly, not just the stuff of intelligence estimates. The world is meaner now.

So here’s an inadequate Christmas thank-you to all who wear our nation’s uniform today. They’ll take care of each other out there at the back of beyond. Soldiers do. But let’s spread our gratitude a bit wider this year. Nowadays, our splendid troops get the support they deserve from their fellow citizens. But many others will serve and protect us on Christmas day — closer to home.

Spare a holiday wish for the Coast Guard, the service that does more with less than any other. The Coasties will be on duty on the icy winter waters. And the undermanned Border Patrol will be out there on another kind of front line, in the high desert of Arizona and along the St. Lawrence. National Park and Forest Service Rangers will experience their silent nights in the wilderness.

And it’s not just the feds who pull Christmas duty while the rest of us celebrate. Your state and local police will be out there, God bless ‘em. Your fire department has to be ready on Christmas. And, sadly, emergency medical personnel can always count on a busy day on Dec. 25.

Then there are the admirable Americans (of various faiths) who volunteer their time or even dedicate their lives to those less fortunate. They’ll feed the hungry and shelter the homeless today, serving on a human front line that runs through all our lives.

My father, a rough-hewn, two-fisted man who’d seen life’s ups and downs, claimed that the Salvation Army was the best army ever fielded. They’ll be “on duty” today, living the authentic meaning of Christmas.

So from those of us fortunate enough to have no greater worry than getting the right proportion of whisky in the eggnog . . . here’s a heartfelt Christmas thanks to all those Americans, here and abroad, who will sacrifice their day for a greater good…]

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas/Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or simply “Santa“, is a legendary figure who, in many Western cultures, brings gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24 or on his Feast Day, December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day).

The legend may have part of its basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of gift giver Saint Nicholas. A nearly identical story is attributed by Greek and Byzantine folklore to Basil of Caesarea. Basil’s feast day on January 1 is considered the time of exchanging gifts in Greece.

While Saint Nicholas was originally portrayed wearing bishop’s robes, today Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, and films. In the United Kingdom and Europe, his depiction is often identical to the American Santa, but he is commonly called Father Christmas.

One legend associated with Santa says that he lives in the far north, in a land of perpetual snow. The American version of Santa Claus says that he lives at his house on the North Pole, while Father Christmas is often said to reside in the mountains of Korvatunturi in Lapland Province, Finland. Santa Claus lives with his wife Mrs. Claus, a countless number of magical elves, and eight or nine flying reindeer.

Another legend of Santa says that he makes a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior (“naughty” or “nice”) and that he delivers presents, including toys, candy, and other gifts to all of the good boys and girls in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves who make the toys in the workshop and the reindeer who pull his sleigh.

Source:  Wiki

About Santa

Santa maintains a long list of children who have been good throughout the year. His list gets bigger each year by virtue of the world’s increasing population. Check out the world’s population right now.

As a result, Santa has had to deliver more toys in the same amount of time. If one were to assume he works in the realm of standard time, he would have to limit his stay to about two to three ten-thousandths of a second per home!

The fact that Santa Claus is more than 16 centuries old, yet does not appear to age, is our biggest clue that he does not work within time as we know it. His Christmas Eve trip may seem to take around 24 hours, but to Santa it may last days, weeks or even months in standard time. Santa would not want to rush the important job of distributing presents to children and spreading Christmas happiness to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa functions within a different time-space continuum than the rest of us do.

Why we track Santa

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s Christmas Eve flight.

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa…]

How we track Santa

NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets.

Tracking Santa starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system consists of 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. On Christmas Eve, NORAD monitors the radar systems continuously for indications that Santa Claus has left the North Pole.

The moment that radar indicates Santa has lifted off, we use our second detection system. Satellites positioned in geo-synchronous orbit at 22,300 miles from the Earth’s surface are equipped with infrared sensors, which enable them to detect heat. Amazingly, Rudolph’s bright red nose gives off an infrared signature, which allow our satellites to detect Rudolph and Santa.

The third tracking system is the Santa Cam network. We began using it in 1998, which is the year we put our Santa Tracking program on the internet. Santa Cams are ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many locations around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year on Christmas Eve. The cameras capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world.

The fourth system is made up of fighter jets. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 intercept and welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15 or the F-16 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph.

Reading of the Night Before Christmas Poem (spoken in English)

By Clement C. Moore
Read by Santa

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2009



Ensign, DeMint to Force Vote on Health Care Bill Unconstitutionality

December 22, 2009 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and John Ensign (R-Nevada), raised a Constitutional Point of Order on the Senate floor against the Democrat health care takeover bill on behalf of the Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators. The Senate will vote tomorrow on the bill’s constitutionality.

“I am incredibly concerned that the Democrats’ proposed individual mandate provision takes away too much freedom and choice from Americans across the country,” said Senator Ensign. “As an American, I felt the obligation to stand up for the individual freedom of every citizen to make their own decision on this issue. I don’t believe Congress has the legal authority to force this mandate on its citizens.”

“Forcing every American to purchase a product is absolutely inconsistent with our Constitution and the freedoms our Founding Fathers hoped to protect,” said Senator DeMint. “This is not at all like car insurance, you can choose not to drive but Americans will have no choice whether to buy government-approved insurance. This is nothing more than a bailout and takeover of insurance companies. We’re forcing Americans to buy insurance under penalty of law and then Washington bureaucrats will then dictate what these companies can sell to Americans. This is not liberty, it is tyranny of good intentions by elites in Washington who think they can plan our lives better than we can.”

Americans who fail to buy health insurance, according to the Democrats’ bill, would be subject to financial penalties. The senators believe the bill is unconstitutional because the insurance mandate is not authorized by any of the limited enumerated powers granted to the federal government. The individual mandate also likely violates the “takings” clause of the 5th Amendment.

The Democrats’ healthcare reform bill requires Americans to buy health insurance “whether or not they ever visit a doctor, get a prescription or have an operation.” If an American chooses not to buy health insurance coverage, they will face rapidly increasing taxes that will rise to $750 or 2% of their taxable income, whichever is greater.

The Congressional Budget Office once stated “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”

A legal study by scholars at the nonpartisan Heritage Foundation concluded: “An individual mandate to enter into a contract with or buy a particular product from a private party, with tax penalties to enforce it, is unprecedented– not just in scope but in kind–and unconstitutional as a matter of first principles and under any reasonable reading of judicial precedents.”





Just some of the payoffs and kickbacks:

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) “Louisiana Purchase.” CBS News reports: “It started with Mary Landrieu. When reports surfaced she had been swayed with a $100 million Medicaid deal just for Louisiana, she bragged it was actually $300 million. The deal was so notorious, Republicans gave it a name. ‘We have new words in our lexicon, the Louisiana Purchase,’ Sen. John McCain said.”

Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) $100 Million “Cornhusker Kickback.” The Hill reports: “Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its Medicaid program under provisions in the Senate’s healthcare bill negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D).”

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) & Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Sweetheart Deal for Nebraska/Michigan Insurance Companies. Politico reports: “In addition to the Medicaid carve out, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) negotiated an exemption from the insurance tax for non-profit insurers based in his state. The language was written in a way that only Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield nonprofit plans in Nebraska and Michigan, would qualify, according to a Democratic Senate aide.”

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) Takes Credit for $100 Million Hospital Earmark.  The Associated Press reports: “A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.”

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) Inserts Provision for ACORN Funding.  The Weekly Standard reports:  “Senator Roland Burris is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid’s ‘manager’s amendment,’ unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill.”

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Secures $600 Million Medicaid Kickback. The Associated Press reports:   “Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., negotiated $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits for his state over 10 years. He said Vermont is due the additional benefits because the state already has acted to expand Medicaid eligibility to the levels now contemplated by the federal government. Vermont would be unfairly penalized if other states are now being helped with that expansion, he said.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Scores $10 Billion for Community Health Centers. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was angered after a new government-run health plan was dropped from the legislation to win over moderates like Nelson and Landrieu, held out on backing the bill until Reid, D-Nev., agreed to a $10 billion increase in support for community health centers.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Negotiates Special Deal for Florida Medicare Advantage Recipients. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., pushed a provision he said will let about 800,000 Florida seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans keep their extra benefits.  It also helps seniors in a handful of other states. Elsewhere, Medicare Advantage patients risk losing benefits because the private plans are a major target of planned cuts to Medicare.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) Scores Extra Medicare Benefits for Montana Residents. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee and a key architect of the legislation, put in a provision to help the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., many of whom have asbestos-related illnesses from a now-defunct mineral mine. Under Baucus’ provision, which never mentions Libby by name, sickened residents could sign up for Medicare benefits.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Wins More Medicare Funding for Iowa Hospitals.  The Wall Street Journal reports: “One change won by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) would increase Medicare payments to medium-size hospitals, including eight in his state.  Mr. Harkin said such ‘tweener’ hospitals are short-changed by the current system.”

Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) & Kent Conrad (D-ND) Win Higher Medicare Payments for Rural Hospitals .  The Washington Post reports: “The Senate health-care bill has been full of goodies handed out to buy/earn the vote of various senators. … Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad’s higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in the ‘frontier counties’ of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.”





WINSTON CHURCHILL: “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP”

By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann

If they beat us in the Senate, we will fight them in conference. If they beat us in conference, we will fight them in the House. If they beat us in the House over healthcare, we will fight them over cap and trade. We will fight them over immigration and amnesty. We will fight them over the deficit. We will fight them over the debt. And we will fight them in 2010. We will fight them in the House. We will fight them for Senate seats in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and Arkansas. We will fight them in Colorado and North Dakota and California and Washington State. We will fight them in Illinois and in New Jersey. We will never, never, never, never give up! Our country is at stake!

All our defeats do is to teach us the futility of appealing to moderate Democrats and the necessity — the dire necessity — of replacing them with committed Republicans. There is no such thing as a moderate Democrat in Congress. There are simply those whose votes the leadership does not need in order to promote its socialist agenda.

We will not place our faith in the Nelsons or the Lincolns or the Liebermans or the Landrieus of the Senate. Nor in the Blue Dogs of the House. All we do when we depend on them is to permit them to raise their price and up the ante for their vote. We will place our faith only in the Republicans who oppose them and who will bring the collective insanity which has gripped Washington to an end.

But we will continue to fight each battle in Congress because it is only by blunting Obama’s momentum and by demonstrating to the voters of America how their Democratic members of Congress are only automatic votes for socialism that we have a chance to triumph in 2010. And triumph we will. We can only hope that there is still a country to take back!

Stay with us! Help us! Fight with us!



Reid Bill Says Future Congresses Cannot Repeal Parts of Reid Bill

The Weekly Standard Blog – Posted by John McCormack

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight. First, he noted that there are a number of changes to Senate rules in the bill–and it’s supposed to take a 2/3 vote to change the rules. And then he pointed out that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses:

there’s one provision that i found particularly troubling and it’s under section c, titled “limitations on changes to this subsection.”

and i quote — “it shall not be in order in the senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.”

this is not legislation. it’s not law. this is a rule change. it’s a pretty big deal. we will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law.

i’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. i don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. if you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates.

i mean, we want to bind future congresses. this goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future co congresses.

According to page 1001 of the Reid bill, the purpose of the Independent Medical Advisory Board is to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” For any fearmongers out there tempted to call an unelected body that recommends Medicare cuts a “Death Panel,” let me be clear. According to page 1004, IMAB proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care”–you know, just like the bill says there’s no funding for abortion.

Paging Sarah Palin: the death panel is unkillable.

Update: A friend suggests that Congress could kill IMAB by refusing to fund it. So much for zombie death panels, I guess, for now. Also, the Senate could change the rules to rule repealing or amending IMAB in order. But that would take a 2/3 majority. The Democrats aren’t playing by the rules; they may be violating the Constitution.



Making the Death Panels Permanent

Redstate – Posted by Erick Erickson

There are always, when some of us on the right blow up an issue like Harry Reid’s rules changes, some people who say we’re overreacting.

I have to say I think they miss the point.

First, I do agree with Gabriel Malor that “a quick glance at the Library of Congress website and Google shows that language similar to that used here to except these provisions from the Standing Rules has been used dozens of times in the past thirty years in both the Senate and the House, including in the 109th Congress when Republicans controlled both chambers.”

Second, I do agree the GOP has done thing, including with Medicare Part D.

But, in most all of the cases, though not all including Medicare Part D, the Senate first went through a procedural vote requiring a two-thirds vote in recognition that there would be a change of Senate Rules.

In several of the cases, including Medicare Part D, when that two-thirds vote did not first happen, the 51 person vote went forward without an objection being raised by the Democrats on that point.

Here is where I think the people saying we’re overreacting are totally missing the point.

In the case at hand, an objection was raised and very clearly the rules were being changed. The Senate President, however, ruled that the rules were not being changed, just procedure, despite the clear wording of the change being a rules change.

This is, in fact, done in contravention to Senate procedure.

But here is what everyone saying this is no big deal is missing: to my knowledge and the knowledge of those who I have consulted with on this issue, there has never been any legislation passed by the Congress with a prohibition on future Senates considering changes to previously enacted laws or regulations.

We can argue over whether or not this would be upheld, but given the refusal of the Senate GOP Leadership to fight now, we can wonder if they would fight on this in the future.

Likewise, what exactly is Harry Reid trying to prevent future Senates from repealing? Bureaucratic regulations enacted by the Death Panels. So, for example, though the Death Panels are prohibited by statute from passing “rationing” regulations, under the definitions, the panels can pass regulations setting priorities for treatment. So, they can say a 40 year old must get treatment for the same condition suffered by a 70 year old before the 70 year old can get treatment, thereby letting the 70 year old whither and die waiting for their turn.

And Harry Reid intends for the Senate, in perpetuity, to be prohibited from every changing that regulation without a super-majority of the Senate agreeing to ignore that prohibition.

Lastly, why in God’s name would the Senate Majority Leader want to make the Death Panel regulations the only thing in the Obamacare legislation that is not subject to amendment, repeal, or change by the United States Senate?!



Sarah Palin: Midnight Votes, Backroom Deals, and a Death Panel

Last weekend while you were preparing for the holidays with your family, Harry Reid’s Senate was making shady backroom deals to ram through the Democrat health care take-over. The Senate ended debate on this bill without even reading it. That and midnight weekend votes seem to be standard operating procedures in D.C. No one is certain of what’s in the bill, but Senator Jim DeMint spotted one shocking revelation regarding the section in the bill describing the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board), which is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients – also known as rationing. Apparently Reid and friends have changed the rules of the Senate so that the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote. Senator DeMint said:

“This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law. I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates. I mean, we want to bind future congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.”

In other words, Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?

The Congressional Budget Office seems to think that such rationing has something to do with cost. In a letter to Harry Reid last week, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf noted (with a number of caveats) that the bill’s calculations call for a reduction in Medicare’s spending rate by about 2 percent in the next two decades, but then he writes the kicker:

“It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.”

Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call “death panels” the “lie of the year,” this type of rationing – what the CBO calls “reduc[ed] access to care” and “diminish[ed] quality of care” – is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor.

This health care bill is one of the most far-reaching and expensive expansions of the role of government into our lives. We’re talking about putting one-seventh of our economy under the government’s thumb. We’re also talking about something as intimate to our personal well-being as medical care.

This bill is so unpopular that people on the right and the left hate it. So why go through with it? The Senate is planning to vote on this on Christmas Eve. Why the rush? Though we will begin paying for this bill immediately, we will see no benefits for years. (That’s the trick that allowed the CBO to state that the bill won’t grow the deficit for the next ten years.)

The administration’s promises of transparency and bipartisanship have been broken one by one. This entire process has been defined by midnight votes on weekends, closed-door meetings with industry lobbyists, and payoffs to politicians willing to sell their principles for sweetheart deals. Is it any wonder that Americans are so disillusioned with their leaders in Washington?

