By The Hill•
Virtually every argument against the Jones Act is falsely premised on the notion that it increases consumer prices and that it impeded emergency supplies from getting to Puerto Rico after last year’s hurricanes. Some have even argued that Puerto Rico’s decade long recession is the fault of the Jones Act — despite the fact that it was enacted almost 100 years ago. Simply stated, there is no factual evidence to support these claims.
The Jones Act, or more precisely, the “Merchant Marine Act of 1920,” simply requires goods shipped between two or more U.S. ports to be shipped on vessels that are American built, owned and crewed. But it does not prohibit foreign vessels from bringing goods to a U.S. port.
Because of the Jones Act, foreign flagged ships with unknown and unvetted foreign crews cannot deliver goods to New Orleans and then sail up the Mississippi River deep into the American heartland. Continue reading
by Brett Schaefer • The Daily Signal
National security adviser John Bolton didn’t mince words in a speech on Monday as he outlined U.S. policy toward the International Criminal Court.
In that speech, before the Federalist Society, Bolton said:
The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens, and those of our allies, from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.
We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.
Bolton’s announcement pre-emptively confronted the prospect of an International Criminal Court investigation of U.S. military and government officials.
The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced on Nov. 3 that she had formally requested authorization from the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Afghanistan since May 2003. Continue reading
By Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Russia has deployed a suspicious satellite the United States says is part of Moscow’s plans to attack orbiting satellites in a future conflict, a State Department official revealed in Geneva on Tuesday.
Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, made the accusation in a speech declaring Moscow is promoting a draft treaty aimed at banning arms in space while advancing an array of space weaponry.
Russia in October conducted tests of a “space apparatus inspector” that was detected by U.S. intelligence maneuvering and taking other unusual actions in space.
“Its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Poblete stated during a session of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament.
“We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared ‘space apparatus inspector.'” She did not elaborate on the suspect activities.
By Conor Beck • Washington Free Beacon
Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii Wednesday night to mark the arrival of what is expected to be the remains of 55 American service members who died during the Korean War.
“We are gathered here at this honorable ceremony to receive 55 flag-draped cases which we trust include the remains of American heroes who fell in the Korean War,” Pence said at the beginning of his remarks. “Some have called the Korean War the forgotten War, but today, we prove these heroes were never forgotten. Today our boys are coming home.”
The North Korean government claims the remains of 55 fallen service members were returned, but the U.S. will now begin the work of identifying the remains. The gesture comes after the historic summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. After the summit, Trump announced North Korea would return the remains of fallen U.S. soldiers from the Korean War back to the United States.
The U.S. Air Force is closing in on awarding a contract for its new two-seat jet trainer. The average age of the existing trainer fleet is more than 50 years old. So this upgrade is none too soon. The new trainer, dubbed the T-X, must meet a long list of requirements to help prepare American pilots for a wide variety of complex missions over the next 50 years — including preparing our pilots to fly cutting edge jet fighters like the F-18 Super Hornet, F-22 Raptor, and F-35 Lightning II.
Two of the three major competitors are foreign firms — from Italy and South Korea. They have partnered with two different American companies to bump up their ties to America.
The one American firm, Boeing, is America’s most well-known aerospace company, and has designed and built from the ground up a new jet to specifically meet all of the Air Force’s training requirements and insure that costs — especially operational costs over the life of the jet — are low. Continue reading
Americans understand the importance of arming our military with the best equipment and information. Whether it is a fighter jet, armored vehicle or an information platform, Americans want the brave men and women who defend our nation and our freedom to have every possible advantage in any conflict they may face.
Information technology is finally getting the attention it deserves. The Defense Department is working on an important effort to update and modernize its cloud information capabilities. The program, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, is designed, for example, to make sure that when our special forces raid a compound, they can receive and transmit updated information in real time. They could get almost immediate translations of documents that are found in the compound which could warn them of immediate dangers and save lives because of the speed with which they would receive vital information and analysis.
