11:37 AM, Jan 29, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Ever since March 2014 when President Obama referred to Russian aggression against Ukraine as an "invasion," administration officials have avoided that word in conjunction with the ongoing conflict. In fact, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt's declared on April 29, 2014, that "Russian troops crossing Ukraine's borders would be a major escalation, and would draw an inevitable, sharp reaction from the United States," implying that, President Obama's March remarks notwithstanding, no Russian troops had "invaded."
Even as recently as this week, Ambassador Samantha Power at the United Nations charged Russia with training, supplying, aiding, and arming separatists in Ukraine, but stopped short of saying that Russian troops were engaged across the border in Ukraine. And Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, in Kyiv for a meeting with Ukrainian finance minister Jaresko referred to the "ongoing military offensive... being carried out by Russia-backed separatists," but made no mention of Russian forces.
However, when asked to comment on remarks by a U.S. Army general that suggested Russian special operations forces are playing an active role in the conflict, a State Department spokesperson replied:
We cannot confirm specific numbers, but the Russian military has a significant presence in Ukraine. In late December, Russia transferred more than one hundred additional pieces of Russian military equipment and material to pro-Russia separatists. The latest transfer complements the previous transfer of hundreds of pieces of Russian military equipment provided to pro-Russia separatists since the September 5 Minsk ceasefire agreement, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, heavy artillery pieces, and other military vehicles.
There are several sites near the Ukraine border, which serve as staging points before transporting Russian military equipment to pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine. Russian combat forces remain deployed near the Ukraine border, and Russian military forces still operate in eastern Ukraine, where they play a coordinating role and provide ongoing tactical support to pro-Russia separatists.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has been more vocal about Russian military activity in eastern Ukraine beyond simply supplying and training separatists. In remarks Tuesday at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel suggested that Russian special operations forces are active in the conflict:
[A] resurgent Russia is now employing coercive techniques against its neighbor using [special operations] forces, other clandestine capabilities, information operations, other cyber operations and groupings of ethnic proxies and surrogates to drive wedges into our key allies in East Europe.
General Votel seemed to distinguish between the activities of Russian forces and "groupings of ethnic proxies and surrogates," presumably the separatist forces in Ukraine that have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the eastern part of that country since early 2014. When asked for comment, a DOD spokesperson said, "The general referred to the use of Special Operations Forces and Information Operations. In the US military, Special Operations Forces is an umbrella term for all special operations units to include units that conduct Military Information Support Operations or MISO. MISO, also referred to as Psychological Operations, is a subset of Information Operations and has nothing to do forces on the ground."
A second DOD spokesperson's comments mirrored those of the State Department, and also called on Russia to fulfill the Minsk agreement by "withdrawing all troops and weapons from eastern Ukraine":
9:45 AM, Jan 26, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Obama administration officials have been effusive in their praise for late Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz who died last week at the age of 90. Now comes word that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E.
7:01 AM, Jan 14, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
The Pentagon called the hacking of the Central Command's (CENTCOM) YouTube and Twitter accounts Monday "
10:10 AM, Jan 7, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, when asked Tuesday about the number of Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS) fighters killed in ongoing coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria, gave a rather colorful response: "[W]e don't have the ability to -
Will spend $336M over 10 years8:05 AM, Dec 10, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In the last five years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has spent over $130 million to store unused satellites from eight different satellite programs, and plans to spend another $206 million on storage over the next five years. Storage costs for individual pieces of equipment range from $40,000 up to an estimated $120 million for one particular satellite. Costs vary depending on the amount of care needed for each satellite.
9:33 AM, Nov 24, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
So Chuck Hagel has been fired as defense secretary. We were critical of his appointment, and opposed his confirmation by the Senate. But let's be clear: Hagel has done what he was asked and what was expected of him at the Pentagon. To the degree he has deviated from the Obama White House line, he's been more right than wrong (e.g., on the threat the Islamic State poses).
9:04 AM, Nov 6, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
During the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, the U.S. military used a new generation of technological weapons that left the rest of the world far behind.
2:17 PM, Oct 10, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The New York Times has a news article today that's ostensibly about concerns the Pentagon is engaged in historical revisionism in a recent attempt to honor Vietnam veterans. Any legitimate concerns, however, are outweighed by the fact the article gives a prominent megaphone to radical liberal activists whose opinions on how Vietnam vets should be honored are dubious at best. Here's how the article begins:
1:02 PM, Oct 8, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The boss talked today on MSNBC's Morning Joe about the strategy to take out ISIS:
2:19 PM, Aug 4, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
Back in the day when it was fashionable for the press to criticize the president and senior military officials for mismanaging a war--that is, from 2003 to 2009--such stories often focused on the colonels, majors, and captains who saw firsthand the practical problems with their superiors' approach and who pushed hard to change policy based on that hard-fought experience.
1:45 PM, Jul 16, 2014 • By ROGER ZAKHEIM
This week senior officials from the Pentagon will testify before Congress on their request for emergency appropriations, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations funding (OCO in military speak). A decision to maintain troop presence in Afghanistan, a resurgence of radical Sunni terrorism across the Middle east, and Russian expansionism in Europe all seem like good reasons for the administration to request the emergency funding. These events, however, haven’t prevented some proponents of defense cuts to question the validity of the request.
7:36 AM, Feb 26, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
News broke this week that under a plan released by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the United States Army will be reduced to its smallest force since before World War II. Though not directly related to that plan, another announcement this week by the Defense Department gives, perhaps, a taste of what those cuts may look like. Plans are underway for massive cuts to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), the organization that has led military's efforts to combat a weapon of choice among insurgents and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. JIEDDO's current staff of 3,000 will be reduced to 1,000 by the end of this fiscal year, and further plans could see the number fall as low as 400 down the road.
3:04 PM, Feb 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Republican chairman of the House Budget committee criticized the Obama administration's plans to shrink the defense budget in a statement.
“The House Republican budgets have consistently met the needs of our military leadership," said Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican. "It’s disappointing that the President continues to use these vital funds as bargaining chips for higher taxes and more domestic spending."