This is about politics, not health care. Americans don’t want this bill. Americans don’t like this bill. Washington has stopped listening to us. But we’re paying attention, and 2010 is coming.

- Sarah Palin



Nelson Says More Senators Seeking Special Treatment in Light of Nebraska Deal

Fox News – Trish Turner

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who has faced a heap of criticism for appearing to trade his vote on health care for millions in federal Medicaid money, said he’s considering asking that the Nebraska deal be stripped from the bill. But he said other senators are looking for special treatment in light of his success.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, after securing a sweetheart deal for his state as part of the health insurance reform bill, said Tuesday that three other senators have told him they want to bargain for the same kind of special treatment.

“Three senators came up to me just now on the (Senate) floor, and said, ‘Now we understand what you did. We’ll be seeking this funding too’,” Nelson said.

But the Democratic senator, who has faced a heap of criticism for appearing to trade his vote on health care for millions in federal Medicaid money, said he’s considering asking that the Nebraska deal be stripped from the bill.

Though he defended the exemption as a “fair deal,” he said he never asked for the full federal funding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ended up granting his state. Nelson said he instead asked that states be allowed to refuse an expansion of Medicaid.

“This is the way Senate leadership chose to handle it. I never asked for 100 percent funding,” he said.

Nelson has maintained that the only reason he even brought up Medicaid was that Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman put him up to it.

After Nelson sent a letter to the governor offering to kill the Medicaid deal, Heineman acknowledged that he and other governors had “expressed concern” about the state burden for Medicaid patients. But he rejected any suggestion from Nelson that he asked for the kind of deal Reid struck.

“Under no circumstances did I have anything to do with Senator Nelson’s compromise,” the governor said in a written statement. “The responsibility for this special deal lies solely on the shoulders of Senator Ben Nelson.”

He urged Nelson to reconsider his support for the overall health care bill and, in response to the Sunday letter, said his state expects “a fair deal, not a special deal.”

“Governors all across America are troubled by this unfunded Medicaid mandate. If the U.S. Senate plans to address the unfunded mandates issue, all states must receive fair and equal treatment,” he wrote.

Nelson said Tuesday he wants to talk to the governor before making a decision on the Medicaid provision.

Nelson would not name the three senators he said told him they’re thinking of seeking the same kind of federal aid. He said he expected them to seek the money outside the health care reform process, and he defended their efforts.

“Why should states be forced to pay for a (federal) unfunded mandate?” he said.

Republican senators agree and have blasted Nelson for the apparent payoff.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has asked his state’s attorney general to give the deal a legal review, and said it’s not fair to other states that are still going to have to pick up part of the Medicaid tab.

“I think that’s just incredibly inappropriate. … That is the worst in politics,” he told Fox News on Tuesday. “I don’t believe most senators believe this is OK. … I think it stinks. I think it’s sleazy.”



Next hurdle: Persuade public

Politico – By PATRICK O’CONNOR

Congressional Democrats are poised to wrap up work on their health care bill in early 2010, but the battle over public opinion will persist for years.

The most recent health care polling paints a bleak picture for Democrats as they prepare for a historic vote in the Senate later this week. The national numbers show a growing majority of likely voters oppose their push to expand coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. The numbers are even worse in some critical battlegrounds.

But with support slipping in places like Little Rock, Ark., and Las Vegas, it’s worth asking: Do these people even know what’s in the bill

The short answer is no. And Democrats hope changing the national conversation from general rhetoric to specific provisions will brighten the national mood.

As the bill changed over time, most Americans’ opinions were shaped less by hard information about actual provisions than by themes in the debate — what role the government should have in the health care industry and whether the legislation would add more red ink to the federal balance sheet.

“What you have is a general impression about whether people or people close to them think things will be better with passage of this bill,” said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis with Harvard’s School of Public Health. “The take-away from the debate to this point is that this bill is not going to help people.”

In fact, more than half of the respondents to most health care polls say they don’t know enough about the bill to have a hard opinion — if they’re given that option, Democratic pollster John Anzalone said in an e-mail.

“What they hear is some notions — some accurate, some distorted — about what Democrats are trying to do,” said Charles Franklin, a polling expert at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

As the poll numbers slip, Democrats are banking on the fact that they can sell the bill now that lawmakers can point to specific policies embedded in the legislation.

“If you look at the morning polls, there are some polls that show, just as a result of our passing this, the support of this bill is up about 10 percent just overnight,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday.

“When people see what is in this bill and when people see what it does, they will come around,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key negotiator on the bill who helmed the Democrats’ campaign committee for two cycles. “The reason people are negative is not the substance of the bill but the fears that the opponents have laid out. When those fears don’t materialize, and people see the good in the bill, the numbers are going to go up.”

Perhaps, but Reid, Schumer and their colleagues still face a daunting task. Just look at the numbers: According to the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 47 percent of voters oppose the party’s health care plan, compared with 32 percent who support it. The Pew Research Center puts the spread at 35 percent for, 48 percent against. And the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed a precipitous drop in support for the overhaul in just the past month.

In Arkansas, where Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces a tough reelection fight, voters overwhelmingly oppose the party’s health care push, 65 percent to 32 percent, according to Rasmussen. The same holds true in Louisiana, where Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu gave President Barack Obama critical support for the bill. Landrieu has a few years before she runs for reelection, but the sagging polls made it harder for Obama and Reid to earn her support. And if the polls are right, voters in Nevada don’t exactly appreciate Reid’s efforts to push the president’s top legislative priority across the finish line. His 39 percent approval rating mirrors the level of support for the health care bill back home, according to another Rasmussen poll conducted this week.



Correction Regarding the Longer-Term Effects of the Manager’s Amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

December 20, 2009

Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Leader:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has discovered an error in the cost estimate released on December 19, 2009, related to the longer-term effects on direct spending of the manager’s amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Senate Amendment 2786 in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 3590 (as printed in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2009). Correcting that error has no impact on the estimated effects of the legislation during the 2010–2019 period. However, the correction reduces the degree to which the legislation would lower federal deficits in the decade after 2019.

The legislation would establish an Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would be required, under certain circumstances, to recommend changes to the Medicare program to limit the rate of growth in that program’s spending. Those recommendations would go into effect automatically unless blocked by subsequent legislative action.

In its original estimate, CBO wrote that: “Such recommendations would be required if the Chief Actuary for the Medicare program projected that the program’s spending per beneficiary would grow more rapidly than a measure of inflation (the average of the growth rates of the consumer price index for medical services and the overall index for all urban consumers).” That statement is correct for fiscal years 2015 through 2019.

After 2019, however, the threshold for Medicare spending growth that would trigger recommendations for spending reductions would be higher—specifically, the rate of increase in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita plus 1 percentage point.

With this corrected reading, savings from changes to the Medicare program (along with other changes to direct spending that are not associated directly with expanded insurance coverage) would increase at a rate that is between 10 percent and 15 percent per year during the 2020–2029 period, compared with a growth rate of nearly 15 percent reported in the initial estimate. The long-run budgetary effects of the other broad categories of the legislation are unchanged from the initial estimate.

All told, CBO expects that the legislation, if enacted, would reduce federal budget deficits over the decade after 2019 relative to those projected under current law—with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP.

In comparison, the extrapolations in the initial estimate implied a reduction in deficits in the 2020–2029 period that would be in a broad range around one-half percent of GDP. The imprecision of these calculations reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to them, compared with CBO’s 10-year budget estimates. The expected reduction in deficits would represent a small share of the total deficits that would be likely to arise in that decade under current policies.

Relative to the legislation as originally proposed, the expected reduction in deficits during the 2020–2029 period remains somewhat larger for the legislation incorporating the manager’s amendment. It also remains that case that most of that difference arises because the manager’s amendment would lower the threshold for Medicare spending growth that would trigger recommendations for spending reductions by the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Such recommendations would be required, in the legislation as originally proposed, if projected growth in Medicare spending per beneficiary exceeded the rate of increase in national health expenditures per capita—and in the legislation incorporating the manager’s amendment, if it exceeded the rate of increase in GDP plus 1 percentage point.

Based on this extrapolation, CBO expects that Medicare spending under the legislation would increase at an average annual rate of roughly 6 percent during the next two decades—well below the roughly 8 percent annual growth rate of the past two decades (excluding the effect of establishing the Medicare prescription drug benefit).

Adjusting for inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary under the legislation would increase at an average annual rate of roughly 2 percent during the next two decades—well below the roughly 4 percent annual growth rate of the past two decades. It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.

I apologize for any confusion created by this error. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely

Douglas W. Elmendorf

Director – CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE

CBO: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Incorporating the Manager’s Amendment Dec 19, 2009 (PDF)(38 PAGES)


Related Previous Posts:

CBO-JCT Updated Estimate: H.R. 3962 (Affordable Health Care for America Act)

PelosiCare: This Magic Moment…The Losers Try Again!

Obamacare: Shameful Backroom Deals And Unconstitutional?

Breaking: HealthCare Reform Bill Posted

CBO/JCT Preliminary Analysis: America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 (Baucus Plan)

The Official White House “Lab Coat” Caper (Pravda Edition)

Senate To Use Sleazy Maneuver to Pass ObamaCare

Washington: Cri de Coeur! Susan Speaks For Us…

Related Links:

GOP COMMON-SENSE HEALTH CARE REFORMS OUR NATION CAN AFFORD

Summary of House GOP Health Care Reform Bill (PDF)

Text of House GOP Health Care Reform Bill (PDF)

New: Ten Reasons to Support the GOP Health Care Reform Bill (PDF)

Side-by-Side Policy Comparison of Pelosi Health Care Bill & GOP Alternative (PDF)

GOP Fact Sheets

Speaker Pelosi’s Government Takeover of Health Care Will Destroy Small Business Jobs (PDF)

Speaker Pelosi’s Government Takeover of Health Care Will Hurt Seniors (PDF)

Federal Funds Will Be Used to Pay for Abortion Under Speaker Pelosi’s Government Takeover of Health Care (PDF)

GOP Alternative Helps States Reduce Health Care Costs (PDF)

Section-by-Section Summary of House GOP Health Care Bill (PDF – Courtesy House Ways & Means Committee Republicans)

The Dallas Morning News: In health care debate, Hutchison’s bark comes with little bite

TownHall (Michelle Malkin): Beltway Christmas: Cash for Corruptocrats

The Atlantic: The Process of Passing Health Care

TownHall: Obamacare Slaps $15,000 Annual Fee on Middle Class Families

Right Side News: Lawmakers File “Freedom of Healthcare Choice Act”

CNS: Rep. Stupak: White House Pressuring Me to Keep Quiet on Abortion Language in Senate Health Bill

HotAir: Clyburn: What Capitol Hill needs is a lot more vote buying

WSJ: One Hurdle Remains in Senate & Harry Reid Turns Insurance Into a Public Utility

Examiner: Did McConnell really ‘surrender’ in health care debate?

Gateway Pundit: Dems Refuse GOP Efforts to Strip Bribes From Health Care Bill


Post Contents: I’m Not a Doctor, But I Play One on TV Video —Ensign, DeMint to Force Vote on Health Care Bill Unconstitutionality — Health care passed on CHRISTMAS EVE ?! Obama/satan claus will give us all a present of disaster! Video — Payoffs And Kickbacks List — Dooley Does Dylan Music Video —WINSTON CHURCHILL: “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP” — Reid Bill Says Future Congresses Cannot Repeal Parts of Reid Bill — Universal Healthcare (Runaround Sue Parody ObamaCare) Music Video —Making the Death Panels Permanent — DeMint Challenges Democrats on Rules Changes in Reid Health Bill Video — Sarah Palin: Midnight Votes, Backroom Deals, and a Death Panel — Grandma Got Run Over By Obama – Health Care Parody Music Video —Nelson Says More Senators Seeking Special Treatment in Light of Nebraska Deal — Obama – No Stupid Fool Music Video — Next hurdle: Persuade public


Updated Related Links – end

JSF Is Fine, Says LockMart Consultant — F35 Lightning II-Fighter of The Future Video — Israel sticks to its guns on F-35 — SUMMARY: FY2010 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS — Chicago projects funded in Defense bill: Columbia, Northwestern, Rehabilitation Institute, Rush, Loyola — F-22 Necessary For Continued Dominance — U.S. Fighter Gap: Myth or Reality? — SUMMARY: FY 2010 MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS BILL — F 35 Distributed Aperture System EO DAS Video


1,720 earmarks in final defense spending bill

Taxpayers for Common Sense

The four top Congressional appropriators are responsible for 15 percent of the take: Senate Defense Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) sponsored 37 earmarks worth $198.2 million, and Ranking Member Thad Cochran 45 worth $167 million.

Over in the House, Defense Appropriations Chairman John Murtha (D-PA) sponsored 23 earmarks worth $76.5 million, while Ranking Member C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) got behind 36 worth $83.7 million.

… Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inoyue (D-HI) was behind several big-ticket items, such as a $2.5 million earmark for the Hawaii Federal Health Care Network and $25 million for two space programs—the Maui Space Surveillance System and the High Accuracy Network Determination System—located on Hawaii.

Inouye also teamed with John Kerry (D-MA) on a $20 million earmark to establish the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, a program at the University of Boston-Massachusetts intended to further civic education.

Committee ranking member Thad Cochran (R-MS) was no slouch in the earmarking department, having requested 103 earmarks worth $775 million. Cochran’s district also benefitted from $1.7 billion added to the bill for an additional DDG-51 Destroyer ship, though that was not disclosed as an earmark…



Economic Club of Chicago

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Chicago, IL, Thursday, July 16, 2009

“Air superiority and missile defense – two areas where the budget has attracted the most criticism – provide case studies. Let me start with the controversy over the F-22 fighter jet. We had to consider, when preparing for a future potential conventional state-on-state conflict, what is the right mix of the most advanced fighter aircraft and other weapons to deal with the known and projected threats to U.S. air supremacy?

For example, we now have unmanned aerial vehicles that can simultaneously perform intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions as well as deliver precision-guided bombs and missiles. The president’s budget request would buy 48 of the most advanced UAVs – aircraft that have a greater range than some of our manned fighters, in addition to the ability to loiter for hours over a target.  And we will buy many more in the future.

We also took into consideration the capabilities of the newest manned combat aircraft program, the stealth F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35 is 10 to 15 years newer than the F-22, carries a much larger suite of weapons, and is superior in a number of areas – most importantly, air-to-ground missions such as destroying sophisticated enemy air defenses.

It is a versatile aircraft, less than half the total cost of the F-22, and can be produced in quantity with all the advantages produced by economies of scale – some 500 will be bought over the next five years, more than 2,400 over the life of the program. And we already have eight foreign development partners.  It has had development problems to be sure, as has every advanced military aircraft ever fielded. But if properly supported, the F-35 will be the backbone of America’s tactical aviation fleet for decades to come if – and it is a big if – money is not drained away to spend on other aircraft that our military leadership considers of lower priority or excess to our needs.

Having said that, the F-22 is clearly a capability we do need – a niche, silver-bullet solution for one or two potential scenarios – specifically the defeat of a highly advanced enemy fighter fleet. The F-22, to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict. Nonetheless, supporters of the F-22 lately have promoted its use for an ever expanding list of potential missions.

These range from protecting the homeland from seaborne cruise missiles to, as one retired general recommended on TV, using F-22s to go after Somali pirates who in many cases are teenagers with AK-47s – a job we already know is better done at much less cost by three Navy SEALs. These are examples of how far-fetched some of the arguments have become for a program that has cost $65 billion – and counting – to produce 187 aircraft, not to mention the thousands of uniformed Air Force positions that were sacrificed to help pay for it.

In light of all these factors, and with the support of the Air Force leadership, I concluded that 183 – the program of record since 2005, plus four more added in the FY 09 supplemental – was a sufficient number of F-22s and recommended as such to the president.

