The Defense Drumbeat Blog

Recent Blog Posts

January 2015

Jan 29 2015

Washington Post: Defense Reform is about spending, but also about national security

First hearing examines threats to America’s technological edge

In its first hearing of the new Congress, the House Armed Services Committee examined defense reform and discussed some of the ways that smarter spending can ensure agility and technological superiority when it comes to our military capabilities.

Wednesday’s hearing followed a classified briefing on challenges to U.S. technological superiority from our adversaries and our eroding technology advantage, as well as an informal discussion earlier in the week with the chief acquisition executives for each of the military services.

Chairman Thornberry said, "Our military doctrine has long depended on technological superiority. But it is clear that potential adversaries are hitting us at the seams of our high-tech edge. The consequences of a relatively weaker America will affect every American. If we cannot keep up, we will not have the military capability we need when we need it and the danger to our military personnel will be increased.”

Below you can find a Washington Post article that summarizes some of the hearing’s most poignant moments.

Washington Post: Acquisition reform used to be just about saving money. Now it’s also about national security.
By Christian Davenport
January 28, 2015

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said threats to the country’s long-held military superiority is another reason the Defense Department needs to get better at buying weapons and services, particularly when technology is involved.

While the United States had been at war for more than a decade, potential adversaries have been catching up by investing in their own systems, in some cases surpassing U.S. capabilities, he said.

Kendall said he was “alarmed” at intelligence reports showing the rate at which the Chinese and the Russians are modernizing their military, saying it “is a serious problem for the country.”

“Even if war with the U.S. is unlikely or unintended, it is quite obvious to me that the foreign investments I see in military modernization have the objective of enabling the countries concerned to deter and defeat a regional intervention by the U.S. military,” he said.

Kendall’s comments came during the first formal hearing of the committee with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) as chairman. Thornberry has made improving the way the Pentagon buys things a priority. Too often he said, “we are challenged by our own system, which is too slow, too cumbersome, too wasteful, and too frustrating for those in it and all of those who depend on it.”


Jan 20 2015

Congress has a unique and irreplaceable role in defending America

Chairman Thornberry Lays Out Agenda at AEI

Washington -- Ahead of the State of the Union address, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) laid out his agenda for the Committee in the 114th Congress at the American Enterprise Institute. Additionally, the Chairman sat down with Senator Jim Talent to discuss the proper role of Congress in national security policy-making, the need for a strong US military, and the importance of a reformed defense process that quickly and agilely meets the needs of America’s troops.

Watch the video of the speech here.

Key Excerpts:
… "The first, and I believe foremost, job of the federal government is to defend the country
and our people. And Congress has a unique and irreplaceable role in carrying out that duty.” … 

“In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, at least six specific duties were placed upon the
House and Senate. Through those authorities, Congress determines the size, shape, and
soul of the military. The President, then, determines how to use it.” …

“As long as I am privileged to hold this job, defense reform will be a priority – not for its
own sake, but for the sake of ensuring our military is as prepared as possible for the wide
array of threats we face today and for the unknown security challenges which confront us

Read Chairman Thornberry’s remarks here.

The U.S. fight against jihadism has lost its momentum
The Washington Post
Editorial Board
January 15, 2015
Key Excerpts Below 

"PRESIDENT OBAMA’S neglect of the anti-terrorism march in Paris seemed reflective of a broader loss of momentum by his administration in combating Islamic jihadism. Five months after the president launched military operations against the Islamic State, fighting in Iraq and Syria appears stalemated. The training of Iraqi army units for a hoped-for counteroffensive is proceeding slowly and, according to a report by The Post’s Loveday Morris, looks under-resourced......

".... elsewhere, the Obama administration appears to be passively standing by as jihadists expand their territory, recruitment and training. In Libya, the job of stemming an incipient civil war has been left to a feckless U.N. mediator, even though the Islamic State is known to be operating at least one training camp with hundreds of recruits. In Nigeria, where a new offensive by the Boko Haram movement has overrun much of one northeastern state, a U.S. military training program was recently canceled by the government following a dispute over arms sales.


"In a speech last May, Mr. Obama identified terrorism as the greatest threat to the country and noted the decentralization of al-Qaeda to multiple theaters. Ruling out U.S. military involvement, he said his strategy would be to forge “a network of partnerships” with local forces and governments “from South Asia to the Sahel.” While the idea was mostly sound, the execution has been weak. There is, as a practical matter, no U.S. partnership in Libya, Nigeria or Syria. In other places, such as Iraq and Yemen, it is underpowered.


"The attacks in Paris should motivate Mr. Obama to reinvigorate a war against al-Qaeda that appears to be dangerously stalled.