President Obama

An Eye-Opening Peek at the Pentagon’s Weird Budget Math

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have heard that President Obama has pledged to cut $400 billion out of security spending between now and 2023. But what you may not know is that the $400 billion won’t be a cut as far as Joe and Jane Taxpayer are concerned. Todd Harrison, Washington’s defense-budget wizard, says letting Pentagon …

Stand By to Stand By

This is all getting very confusing. Within the past few weeks there have been some major developments in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal process, all of which I have failed to mention here. Each turn in events has had its own reason for staying out of my blog, and I’m not going to use my packed schedule as an excuse.

Earlier this …

Vietnam’s Ghosts: Still Alive in the U.S. Government

There is really nothing new in the war game, as Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama by the father-daughter team of Marvin and Deborah Kalb makes clear. It could hardly be more timely, as America and its leaders grapple with the challenges posed by Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – all at once. The …

Ping-Pong? No, Just The Latest Ruling on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Late Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals bowed to the wishes of the Obama Justice Department and said the Pentagon could continue its all-but-gone enforcement of the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the U.S. military. This on-again, off-again life of the 17-year old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law has everyone pretty …

Don’t Ask…About “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…”

…because it is getting really confusing, as I tried to detail Wednesday night on the PBS NewsHour, along with Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a segment with Judy Woodruff. There’s a race now underway — will “Don’t Ask” die a merciful death, hospiced away under the Pentagon’s carefully thought-out …

“Is Counter-Insurgency Dead?”



Here’s our second take on President Obama’s Afghan policy in our new video series featuring John Nagl of the Center for a New American Security and your Battleland scribe. We’re chatting this week with Dr. Nora Bensahel, a noted COIN expert formerly at the Rand Corp. and now at CNAS, and Dave Barno, the top U.S. commander in …

Pentagon Budget: Tug-Of-War-Spending Continues

Speaking of Pentagon budget cuts: word from inside the Defense Department is that President Obama’s proposed $400 billion in “security” cuts over “12” years — those words in quotes because “security” is squishy and the Pentagon talks in five- and 10-year terms — may only be a “down payment.”

Though the new bogey for cuts is …

The Slow, and So Far, Quiet Demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”


So Pentagon enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stopped happening Friday. As of Monday morning, the U.S. military seems none the worse off. It appears – and I may yet regret saying this – that the Pentagon’s formal, 17-year ban on gay men and women serving openly in uniform is more likely to end with a whimper than a bang.

For …

Why the War Machine Keeps on Running

Villefranche, France.

The United States has always meddled in other people’s affairs. For those readers who think this statement is an exaggeration, I urge them to peruse the chronology of interventions compiled by the Congressional Research Service. This historical predilection for meddling, however, grew enormously in depth and …

Droning On To a New Way of War

So the U.S. government — if not the military, then the CIA — is now using drones to kill suspected terrorists in at least six different countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Congress — the entity charged with declaring war, according to the Constitution — has basically green-lighted only the attacks …

Bravo Zulu, Mr. Secretary

Departing defense secretary Robert Gates is the 10th military chief I have covered since Harold Brown was running Jimmy Carter’s Pentagon. After a private dinner at the White House on Wednesday night, and a final ruffles and flourishes sendoff at the Pentagon on Thursday, Gates will fly off for his home in Washington state and never …

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Do Leak

The Pentagon — surprise! — has been unable to find who leaked word to the Washington Post last November that an early Defense Department assessment concluded there would be “little risk” if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay men and women serving in uniform were scrapped. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered that the …

The Looming Afghan Civil War

Aryn Baker spells it out over on Global Spin:

If President Obama’s plan for withdrawal demonstrated the unusual feat of simultaneously pissing off both sides of the aisle in the US, he need not despair: in Afghanistan he most certainly drew applause from both the Taliban, and Karzai – who crowed in an interview with CNN on Sunday that

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