The reaction from parts of Washington has been predictable for many of the reasons I described before. The most substantive criticism is that completing the F-22 program means we are risking the future of U.S. air supremacy. To assess this risk, it is worth looking at real-world potential threat and assessing the capabilities that other countries have now or in the pipeline.

Consider that by 2020, the United States is projected to have nearly 2,500 manned combat aircraft of all kinds. Of those, nearly 1,100 will be the most advanced fifth generation F-35s and F-22s. China, by contrast, is projected to have no fifth generation aircraft by 2020. And by 2025, the gap only widens. The U.S. will have approximately 1,700 of the most advanced fifth generation fighters versus a handful of comparable aircraft for the Chinese. Nonetheless, some portray this scenario as a dire threat to America’s national security..

…All of these decisions involved considering trade-offs, balancing risks, and setting priorities – separating nice-to-haves from have-to-haves, requirements from appetites. We cannot expect to eliminate risk and danger by simply spending more – especially if we’re spending on the wrong things. But more to the point, we all – the military, the Congress, and industry – have to face some iron fiscal realities.

The last defense budget submitted by President George W. Bush for Fiscal Year 2009 was $515 billion. In that budget the Bush administration proposed – at my recommendation – a Fiscal Year 2010 defense budget of $524 billion. The budget just submitted by President Obama for FY 2010 was $534 billion.

Even after factoring inflation, and some of the war costs that were moved from supplemental appropriations, President Obama’s defense request represents a modest but real increase over the last Bush budget. I know. I submitted them both.  In total, by one estimate, our budget adds up to about what the entire rest of the world combined spends on defense. Only in the parallel universe that is Washington, D.C., would that be considered “gutting” defense…

… So where do we go from here? Authorization for more F-22s is in both versions of the defense bill working its way through the Congress. The president has indicated that he has real red lines in this budget, including the F-22. Some might ask: Why threaten a veto and risk a confrontation over a couple billion dollars for a dozen or so planes?

The grim reality is that with regard to the budget we have entered a zero-sum game. Every defense dollar diverted to fund excess or unneeded capacity – whether for more F-22s or anything else – is a dollar that will be unavailable to take care of our people, to win the wars we are in, to deter potential adversaries, and to improve capabilities in areas where America is underinvested and potentially vulnerable. That is a risk I cannot accept and I will not take.

And, with regard to something like the F-22, irrespective of whether the number of aircraft at issue is 12 planes or 200, if we can’t bring ourselves to make this tough but straightforward decision – reflecting the judgment of two very different presidents, two different secretaries of defense, two chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, and the current Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff, where do we draw the line? And if not now, when? If we can’t get this right – what on earth can we get right? It is time to draw the line on doing Defense business as usual.”


Pelosi (CA) Earmarks

House Request Description Intended Recipient or Location
$9,000,000 Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Remediation City and County of San Francisco
$6,250,000 Neuroimaging and Neuropsychiatric Trauma in US Warfighters Northern California Institute for Research and Education (NCIRE)
$5,000,000 The Presidio Heritage Center Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center
$3,000,000 Advanced Development of Antiviral Prophylactics and Therapeutics Prosetta Bioconformatics, Inc
$3,000,000 Drydock #1 Remediation and Disposal City and County of San Francisco
$3,000,000 HIV Prevention and Reducing Risk to US Military Personnel J. David Gladstone Institutes
$2,000,000 School of Nursing Advancement University of San Francisco
$1,500,000 Lifestyle Modifications to Reduce Chronic Disease in Military Personnel Preventive Medicine Research Institute
$1,000,000 Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

$33,750,000

Source: Taxpayers Org Earmark Database:  earmark database.


Murtha (PA) Earmarks

House Request Description Intended Recipient or Location
$10,000,000 Inventory for Defense Applications Latrobe Specialty Steel
$8,100,000 Armor and Structures Transformation Initiative-Steel to Titanium Gautier Steel
$8,000,000 AN/SLQ—25D Integration Argon ST
$6,000,000 AELED IED/WMD Electronic Signature Detection Nokomis Inc.
$5,000,000 Army Vehicle Condition Based Maintenance MTS Technologies, Inc.
$5,000,000 GAPS/AWS Horizontal Integration Ultra Electronics
$5,000,000 Submarine Navigation Decision Aids Advanced Acoustic Concepts
$4,000,000 Military Lens System Fabrication and Assembly Optical Systems Technology Inc.
$4,000,000 Turbo Fuel Cell Engine Pittsburgh Electric Engines Inc.
$3,800,000 Titanium Powder Advanced Forged Parts Program Feather Lite Breaks, LLC.
$3,500,000 Affordable Miniature TOPEN Radar for Special Operations Craft—Riverine (SOC-R) Trident Systems
$3,500,000 Hand-Held Apparatus for Mobile Mapping and Expedited Reporting Compass Systems
$3,500,000 Remote Bio-Medical Detector UFR/QTL Chem Bio Defense Systems
$3,000,000 Engine Health Management Plus Data Repository Center RJ Lee Group
$3,000,000 FirstLink Technology Transfer Program Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation
$3,000,000 Framework for Electronic Health Record-Linked Predictive Models University of Pittsburgh
$2,900,000 Non-Lethal Defense Technologies The Pennsylvania State University
$2,300,000 Joint Precision AirDrop Systems-Wind Profiling Portable Radar Planning Systems Inc.
$2,200,000 Body Armor Improved Ballistic Protection, Research and Development KDH Defense Systems, Inc.
$1,300,000 Rapid Forensic Evaluation of Microbes in Biodefense Indiana University of Pennsylvania
$1,000,000 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for De-Mining Activities Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
$800,000 Exceptional Family Transitional Training Program for US Military Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen Exceptional Parent
$500,000 Marshall Legacy Institute Demining Program Marshall Legacy Institute

$77,100,000

Source: Taxpayers Org Earmark Database:  earmark database.

JSF Is Fine, Says LockMart Consultant

Aviation Week – Posted by Bill Sweetman

“If you don’t follow the defense business closely, then you can be excused for believing that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is in trouble.” So says Washington defense uber-source Dr Loren Thompson, of the Lexington Institute, in a new issue brief on the JSF. “But the F-35 program isn’t really all that troubled,” he reassures us.

That settles it. I feel much better now. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have tagged Dr Thompson as a Lockheed Martin consultant in the past few months, but we know that he would never allow such considerations to color his views.

The more serious concern is that the issue brief makes no sense.

The first of four points in the brief is that “there is no alternative” to the JSF. Even if that’s true (Boeing would disagree in the case of the Navy, and lots of people in the case of export customers) it does not mean that the program is going well. At best, the trashing of alternatives implies that JSF will be continued no matter what, at any cost and on any timescale. But that’s not success:  with flat budgets, such an outcome will gut US and allied air power.

The good doctor’s second point is that other programs (like the A400M) are doing worse than the F-35, which is “months behind schedule”.

What schedule exactly?

The F-35 is months, in some respects almost a year, behind the schedule established in May 2008, which was a year later than the 2005 schedule, which in turn was 18 months behind the original schedule that was set in 2001.

Next:  “The design concept is sound”. This statement is broad enough to sound good without meaning a lot. Thompson appears to be suggesting that the F-35 is a low-risk project – but if so, why is it taking so long? And it’s exactly where he cites advantages – in building a family of aircraft in large numbers – where the program faces challenges.

Finally, “the development strategy is refined”. The development team, Thompson says, has learned lessons from the F-22, spent money to reduce risks and used new tools to manage the program. But look at the results.

The F-35 has been in full-scale development for just over eight years. At its own eight-year point, by mid-1999, the F-22 had logged 275 flight hours, over twice the F-35′s total, supercruised at Mach 1.5, and was preparing for tests at 70 degrees angle of attack – compared to which, the F-35 hasn’t made it to baby steps.

Neither is there much argument that the F-22 was a bigger step forward in aircraft design than the F-35 – a supercruiser, the pioneer of the F-35′s avionics integration, more agile, probably stealthier, and with all-new engines. So I’m a little unclear about what beneficial lessons have been learned.



Israel sticks to its guns on F-35

Space War

Israel is sticking to its guns on a demand the United States allow it to integrate its own electronic warfare suite in Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, even though the Americans have given the green light to install other Israeli systems in the jet.

Israel wants to buy an initial batch of 25 F-35s, enough for one squadron, in fiscal 2012 and would like to acquire another 50.

The U.S. Department of Defense and Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor in the program, want to finalize a contract with Israel as soon as possible.

The main holdup has been the Israelis’ insistence on installing their own systems — including communications and radar — as well as weapons aboard the F-35, as they were allowed to do with the Boeing F-15 and Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft they have bought from the United States over the last two decades.

The Americans have been reluctant to allow that because it would compromise ultra-sensitive software codes. But a senior Pentagon official disclosed last Wednesday that the Israelis could install most of the systems they want provided they finalize a deal in the next few months.

But the official, Jon Schreiber, who heads the F-35 international program, insisted that the Israelis’ electronic warfare suite, the core of their demand, could not be included — not now, at any rate.

“Some time in the future, if policy changes, or things change, that could change as well,” he said.

Other partner countries in the JSF program, such as Britain, have requested the software codes for operational sovereignty and have also been turned down.

In 2006 the United Kingdom threatened to scrap plans to buy 138 of the radar-evading aircraft if it was not able to maintain and upgrade its fleet without U.S. involvement.

That dispute was settled later that year, with the United Kingdom given operational sovereignty. Britain committed $2.7 billion to develop the F-35. That was more than any other of the United States’ partners in the project, which include Turkey, Canada, the Netherlands and Norway.

Another partner, Australia, last week approved the acquisition of 14 F-25s at an estimated cost of $2.96 billion. The first squadron should be operational by 2018, with two more squadrons — 72 aircraft all told — ready by 2021.

Lockheed Martin expects to sell up to 4,500 F-35s worldwide, with the United States spending around $410 billion over the next quarter-century to buy 2,443 F-35 variants, its costliest arms acquisitions ever.

The Jerusalem Post has reported that the Israelis will continue to demand their electronic warfare system must be integrated into the stealth aircraft, a fifth-generation fighter.

The F-35 would be the ideal platform for a pre-emptive strike Israel has threatened to launch against Iran’s nuclear program if Tehran does not abandon its alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons.

But the way things are going on the F-35 purchase, the Israelis are not likely to have any of the strike jets operational until 2015 at the earliest.

These would be worth their weight in gold if Iran ever got its hands on the S-300PMU air-defense system that Russia has contracted to supply.

This state-of-the-art system, capable of intercepting six missiles or aircraft at a range of 120 miles up to altitudes of 90,000 feet, would be a formidable defense against Israel’s high-tech air force.

Right now, the Iranians have nothing remotely as effective as the S-300. Moscow has failed to deliver any of the missiles to Iran, largely because of U.S. and Israeli objections.

In January, the Pentagon is expected to submit to Israel an offer and a price per aircraft — likely to be around $130 million.

Israel, which has indicated that it’s prepared to pay $100 million per plane, must respond by no later than March and conclude a deal by June or July, with 2015 the earliest delivery date.

Related:

David Cenciotti’s Blog: F-35 JSF: not an open source platform



SUMMARY: FY2010 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS

The Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill continues to put troops first, preparing them for whatever emergencies may arise, providing them with first class weapons and equipment, and ensuring that they and their families are well taken care of.

The bill makes critical investments in the health, well-being and readiness of our armed forces; addressing issues raised by servicemembers, their families, and Department of Defense officials in testimony before the Congress, and discovered through visits to military bases across the United States and overseas. At the same time, the bill begins to rein in the use of contractors and return inherently governmental functions to Department of Defense personnel.

The bill does not address the President’s new Afghanistan security strategy because the Administration has yet to request any funding for that initiative.

The bill also includes a number of other provisions that are necessary to meet our obligations and prevent crucial programs from lapsing.

Bill Total for Defense

FY2009 Enacted: $625.3 billion
President’s Request: $640.1 billion
House Passed: $636.3 billion
Senate Passed: $636.3 billion
2010 Total Bill: $636.3 billion

KEY INVESTMENTS KEEPING OUR COMMITMENTS TO OUR TROOPS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Military Pay: The bill provides a 3.4% military pay increase, 0.5% above the request.
First Class Medical Care: $29.2 billion, $3 billion above 2009 and $1 billion above the request, for the Defense Health Program to provide quality medical care for servicemembers and their families and funding to address the serious financial challenges facing the Defense Health Program; including fully funding the Department of Defense request of $372 million for military medical research; in addition $120 million is included for Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Research.

Supporting Military Families: $472.4 million for Family Advocacy programs and full funding for Family Support and Yellow Ribbon to provide support to military families, including quality child care, job training for spouses, and expanded counseling and outreach to families experiencing the separation and stress of war.

Readiness and Training: $154 billion, $1.3 billion above 2009, for the Defense Operation and Maintenance Account to increase readiness and training of our troops. The bill rebalances funding from preparing for Cold War-era type conflicts to the highest priority readiness requirements for the hybrid operations that our military will be facing for the foreseeable future.

INCREASING OVERSIGHT TO IDENTIFY WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE

Recognizing that the Department of Defense has the largest share of the federal budget, the bill includes a dramatic increase in funding to increase oversight to rein in waste, fraud, and abuse, and makes a concerted effort to in-source inherently government functions.

Reining in Outsourcing: $5 billion, greater than the previous year, to allow defense personnel, not contractors, to perform critical department functions. The Department estimates that every position that is converted from contract to federal civilian saves on average $44,000 per year. Additionally, the bill reduces contracted advisory and assistance services by $51 million, and includes general provisions to stop further conversions by the Department of Defense from government functions to contractors.

The bill also directs DoD to in-source the task of vetting and issuing Common Access Cards and report on planned improvements of access control because the Committee found that about 212,000 contractors had been mistakenly been given Common Access Cards, causing a potential security risk.

Inspector General Oversight: $288 million, $16 million above the request, for the Inspector General to hire additional investigators to ensure proper oversight of DoD acquisition and contracting.

Undefinitized Contracts: The bill contains a provision restricting the use of funds in certain aircraft programs until prior year contracts are fully negotiated and definitized so that we know what exactly we are buying; this restores much needed discipline to the contracting process and providing leverage for the department to achieve the best possible pricing for the taxpayer.

IMPROVING MILITARY EQUIPMENT

The bill includes $104.4 billion for procurement, $3.46 billion above 2009 and $816 million below the request, and $80.5 billion for research and development, $17 million above 2009 and $1.9 billion above the request, to develop and field the weapons and equipment our troops need.

Bradley Fighting Vehicles: $526 million as requested for Situational Awareness upgrades to 353 vehicles.

Stryker Combat Vehicles: $364 million in the base bill, $25 million below the request due to excessive program management costs.

E-2D Hawkeye: $649 million, $142 million above the request, for 3 E-2D Hawkeye aircraft, one above the request; and $362.5 million for the continued development of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

F-18 Super Hornet: $1.5 billion for 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Tactical aircraft, nine above the request; and $1.6 billion for 22 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.

F-35 Lightning: $6.8 billion, matching the requested, for the procurement of 30 F-35 Lightning Aircraft, including 16 Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variants for the Marine Corps, 4 Carrier variants for the Navy, and 10 conventional variants for the Air Force. The bill also includes $465 million, not requested, to continue development and initial procurement of the Alternative Engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.

V-22 Osprey: $2.7 billion for the procurement of 30 MV-22 and five CV-22 Osprey aircraft, equal to the President’s request.
E-8 JSTARS: $62 million, $46 million above the request, for JSTARS re-engining research and development and $54 million for continued procurement.

Air Force Cargo Aircraft: $2.5 billion for 10 additional C-17s above the budget request; $905 million for five C/HC/MC-130Js and advance procurement for 20 C/HC/MC-130s; $319 million, matching the request, for eight C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft; and $202 million, $49 million above the request, for Infrared Missile Countermeasures for the C-17 and C-130 aircraft.

Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft: $1.2 billion for the continued development of the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft.
Next Generation Aerial Refueling Aircraft: $306 million for the development of the Next Generation Aerial Refueling Aircraft.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): $554 million, matching the request, to procure RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs; and $489 million for 24 MQ-9 Reapers.

Military Helicopters: $3.34 billion to increase and improve the military’s fleet of helicopters, including $326 million, as requested, for 54 Light Utility Helicopters; $1.26 billion as requested for 79 UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters; $882 million for 27 CH-47 Chinook Helicopters; $584.8 million for 24 UH-1Y Huey/AH-1Z Cobra Helicopters; and $145 million above the request for five HH-60M helicopters and modifications to the existing HH-60G fleet.

Presidential Helicopter: $130 million, of which $100 million is for technology capture to recoup investments in research and development of the VH-71, an increase of $44.8 million above the request.

Tactical Wheeled Vehicles: $498 million for the procurement of Medium Tactical Vehicles, and $613 million for the procurement of Heavy Tactical Vehicles. The Overseas Contingency Operations portion of the bill includes additional funding for tactical vehicles.

Targeting pods: $68 million, $18.5 million above the request, for targeting pods to increase the combat effectiveness and precision strike ability of U.S. military aircraft.

Guided MLRS Rockets: $293.6 million, as requested, for 2,628 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Rockets, to enhance the precision strike ability for U.S. artillery.

Shipbuilding: $15 billion, $120 million above the request, for the procurement of 7 Navy ships, including: one DDG-51 Guided Missile Destroyer; one SSN-774 Attack Submarine; two Littoral Combat Ships; one Intra-theater Connector Ship; and two T-AKE Auxiliary Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ships.

Enhanced Radar Technology: $32 million, $30 million above the request, for advanced radar technology.
Electronic Warfare: $248.5 million, as requested, for continued development of electronic warfare devices to protect our troops.
Advanced Communications: $880 million, as requested, for continued development of the Joint Tactical Radio System; and $50 million for Digital Communications, $50 million above the request. The recommendation provides $1.8 billion, matching the request, for a fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellites.

Missile Defense: $589 million, matching the request, for the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3); $569 million, matching the request, for the continued development of the Patriot/MEADS Combined Aggregate Program; $638.8 million, matching the request, for Ballistic Missile Defense Sensors Capability; $50.5 million, matching the request, for Ballistic Missile Defense European Capability; $202 million, $82.8 million above the request, for the Israeli Cooperative Program; and $80 million, not requested, for the Early Interceptor Program.

Future Combat Systems: $2.29 billion for continued development of the restructured Future Combat Systems Program. The recommendation is $330 million below the request due to excessive termination liability and $1.1 billion below 2009.

SPACE: $292 million, $97.4 million below the request, for the Global Positioning System III, operational control segment (OCX), plus $50 million for next generation military satellite communications system.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA): $3 billion, $246 million below the request for research and development programs because of chronic under-execution.

OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS

The bill does not contain any portion of the Administration’s expected request for additional funds for operations in Afghanistan. The bill does include funding for existing operations and maintenance.

Ongoing Military Operations: $101.1 billion, $2.3 billion below the request, for operations and maintenance, and military personnel requirements for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to support preparations to continue withdrawal from Iraq, including:

  • $15 billion for military personnel.
  • $5 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations Transfer Fund, to respond to the highly variable nature of the costs to rebalance US forces between Iraq and Afghanistan, and to begin the redeployment from Iraq. This account carries protections so that the Congressional defense committees have the opportunity to review and approve any funding actions in this account.
  • $1.2 billion for defense health programs to provide medical care to active forces as well as mobilized Reserve Components, and their family members. This funding also provides care for combat injuries and other additional support requirements including communications, telemedicine, public health support, and post deployment health assessments.

Equipment and Force Structure: $23.36 billion, $1.71 billion above the request, for equipment used by our service members in Iraq and Afghanistan, including:

  • $6.3 billion, $825 million above the request, for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle Fund to procure over 6,600 new MRAP all-terrain vehicles to protect our troops.
  • $80 million for the procurement of MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, a reduction of $170 million due to request in excess of capacity.
  • $1.1 billion, $187 above the request, for the procurement of High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs).
  • $863 million, $577 million above the request, for the procurement of Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.
  • $803 million, $180 million above the request, for the procurement of Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles.

IMPORTANT POLICY PROVISIONS

No Permanent Bases: Continues a general provision prohibiting the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Torture: Continues a general provision prohibiting the torture of detainees held in US custody.

CERP: Provides $1.2 billion, a reduction of $300 million from the request, for the Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP), and withholds $500 million in funding until the department develops and submits a comprehensive spending plan.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility: Provides no funds for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Naval base.

OTHER ITEMS

Small Business Loans: Allows the Small Business Administration (SBA) to continue two temporary enhancements to its loan guarantee program through February 28, 2010 to make loans more attractive to borrowers and lenders and to free up capital, with one raising the percentage of loan amounts that the SBA can guarantee to 90% and the other allowing SBA to waive or reduce loan fees. Small businesses represent a major engine for the U.S. economy, but many small business owners have had a difficult time securing needed loans in these tight economic times. The extension is fully offset.

Patriot Act: Extends authorizations through February 28, 2010.

Flood Insurance: Extends the National Flood Insurance Program through February 28, 2010.

Medicare Physician Payments Extension: Delays, through February 28, 2010, a scheduled 21.2% cut in Medicare physician payments. The delay is fully offset.

Surface Transportation Authorization Extension: Extends the authorization for the highway, transit, highway safety and motor carrier safety programs of the Department of Transportation until February 28, 2010.

Unemployment Insurance: Extends expanded unemployment benefits, including increased payouts and longer duration of benefits, through February 28, 2010.

Help with Health Insurance for Unemployed Workers (COBRA): Extends from nine to 15 months the 65% COBRA health insurance subsidy for individuals who have lost their jobs. The job lost eligibility date is extended in the provision to February 28, 2010. Approximately seven million people benefited from the premium subsidy provided in the Recovery Act.

Satellite Television Extension and Localism: Extends the compulsory copyright license used by satellite television providers, which expires on December 31, 2009, through February 28, 2010. The extension is fully offset.

Nutrition Assistance: Includes language ensuring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will have sufficient funding to meet the growing demand for nutrition assistance from modest-income families and provides $400 million in additional funding for state administrative expenses, to speed up processing of applications. SNAP participation increased 18% in the last year to over 37 million people.

Assistance Eligibility: Maintains Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guidelines at 2009 levels through February 28, 2010 in order to prevent a reduction in eligibility for certain means-tested programs, including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child nutrition.



Chicago projects funded in Defense bill: Columbia, Northwestern, Rehabilitation Institute, Rush, Loyola

Chicago Sun-Times: By Lynn Sweet

WASHINGTON–The Senate, in an unusual Saturday morning session, sent President Obama the massive Pentagon funding bill. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) breaks down the projects in it for Illinois. Though Chicagoans may not think of the city as a center for Defense Department contracts–a variety of academic and medical research activities in the Chicago area get funded through the Defense Department. Below, release from Durbin….

DURBIN: CONGRESS APPROVES $45.4 MILLION IN

DEFENSE FUNDING FOR PROJECTS IN ILLINOIS

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the United States Senate has approved $45,400,000 in federal funding to assist defense related facilities and projects across Illinois. Durbin is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The legislation will now go to President Obama for his signature.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 defense spending bill includes funding for the following projects:

· Columbia College Chicago, Chicago. $1,600,000 in funding for the Construct Program at Columbia College Chicago, which will develop interactive simulations for military training that provide soldiers with the ability to train in computerized real world environments. The program requires users to complete training tasks as a team and allows for the tracking and recording of motions and other characteristics of each participant during each training session. This capability, along with Construct’s ability to review session data in multiple visual formats, will allow the Army to better train soldiers for military conflicts at the unit level.

· Electric Vehicle Technology, Fairbury. $1,600,000 in funding to allow the military to test a new kind of electric engine that is designed without a transmission and can produce sufficient amounts of torque to power military vehicles. Electric Vehicle Technology in Fairbury, IL would compete to take part in this initiative.

· EPIR Technologies, Bolingbrook. $7,200,000 in funding to construct a research and manufacturing facility that will fabricate millions of cells using single-crystal cadmium telluride technology that requires less semiconductor material and eliminates the costs associated with using large glass panels to fabricate traditional materials. The project builds on earlier successes in the development and manufacturing of domestically produced substrates for infrared focal plane array sensors. Such substrates are an essential component in mission critical night-vision instruments and equipment. The material also has been found to improve solar panel manufacturing capabilities. EPIR, in Bolingbrook, would compete for this initiative.

· Hadron Particle Therapy, Batavia: $1,600,000 in funding to continue to develop a proton therapy center for patients undergoing cancer radiation therapy. At least 30 percent of patients undergoing such therapy would have a better prognosis with hadron therapy (using either neutrons or protons). Hadron therapy uses excess beam capacity from Fermilab’s proton linear accelerator to generate a neutron beam that treats advanced radio-resistant malignant tumors. Once established, Northern Illinois University will be the only institution in the United States to offer patients access to both proton and neutron cancer therapy. Durbin worked with Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) on this project.

· Hamilton Sundstrand, Rockford. $3,200,000 in funding to support up to five different energy efficiency and thermal management programs for Defense Department aircraft. The technologies would improve performance and range for aircraft while moving toward national environmental and domestic energy goals. Hamilton Sundstrand in Rockford, Illinois would compete for this initiative. Durbin worked with Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL) on this project.

· Illinois Army National Guard, Springfield. $6,400,000 in funding for the MRAP Vehicle Virtual Trainers program will provide training equipment to the Illinois Army National Guard, allowing it to train soldiers in operating MRAP vehicles over the streets and terrain they may encounter during deployment. MRAP Vehicle Virtual Trainers allow Illinois Army National Guard soldiers to learn to operate MRAP vehicles on “Virtual Battlefields” that are geo-specifically accurate for major areas of Iraq and Afghanistan.

· Illinois Army National Guard, Springfield. $2,400,000 in funding for the procurement of Virtual Convoy Operations Trainers (VCOT) allows soldiers to simulate convoys to identify and avoid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a virtual environment. The Illinois National Guard has one VCOT and must continually move it throughout the state for training. VCOTs allow combat training on virtual terrain that includes Baghdad, Tikrit, Samarra, Kabul, and Kosovo, and these trainers can network with MRAP Vehicle Virtual Trainers to allow full spectrum ground vehicle movement training.

· Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. $2,000,000 in funding to continue the partnership between the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Army Research Lab, with IIT developing materials that will assist the Army in advanced armor development. The project will support the analysis and virtual design of a novel class of impact-resistant materials to be employed in vehicle armor and explosives protective gear for personnel.

· Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood. $1,600,000 in funding to advance the Institute’s research into burn trauma and infections, injuries commonly encountered in battlefield and military settings. The Burn and Shock Trauma Institute at Loyola University Medical Center is a nationally recognized leader in basic and clinical research designed to improve the treatment and outcomes of patients suffering from burn injury and other trauma.

· Northwestern University, Evanston. $2,400,000 in funding to develop ultra-high-density, three-dimensional memory chips for the fabrication of flash memory devices, to be deployed for surveillance activities and communication on the battlefield. The program will pursue specific goals, including flash memory production that can be written with low voltage and memory materials made from new molecular structures, with potential in several key military and civilian applications. The project would build on Northwestern’s existing International Institute of Nanotechnology and the recently established Center for Integrated NanoSystems.

· Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago. $2,000,000 in funding to support the development of technology used for bionic limbs, focusing specifically on the development of lightweight artificial joints and magnetic technologies to control the rotation of an artificial arm. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has been a leader in this type of medical technology and will provide members of the Armed Forces and others who have lost a limb or the use of a limb with more responsive artificial limbs.

· Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago. $800,000 in funding for a study of acute pain at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The study will investigate pain as it evolves in three different rehabilitation-based pain syndromes: post-amputation pain (e.g. phantom limb pain), spinal cord injury pain, and traumatic brain injury pain. The prevalence of pain in these populations is greater than 70% in each diagnosis and is often the principal impediment to optimal rehabilitation. The project would use leading edge methods to explore the biological, psychological, and genetic aspects of each type of pain.

· Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island. $7,600,000 in funding for the Arsenal Support Program Initiative (ASPI) which renovates unused office and manufacturing space at Rock Island Arsenal to lease to commercial firms. ASPI was enacted by Congress in FY 2001 to encourage commercial firms to use the arsenal’s facilities. ASPI allows the arsenal to modernize and maintain infrastructure while creating jobs.

· Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island. $800,000 in funding to demonstrate a new firetube boiler technology at Rock Island that provides higher efficiency, lower emissions, water savings, and multi-fuel capabilities to the arsenal. It will help the Arsenal save money and meet energy efficiency requirements.

· Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. $4,000,000 in funding to further develop the Center for Advanced Emergency Response and for a cooperative program between the Department of Defense and Rush University Medical Center. It would provide technical expertise to develop a disease-based biosurveillance system able to identify biological threat agents with further development to include chemical and radiological agents as well as naturally occurring disasters. These funds will help provide clinical expertise in defending against biological and chemical terrorism and in treating first responders and citizens in the case of natural disasters or acts of terrorism resulting in mass casualty incidents.



F-22 Necessary For Continued Dominance

By JOHN TSUCALAS, For The Bulletin

This column is the third in this series on the best fighter ever put in service by any country at any time in history, the F-22 Raptor.

To briefly summarize the first two columns: The F-22 Raptor is the most superior fighter in the world. Its key feature is its stealth quality, which allows it to run undetected by enemy radar. Its primary purpose is to gain control of the sky above a battlefield and hold it. It can opportunistically attack ground targets, although that mission is the main role of the currently planned multi-service, multi-purpose stealth F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). When the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 JSF are joined by the stealth B-2, they constitute a Stealth Triad that may very well be the answer to the continued extension of American airpower in world military dominance. We’re No. 1 and should want to remain so.

I’m bothered that the numbers issue of the Raptor at 186 maximum is not front-and-center in our military and budget debate. Because our national security and world primacy militarily are involved, it should be. This is more than an incidental matter, considering what is at stake. It is, in fact, a significantly critical issue.

In my last column, I wrote that a resurging, revanchist Russia, possibly joined by China, would simultaneously open up major battles for us in two theaters. China is a good prospect for conflict with us. They want the island nation of Taiwan, which we are committed to defend. To expand on this here, we aren’t ready to take on the two relative behemoths operating in concert and will not be until the planned stealth F-35 JSF is in operation in sufficient numbers.

One opinion is that the F-22 is doomed to failure because it needs forward air bases in order to operate. According to this thinking, medium range missiles would destroy these forward bases, probably fact also, to a point. We would be firing back with our B-2 long range missiles and the stealth F-35 JSF, once in service, and would be obliterating enemy firing sites through air to ground attacks. Additionally, Air Force theory holds that aerial bombing has its highest value in roughly the first two weeks of battle. That bombing softens the enemy militarily and its resolve, especially when it can’t find the stealth B-2 to shoot it. It’s demoralizing to the enemy. The B-2 would be put in play immediately to ferociously bomb missile firing locations.

Because the B-2 is the long-range strategic arm of the Stealth Triad, it needs no forward bases. It does its bombing runs and then returns home to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. On schedule, the two pilots are home for dinner. Since there are 20 of this aircraft, we can repeat this process again and again. Indeed, the onslaught by these bombers can be continuous. Imagine the combinations possible here. For example, two can attack simultaneously, with another two replacing them when the first two depart for home and so on to whatever combination the command may decide. In this way, there is no rest for the enemy, just dismay.

While all of this is going on, the F-22 can help its own cause by attacking ground missile firing targets. It then has to climb high to refuel and then on to destroy enemy defensive fighters, assuring dominance of the sky above the battlefield. Additionally, the F-22 Raptors will have to provide protective cover not only for KC-135 Sratotankers – refueling Tankers – but also the long line of aircraft needing gas.

