Three members of the House Armed Services Committee came down against U.S. armed retaliation against Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities over the weekend.
Rep. Michael Waltz ( R-Fla.), joined by HASC chair, Adam Smith, (D-Wash.) and Rep. Seth Mouton (D-Mass.)
Moulton said in answer to a question that any military action against Iran now would require new congressional approval, and the Trump administration could not fall back on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force resolution adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
Smith said, “there is no legal justification for the use of military force” in coming to the military aid of Saudi Arabia in this instance. Right now, “we [the House of Representatives] don’t have a voice” when a president is committing American forces to military actions, citing the earlier approval, and that needed to change.
Waltz said the production facilities’ strike “was right out of the Iran playbook” of using a proxy, the Houthis in Yemen, who claimed responsibility. The Houthis, engaged in the prolonged Yemeni civil war, are supported by Tehran. Saudi Arabia and its allies are backing the government actively with airstrikes and blockades of Houthi-controlled regions.
As in other cases, including the bombing of the Beirut barracks killing more than 280 Marines in 1983, the strike was “just under the level where it causes a United States response” because another group claims to have done it. Waltz added that in the past, Iran, through its proxies including Hezbollah in Lebanon, continues to escalate a crisis until compelled to stop often by economic sanctions or actually Tehran achieves its goal.
Smith said, “Saudi Arabia is problematic” as a partner of the United States with its record of quashing dissent and autocratic behavior. “Sunni extremism came out of Saudi Arabia,” he said and has become a global terrorist force. Earlier he noted that the growing danger to stability in Afghanistan was the rise of the Sunni Islamic State. He strongly cautioned against the United States taking sides in the Shia-Sunni struggle being waged for political and ideological power primarily in the Middle East.
Moulton said if the administration’s long-range goal in intervening on Saudi Arabia’s side is regime change in Tehran, “we are empowering all the people in Iran we don’t like” to take even harder lines against the United States and its allies and partners in the region.
Picking up on the situation in Afghanistan after the collapse of peace talks with the Taliban, Smith said, “at this point, the Taliban isn’t even the worst threat” to stability there. “It’s the rise of ISIS.”
Even after 18 years of fighting, Mouton, who served as a Marine in Afghanistan, said, “we don’t have a clear mission there.”
Like the other two, Moulton said, “you do negotiate with your enemies,” but goals need to be understood in the talks.
Waltz, who also served, said it was important for the United States to make sure the Afghan government, and particularly the army, understand in any negotiations “we are with you.” He added the message to the Taliban has to be equally clear, “you can’t out-wait us” to take back control of the country.
“We cannot walk away,” Smith said. The problem of extremist terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan with safe havens in Pakistan “is a problem that will absolutely come home” in the form of new attacks upon American citizens or possibly the homeland.
The three agreed President Donald Trump was correct in walking away from the proposed agreement with the Taliban, in large measure because it “it didn’t deal with sanctuaries in Pakistan.”
Pakistan “is the white elephant in the room,” Waltz said and is integral to a solution in Afghanistan.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked Republican plans to advance an
That means defense planners will likely start another fiscal year without clear answers on their military spending priorities and flexibility. House Democratic leaders said they expect later this week to take up a continuing resolution to keep the government open through Nov. 21.
The Senate motion to advance the appropriations package failed 51-44. The package needed 60 votes to proceed.
The latest budget impasse comes despite Congress reaching a bipartisan, two-year, $2.7 trillion budget deal in July which set funding levels for defense and non-military programs, an agreement many hoped would avoid piecemeal spending plans for fiscal 2020.
But President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this month to
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday accused Democrats of shoehorning their
“In a world this dangerous, uncertain funding and continuing resolutions will not cut it for our national defense,” McConnell said. “Our men and women in uniform do not deserve to have the funding for their tools, their training, and their own pay raises used as leverage by Senate Democrats to try and extract concessions from the White House.”
Democrats have bristled at that criticism and said Trump’s funding shifts amount to theft from the military, and have demanded that McConnell renegotiate with the White House to exclude as much as $12 billion diverted to the wall from future defense spending.
“Somehow in the wake of all this, the Republican leader has been accusing Democrats of threatening to block military funding,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “That is an absurd statement if there ever was one.
“We're simply trying to stop Republicans from stealing the money from our military and putting it into the wall which [Trump] said Mexico would pay for.”
Defense leaders have repeatedly pleaded with lawmakers in recent years to finalize the full-year military budget by the start of the new fiscal year (Oct. 1) to prevent disruptions in weapons purchases, new program starts and a host of other Pentagon operations.
But Democrats have been reluctant to fund defense on its own in recent years amid fears that it will remove leverage in budget negotiations, allowing Republicans to abandon agreements for increases in non-military spending once the armed forces are taken care of.
Last week, Democrats in the Senate Appropriations Committee voted against the Republican plan to allocate funding, and the panel’s Republican majority
House Democratic leaders said they expect to take up a continuing resolution to keep the government open through Nov. 21 by later in the week.
That would give leaders of both parties another eight weeks to work out a broader appropriations plan while still avoiding a partial government shut down at the end of this month.
It doesn't look as if the problems plaguing the U.S.
Because of previously reported problems -- and some unforeseen new ones -- Gen. Maryanne Miller, head of Air Mobility Command, confirmed the Air Force's newest tanker aircraft, made by Boeing Co., won't be likely to
"I'd love to slow down the retirement because I have to keep [refueling] booms in the air, but we'll see how this requirement plays out," Miller told reporters during a roundtable discussion here at the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference.
"It's my hope that Boeing recognizes and shares my level of concern and urgency in this matter," Miller said.
The KC-46 has had many issues, including problems with
Miller said the Air Force and Boeing will work through the latest problem, but added she's "most concerned" over the RVS, which for the time being doesn't allow an airman to look at a clear, aligned visual of the boom connecting to another aircraft. The first tankers were
"Eight months have passed since our first delivery, and Boeing has not made any progress in addressing those [Category 1] deficiencies," she said.
"Boeing has not presented a solution that has met all the parameters," she said of the RVS, but added there is now "hard science" to diagnose the problem. "In a couple months ... what I'm looking for [is] a pass-fail grade for Boeing on this," she said.
While Miller didn't describe the characteristics behind each box the aerospace company has to check, she said the Air Force had nine total requirements.
The general said she chose not to send the KC-46 to the latest AMC-led Mobility Guardian airlift exercise in Washington in order for airmen to get more acquainted with the few aircraft they have.
The Air Force has only accepted 19 KC-46 aircraft since January. The planes have been delivered to
KC-46 deliveries have also been halted or delayed
Miller said Boeing now has procedures in place to avoid FOD.
"We will work through these," she said of overall technical problems. "The pressure is on to get [the KC-46] into the fight. Out teams will work together to get to the solutions to get this into the fight."