The US is totally broke and the only asset left is the military.
Change you can believe in!
Suicide bombers inside the United States. Nuclear-armed nations collapsing and losing control of nuclear weapons. Bloody new conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan. American troops under attack at bases around the world. Terrorist attacks using unknown new diseases. Chinese missile attacks on Taiwan.
The Obama administration has unveiled a scary new view of the global security landscape and a new strategy intended to protect Americans and U.S. allies. It is a sharp change from previous Pentagon strategic assessments in that it focuses on the wars Americans are currently fighting, rather than on future conflicts in which the United States might be involved.
And that future, in the Pentagon’s view, is quite grim.
The new assessment — reflecting “a bracing dose of realism,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates — promises no respite from today’s conflict-wracked world, and no backing away from the billions of dollars for new hardware and new capabilities that the administration says it will take to stay safe. On Gates’ short list: new long-range attack aircraft, armed air and ground robots, attack submarines, more special forces commandos, two new Army combat brigades, a new military task force to snatch up loose nuclear weapons, and updated battle concepts for coordinated air and sea attacks into the territory of adversaries equipped with high-tech defenses
This is the heart of two new documents released Monday by Gates, the former CIA director who was chosen to head the Pentagon by President George W. Bush in late 2006 and held in office by President Obama. One paper is the awkwardly named Quadrennial Defense Review, or QDR in Pentagon-speak, a study mandated every four years by Congress to assess security threats and defense capabilities. The other, also released Monday was the Pentagon’s 2011 defense budget proposal ($708.2 billion, a 1.8 percent real increase over current spending) and a request for $3 billion to help pay for combat operations in Afghanistan this year.
Neither should be a surprise. As a presidential candidate 18 months ago, Obama accepted an anti-war mantle because of his announced determination to end to the war in Iraq and bring the troops home. But Candidate Obama also spoke of Afghanistan as a righteous war that must be won. As president, Obama, having grappled for months with the nasty reality of war in Afghanistan, acknowledged in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in December that in a brutal world, armed force is essential.
“We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes,” Obama said. “There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”
Whether Congress will agree with the budget priorities reflected in the two documents is another matter. In keeping with a lean wartime budget, the defense funding requests the administration will take to Capitol Hill Tuesday continue the sharp shift that Gates has pursued away from the long-term production of costly weapons that are not needed or are meant for future conflicts. The focus is toward more immediate war-fighting needs.
Gates has fought with Congress over terminating production of the C-17 cargo plane, for example, because the Pentagon already has all it needs. But such production contracts, stretched out over a decade or more, mean home-state jobs, and Congress has battled to keep the giant cargo plane in production. Similarly, Gates Monday announced his intention to cancel development of an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, another budget item held dear in Congress and opposed by the Pentagon.
Meantime, Gates has requested short-term funds for 10,600 additional heavy troop carriers, called Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles, for Afghanistan, including 4,000 off-road versions. Currently there are about 15,000 such vehicles being used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The QDR, the review document that sets strategic and budget requirements for the next four years and beyond, took a year to complete and has full support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jettisoned from the Bush-era QDRs is a justification for pre-emptive attack — the theory of “just war” that was used as a basis to validate the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. But in a Pentagon briefing Monday, Gates said there are plenty of “plausible, real-world threats” that range from cyber attacks to missile attacks by terrorists on U.S. forces deployed in the Middle East, to the detonation of IEDs at home.
High among the potential threats are outbreaks elsewhere of conflicts similar to the war in Afghanistan, a bloody and high-intensity war with insurgents driven by religious and tribal fanaticism. Iraq and Afghanistan, two conflicts in which the United States currently has committed 176,000 troops, are “not aberrations, but harbingers” of future conflict, Michele Flournoy, the Pentagon’s top civilian strategist, told reporters Monday.
Faced with such a spectrum of threats, the Pentagon concluded that while the United States must focus primarily on winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “we can’t afford to ignore any” potential threat, as Flournoy put it.
‘We have learned through painful experience that the wars we fight are seldom the wars that we planned,” Gates said. “As a result, the United States needs a broad portfolio of military capabilities with maximum versability across the widest possible spectrum of conflict.”
Yet the central focus of the new strategic assessment and budget is on today’s troops. They are to receive a range of new resources from additional training in languages and culture abroad, to protection from enemy missiles, and even more family support, child care and tuition assistance. Until now, Gates said, the Pentagon planners gave a higher priority to distant threats than to current combat. “My problem, when I arrived here, [was that] those fighting the current battle had no seat at the budget table, at all!” Gates said heatedly, underscoring his determination to put first the needs of those who fight the nation’s wars.
Pocketing some $330 billion in long-term savings from canceled weapons program, Gates has packed into the proposed 2011 budget two additional combat aviation brigades with attack and transport helicopters, 1,500 new helicopter pilots, additional AC130 aerial gunships, and 2,800 additional special forces personnel.
Even so, U.S. forces deployed in combat will continue to be short of battlefield intelligence, helicopters, language skills and other “critical” capabilities, the Pentagon assessment said. These shortages “could worsen over time” given the high demands for deployed forces projected in the future,” the QDR acknowledged.
Source: Politics Daily
More on the war on terror:
– Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (!)
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
Opium production rate has soared to 6,900 tons in Afghanistan in the past 10 years ‘despite‘ the presence of 100,000 foreign troops in the country for nearly eight years.
A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Wednesday that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium that has devastating global consequences.
The UN report also noted that Afghanistan’s illegal opium production is worth 65 billion dollars.
The heroin and opium market feeds 15 million addicts, with Europe, Russia and Iran consuming half the supply, UNODC reported.
– Top US commander in Afghanistan: The Taliban have gained the upper hand:
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)