In the Stealth Triad, the first two aircraft over the battlefield are the F-22 and the B-2, in that order, with the former to grab air control and the latter to devastate key enemy targets, airfields, anti-aircraft batteries and ground forces at the outset of the battle. Then, the B-2 moves to bombing military production plants, factories in general – in China, toy factories – oil production facilities and depots and even civilian infrastructure but not civilians themselves. The F-22 Raptor and the B-2 Spirit are then joined by the F-35 JSF in a total clean up of anything militarily lethal or economically valuable on the ground – call them secondary targets for destruction.

Against Russia and China, I don’t see us winning by introducing our own ground forces, which would be vastly outnumbered at that, especially by Chinese forces. In fact, in Korea, the Chinese conducted battle with stealth ground forces. We couldn’t find them, although we knew they were there, even with air spotters searching for them. As soon as they attacked, we hit them hard from the air and with artillery, but did so without the advantage of any planning. I wouldn’t advise placing American ground forces on Chinese soil. Moreover, combat among somewhat sophisticated nations technologically and militarily is not measured in victory by ground conquered, but rather damage inflicted. In this regard, the American homeland must be fully defended, thus necessitating the retention of F-22s in air defense of skies over the U. S. This is another clear reason to manufacture more of them. The five areas in which they would be committed would be: Two are accounted for by the dual simultaneous conflicts; the third is in our homeland for defensive purposes; the fourth is to protectively cover refueling Tankers and the aircraft they’re feeding; and, the fifth are the F-22s in essential maintenance, most likely 30 to 40 percent of them.

Raptors numbering 186 are currently not enough and it takes no special insight to so conclude. Why, then, do President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates staunchly oppose more? There is something wrong here. It is politics as influenced by the left wing of the Democratic Party…]



U.S. Fighter Gap: Myth or Reality?

Global Security – Posted by Mackenzie Eaglen

Many senior members of the U.S. military, defense officials, members of Congress, and analysts have long-warned of the growing fighter gap facing the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and its implications for U.S. national security. A fighter gap is essentially a deficit between the services’ fighter aircraft inventories and their operational requirements based on emerging and possible air threats to U.S. security.

At a hearing just last year, defense officials testified projecting a “most-optimistic” deficit of 125 strike fighters for the Department of the Navy, including 69 aircraft for the U.S. Navy and 56 for the Marine Corps. This projected gap, set to peak around 2017, was considered optimistic because it assumed that the service life of F/A-18 Hornets could be extended from 8,000 flight hours to 10,000. The original service life was 6,000 flight hours. At the same hearing, the Air Force was projected to also have a requirement gap of over 800 fighters by 2024.

A Congressional Research Service report in April 2009 unveiled a potentially larger gap, citing a briefing in which the Navy projected that its strike fighter shortfall could grow to 50 aircraft by FY 2010 and 243 by 2018 (129 Navy and 114 Marine Corps fighters).

Yet, at a recent conference hosted by the Air Force Association, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates dismissed talk of the fighter gap as “nonsense.”

Military Requirements and Current Inventory

The U.S. achieves and maintains air superiority and supremacy with fighters from the Air Force, the Navy’s aircraft carriers, and the Marines’ carrier-based and land-based air wings. Typically, a fighter force is superior to any potential opponent if it has at least the following three elements:

  • Technically superior aircraft, including flight performance (speed, range, and maneuverability), avionics (sensors, navigation systems, computers, sensor fusion, data displays, communications, electronic support measures), and armament.
  • Numerical sufficiency.
  • Exceptionally trained pilots and crews and an adequate pool of replacements and well-trained new pilots.

The modern battlefield demands that multi-mission combat aircraft perform air-to-air combat; air-to-ground strike missions with precision-guided bombs and autonomous cruise missiles; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

Fifth-generation fighters are also highly effective in irregular warfare and counterinsurgency operations. In addition to carrying large payloads and operating over vast areas, such as Afghanistan, fifth-generation fighters can better coordinate attacks against insurgent forces by sharing the same tactical picture through data links and tracking moving ground targets with their active electronically scanned array radar. Using sensor fusion capability to integrate targeting information from their own sensors and other sources into a single tactical picture, the F-22 and F-35 can more accurately identify and target enemy forces. This also helps to reduce casualties from friendly fire and collateral damage.

Foreign Capabilities

To fully assess the implications of the widening U.S. fighter gap, Congress must consider the future capabilities of states that may potentially challenge U.S. fighter aircraft in the coming decades as fifth-generation fighters become the mainstay of the future force and legacy aircraft retire. These capabilities include foreign advanced attack aircraft, jammers, infrared search and tracking sensors, ultra long-range missiles, surface-to-air missiles, radar detection, anti-stealth technologies, and electronic warfare.

Twenty years after the Cold War, new regional military powers and former peer competitors are expanding their military capabilities. Regional powers, such as China and possibly Iran, are acquiring Russian air superiority and multirole fighters based on the Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker family. Closer to home, Venezuela is aggressively expanding its air force.

Russia and China

Russia is fielding the Su-34 Fullback strike aircraft, which is based on the Su-27 Flanker and can carry supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles and short-range air-to-air missiles for self-defense. The Russian Air Force plans to field 58 by 2015 and 300 by 2022. The Russian Air Force also has a requirement of about 300 Sukhoi PAK FA fifth-generation fighters. However, Russia appears to be planning for a production run of 500 to 600, which most likely includes planned exports. Russia also appears to be in the early stages of developing a sixth-generation fighter.

China has ordered an estimated 76 Su-30MKK Flanker-Gs and can produce an additional 250 under license, including at least 100 “knock-down kits.” It has also received at least 24 Su-30MK2 naval strike fighters. If China modernizes its 171 Su-27SK/UBs to the Su-27SKM standard and assembles another 105 Su-27SKMs under license, it will have roughly 626 multirole fighters available for air superiority missions. This would place China in the same league as the U.S., which has 522 F-15A/B/C/Ds, 217 F-15Es and a planned fleet of 187 F-22s. China is also developing a stealth fifth-generation fighter, variously identified the J-X. It may also benefit from information allegedly stolen on the “design and electronics systems” of the F-35 Lightning II.

Future of the U.S. Fighter Force

The President’s proposed FY 2010 budget would diminish U.S. fighter capability. The President has proposed reducing acquisitions of fifth-generation fighters and limiting their upgrades. If Congress complies, the U.S. will risk falling behind internationally and in the technological race for air power. Congress and the President would do well to remember how France, despite having pioneered the use of military aircraft, tanks, and motor transport in World War I, had fallen behind Germany by the beginning of World War II.

Large production runs of air superiority fourth-plus-generation fighters equipped with fifth-generation technology, such as the Su-35BM in Russia and China, could put the U.S. Air Force with its fewer numbers of F-22s and an aging F-15C fleet at a serious disadvantage. History and the ongoing technological arms race suggest that it would be dangerous for the U.S. to assume that the F-22 will have no equal and thus have a decisive advantage over any other fighter aircraft for the next 20 years.

The President’s 2010 defense budget request would eliminate one of the two remaining fifth-generation fighter production lines. This would severely limit the options available to Congress if it wants to restart production at some later date. The cost to the taxpayer would also be much higher than if production continues. Finally, the nation would permanently lose many highly skilled aerospace designers and engineers if they are laid off.

Specifically, the U.S. should:

Purchase additional F-22s in 2010. Russia’s state-run military industrial base is focusing on producing advanced fifth-generation fighters with some nearly sixth-generation capabilities. Given the U.S. military’s global commitments, the 187 F-22s will likely operate in the different theaters, all but ensuring that they will be outnumbered in any potential engagement. Congress should appropriate funds to buy at least the full initial order of 286 F-22s to ensure air superiority over the next two decades, beginning with a purchase of 20 F-22s in FY 2010.

Encourage sales of F-22 allied variant to Japan and Australia. It would provide U.S. allies with the most advanced fighter on the market, increase their interoperability with U.S. forces, reinforce America’s hedging strategy in the Pacific, and keep the production line open while reducing the unit cost.

Research viability of building a strike variant of F-22. The FB-22 has a greater bomb load capacity than the F-35, could replace the F-15E, and carry out many missions currently performed by the B-1 and B-2 strategic bombers. The FB-22 could also then become a platform to introduce operational sixth-generation fighter technology. Congress should direct a Pentagon study on the viability of pursuing the FB-22 this year.

Immediately begin research and development of a sixth-generation fighter. Sixth-generation technologies may include a flying wing with morphic wings that deflect and minimize its radar signature and a visual stealth structure that would use micro cameras to take on the appearance of the sky and the ground to make it invisible.

Conclusion
Congress needs to examine carefully whether the planned numbers of new and modernized fighters in the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps inventories will meet service and operational requirements. Careful scrutiny is required given the reported structural problems caused by the stress of combat operations, the current and planned numbers of fifth-generation fighters, and the scheduled phase out of legacy fighters. In the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review process, Congress and the Pentagon should carefully examine the inherent capabilities and qualities of each model of fighter to verify that it can fulfill these requirements and defeat the technological challenges that may be posed by future challengers. Congress must ensure that the U.S. military maintains both its technological edge and adequate numbers of aircraft to maintain U.S. air superiority well into the 21st century.



SUMMARY: FY 2010 MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS BILL

The fiscal year 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill provides $134.6 billion for projects and programs of critical importance to America’s veterans and military troops and their families, including veterans benefits and healthcare, and military family housing, barracks and mission critical facilities.

The bill provides $53 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and $56.6 billion for mandatory VA programs, $23.3 billion for military construction and family housing, and $1.4 billion for military construction projects in support of the war in Afghanistan.

In a major victory for America’s veterans, the bill for the first time includes advance appropriations for the VA to ensure a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for medical care for veterans. For fiscal year 2011, the bill includes $48.2 billion for VA medical programs.

The bill provides funding to address several significant priorities, including:

• Renovating surplus building on VA medical campuses to use as housing for homeless veterans;
• Increasing the number of VA outpatient clinics in rural communities where veterans do not have ready access to VA hospitals;
• Accelerating the Army’s program to modernize troop housing for trainees;
• Addressing critical unfunded construction requirements of the Guard and reserve;
• Providing mortgage relief to military families required to relocate during the current mortgage crisis;
• Expediting environmental cleanup on closed military bases; and
• Investing in renewable and alternative energy initiatives on military installations.

Bill Total

2009 Enacted: $72.9 billion
President’s Request: $77.7 billion
House Passed: $77.9 billion
Senate Passed: $78.1 billion
Final Bill: $78.0 billion

KEY INVESTMENTS

Military Construction and Family Housing: $23.3 billion to support American’s military forces and their families at home and overseas, $333.9 million above the request.

• Active Components: $11.8 billion for such items as barracks, child care centers, installation chapels, and mission critical operational facilities. Includes $350 million to accelerate the Army’s program to modernize troop housing facilities for trainees. The Army has a need for $2.2 billion to bring all 115,413 trainee barracks spaces up to standard and the program currently is not scheduled to finish until 2017. Also includes $174 million for the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP), $84 million above the request, to increase the level of investment in renewable and alternative energy resources and to promote energy conservation, green building initiatives, and energy security programs on U.S. military installations.

• Guard and reserve: $1.6 billion, $601.7 million above the request, to provide readiness centers and operational facilities for the Army National Guard, Air Guard, and Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force reserve forces. Includes $200 million in additional construction funding to address critical unfunded requirements.

• Military Family Housing: $2.59 billion for family housing, $300 million above the request, to further eliminate inadequate military housing, including $323 million for the Homeowners Assistance Program, $300 million above the request, to provide additional funding for the expanded mortgage relief program for military families who are required to relocate during the current mortgage crisis and must sell their home at a loss, as well as to wounded warriors who must relocate for medical reasons and to the spouses of fallen warriors similarly affected by the mortgage crisis.

• Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): $496.8 million for the 1990 BRAC round, $100 million above the request, to address the large unfunded backlog of environmental cleanup for bases that were closed during the four previous BRAC rounds, and $7.5 billion for the 2005 BRAC program, the full authorized amount.

• Overseas Contingency Operations: $1.4 billion, matching the request, to support additional military construction requirements to support operations and previously scheduled troop deployments to Afghanistan.

• Department of Veterans Affairs: $109.6 billion, $15.3 billion above 2009 and $747 million above the request. The funding includes $56.6 billion for mandatory veterans benefit programs and $53 billion for discretionary funding. Total discretionary funding is $5.4 billion above 2009. In addition, the bill provides $48.2 billion in advance appropriations for veterans medical care programs for fiscal year 2011.

• Veterans Health Administration (VHA): $45.1 billion, matching the request and $4.1billion above 2009, for veterans medical care. The Veterans Health Administration estimates that it will treat more than 6.1 million patients in 2010, including more than 419,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan (56,000 more than 2009).

• Rural Health: $250 million as requested to continue the Rural Health Initiative and an additional $30 million to increase the number of Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) in rural areas for veterans who do not have ready access to VA hospitals. More than 3.2 million (41%) of enrolled veterans live in rural or highly rural areas.

• Mental Health: $4.6 billion, matching the request and $300 million above 2009, for mental health care to treat the psychological wounds of returning combat veterans, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Includes an additional $1 million to provide education debt relief as a hiring incentive for mental health professionals.

• Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans: $2.1 billion, matching the request and $463 million above 2009, to meet the healthcare needs of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA estimates that the number of OEF/OIF veterans in the VA healthcare system in 2010 will have increased by 61 percent since 2008.

• Women Veterans Programs: $183 million, matching the request, to meet the unique needs of women veterans.

• Long Term Care: $5.9 billion, matching the request, for both institutional and home-based programs for aging veterans as well as severely wounded OEF/OIF veterans. o Assistance for Homeless Vets: $3.2 billion, matching the request and $421 million above 2009, for healthcare and support services for homeless veterans; including $26 million for a Presidential Initiative to combat homelessness, $150 million for the homeless grants and per diem program, $20 million for supportive services for low income veterans and families, and $21 million to hire additional personnel for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program.

• Medical and Prosthetic Research: $581 million, $71 million above 2009, for research in a number of areas including mental health, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, burn injury, polytrauma injuries, and sensory loss; including a $48 million increase for research to address the critical needs of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans

• Medical Facilities: $4.9 billion, $166 million above the President’s Request and $170 million below 2009. Includes a $130 million increase for non-recurring maintenance at existing facilities, $30 million for additional Community Based Outpatient Clinics in rural areas, and $5 million for additional contracting personnel.

• VA Construction Programs: $1.9 billion, $103 million above the request and $232 million above 2009, including:

• Major Construction: $1.2 billion for VA facilities, including hospitals and clinics, to enable the Department to implement the recommendations made by the Capitol Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission, which was established to look at facilities and determine their construction needs.

• Minor Construction: $703 million, $39 million below 2009, $103 million above the President’s budget request, including $50 million for the renovation of vacant buildings on VA campuses to be used as housing with supportive services for homeless veterans. The VA estimates that on any given night, 131,000 veterans are homeless. This program will strengthen the VA’s goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by providing housing and counseling services in settings that are in close proximity for VA hospitals.

• State Extended Care Facilities: $100 million, $15 million above the request and $75 million below 2009, for grants to states for construction and renovation of extended care veterans’ facilities. States must provide 35% of the cost, while the Department pays the other 65%.

• Information Technology: $3.3 billion, matching the request, to develop the next generation of electronic healthcare records, paperless claims systems, and seamless integration of medical and service records with the Department of Defense.

• VA Benefits Claims Processors: $1.7 billion, $223 million above 2009, in general operating expenses to enable the Department to hire roughly 1,200 additional claims processors to continue to address the backlog of benefits claims and to reduce the time to process new claims. The most recent VA quarterly status report estimates that nearly 397,000 claims are pending.