JEDI holds tremendous potential to give our war fighters real time access to not only data but high tech analytics. Just as we want our soldiers to have the best equipment, we also want them Continue reading
Boeing plans to begin delivering the new high-tech KC-46 Pegasus Tanker to the U.S. Air Force in the very near future.
There have been exhaustive tests, and the data from those tests has been turned over to the FAA and the Pentagon for final certification. Depending on how long it takes the government to review the data and provide the required certifications, the new tanker will be flying and refueling soon. This is great news because the planes that the new tanker will be replacing are on average 55 years old and many date back to the Eisenhower Administration.
It may surprise some to hear that the KC-46 Pegasus Tanker is a good news story on many different levels. Why a surprise? Because some treat every development challenge as a failure — even when those challenges are overcome and the final product is spectacular. Additionally, some contract bureaucrats inside the Pentagon Continue reading
By Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that Chinese nationals fired lasers near a military base in east Africa against U.S. military aircraft in the region, injuring several pilots.
Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White said the U.S. government made diplomatic protests to the Chinese government over several recent incidents of laser firings near China’s first overseas military base at Djibouti.
“These are very serious incidents. There have been two minor injuries. This activity poses a threat to our airmen,” White told reporters.
“We have formally demarched the Chinese government, and we’ve requested that the Chinese investigate these incidents,” she added.
The number of incidents is “more than Continue reading
By Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon
The United States Air Force is accelerating investment in space as Chinese advancements threaten to penetrate American systems in the previously uncontested domain, top service officials said during a congressional hearing Tuesday.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Air Force secretary Heather Wilson and chief of staff General David Goldfein both identified China’s space innovation and “rapid growth” in military capabilities among their top concerns facing the service in the coming years.
“Some of the work they’re doing in space, it’s very aggressive,” Goldfein said. “We built our space architecture in an era when space was a rather benign domain, so … we’re very focused on taking some bold moves in this budget to increase our ability to defend what we have in space.”
By Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon
The U.S. military has begun redirecting personnel and equipment from Iraq and Syria back to Afghanistan, where the Pentagon hopes to revamp its fight against the Taliban, the top commander of the American-led air campaign in the country said Wednesday.
Air Force Maj. Gen. James Hecker said the drawdown of major operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has enabled U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, to again prioritize the 16-year war in Afghanistan. CENTCOM is the military command responsible for operations in the Middle East and parts of South Asia.
“Afghanistan has become CENTCOM’s main effort thanks to the recent successes in Iraq and Syria,” Hecker told Pentagon reporters from Kabul. “This has allowed CENTCOM to shift more assets our way, which will significantly improve our ability to assist the Afghans.”
The Pentagon’s refocus officially began on Feb. 1. Hecker said CENTCOM began deploying additional aircraft to the NATO-led Resolute Support coalition Continue reading
By Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin • Fox News
The Pentagon plans to develop two “low-yield” nuclear warheads to be launched from ballistic-missile submarines and warships, to send a message to Moscow — which the Trump administration accuses of amassing a stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons.
The new plan is outlined in Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s Nuclear Posture Review, released Friday afternoon.
“Expanding U.S. tailored response options will raise the nuclear threshold and help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear weapons employment less likely,” the new review said.
The Pentagon says Russia’s buildup of similar “low-yield” nukes is the reason it must match the threat.
“The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan. “Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” he added without offering specifics.
Recent developments in Turkey and Russia have raised the strategic importance of the Republic of Bulgaria for the United States, NATO and the EU. This past summer, NATO staged major exercises in the county, involving more than 25,000 troops from 20 allied countries. Yet despite increased military cooperation in recent years, current political dynamics in the country threaten to undermine Bulgaria’s relationship with the military alliance and provide the Kremlin with a new foothold in the former Soviet satellite.
Economic and political challenges have set the table for the current political environment. Although the country has undergone both political and economic transformation since 1990, Bulgaria remains the poorest nation within the European Union. Its current GDP is only a meager $152 billion. The annual per capita income translates to an employed individual bringing home $456 per month, not even half of the average for the EU. Unemployment is almost 11 percent, well above the EU average, which is less than 10 percent.
