Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will bring the Defense Authorization bill to the floor next week. The bill takes small but important steps toward a 21 century defense strategy: repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and eliminating wasteful defense programs.
When President Obama addressed the nation to announce his strategy for the war in Afghanistan, he recognized the "fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan." Six months later, developments within the two countries remain closely intertwined, with major consequences for U.S. strategy in the region. Tempting as it may be to seize on specific developments, in order to best assess U.S. regional policy, the broader trends must be examined. In Pakistan, there are hopeful signs. The Obama administration has revamped U.S. - Pakistan relations, moving American interests forward after years of neglect by the previous administration. However, as a new Pentagon report highlights, the situation in Afghanistan remains challenging.
Today President Obama spoke at the National Archives where, surrounded by the documents that contain the principles that founded America, he confirmed the need for America to return to these principles and values by closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
In a tremendous departure from Rumsfeld, Secretary Gates’ first priority has been to ensure that the troops on the ground get all the equipment and resources they need to do their jobs. Through his focus on the immediate challenges of the current wars, Gates hopes to rebalance the military, better positioning it to address both the conventional and irregular threats of the 21st century.
Against a backdrop of violence and civilian casualties, the last few days have witnessed strong moves by the Obama administration to complete the move to a counter-insurgency strategy – in the strategy and management of US forces in Afghanistan and in the actions of US allies in Pakistan.
Over the last eight years the defense acquisition process has deteriorated dramatically. 95 percent of the Pentagon’s major weapons programs are running two years behind schedule and $300 billion over budget.
This week John McCain tried to make support for the Army’s Future Combat Systems program a litmus test for supporting our troops. Yet just two months ago McCain put forward a budget plan that explicitly proposed ending this and other Pentagon procurement programs.