• Inspector General: $109 million, $2 million above the request and $21.2 million above 2009, to provide additional oversight personnel for initiatives regarding financial audit and information technology program reviews and to expand oversight of Veterans Benefits Administration regional offices, to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

Related Agencies:

• American Battle Monuments Commission: $62.7 million, $2.4 million above the request and $3.2 million above 2009, to provide for the care and operation of military monuments and cemeteries around the world.

• United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: $27.1 million, matching the request and $3.9 million below 2009, which included $7 million in one-time cost for the planning and design of a new facility.

• Cemeterial Expenses: $39.9 million, $2.7 million above the request and $3.1 million above 2009, for Arlington National Cemetery. The additional funding will enable relocation of power and telephone lines to make ground available for over 8,000 additional gravesites.

• Armed Forces Retirement Home: $134 million, the same as the President’s request and $71 million above 2009, for the Armed Forces Retirement Home, including $72 million for capital expenditures




Another F-35 flies – finally

Related Previous Post:

America’s Two Air Forces

Related Links:

Aviation Week: China Close To Testing Next-Gen Fighter

Strategy Page: Japan Seeks An F-22 Substitute

Space War: Australia gives green light for F-35s


end

2010 Defense Appropriations
September 10: Senate Appropriations Committee markup
The Senate’s edition of the 2010 Defense Department spending bill totals $636.3 billion, the same
amount as the House version. That’s about $4 billion below the President’s $640 billion request and $4.4
billion more than the FY 2009 bill. The bill report includes 777 earmarks worth $2.6 billion.
The House version of the bill passed in July added $2.75 billion for more than 1,100 earmarks and over
$10 billion for other programs not requested by the Pentagon.
Below are highlights from each chamber’s version of the legislation.
Conventional Weapons
House: The day before the committee markup, the Senate gave a wide margin of approval to an
amendment that stripped $1.7 billion for F‐22 Raptor fighter jets from the FY 2010 Defense
Authorization bill. The F‐22 became the poster child for the struggle between Congress and the White
House over the billions in major weapons systems cuts proposed by Defense Secretary Bill Gates in the
2010 budget. President Obama threatened to veto the bill if it included additional money for the F‐22 or
an alternate engine for the F‐35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee had injected $368 million for just enough parts to keep the
F‐22 line open, but after the markup Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D‐PA) announced he would
introduce an amendment to take the money out of the full Committee version. The Senate also took
money out of their bill for the JSF engine, but House appropriators continue to court a veto by allocating
$560 million for the program. This includes $215 million each in the Navy and Air Force the research and
development budget accounts as well as $130 million in the Air Force procurement account.
The Committee also pushed back on Gates’ decision to terminate the VH‐71 Presidential Helicopter,
adding $400 million to the budget request for the aircraft and chastising the Navy for failing to provide
cost estimates for fielding the five aircraft they say were nearly complete when the Defense Department
pulled the plug. However, lawmakers did the White House one better on trimming the Army’s bloated
Future Combat Systems (FCS) modernization program. Gates recommended termination for FCS’
manned ground vehicle component and a stop‐work order for the Non‐Line‐of‐Sight Cannon (NLOS‐C),
an artillery vehicle manufactured in Oklahoma that home‐state lawmakers managed to isolate from the
FCS budget in order to insulate it from legislative changes. The bill drops the language protecting the
NLOS‐C and cuts more than $250 million in excessive termination costs.
Other notable items:
• DOD recently announced that the demands of producing the FY 2010 budget request prevented
the department from providing the annual Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) mandated by
Congress that tracks the cost, schedules and performance of major weapons systems. The bill
requires DOD to provide the government Accountability Office with “SAR‐like data” in time for
the GAO’s annual report to Congress summarizing progress on such programs.
• Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D‐OH) added language to the FY 2009
supplemental war spending bill encouraging DOD to “explore” purchasing additional F‐18
Hornet fighter aircraft via a multiyear procurement program. This bill contains an additional
$108 million for just such a deal, as well as $495 million for an extra nine Hornets. Committee
members worried in the bill report about a looming shortfall in tactical fighter aircraft as older
planes like the F‐18 Hornet take their lumps in Iraq and Afghanistan while the military awaits JSF
production.
• Lawmakers said the government must buy at least 10 ships per year in order to meet the Navy’s
goal of a 313‐ship Navy, thereby justifying their addition of $780 million for an extra Littoral
Combat Ship and $180 million for another Joint High Speed Vessel.
• Committee members kept the subcommittee’s $674 million insertion for three additional C‐17
Globemaster cargo planes, calling it the “supply and logistical workhorse of the overseas
conflicts.” Other subcommittee additions that remain in the bill include $225 million for Stryker
Army vehicles and $142 million for an extra E‐2D Hawkeye aircraft.
• The Air Force’s aircraft procurement account picked up a lot of money outside the White House
request, including $140 million for five Combat Search and Rescue helicopters; $132 million for
two additional C‐37 Gulfstream jets; $227 million for five Blackhawk helicopters plus
modifications; and $200 million for two C‐40 cargo planes at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
• The Marines’ cost‐spiraling Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle lost $50 million from the $293 million
budget request due to “serious reservations whether the program will ever meet a standard for
completion,” the bill report said.
Senate: Committee members followed the House’s lead and declined to add money for the F‐22.
However, a provision appears in the bill report urging DOD to use research and development funds to
create an export version of the aircraft. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D‐OH)
authored legislation 12 years ago—known today as the “Obey Amendment”—that would prohibit such a
sale on grounds that it would compromise U.S. air dominance. Since the termination of the program
contractors and Congressional representatives from states heavy with F‐22 jobs have pushed to lift the
amendment.
Senate appropriators also kept out additional funding for an alternate F‐35 Joint Strike Fighter engine
and VH‐71 presidential helicopters. But they added $2.5 billion for 10 C‐17 cargo planes, a program that
Congress has kept alive through appropriations for years but which the Pentagon did not ask funding
for. 18 Senators—as well as Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger of California, where a major assembly plant is
located—sent President Obama a letter last month urging him to keep the plane’s production line alive,
and manufacturer Boeing has launched a lobby offensive in support of the aircraft.
Other notable items:
• Committee members cut $300 million from the $1.3 billion Littoral Combat Ship request, but it
also cut one of the ships the money was slated to buy. The $1 billion allotment would build only
two ships, raising the price from $460 million to $540 million each. Yet the Committee admitted
“concerns remain with the cost and schedule” of the troubled program.
• More than $200 million was trimmed from the C‐130 AMP program because of “excess of
need.” The Boeing effort to upgrade hundreds of C‐130 cargo planes, has run into several
roadblocks in recent years, including cost overruns and the conviction of a DOD acquisition
official for sending business to Boeing, her future employer.
• Appopriators added $1.7 billion for a second DDG‐51 Destroyer ship in FY 2010, which would
“benefit from economies of scale and improve the stability of the Nations’ shipbuilding
industrial base.” Most of the DDG‐51’s base happens to be located in the district of
Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R‐MS).
• $170 million was added for an LHA 7 ambhibious assault ship, which the Pentagon did not
request.
• The National Guard and Reserve received an extra $1.5 billion for equipment. Little direction on
the increase was given: The report asks National Guard commanders to assess their
modernization priorities” within 30 days of the bill’s passage.
Space
House: The Committee backed our findings that the military lacks a comprehensive space budget,
expressing concern that “there is no clear path for space system investment.” It tasked the Air Force and
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) with producing a 30‐Year Space System Investment Strategy that
will include information on cost, schedule and development of all defense‐related space programs. It
also directed the Defense Department to finally implement a major force program funding mechanism
for space. “Good planning requires good budgeting and oversight mechanisms,” the bill report states.
No champions emerged to add funding for the Transformational Communications Satellite System
(TSAT), slated to become DOD’s most expensive space program until Gates put it on his termination list.
Other problematic programs found support, however. The bill report chastises the Air Force for bad
procurement practices, but proposes as a solution multi‐vehicle purchasing plans for the Evolved
Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and Space‐Based Infrared System (SBIRS), two programs with welldocumented
problems.
Committee members transferred $248 million from the classified budget and added a $25 million
program increase to the EELV, a Boeing/Lockheed Martin monopoly on satellite launch vehicles that has
seen dramatic cost increases. The bill report acknowledges that the Air Force has “not established a
robust process for managing” the contract and directs the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center
to enhance its systems engineering capabilities. SBIRS saw $55 million cut from its budgetary request,
but the Committee thought the system would benefit from buying in bulk—strange since the program is
so far behind schedule that the first satellite has yet to launch.
Appropriators also added a hefty amount—$425 million—for advance parts of the seventh version of
the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite System, which provides bandwidth for military communications.
However, they cut $100 million from Space Situational Awareness Systems, which had seen dramatic
growth over the last five years.
Senate: Lawmakers gave an undisclosed amount to the Third Generation Infra‐Red Surveillance
Program, known as 3GIRS, because of concerns over SBIRS, which the report says is now eight years
behind schedule and $7.5 billion over budget. 3GIRS is the revamped version of AIRSS, conceived years
ago as a parallel program to SBIRS that the Air Force hoped would goad SBIRS toward completion.
The committee also added $25 million for two programs—the Maui Space Surveillance System and the
High Accuracy Network Determination System—located on Hawaii, home turf of Senate Appropriations
Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D‐HI).
Missile Defense
House: Defense Secretary Gates asked Congress to end $1.2 billion worth of missile defense programs in
2010, while still allowing the Missile Defense Agency a healthy $7.8 billion. The intent behind the cuts
was to de‐emphasize boost‐phase and midcourse interceptors and focus on theater‐based programs
that can take out shorter‐range missiles launched at soldiers deployed overseas. Three examples of the
former that had racked up millions in costs with little to show for it include the Airborne Laser, Multiple
Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI). The only program that generated attention from
appropriators was KEI, developed to hit incoming missiles in their boost phase, which received $80
million to continue the program on the premise that some of its technologies were developed enough to
be integrated into other MDA programs.
In addition, $82 million was added for the various Arrow interceptors and David’s Sling, all of which are
included in a cooperative missile defense effort with Israel. But $105 million was cut from programs for
schedule delays, including the relatively popular Aegis program and the behind‐schedule and overbudget
Space Tracking Surveillance System.
MDA’s budget obfuscation has been an ongoing problem, and the Committee found that this year’s
submission “continues to be insufficient to conduct proper oversight.” Unfortunately, the only discipline
applied is a vague direction to follow existing acquisition laws.
Senate: The Committee included no funding for the programs eliminated in the DOD budget request—
including KEI—and cut $151 million from elements of the BMD program, such as sensors and testing
budgets. However, it added $57.6 million to Aegis and THAAD, two of the near‐range programs the
Defense Department wants to emphasize. The committee also added $82 million for Israel cooperative
programs including the Arrow.
Though the committee complied with the White House directive to cut the number of ground‐based
interceptors to 30 from 44, it added $50 million for “vendor base sustainment.” Committee members
argued that seven more interceptors would be needed according to an MDA testing schedule released
this summer, though the Government Accountability Office has stated that these schedules don’t
provide true requirement baselines because they change constantly (yet are frequently used to justify
advance contracts for components).
The committee report also included language citing an “escalating ballistic missile threat in the Pacific
region” caused by North Korea as justification for expanding operations at the Pacific Missile Range
Facility “to defend the state of Hawaii against a ballistic missile attack.” That concern likely originated
with Inouye, who also added several earmarks for space and missile defense programs in his state.
Other Issues
• War spending. FY 2010 is supposed to signal the end of supplemental spending abuses, folding
more than $128 billion for overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into the base budget.
Murtha, however, has warned that the military will need another supplemental within the next
six months. The House transferred 20 percent of their bill’s supplemental operations and
maintenance money to the Overseas Contingency Operations Transfer Fund, which allows DOD
to move money around as needed. At the same time the Committee cut $200 million from the
$1.5 billion request for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), saying the
program was still poorly managed and lacked oversight.
The Senate bill allocates $2 billion less for military personnel than the house, moving it to
operatinos and maintenance. It also cut funds from the CERP request for the same reason as the
House, giving the account only $1.2 billion. It allocates $2 billion more than the house for
procurement, adds $1.2 billion for MRAPs and gives JIEDDO $2 billion, $500 million more than
the House. Senate appropriators also complained about DOD’s financial reporting on
supplemental funds, saying they have been submitted up to six months late.
• Intelligence budget mismanagement. House lawmakers pointed out that the failure of agencies
including the CIA and NSA to pass audits, particularly concerning since the Intelligence
Community (IC) spends more than a quarter billion dollars per year on financial management.
They requested a report to address this problem that includes a look at acquisition practices
within the IC’s business office.
• Outsourcing. The House bill adds $104 million to the $5.1 billion requested by the White House
to hire and train government employees to take over “critical” functions currently performed by
contractors.

U.S. steps up special operations mission in Afghanistan — On The Frontlines in Afghanistan Video — A radical empire looms — From the Sand Pit – Message From a Recon Marine in Afghanistan — Christmas: The Heros of Helmand Province Afghanistan – Brave Shall Fall Video — SkyGrabber: the $26 software used by insurgents to hack into US drones — Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones — Questions No One Wants to Ask Gen. McChrystal — Loy Afghanistan landscape,heritage &culture — Afghan Elders to U.S.: Let Us Do Fighting — CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IN CENTRAL ASIA — 0 — Blog Post Photo Credit: Edward A. Ornealas @ MYSA Blogs


Are we ‘Refighting the last War’ in Afghanistan?

American Thinker – Greg Richards

The current issue (November – December 2009) of Military Review (“The Professional Journal of the U.S. Army”) has a most interesting article on the Afghanistan War titled “Refighting the Last War: Afghanistan and the Vietnam Template.”  It is particularly interesting since coverage of the Afghanistan War has been so thin.  It outlines a possible winning strategy, but makes the case that we are not pursuing a winning strategy currently:

“Attacks of all types in Afghanistan have increased each year since 2003 and are up dramatically in 2009, the deadliest year yet for American forces.”

The thesis of the article is that in many ways – in most important ways – the U.S. is repeating its mistakes in Vietnam.  It sees striking similarities between the two wars…]



U.S. steps up special operations mission in Afghanistan

Under the shift in strategy, the teams now focus on targeting key Taliban figures rather than mainly hunting Al Qaeda leaders and have increased the number of raids they conduct, officials say.

LA Times – By Julian E. Barnes

Reporting from Washington – The U.S. military command has quietly shifted and intensified the mission of clandestine special operations forces in Afghanistan, senior officials said, targeting key figures within the Taliban, rather than almost exclusively hunting Al Qaeda leaders.

As a result of orders from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and allied commander in Afghanistan, the special operations teams are focusing more on killing militants, capturing them or, whenever possible, persuading them to turn against the Taliban-led insurgency.

The number of raids carried out by such units as the Army’s Delta Force and Navy’s SEAL Team Six in Afghanistan has more than quadrupled in recent months. The teams carried out 90 raids in November, U.S. officials said, compared with 20 in May. U.S. special operations forces primarily conduct missions in eastern and southern Afghanistan.

The numbers reflect the evolving strategy and increased pressure on U.S. military leaders to show swift results against the Taliban.

The move marks the first major change in mission for the nation’s most elite military units since they were sent to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. It comes as the Taliban has tightened its grip on key parts of Afghanistan, where only a few dozen Al Qaeda operatives are thought to remain…

“What I have come to believe is you take the middle of the network,” McChrystal said. “You attack them, you capture, you kill and you turn as many of them as you can and you cause the network to collapse on itself.”…]



A radical empire looms

Asia Times – By Francesco Sisci

BEIJING – With 30,000 more United States troops on their way to Afghanistan, it is growing clearer that they will not suffice and that larger challenges loom. Afghanistan is also increasingly developing into a political proxy war between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan, which backed the mujahideen against the Soviets in the 1980s and offered a safe haven and breeding ground to the Taliban in the 1990s, is now looking askance at the government of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, which it sees as pro-India. Conversely, India has fond memories of the time when Kabul was firmly under Moscow’s hands and out of Islamabad’s fist – and worries that the present American strategy will hand Kabul back to Pakistan.