In order to grow their economy, the country must address three major economic issues. The first is economic diversification — actively encouraging the emergence of mid-and small size enterprises. Second, Bulgaria will have to raise productivity significantly both in industry and agriculture. Finally, Bulgaria must solve demographic challenges that are similarly affecting a whole host of European nations.
by Jerry Hendrix • National Review
President Trump today unveiled his new National Security Strategy (NSS), exceeding the expectations of the national-security community by producing a remarkably coherent NSS within his first twelve months in office. President Obama took 16 months to present his vision, and President George W. Bush, dealing with the disturbance of 9/11 to his strategic considerations, took 20 months. Clearly guided by the vision enunciated by the president during his 2016 campaign and validated by that national election, the team of Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, Dina Powell, and Nadia Schadlow has crafted a “sustainment” strategy supported by a peace-through-strength defense buildup. What is very clear is that this strategy is not a break from the nation’s post–World War II–era national-security policy but rather a realistic distillation of that policy tailored to the challenges the nation faces today.
However, in a break from his post–Cold War predecessors, President Trump readily announces that the United States is presently in a great-power competition and names the nation’s prime competitors as Russia and China. While appeals to American values remain, and in fact are strongly stated, it is the promotion of American interests that emerges most starkly. The president states that he plans to compete aggressively in the economic sphere by pursuing free, fair, and reciprocal trade on a bilateral basis while also confronting nations that violate the free-trade agreements signed in the past. Additionally, the new NSS breaks from the language of the Obama administration by overtly promoting American exceptionalism and presenting the United States as a force for good in the world. As such, the new NSS emerges as a true amalgam of Theodore Roosevelt’s warrior approach to the world and Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to be its priest.
From the perspective of pure defense analysis, President Trump and McMaster, his national-security adviser, have taken a new path. Rather than continue to pursue a pure capabilities-overmatch acquisitions strategy within the Department of Defense, the Trump NSS seeks a balance between capabilities and capacity by continuing to invest in cutting-edge technologies while also expanding the force and improving readiness. It seeks to accomplish this by investing in high-end, cutting-edge combat systems to win wars while also providing for larger numbers of personnel and buying cheaper legacy combat systems to maintain the peace. Clearly, President Trump’s commitment to a 355-ship Navy falls within this approach. The president also firmly commits the nation to recapitalizing the nation’s nuclear-deterrent force and renewing all three legs of the nuclear triad. This strategy is enabled by the president’s call for increased defense spending, a goal that is shared by Armed Services Committee members in both the House and the Senate.
by Susannah George • Military.com
BAGHDAD — As Iraq emerges from three years of war with the Islamic State group, the U.S. is looking to roll back the influence of neighboring Iran and help the central government resolve its dispute with the Kurdish region, the American envoy to the country told The Associated Press.
U.S. Ambassador Douglas Silliman took up his post in Baghdad in September 2016, just weeks before the start of the operation to retake the northern city of Mosul. With ISIS now driven out of all the territory it once held and Iraq’s declaration that the war against the extremists is over, he says Washington is focused on keeping the peace and rebuilding, and sees Iran’s influence as a problem.
“Iran simply does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors,” Silliman said. “The Iranians have — to some extent — assisted the government of Iraq in defeating ISIS,” he said. “But frankly I have not seen the Iranians donating money for humanitarian assistance, I have not seen them contributing to the U.N. stabilization program.”
by Natalie Johnson • Washington Free Beacon
U.S. adversaries are rapidly catching up to America’s fifth generation fighter aircraft capabilities—a risk that has exacerbated given ongoing cyber vulnerabilities in the F-35 fighter jet program, according to an Air Force major general.
Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., the vice commander of Air Combat Command at the Langley, Va., base, said Thursday that while the United States maintains an advantage in the stealth and weapons capacities inherent in fifth generation fighter aircraft models, adversaries are “quickly closing the gap.”
“We are trying to maximize our ability to procure fifth generation airplanes and go from a 100 percent fourth generation fleet to a significant mix of fifth generation [planes] so that we have the opportunity to operate in these hostile environments against these threats that are catching us faster than we thought they would,” Harris testified before the House Armed Services Committee. Continue reading