India is also worried about the US’s diplomatic warming with China, the latter being Pakistan’s long-time ally. US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Beijing was a major success – despite some criticism – and set in motion a higher phase in bilateral ties.

Moreover, China is pressing in around India. It backed the peace process between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Colombo government this year, thus gaining new leverage in Sri Lanka. Nepal’s neo-Maoists are fashionably pro-Chinese, and sympathy for the Chinese government can be found in the neo-Maoist rebels active in about a third of India’s territory.

Further, on the eastern front, there is Myanmar, where New Delhi may gain ground but Beijing’s interests are firmly entrenched. If the new American policies in Afghanistan let Islamabad increase its clout in Kabul, New Delhi could rightly feel it is caught in a vice in which China – with American help – is pressing the levers.

However, this perception might be wrong. Afghanistan and Pakistan are not unstable domino tiles that can be moved at will in a careful balance of weights and counterweights, as in old political power games. Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of a more complex balancing act that is both domestic and international and in which we also find China and India. It is no mystery that the Afghanistan wound has festered to the point of poisoning Pakistan’s body.

Parts of Pakistan are subject to tribal rule, That is, tribes straddling the border have brought their rule to Pakistan, and Islamabad, vying for its own state legitimacy, has to cope with them. In other words, Afghanistan’s falling apart puts Pakistan in jeopardy, as the latter could also crumble, split between tribal and national interests: Pashtuns versus Punjabis or Sindhi or Balochi. The problem has become so big that the real issue now is no longer to simply stabilize Afghanistan, but to also stabilize Pakistan and prevent its fall into anarchy, as many pundits see it as an almost failing state. Thinking of Pakistan as a failing state does not help its recovery, and it further fuels the flames of chaos…]



From the Sand Pit – Message From a Recon Marine in Afghanistan

It’s freezing here.  I’m sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains , along  the Dar ‘yoi Pomir River , watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave.  Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.

I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting.  I’ve actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but them scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod.  Hurts like a bastard.  The antidote tastes like transmission fluid, but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.

The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water.  That requires couriers and that’s where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy.  I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware. We bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement.

It’s all about intelligence.  We haven’t even brought in the snipers yet.  These scurrying rats have no idea what they’re in for.  We are but days way from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin.

I dream of bin Laden waking up to find me standing over him with my boot on his throat as I spit into his face and plunge my nickel-plated Bowie knife through his frontal lobe.  But you know me, I’m a romantic.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This country blows, man.  It’s not even a country.  There are no roads, there’s no infrastructure, there’s no government.  This is an inhospitable, rock pit shit hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes.  There are no jobs here like we know jobs.

Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That’s it.  Those are your options.  Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu, if that’s your idea of a party.  But the smell alone of those ‘tent cities of the walking dead’ is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs for eighteen hours a day.

I’ve been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks, and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtuns, for over a month-and-a-half now, and this much I can say for sure:  These guys, all of ‘em, are Huns…  Actual, living Huns..  They LIVE to fight.  It’s what they do.  It’s ALL they do…

They have no respect for anything, not for their families, nor for each other, nor for themselves.  They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor.  Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each other’s barbarism.  Cavemen with AK-47′s.  Then again, maybe I’m just cranky.

I’m freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice, and I can’t recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours.  Oh yeah!  You like to write letters, right?  Do me a favor.  Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban ‘smart..’ They are not smart.

I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is ‘cunning.’ The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly.  They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart..  Pfft.  Yeah, they’re real smart.

They’ve spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil.  They’re still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter.  Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it.

OK, enough.  Snuffle will be up soon, so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice, but I’m good at it.

Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives.  The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials.  We’ve got this one under control The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we’re doing over here, because you have no idea what we’re doing, and really, you don’t want to know.  We are your military, and we are doing what you sent us here to do, keep you safe, and keep the fight off of American soil.

Buy Bonds America.

Saucy Jack

Recon Marine in Afghanistan Semper Fi

———————-

Origins: This letter purportedly written by a Marine serving in Afghanistan began circulating on the Internet at the end of November 2001. It has since been read over the air by a variety of radio hosts, which has helped to disseminate the piece to an even wider audience.

We have no idea if the letter actually came from someone serving in Afghanistan or if it’s the fanciful invention of someone stateside as no information has been provided about its author. Although the article has been presented as true on the radio, that shouldn’t sway anyone into believing it’s the real thing, because radio show hosts are notorious for reading on air items harvested from the Internet that have proved to be fictions.

No doubt this piece is so popular because it contains much that Americans would find appealing. Besides the interest (and novelty) in hearing from a soldier right on the front lines of a war in which we’re engaged, it gives voice to ideas that many of us want to believe: that our soldiers are brave and tough (neither a scorpion’s sting nor its supposedly transmission fluid-like antidote fazes Saucy Jack the Marine); that our armed forces are a well-organized, technologically advanced fighting machine up against a primitive enemy from a backwards country; that our foes are our inferiors, morally as well as militarily; and that the media often don’t know what it is talking about, and we’d all be better off if it just butted out and let our servicemen do their jobs.

Is the story at least believable? Not really — the narrative is rife with errors and inconsistencies: for example, Ab Gach, the panhandle, and the Hindu Kush mountains are all in the northeast portion of Afghanistan, not the northwest; scorpion antivenin is injected, not drunk; and a true “Recon Marine” wouldn’t be broadcasting specifics about his position and mission to the world at large. If this really was the work of a serviceman in Afghanistan, he was deliberately trying to be misleading or funny, not to convey an account of real events.

The “Saucy Jack” letter is as popular as it is because it purports to give insight into the day-to-day reality of a soldier in the field that CNN fails to provide. News emerging from the war in Afghanistan seems rigidly controlled, and the people back home are hungry for information that is not forthcoming. A missive such as this one thus falls on highly receptive ears.

By the way, the handle “Saucy Jack” might come from the musical “Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens,” a cabaret then currently being performed in London.

Barbara “jack of all trades” Mikkelson

Source:  Snopes



SkyGrabber: the $26 software used by insurgents to hack into US drones

Guardian – Charles Arthur, technology editor

“SkyGrabber is offline satellite internet downloader,” the page begins confidently, at once informing the native English speaker that the page wasn’t written by one. In fact SkyGrabber is a Russian programme – the site is apparently run by Cherkashyn Vyacheslav in Nab Podeba, Ukraine.

SkyGrabber is a simple enough concept: grab the signals that spill from a satellite broadcast (or even narrowcast), aimed from a satellite towards a specific location, and turn them into TV feeds you can look at. Or as the website puts it: “You don’t have to keep an online internet connection. Just customise your satellite dish to selected satellite provider and start grabbing.”

The US drones would send their video up to a US military satellite (the “uplink”) that cannot be intercepted. The signal would then be beamed by that satellite or a linked one down to the controllers – who might be in Afghanistan or Iraq. Because that signal was unencrypted, anyone who tuned their satellite dish to the correct frequency and location in the sky could pick up the signal, and decode it. And because any satellite downlink signal spreads a little, the area where it can be picked up is potentially huge.

The weakness has been known for a very long time. In February this year Adam Laurie, an “ethical hacker” who has spent a lot of time looking at satellite feed hacking, told the BlackHat conference that “anyone with a [satellite] dish can see data being broadcast” and that “things you would expect to be secure turn out not to be secure. The most worrying thing is you can just see all this data going by.” He has been at it since the 1990s – and in 1997 could see French TV reporters beaming back closed circuit coverage of Princess Diana’s death to the UK over unsecured feeds.

The only surprise is that the US army is surprised – given that it has known since the 1990s that the “downlink” (from the satellite) of the drone video was unencrypted. The internet may have been invented in the US, but its knowledge has spread far and wide — and insurgents have used websites and computer networks to organise themselves for years.

The thinking of the author of SkyGrabber is clear enough, given the other products he touts: they include Tuner4PC – for establishing internet connections via satellite uplink and downlinks – and LanGrabber, which “intercepts network downloads started by other users and saves information on your hard disk”. The latter is what hackers call a “sniffer”, seamlessly picking up the data that others are transferring and making a copy for you.



Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones

$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected

WSJ – By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE

WASHINGTON — Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America’s enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington’s growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.

The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.

U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

In the summer 2009 incident, the military found “days and days and hours and hours of proof” that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. “It is part of their kit now.”

A senior defense official said that James Clapper, the Pentagon’s intelligence chief, assessed the Iraq intercepts at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and concluded they represented a shortcoming to the security of the drone network.

“There did appear to be a vulnerability,” the defense official said. “There’s been no harm done to troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there’s an issue that we can take care of and we’re doing so.”

Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn’t yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved.

Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.

The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration’s troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force’s unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new camera system called “Gorgon Stare,” which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.

Gen. Deptula, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said there were inherent risks to using drones since they are remotely controlled and need to send and receive video and other data over great distances. “Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation,” he said, adding the military was trying to solve the problems by better encrypting the drones’ feeds.

The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn’t know how to exploit it, the officials said.

Last December, U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a laptop belonging to a Shiite militant, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. “There was evidence this was not a one-time deal,” this person said. The U.S. accuses Iran of providing weapons, money and training to Shiite fighters in Iraq, a charge that Tehran has long denied.

The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software’s developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. “It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet — no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content,” he said by email from Russia…]

Related:

Danger Room: Not Just Drones: Militants Can Snoop on Most U.S. Warplanes



Questions No One Wants to Ask Gen. McChrystal

Townhall – by Diana West

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s long-awaited testimony before Congress on the Afghanistan “surge” was, according to one account, “uneventful.” The general himself, another story noted, was “a study in circumspection.” And questioning from lawmakers was, said a third, “gentle.”

That’s a nice word for it. “Ineffectual” is more like it. Throw in “callous,” too, given House members’ obligations to constituents in the war zone, operating under what are surely the most restrictive rules of engagement (ROE) in U.S. history.

But not a single lawmaker appears to have ventured one question about these dangerously disarming ROEs, which, in Gen. McChrystal’s controversial view, are key to the success of his “counterinsurgency” strategy. What kind of a commander puts his forces’ lives at increased risk for a historically unsuccessful theory that depends not on winning battles against enemies, but on winning the “trust,” or, as we used to say (and as Gen. David Petraeus put it in Iraq), the “hearts and minds” of a primitive people immersed in the anti-Western traditions of Islam?

That would have made a nice ice-breaker of a question for any lawmaker troubled by the Petraeus-McChrystal policy of elevating Afghan “population protection” over U.S. “force protection” to win “the support” of this 99 percent Islamic country, and the rules that American forces must follow to do so. If, that is, there were any lawmakers so troubled.

Things really tightened up back in July, when Gen. McChrystal essentially grounded air support for troops except in dire circumstances. This, in the words of British defense intelligence analyst John McCreary, is “like fighting with a hand behind your back.” And with deadly results, such as the September firefight in Ganjgal where three Marines and a Navy Corpsman were killed when, according to McClatchy newspapers’ Jonathan S. Landay, repeated requests for support were nixed due to “new rules to avoid civilian casualties.”

As the Washington Times recently reported, the McChrystal counterinsurgency rules now include: No night searches. Villagers must be warned prior to searches. Afghan National Army or Afghan Police must accompany U.S. units on searches. Searches must account, according to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters, “for the unique cultural sensitivities toward local women.” (“Islamic repressiveness” is more accurate, but that’s another story.) U.S. soldiers may not fire on the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first. U.S. forces may not engage the enemy if civilians are present. U.S. forces may fire at an enemy caught in the act of placing an IED, but not walking away from an IED area. And on it goes.

Here’s another ROE that Gen. McChrystal should have been asked to justify to all Americans who hope to see their loved ones return home in one piece. The London Times recently reported that Marines, about to embark on a dangerous supply mission, were shown a PowerPoint presentation that first illustrated locations of IEDs along the way and then warned the Marines “not to fire indiscriminately even if they were fired on.”

Even if they were fired on? Could they fire at all – even “discriminately”? How long does Gen. McChrystal think troops can hold their fire and maintain healthy morale? And how about a progress report on the investigation into that deadly disaster at Ganjgal? Congress wasn’t interested in any of these questions.

The Times story went on to note: “The briefing ended with a projected screen of McChrystal’s quote: “It’s not how many you kill, it’s how many you convince.”

Another question: How many you convince of what, general? Of the depravity of child marriage? Of the injustice of Sharia laws that subjugate women and non-Muslims? Of the inhumanity of jihad?

Of course not. In an oblique reference that likely took in Islam, Gen. McChrystal told Congress: “I think it’s very important that from an overall point of view, we understand how Afghan culture must define itself, and we be limited in our desire to change the fundamentals of it.

Fine. I don’t want to change Afghan culture, either. But acknowledging its roots in an ideology that is anti-Western is crucial to devising strategy for the region. That’s obvious. But not to any of our leaders.

Final question: Are such leaders, civilian and military, doing their duty when they send the nation to war with a strategy that totally ignores jihad, the war doctrine of the enemy?





Afghan Elders to U.S.: Let Us Do Fighting

CBS News – Posted by Kimberly Dozier

As we flew in to Forward Operating Base Frontenac, the terrain was mountainous — jagged hills cropping up suddenly in the middle of southern Afghanistan’s lunar rocky landscape.

But the day — the whole trip — was like a flashback to Iraq. There was Admiral Mike Mullen speaking to the troops, telling them their new strategy is to protect the population, just as previous commanders had done with troops in Anbar, and Mosul, and Baghdad in 2006 and 2007.

“We can tactically win,” the admiral said. “But if we’re killing local civilians we’re going to strategically lose.”

He didn’t have to argue the point. There were nods in the crowd. A Stryker Company he was speaking to had taken more casualties than any unit since 9/11 when kicking this new strategy into high gear – 21 KIA so far, one of the largest losses borne by a single unit in this entire war.

But the Stryker guys had been through this before. One told us how they’d been at the frontline of counterinsurgency in Iraq, and they’d seen it turn things around after initially being skeptical the plan would work.

“We’ve closed the gap on human intel,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Neumann told us, ticking off what he saw as gains tallied against soldiers lost. He told a ragged group of reporters traveling with chairman Mullen that the intel from Afghans, which started flowing once locals were convinced the Americans would stay, meant his guys had been able to sweep up caches of weapons and stockpiles of explosives at a record rate.

He said they still faced a steady stream of IEDs — improvised explosive devices — but he said the construction and composition of the bombs was generally more primitive, and they were finding more of them. “We’ve hit them so hard, they’re making mistakes,” the colonel said. But he also admitted the drop in lethality of the bombs being used against them was probably also due to what he called the “snowbird syndrome,” where top Taliban commanders, including bomb engineers, spend the winter across the border in Pakistan . . . planning the spring campaign.

He was also laying out his campaign in broad terms: to develop the relationships with locals so that they will turn their backs on the Taliban.

It’s the other side of the “win trust and confidence” coin of COIN (or counterinsurgency): keep up the pressure on the remaining Taliban fighters with raids. The ultimate goal is that the Taliban leaders would find no one willing to give them shelter, food or aid when they returned, so they would leave — and the low-level Taliban fighters left behind, with no place to hide, would leave as well, or take off the black turban and go back to farming.

We asked how he felt about trying to accomplish all this by the President’s target drawdown date of July 2011. His reaction to it, rather than the outrage by some in Washington, was one of relief. He said it gave his troops something to shoot for, and most importantly of all, he concluded, “It means we won’t be here forever.”

Camp Nathan Smith – Kandahar City

At our next stop, another flashback. Admiral Mullen sat down for a shura with five colorfully-dressed Afghan elders who had risked their lives just showing up for this meeting — just like Iraqi chiefs used to gather with U.S. commanders in Ramadi, or Tikrit or Kirkuk. Another five elders were invited but never showed.

For security reasons, they hadn’t been told who they’d be meeting with (only that is was an “important American”).

Mullen pulled up his chair to their table, instead of sitting across the room from them at the executive table set up for him. Then he pulled out a notebook, and asked them to tell him what they need.

They did not hold back. For two hours, while Mullen’s staff kept cups of tea coming, the admiral heard everything from demands for a new dam (or two, if we Americans could swing it), to complaints that their young men need an army training facility built in Kandahar, instead of having to go all the way to Kabul, where the elders say their southern Pashtun ways make them the butt of abuse from Northerners.

But the most striking message of all was this: Stop fighting for us.

“You must understand our culture,” one said. “It’s insulting for you to die for us. We should be dying to take back our country, not you.”…]



CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IN CENTRAL ASIA

By Stephen J. Blank, June 2009 (PDF) (65 PAGES)

Specific Recommendations.

Specifically, the U.S. Government under President Obama should consider and act upon the following recommendations and policies to facilitate the aforementioned strategic goals of victory in Afghanistan and the enhanced independence of Central Asian states.

First, it must continue the Bush administration’s emphasis upon regional integration of Central Asia with South and East Asia in regard to energy, electricity, and other commodities.

As S. Frederick Starr, Director of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, has written, Clearly defeating the Taliban and destroying Al Qaeda should be a priority.

But these goals are best pursued in the context of a broader and more positive regional purpose. This would be true even if the rise of the SCO and Eurasec [Eurasian Economic Community] did not call for a strategic response from the United States.

Washington should also expand its horizons to foster greater U.S.-European and U.S.-Japanese cooperation in Central Asia so that these states are able to trade more openly with Europe and the United States as well.

In other words, the West should leverage its superior economic power to achieve constructive and jointly conceived strategic objectives. While energy and access to pipelines are the priorities, other goods and services must also be included wherever possible.

Greater involvement by the EU and Japan that parallels NATO involvement would therefore contribute to this latter enhancement of existing U.S. policies.

Second, the administration must build upon that foundation and conceive of the road it now seeks to build for logistical purposes to supply U.S. forces as also being a powerful engine for regional economic development and integration.

This aspect of the policy called for here as part of the overall strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan and stabilizing Central Asia must be a multilateral project with as many local and other key partners (NATO, Russia, and China) as possible.

This is because “The more consent America attracts abroad, the greater the practical assistance upon which the country will be able to draw and the more likely that U.S. policy will succeed. If this sometimes elusive condition is met, American strategy should prove sustainable.”

This multilateral support is essential to persuade local participants that U.S. aims are not inimical to their own but rather in sync with them. As Sir Michael Howard wrote in 2003, American power is indispensable for the preservation of global order, and as such it must be recognized, accommodated, and where possible supported.

But if it is to be effective, it needs to be seen and legitimized as such by the international community. If it is perceived rather as an instrument serving a unilateral conception of national security that amounts to a claim to world domination—pursuing, in fact, a purely “American War against Terror”—that is unlikely to happen.

Third, it must not detach this road from other parts of U.S. policy. Instead the administration should see it as the centerpiece of a coordinated policy and policy actions to integrate existing programs for trade, investment, and infrastructural projects, particularly with regard to water quality and increasing water supplies for all of Central Asia.

This will lay a better foundation for the lasting economic and thus political security of Central Asian states, and indirectly through such support will help their continuing economic political independence and integration with Asia and the global economy.

Fourth, it must, at the same time, reform the interagency process which is universally regarded as broken. We need to pursue security in this region and in individual countries as specified above, namely in a holistic, multidimensional, and integrated way that enhances all the elements of security, not just military security.

While we do not espouse any particular course of reform of the interagency process, several points should be made here. First, the strategy and policy outlined is not purely or mainly military. Second, it therefore optimally should not be led by the U.S. military but include it under civilian leadership as an important, but not dominating, element in that strategy for Central Asia.

While in Afghanistan actual hostilities requiring a military strategy are required, it is also accepted that an important component of our policy and strategy there must be to improve governance and economic conditions for the population.

The overall strategy must shun the previous procedures and lack of integrated planning for both hard and soft power elements that have led to “stovepipe efforts that do not achieve full and efficient results and effects in areas of operations.”

Unfortunately this attribute is pervasive and not only in regard to Afghanistan and Central Asia.  Thus, in 2005 Congressman J. Randy Forbes testified to the congressionally mandated U.S.-China Commission that, At every briefing we attend, no matter how high ranking the participants, we are told that there is no coordinated approach to analyzing the multi-faceted complex nature of the China problem and the communication between agencies is inadequate at best. This must be remedied as soon as possible.

Instead, as one recent paper on the subject of reforming this process notes, if the U.S. system is to address the ever increasing level of complexity in providing security at home and abroad, “indeed if it is to operate as a system at all rather than a collection of separate components—then security reform must stress unity, integration, and inclusion across all levels.” This new process must take a long-term view of the problems with which it will grapple, especially in the light of our own financial crisis.

Within that call for reform, there are several common themes in recent works and statements on this subject that emphasize, as well, the need for multilateral support for such programs.

Furthermore, in all our efforts, whether they are regional or within a particular country, experience shows the absolute inescapable necessity that the operation to provide such multidimensional security must be organized along lines of unity of command and unity of effort to succeed.

Whether the format is one of a country team led by the ambassador that pulls all the strings of U.S. programs together or a Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF) is almost a secondary question. The paramount need is for well-conceived plans that can be implemented under the principle of this unity of command leading to a unity of effort.124

Fifth, a key component of an expanded, integrated, and holistic approach to security in both Afghanistan and Central Asia must entail a vigorous effort to combat narcotics trafficking. This is not just because it is a scourge to both Afghanistan and the CIS, but also because it is clear that the Afghan government is either incapable or unwilling to act and is more concerned with blaming others for its deficiencies.

Furthermore, such action will convince Central Asian states and Russia that we take their security concerns seriously and will facilitate their cooperation with our policy and strategy.

Sixth, the administration and NATO should jointly offer Central Asian states an expanded menu of “a la carte” programs for enhancing security, border defense, train and equip programs, interoperability, antinarcotics, and, if possible, combat support roles for Central Asian countries in Afghanistan. “Parallel to this, the United States should enter into 5-year military to-military agreements with each country similar to what it has recently renewed with Kazakhstan.”

Doing so would further engage the U.S. military with those forces in Central Asia and provide them with an alternative model to the Russian army’s ways of doing business. This would also be a visible sign of continuing high U.S. interest in Central Asian countries’ defense and security and of its desire to cooperate with them toward realizing their goals.

Conclusions.

Arguably, only on the basis of such an integrated multidimensional and multilateral program can a strategy to secure Central Asia against the ravages of economic crisis and war be built, while we also seek to prosecute the war in Afghanistan in a similarly holistic way.

It has long since been a critical point in U.S. policy for Central Asia that we seek to advance these states’ independence, security, and integration, both at a regional level and with the global economy.  U.S. experts and scholars have also argued for such a perspective.

Thus this project could and probably should serve as the centerpiece of a renewed American economic strategy to help Central Asia fight off the Taliban and cope simultaneously with the global economic crisis.

An integrated program of economic and military action in Central Asia is surely called for given the scope of our growing involvement and the stakes involved in a region whose strategic importance is, by all accounts, steadily growing.

Especially as we are now increasing our troop commitment to Afghanistan and building this new supply road, challenge and opportunity are coming together to suggest a more enduring basis for a lasting U.S. contribution to Central Asia’s long-term security.

In effect, the present crisis has brought matters to the point where the United States has obtained a second chance in Central Asia, even as it is becoming more important in world affairs.

It is rare that states get a second chance in world politics. But when the opportunity knocks, somebody should be at home to answer the door.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IN CENTRAL ASIA (PDF) (65 PAGES)




Related Previous Posts:

General McChrystal’s Wrong-Headed Rules Of Engagement (ROE) – “Déjà Vu All Over Again”

2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) On Iran’s Nukes: Was Dick Cheney Right?

May God Bless Jared Monti

Afghanistan: Unity Of Command, The Hazaras, And Poppy Fields

Related Links:

PBS (Frontline): Obama’s War

Express Buzz: ISI’s feeling pretty bubbly

Long War Journal (Multimedia): Pakistan Strike Data

Wash Post Interactive Map: Coalition Troops – Afghanistan

Wash Post: The Battle of Wanat

INN: 3 Al Qaeda Men Nabbed in Africa, Running Drugs for Money

Strategy Page: The Pakistani Paradox


Updated American Thinker Article and Related Links – end

Specific Recommendations.
Specifically, the U.S. Government under President
Obama should consider and act upon the following
recommendations and policies to facilitate the aforementioned
strategic goals of victory in Afghanistan and
the enhanced independence of Central Asian states.
First, it must continue the Bush administration’s
emphasis upon regional integration of Central
Asia with South and East Asia in regard to energy,
39
electricity, and other commodities.114 As S. Frederick
Starr, Director of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute at
the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at
Johns Hopkins University, has written,
Clearly defeating the Taliban and destroying Al Qaeda
should be a priority. But these goals are best pursued
in the context of a broader and more positive regional
purpose. This would be true even if the rise of the SCO
and Eurasec [Eurasian Economic Community] did not
call for a strategic response from the United States.115
Washington should also expand its horizons to foster
greater U.S.-European and U.S.-Japanese cooperation
in Central Asia so that these states are able to trade
more openly with Europe and the United States as well.
In other words, the West should leverage its superior
economic power to achieve constructive and jointly conceived
strategic objectives. While energy and access to
pipelines are the priorities, other goods and services
must also be included wherever possible. Greater
involvement by the EU and Japan that parallels NATO
involvement would therefore contribute to this latter
enhancement of existing U.S. policies.
Second, the administration must build upon that
foundation and conceive of the road it now seeks to
build for logistical purposes to supply U.S. forces as
also being a powerful engine for regional economic
development and integration. This aspect of the
policy called for here as part of the overall strategy for
winning the war in Afghanistan and stabilizing Central
Asia must be a multilateral project with as many local
and other key partners (NATO, Russia, and China) as
possible. This is because “The more consent America
attracts abroad, the greater the practical assistance upon
which the country will be able to draw and the more
40
likely that U.S. policy will succeed. If this sometimes
elusive condition is met, American strategy should
prove sustainable.”116
This multilateral support is essential to persuade
local participants that U.S. aims are not inimical to
their own but rather in sync with them. As Sir Michael
Howard wrote in 2003,
American power is indispensable for the preservation
of global order, and as such it must be recognized,
accommodated, and where possible supported. But if it
is to be effective, it needs to be seen and legitimized as
such by the international community. If it is perceived
rather as an instrument serving a unilateral conception
of national security that amounts to a claim to world
domination—pursuing, in fact, a purely “American War
against Terror”—that is unlikely to happen.117
Third, it must not detach this road from other
parts of U.S. policy. Instead the administration should
see it as the centerpiece of a coordinated policy and
policy actions to integrate existing programs for trade,
investment, and infrastructural projects, particularly
with regard to water quality and increasing water
supplies for all of Central Asia. This will lay a better
foundation for the lasting economic and thus political
security of Central Asian states, and indirectly through
such support will help their continuing economicpolitical
independence and integration with Asia and
the global economy.
Fourth, it must, at the same time, reform the
interagency process which is universally regarded as
broken. We need to pursue security in this region and
in individual countries as specified above, namely in
a holistic, multidimensional, and integrated way that
enhances all the elements of security, not just military
security. While we do not espouse any particular course
41
of reform of the interagency process, several points
should be made here. First, the strategy and policy
outlined is not purely or mainly military. Second,
it therefore optimally should not be led by the U.S.
military but include it under civilian leadership as an
important, but not dominating, element in that strategy
for Central Asia. While in Afghanistan actual hostilities
requiring a military strategy are required, it is also
accepted that an important component of our policy
and strategy there must be to improve governance and
economic conditions for the population.118 The overall
strategy must shun the previous procedures and lack
of integrated planning for both hard and soft power
elements that have led to “stovepipe efforts that do not
achieve full and efficient results and effects in areas of
operations.”119 Unfortunately this attribute is pervasive
and not only in regard to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Thus, in 2005 Congressman J. Randy Forbes testified to
the congressionally mandated U.S.-China Commission
that,
At every briefing we attend, no matter how high ranking
the participants, we are told that there is no coordinated
approach to analyzing the multi-faceted complex nature
of the China problem and the communication between
agencies is inadequate at best. This must be remedied as
soon as possible.120
Instead, as one recent paper on the subject of
reforming this process notes, if the U.S. system is to
address the ever increasing level of complexity in
providing security at home and abroad, “indeed if it is
to operate as a system at all rather than a collection of
separate components—then security reform must stress
unity, integration, and inclusion across all levels.”121
This new process must take a long-term view of the
problems with which it will grapple, especially in the
42
light of our own financial crisis.122 Within that call for
reform, there are several common themes in recent
works and statements on this subject that emphasize,
as well, the need for multilateral support for such
programs.123
Furthermore, in all our efforts, whether they are
regional or within a particular country, experience
shows the absolute inescapable necessity that the
operation to provide such multidimensional security
must be organized along lines of unity of command
and unity of effort to succeed. Whether the format
is one of a country team led by the ambassador that
pulls all the strings of U.S. programs together or a Joint
Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF) is almost a secondary
question. The paramount need is for well-conceived
plans that can be implemented under the principle of
this unity of command leading to a unity of effort.124
Fifth, a key component of an expanded, integrated,
and holistic approach to security in both Afghanistan
and Central Asia must entail a vigorous effort to
combat narcotics trafficking. This is not just because
it is a scourge to both Afghanistan and the CIS, but
also because it is clear that the Afghan government
is either incapable or unwilling to act and is more
concerned with blaming others for its deficiencies.125
Furthermore, such action will convince Central Asian
states and Russia that we take their security concerns
seriously and will facilitate their cooperation with our
policy and strategy.
Sixth, the administration and NATO should jointly
offer Central Asian states an expanded menu of “a
la carte” programs for enhancing security, border
defense, train and equip programs, interoperability,
antinarcotics, and, if possible, combat support roles for
43
Central Asian countries in Afghanistan. “Parallel to
this, the United States should enter into 5-year militaryto-
military agreements with each country similar to
what it has recently renewed with Kazakhstan.”126
Doing so would further engage the U.S. military with
those forces in Central Asia and provide them with an
alternative model to the Russian army’s ways of doing
business. This would also be a visible sign of continuing
high U.S. interest in Central Asian countries’ defense
and security and of its desire to cooperate with them
toward realizing their goals.
Conclusions.
Arguably, only on the basis of such an integrated
multidimensional and multilateral program can a
strategy to secure Central Asia against the ravages of
economic crisis and war be built, while we also seek
to prosecute the war in Afghanistan in a similarly
holistic way. It has long since been a critical point in
U.S. policy for Central Asia that we seek to advance
these states’ independence, security, and integration,
both at a regional level and with the global economy.
U.S. experts and scholars have also argued for such a
perspective.127 Thus this project could and probably
should serve as the centerpiece of a renewed American
economic strategy to help Central Asia fight off the
Taliban and cope simultaneously with the global
economic crisis. An integrated program of economic
and military action in Central Asia is surely called for
given the scope of our growing involvement and the
stakes involved in a region whose strategic importance
is, by all accounts, steadily growing. Especially as we
are now increasing our troop commitment to
Afghanistan and building this new supply road,
44
challenge and opportunity are coming together to
suggest a more enduring basis for a lasting U.S.
contribution to Central Asia’s long-term security. In
effect, the present crisis has brought matters to the point
where the United States has obtained a second chance
in Central Asia, even as it is becoming more important
in world affairs. It is rare that states get a second chance
in world politics. But when the opportunity knocks,
somebody should be at home to answer the door.
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